All Things IRs

Documenting a new breakthrough for amplified string playing.

An Impulse Response (IR) can be used to capture the properties of an acoustic space and have been used in the music industry for decades by recording engineers and guitarists.   In this test, our goal was to give you the chance to hear the pedals for yourself, but also to hear from our testers who have live experience with all of the pedals in the test and our very own Scott Fraser (Sound designer for The Kronos Quartet) about their take on each pedal. A pioneer of using IRs to measure acoustic bowed string instruments is Genius Grant Winner Joseph Curtin who has documented the process quite beautifully on his site.  

Introduction to IRs: 3 IR Tips

In this video, Jacob shares 3 Tips for using IRs for violin, viola, and cello players. Whether you are an acoustic player using a pickup or a solid body electric violin, viola or cello player the string playing world is being transformed by new technology like The Tone Dexter and The VSound 2 that utilize Impulse Responses. Jacob has spent more time than anyone on the planet testing, performing and recording himself and others with these devices and this video will discuss what he has learned to help you get the most out of these units.

Signal Wizard systems VSound 2

We spent 3 months using the VSound 2 with electric and acoustic violin, viola and cello. This comprehensive shootout review will cover hardware, software, sounds, and playability. If you've been hearing about the Vsound 2 online, this is the review YOU have been waiting for. This new generation of Preamp Pedals is changing the possibilities for amplified string playing. Is it right for you? Watch and find out!
Cello Sound Files: Looking for a listening deep dive? check out these 2 common electric cellos and pickup systems.

Cellos/Pickups tested:
Yamaha SVC 110
Fishman C-100

IR list
1. Hybrid Strad Frencha 1.wav
2. Hybrid Strad Lupot 2.wav
3. Hybrid Strad Bryndish 2.wav
4.Hybrid Guarneri Frenchb 1.wav
5. Hybrid Guarneri Lupot 2.wav
6.Cello Borgar.wav
7. Cello Bryndish.wav
8. Cello Frencha.wav
9. Violin Guarneri 1.wav
10 Violin Strad 2.wav

We used 9and 10 with the NS only as they are violin IRs but felt it may be instructive to hear anyway

Violin Sound Files  (Paul Cartwright Violin)

(Please note:  Several of these performances features Paul bypassing the pedal mid performance to allow for easy comparison to the raw pickup tone)

Reference Track (Wilson Pickup)

Guarneri 1

Guarneri 2

Tononi 1

Audio Sprockets Tone Dexter

Jacob and Luis review The Tone Dexter from Audio Sprockets. This preamp DI can transform your pickup and can do things for your violin, viola, and cello tone that analog preamps just can't. In this video, Jacob and Luis do a deep dive to help you really hear and understand what this revolutionary piece of gear can do!

Audio Sprockets Tone Dexter

What is the Tone Dexter and how does it work? We took the opportunity at the NAMM show to interview the mastermind behind Audio Sprockets and The Tone Dexter! James May discusses how the Tone Dexter really works and how it can transform the sound of your violin, viola or cello pickup. Sorry for the audio but the show floor at NAMM was really loud.
Looking For The Secret To Electric Tone? If you play an electric violin, viola or cello this 3 minute video may change your life!!!
In this tutorial video, Jacob shares his top 3 Tonedexter tips for Electric or amplified violin, viola and cello players looking to get the best possible sound from this Amazing preamp pedal. This video will help you troubleshoot noise issues and teach you creative ways to optimize the unit for live performance.

After months of use live and in the studio, I’m excited to announce at long last our review of Tone Dexter 2 Unlike the work we do with pickups, mics there is SO MUCH VARIABILITY when it comes to testing a unit like this, and we did our best to leverage all of our comprehensive experience with making Ir’s for the past 10 years to deliver what we think is the definitive review of this unit. We tested violins and cellos with different pickup and mic combinations at various distances and even shot the unit out with the original Tone Dexter.

Click here to download the violin or cello files and listen/compare in your own DAW till your heart's content.

LR Baggs Voiceprint

The Voiceprint DI Review all Violin, Viola, and cello players have been waiting for! This deep-dive review with Megan on Violin and Jacob on cello includes: Unboxing and feature overview, a real-time violin training session using multiple testing protocols, and a full-blown comparison to The Voicprints competitors namely the Tonedexter and The VSound 2).

Expert Interviews

A Talk with Matt Phillips-IRs And Beyond

Like many of the members of our community, we've been on the cutting edge of the IR revolution for the past few years, and during that time we've also seen quite a bit of misunderstanding, misinformation and flat out "Manufacture Speak" on the web and (of course) Youtube.

At The Pickup Test, our goal is always to give you the best information to ask better questions whether you're trying to improve your tone on stage or trying to create a signature sound and to shed some light on this subject we decided to talk to Matt Phillips, a world-class audio DSP engineer to shed some light on the subject.

In this interview Matt and Jacob discuss:

*How to understand IR's and IR length
*Are all IR's the same?
*What's the difference between IR's and EQ curves?
*What factors make an IR or IR loader more suitable for bowed strings?
*What Ir's can and can't do to a signal
*What difference does a mic make?  And can the LR Baggs Voiceprint theoretically use an Iphone mic with good results?

and much more!


If you are a violin, viola, or cello player who's serious about getting the most realistic sound from a pickup in 2023 you need to get serious about using impulse responses. It's why The Pickup test has been on the forefront of teaching, shooting out, and testing every major player in this space for the last 10 years! In this amazing conversation with engineer, musician, semiconductor mogul, and programmer Jon Fields we discuss everything a bowed string players need to know about IRs including: -What is an IR? -Does IR length matter? and what other metrics are important? -How to get the most out of IR's in live performance -Jon's opensource (free) software for making IR's that you can get below All bowed string players From beginner to experienced professional will get their money's worth out of this conversation. ----------------Links--------------------- Jon's music and bio here To learn more about his software go to our webpage and join our community! 


3 Sigma Ir Packs

3 Sigma Audio-IR Packs Part 1 (Violin) Part 2 Cello

If you are a violin, viola, or cello player in 2023, and you are serious about getting the best tone from your pickup odds are you already using IRs. The 3 Sigma Audio packs are the only commercial 3rd party IR library out there on the market, for bowed string players, but how easy are they to use? and how do they sound?

3 Sigma Audio-IR Packs Part 2 (Cello)

If you are a violin, viola, or cello player in 2023, and you are serious about getting the best tone from your pickup odds are you already using IRs. The 3 Sigma Audio packs are the only commercial 3rd party IR library out there on the market, for bowed string players, but how easy are they to use? and how do they sound?