News Tips / FAQ

Reader / F.A.Q #3

#1 – I don’t have a good computer so I need to know if plugins are hard on computers or not but your reviews don’t talk much about this. – Xavier L

I have been asked this one a few times and it is indeed worth addressing. I don’t usually talk about the CPU usage because what’s high for me may not be high for someone else and what’s for me may not be the same for another individual. If I find something shockingly high or low in usage, I will surely note that in the review but if it’s close to the industry average, there’s no reason to waste time with it.

My suggestion is to check the minimal requirements for a computer to run the plugin effectively. If your computer makes the cut, download the trial version and see how it runs. It’s worth noting that you also need to watch your 32-bit and 64-bit plugins because installing the wrong one for your system will cause bridging issues that really suck up the PC usage.

#2 – Who makes the BEST impulse responses? – Brian W.

The impulse response market grows larger and more competitive seemingly almost monthly. I have tested every impulse response pack I could get my hands on since I started with amp sims both paid, free or provided to me by developers and I have learned many things.

The honest answer is that today’s market is full of extremely high quality options. Every developer does things differently and every developer provides something different to consumers. The separation in actual quality really is almost non-existent when it comes to the majority of impulse response developers.

#3 – Sometimes I am confused with sample rates with impulse responses. I read lots of information that seems like conflict. What is best? 44, 48, 88, 96? – Jade F

Let’s put my opinion on hold for a second and begin with scientifically proven data shall we? The human ear even undamaged can’t hear much above 20 khz and most people (especially us musicians) have at least a tiny bit of hearing damage. However, there’s also some evidence to prove that while the human ear can’t do much above 20 khz, frequencies above that can enhance how we hear the frequencies in our range.

All that said, I have done extensive testing between 44, 48, 88 and 96 and I have tried so very hard to hear a drastic difference but nope, zero, nada. It sounds VERY close to me and in a mix, it’s impossible to tell. Many people might tell you different but that’s my take on it.

Ideally, you want the sample rate of your impulse response to match the sample rate of your project but it’s not always necessary. I experimented with unmatched sample rates and noticed no difference so don’t worry, you don’t have to go fix years worth of mixes. I record in 44 khz and I use nothing but 44khz when it comes to impulse responses. Some companies don’t even make anything above 44khz.

Am I saying nothing above 44 is necessary? No. If you feel one sounds better than the others, use it. Use whatever you think sounds best because this is a debate that has been going on a while and it’s easy to be swayed.

It really comes down to understanding sample rates and impulse lengths. Here’s a really good explanation! CLICK HERE

#4 – You don’t really talk about active pickups very often and I don’t think I have seen any in your guitars. Do you only like passive pickups? – Jason R

I remember when the only thing in the world I wanted was an EMG 81/85 set and I can also remember when I finally got that set. The EMG 81/85 set still makes me happy because it’s a nostalgic tone for me. I also have a ton of love for the Fishman Fluence Devin Townsend set. Beyond those and maybe 1-2 others, I am not really a fan.

I prefer passive pickups in every way shape and form however, a set of EMGs can make literally any guitar sound good. I saw a guy get solid tone from literally a stick + an EMG (HERE) so they can turn even very low quality plywood guitars into passable sounding instruments.

Bottom line on this one is that everyone has a preference when it comes to passive vs. active and I fall on the passive side. There’s nothing wrong with active pickups in my eyes, I really REALLY didn’t love the EMG 707 and 808 pickups but apart from that, there’s no beef between me and active pickups.

#5 – What kind of picks do you recommend? – Francis F

Picks are another thing that really depend on the player. For years I used Dunlop Jazz III picks but my hands have developed a little bit of strain over the years so the small picks make my hands cramp up. It was really weird to get used to large picks but it took all the strain off my hand and allowed me to play softer and more refined.

I personally use very thick and stiff picks for all things electric and lighter for acoustic. It also depends if I am playing heavier stuff or country. For country, I only use chicken picks which you can check out HERE. For heavier stuff, I mostly use V-Picks which you can check out HERE but I also really enjoy picks from Iron Age Guitar and other companies. John Petrucci and Dunlop also came out with a pick that was like a Jazz III but a bit bigger that I really like.

It comes down to what you enjoy using and a pick should feel beyond comfortable to you. Until you find a comfortable pick, I suggest buying one of every pick that seems like it might be a good fit and passing along the ones you don’t like to friends because that could be their new favorite!

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