Using the HD Pro with the IRT Studio

I’ve been meaning to put together a video relating to this for ages now, but in the meantime here’s a quick diagram to show how I have my IRT Studio hooked up (as heard in the playthrough video for Aurora). Typically what I tend to do is track using POD Farm or something similar. Obviously I could just as easily go straight into the IRT and into my interface, but I find this method works the best as I’m not locked into any one tone. Check it out:


1: After tracking, bypass the virtual amp and change the track’s output to SPDIF to route the signal out to the IRT Studio

2: Insert an FX Loop block into the HD Pro signal chain (I usually put this after Noise Gate and Tube Screamer blocks) to send it out to the IRT Studio

3: Using an XLR-to-1/4″ cable, connect the D.I. out of the IRT to the FX Loop Return, with cabinet emulation off (optional)

4: Finally connect the XLR output of the HD Pro to your audio interface and monitor the resulting tone through a second audio channel with an impulse response applied (or just use the cabinet emulation built into the IRT). When you’re happy with the sound, hit record and let it print-to-track.

Just a few tips/things to watch out for:

• When you come to the re-amping stage remember to only have one track at a time routed to the SPDIF output of your interface.

• You could just as easily use software plugins for tone-shaping (the TSE 808 is a great free Tube Screamer plugin) and just use the HD Pro as a re-amp box.

• If you use an X3 Pro you can run place the FX Loop before your Amp block, and run a cabinet model with no pre-amp selected, removing the need for an impulse loader. Unfortunately the HD Pro can’t do this. An alternative would be to use something like the Two Notes Torpedo if you can stretch to it.

• I tend to get the best results when working at 24-bit. At 16-bit there seems to be more noise and digital ‘squelching’ in the tone. Could just be my interface but generally 24-bit is better anyway.

• If you’re getting any digital chatter try disconnecting the HD Pro’s USB connection and edit using the front panel. Also you can insert a Behringer HD400 in between all of your analogue connections to eliminate ground loops, but usually it’s not a problem if you’re working with XLR.

Hope this helps a few of you out there who have been wondering how to get these two awesome pieces of kit to work together. Any questions, just put them in the comments below. Now it’s back to the studio to work on some more CS3. Awwww yeah!

Thank you!

Just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who has shown their support and ordered a tee-shirt over the last week or so. It’s been absolutely crazy, and it’s so greatly appreciated. The second batch are leaving today, so you should all receive them towards the end of next week.

I’m thinking Grid Posters might be sick. Just a little limited run. What do you all think?

Tee-shirts shipping today!

Hey all – firstly thanks so much to everyone who came to Prog 2 in Pwlhelli and the Tech Fest all-dayer in Manchester over the weekend. We had a lot of fun playing the new track for you, and got to see some awesome bands too. If you’ve taken any pictures from the event, feel free to send or post them online!

Secondly, all of your shirt pre-orders are going out today. I had to revise the design at the last minute and find a new printer due to some miscommunication about the nature of the print but the final result is really cool and I’m sure you guys will dig it. Thanks again for your patience, and to anyone wondering, the shirts will be available online again once all of the pre-orders have gone out and I’ve had a chance to take stock after the weekend. Cheers!

Wipeout and Grid Tee Shirts

Wipeout and Grid Tee Shirts

New T-Shirt “The Grid” available for pre-order!

Hey guys! With a couple of shows coming up next month, it’s tee shirt time. I’m putting this new design up for pre-order for a couple of weeks, although if we can reach the target sooner then they’ll be ordered and shipped that little bit earlier. Head over to the Store page, share it around and as ever, thanks for your support. Be sure to catch us at Progfest 2 in Wales on the 21st of March, and in Manchester on the 22nd (more details to come!).Image

New demo track – “Aurora”

In my last post I made reference to a track, a deadline, threats of physical harm; it was all very stressful. Anyway, the track in question was a pre-production demo called “Aurora” and you can find it exclusively on the cover CD of this month’s Metal Hammer!

Nothing about this track is final and I would’ve liked to tidy a few things up. But overall I’m happy with it given the time constraint. Still not sure where it fits in with the other tracks but it’s feeling like a good intro/opener track.

Anyway, go grab a copy and let me know what you think!

Painting with bigger strokes

So over the last couple of days, a song kind of happened. By that I mean it moved from a riff to something resembling a full track, albeit under threat of decapitation by my wonderful press lady if I missed the deadline. Of course there’s a lot of work still to be done and it’s most definitely a demo but it’s been an important exercise in a couple of ways.

