Messiah - The Mix-Ready Cabinet Impulse from Critical Cabs
One thing crossed my mind as I was determining how to write a detailed description of something that’s only 6kb in size. The answer actually came to me as I was having an X-Ray taken of my kidneys. How soon is it going to be before we’re able to take a digital imprint of something like a lead vocal? Not to get all existential, but can you imagine creating an impulse by mapping the inside of Devin Townsends skull, throat, torso, and muscular make up? Then inserting the impulse into the impulse loader that has a graphic interface resembling Data from Star Trek the Next Generation?
Creepy, I know… What’s even creepier is having to actually approach a vocalist with the proposition of taking a picture of their insides so we can map it for a plugin suite. Then what if they change styles or adopt a different inflection as their career progresses? Do you then release an upgrade or a “2.0”?
Messiah Cabinet Impulse Video Review by Tim Carter
Meanwhile, back in 2012, Critical Cabs have decided to take it one step at a time with the pragmatic approach of giving you one impulse based on a legendary oversized 4x12 that has been meticulously produced for a mix-ready result. To quote the developer, “In every 4x12 speaker cabinet there’s a stand-out performer, one speaker that simply put - sounds and records better than the others. The speaker captured for THE MESSIAH however, is not just the best of 1 cab but the best out of 10 cabs. 40 speakers were sampled with 39 rejected – leaving only the absolute cream of the crop to be captured. The result is the most mix-ready impulse in existence.”
To test Messiah, I decided to use 2 other applications that were as close to mix ready as possible. I used Messiah in tandem with Toontracks’ Superior Drummer 2.0 and Spectrasonics’ Trilian bass module. In 2 heavy pieces of music I used 5 amplification simulators. I used Alien Connections’ ReValver 3.5, Overloud TH2, Kuassa Amplifikation One, LePou LeGion, and TSE X50.
While the term “mix-ready” is subjective to everyone and each individual piece of music, I can say that Messiah brought out the most critical elements of a heavy guitar mix that saved a great deal of time in the final mix process. There was a decidedly acute mid-range attack that allowed for elaborate chords to be heard in high gain settings. This exposed the most mix-ready element of Messiah which in my opinion was its ability to add complimentary tones and spotlight lead guitar in a mix. There was also plenty of cabinet resonance with a warm sounding thump that added body to high gain settings. There is enough top end to assist in clarity without becoming scratchy.
All of these elements are, of course, variable depending on your amplification choice, but a frequency analysis of Kuassa Amplifikation One, ReValver, and TH2 shows the savvy of Critical Cabs by exemplifying the most commonly enhanced and diminished frequencies in a successful guitar mix.
Overloud TH2 Frequency Response
ReValver Frequency Response
Kuassa Amplifikation One Frequency Response
The last test was to dress up old mixes using Messiah to enhance the guitars. Of course, this again is subjective, but I never faced an instance where Messiah felt inappropriate in a mix. More often than not, I found myself able to bypass filters and EQs. Looking at it that way, Messiah offers a great way to reduce CPU load by using less plugins on your guitar tracks. Not only did I find Messiah to be extremely accurate and practical in terms of shaving down mix time, but I also found it a great tool in testing out the quality of an amp sim. By holding your sim against the frequency characteristics of Messiah, you can quickly determine whether your sim will work to achieve the tones you’re after in a final setting without filtering through EQs and other sound shaping tools.
Those of us with the tweaking gene might feel a bit claustrophobic at first, especially if you’re used to working with 3 dimensional microphone simulations or convolution settings. But Messiah eases you out of that mindset by allowing you the release of concentrating on the broader scope of the mix without sacrificing time and onset of ear fatigue.
Tis’ the season for making life easier on your favorite audio engineer or guitar player. Messiah is available at criticalcabs.com for the asking price of $5.00. You can also see more videos and examples of Messiah at the developers’ youtube channel.