Encountering heavy boxiness when using amp sims/impulse loaders


New Metal Member
Jan 26, 2014
Hello everyone!

After lurking in the shadows for a few years and only reading all the fantastic material there was to be found on these forums (cheers! :worship:), I finally had to start a thread regarding an issue that me and my friend have encountered every single time when recording his DI-tracks. (I've tried to read every single thread regarding this issue, but never found a working solution)

He records his ESP ltd-mh1000nt with Sh-04@bridge sh-01 pickups (according to him, I'm a keyboard player and I don't know anything about guitars) into a Line Ux2 with 1MoHm impedance. The first step forwards was that we realized that the preamp he was using before was only 60k which was too low when compared to his pickups and the resulted sound was really bad.

Now the signal seems better, and there's a lot more beef and body to the sound when post-processed with a TS-999, followed by a Lecto on 8x Oversampling and a Lecab 2 with the Catharsis Impulses loaded (s-pres5, s-preshigh).

The real problem now surfaces: No matter what EQ techniques I try to approach the sound with, the result is always a really boxy and dull guitar sound. Worse actually, because when I begin to "clean up" the sound with surgical EQ cuts (subtle ones -1-3db and extreme ones 6-8db) in the low mids, the "cardboard" zone, and the fizzy stuff higher up, the guitar becomes even worse. Sure, it's clean of all the fizzy whistles and honky mid range but it's even more boxy than before. Even just the adding of a basic HP/LP to remove the hiss and the sub-low rumble makes the guitar even more boxy (although only slightly). Trying to boost something seems out of the question, because if I try to add some "air" or some kind of presence to the amp sim the tone gets really digital and harsh. At one point I thought it was the tunes overall mix that was lacking, but nothing can really dispute the fact that the guitars are already really boxy when soloed, before even entering the mix with the bass and drums etc. The guitar sound is like its sitting behind a curtain, or being played really loud next door. It lacks definition. I have tried nearly every free amp sim and impulse there is, with almost no effect. Even just browsing through the Catharsis and Powertube impulses while the DI is looping makes me cringe due to every impulse sitting inside somekind of box. I've tried Saturation, Multiband Compression (Sneap Settings), tweaking the amp settings, tweaking the TS settings, and nothing has worked. I actually really hope that I'm doing something wrong in the post-process because otherwise the fault is in the hardware we are using. I really have no clue at this point.

My friend is re-recording the tracks as we speak and at some point I will be able to post a clip of what I'm talking about. (I don't wanna post any loose playing because I know how critical people can be about that, haha :Smokedev:)

There might be some detail regarding the chain, hardware etc, that I have forgot to mention, if so, simply ask! And once again thanks for all the great reading material you people have provided to world!:headbang:
Since you are using more than one IR you might have to check the phase and adjust the delay on LeCab.

If the DI itself seems boxy you can EQ the DI before going to the amp sim.

Just two simple things you can try. Will have to hear an example before knowing for sure what it is though :D
Thanks for the answer. Yeap, the DI itself is very boxy when I checked. I tried to EQ before the amp sim and actually managed to get a major part of the boxiness out of the DI-signal itself, but when I fed that to the rest of the chain it was like all my EQing work had been for nothing. I tried to A/B by bypassing the EQ to double check and I didn't notice any changes to the boxiness while the TS, Lecto and Lecab were engaged. The cuts I made to the signal were pretty extreme ones, like -8db on ~330hz, and -7db on 700hz.

I will have to look into the whole phase & delay thing.
Are strings new? That sometimes give unpleasant sound.
For IR trouble shooting (since I remember doesn't sound boxy by themselves) just load one of them, so it's imposible to have phase incoherence between IRs.

Maybe post one riff with DI (wav so we could look closer at it) and give little example clip with your problematic sound.
Ok so here goes:

The DI: https://www.dropbox.com/s/725kdobdlnq4h49/Guitar DI 1 First Riff.wav?dl=0

I chose one of the sounds I tried to create and rendered that one with some RAW drums and filtered bass. This sound actually seemed to have more problems than just the boxiness, but at least those (the fizzyness etc.) I know I can tame, whereas with the boxiness I got no clue.


I know the mix is bad in this one because of the raw drums and bass but the sound of the guitars is actually worse when soloed. There's the small intro in the beginning where it's soloed (in case the drums and bass are too loud).
Seems you'r soundcloud link isn't working or maybe you have it private and didn't share proper link.
I'll check DI after a while.
Don't wory, I've heard WAY worse sounding stuff from label released bands :D

Checking your DIs my thoughts was that it's audio interface or guitar setup (or maybe guitarist himself), which makes annoying scratchy sound. But also that how he played it was kinda mushy.
I haven't checked Catharsis Impulses for ages (I think I only tested them when they got on forum) and they really sound boxy!!! I'd suggest to search Mickrich impulses here on forum (I love his IRs).

But I tried something using EQ>TSE 808 v2.0> Ignite amps Emissary> s-preshigh> EQ (jst to fix some stuff that got bad impression on me when I listened now)
If you think it's something You'd like I can post pictures or if you are using REAPER, I can give you project file.
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/12761142/NeZvers_studio/Help di.mp3
Thanks but im fine since I've managed to create a sound very similar to that a few times myself, but never really been satisfied with it either (it sounds too harsh and raspy for my taste). I think the problem is some kind of mix between the Interface, Guitar, the Guitarist and the composition, where with his setup the very resonant and dissonant riffs should be played with pristine clarity and tightness while also having the correct gear for the stuff. Am I on a blind alley by believing this? For it seems very strange to me that the Catharsis Impulses sound boxy (even to Nezvers) even though they are the most praised impulses on all guitar forums and Youtube, and many simply get a decent tone by only loading the impulse. I've tried about 50 impulses and they ALL sound boxy from the start. Another thing to point out is that when my friend records some simple Power Chords to play under a Lead Keyboard or Vocal part, the guitar tone manages to serve the rhythm tone even while boxy. This is because the Power Chords are not in focus, but simply backing the lead. But as we do a sort of Progressive trick fuckery with the riffs and never solely rely on "chugging" a very good tone is hard to achieve when the guitars are in focus. We may be searching for that "Blackwater Park" tone by Opeth in vain, because it isn't achievable. Not even something that might resemble it. I don't know. Still would be nice to get that boxiness out of the way.

Or then my way of dialing the stuff still sucks.
I know reverb isn't popular on Metal rhythm guitars, but a soft room/chamber reverb can really add space make the guitars sound bigger without blurring stuff too much.
eq is your friend. i always hear a lot of boxiness in amp sims and things like that. just pull it out with an eq. use your ears and trust your instincts, dont be afraid to cut the fucker up with an eq. go crazy. chase the sound down, kill it, grill it.