Firstly working to a real/meaningful deadline isn’t something I have to do very often, but I’m aware that it’s something I’ll have to contend with if I get the kind of work I’d like to. While it was an intense two days, in hindsight it was no more so than a busy couple of days at work for most people. It’s kind of put into perspective what could (should?) be achieved in a week, a month, a year. It’s encouraging…and alarming. But mainly that first thing.

Secondly moving past the ‘just a riff” stage has been almost impossible over the last few months. I was having a conversation not too long ago about trying to find the confidence to move forward in big, bold moves and learn to draw a line under a section and move on. In art class, I was always the kid with the mostly empty sheet of paper with an absurd amount of detail in one corner, and fuzzy over-drawn lines. I guess sometimes I approach my songs in the same way.

To that end I’ve been trying to make some changes to the way I write. For ATDE and ARLH I did a lot of the mixing while I wrote and tracked. So for each section I’d double or triple track, record the leads twice (or more specifically, many many times until the first track is tight and then many many times again until the second track is tight, all the while refusing to use drop ins for no good reason), then fiddle with the tone and start automating stuff and…well you get the picture. It wasn’t actually very conducive to writing. Perhaps it sounds obvious but when you’ve got all the tools you need to make 8 or 16 bars of music sound great, it’s hard to resist the temptation and all too easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Maybe this isn’t an issue when bands write together as the only thing they’re focused on is the music, knowing full well that recording and mixing will happen later on.

Of course there’s something to be said for working with sounds that inspire you, but in any case this time I’ve tried to limit myself to one track of everything. One rhythm, lead, backing/ambient guitar, clean and bass plus whatever synths I need as and when (although I did much of the writing using a stock piano sound). And for the most part it’s worked. That’s not to say I didn’t get stuck in a few places but it’s the closest I’ve come to a complete Chimp song in perhaps a year, and it all happened in the space of about three days.

So I think there are two things that I can take from this; the first is the importance of time management. I wouldn’t go so far as to set myself artificial deadlines but certainly it wouldn’t hurt to set aside two days of each week for nothing but Chimp writing.

The second is streamlining the writing process and learning to paint with bigger/bolder strokes, as it were. The music I enjoy the most is music that’s confident, and happy to be what it is. I often sit back and listen with a mild sense of envy that a simple riff can work so well for so long (and probably didn’t take as long to write as something more complicated and over-written).

Hopefully I can keep hold of this good energy, and take my own advice. I think just the act of starting and finishing something has given me a a little more hope than I had previously, and I can’t wait for you guys to hear it. More on that soon…

What’s going on with Chimp Spanner

As you guys know I’m currently working on the next full length album, but I’ve had a few questions lately regarding when the next tour will be, or what’s happened to Chimp Spanner…

Not this…

It’s been a quiet year or so on the live front, and for a few reasons. First and foremost I want to make sure that the next time I hit the stage it is with new material, as well as old. While I know there are still a lot of people who haven’t heard At the Dream’s Edge or All Roads Lead Here, they’ve still been doing the rounds for a fair while and I’ve been playing some of this material for the best part of five years now. Plus, in hindsight, releasing an EP probably wasn’t the best move in terms of getting more gigs. Without the up-scaled publicity surrounding a full length release it felt a little harder to get shows off the back of it. A lesson learned, although I’m still ultimately happy that you all got to hear new music without having to wait even longer.

Secondly, as is the case for most artists and bands out there, there’s a lot of work to be done outside of Chimp Spanner. One of my major long term goals is to get my music paired up with adverts, trailers, games and so on, and to that end I’ve had to spend a lot of time working on more musically diverse material before I can even consider putting myself out there. The plus side of course is that I’m learning some cool new stuff that will prove useful for Chimp Spanner. If you’ve been keeping up to date with my Soundcloud you’ll have an idea as to what that might entail.

It’s no secret that touring is expensive, so it’s vitally important that when it’s done, it’s for the right reasons and with all the supporting material to make it viable (a new album, brand new merchandise, etc.).

It’s also no secret that this is about the albums first. Touring is something that will naturally happen under the right circumstances, and with the right bands.

So in short, Chimp Spanner hasn’t “gone” anywhere, although a break this long in a genre evolving so rapidly would probably suggest otherwise. But for everyone who has supported me so far and seen the handful of shows and tours we have done, there will be more. It all hinges on the next album.

As to when that will be done, there’s no easy answer to that. Those of you who write & record will appreciate how quickly inspiration/motivation can strike…or evaporate. What I can tell you is that channeling my energies into other genres and projects has been a huge help. I’m spending enough time on non-Chimp material now that when I do come back to it, it’s fresh and it’s exciting. And ultimately that’s the best place to be in if the album is to be a worthy successor to my last two releases.

So again, thanks for supporting me and for being patient.