Hello there, back again with another review and article for you! In this article, we will be looking at the ENGL Cabloader review and sound demos. ENGL Cabloader is a very unique IR loader and a DI box with a lot of features. For those who don’t know what an IR is, let’s start with the foundation.
What is an IR?
IR is an abbreviation for “Impulse Response“. Impulse responses are basically audio files in wave format. These files contain almost a snapshot of the linear output information of a sonic system guitar speaker cabinets, power amps, effects processors, guitar pedals, rooms and venues.
To capture this information, an impulse signal is first sent to the system and generated output is captured. This signal is usually a sine sweep that will cover the whole spectrum of audible frequencies for human beings. 🙂 This information is then digitally processed and output to a single file.
Using IRs for guitar speaker cabinets is the new era of guitar recording. But in fact, it had existed even more than a decade ago. I remember attempting to use some guitar speaker IRs along with my Koch Pedaltone preamp. Unfortunately, in the early 2000s, I had only access to Core2Duo CPUs and 2GBs of RAM on my desktop.
You would still be able to use some guitar speaker impulse responses, but it would be very limiting due to the computer processing powers available. I would always end up with a lot of crackling noises.
Especially, when you add a VST effect to the chain, it would almost be impossible to play with direct monitoring.
But even in this situation, it was so much different than using your built-in speaker emulation found on preamps or processors.
When we think about guitar amps, we always focus on the preamp and how much gain it may generate. But in fact, guitar amps consist of 3 major components preamps, power amps and speakers. These combined can actually generate the guitar sounds we admire.
However, in real life, it’s not always possible for everyone to build a solid guitar setup and mic it at particularly high levels of volume at home or in small studios.
Back in the day, I remember dreaming about a guitar pedal that can receive my favourite guitar speaker IRs via USB and can be carried and implemented into any guitar setup on the go.
Luckily, guitar amp & pedal manufacturers have realised the power of impulse responses and have been manufacturing impulse-response pedals as well as implementing impulse-response-friendly guitar amps, processors and pedals.
Do I really need an IR loader/pedal?
The short answer is no! It’s possible to have the same effect of an IR loader pedal that features guitar speakers, power amps and microphones in your digital audio workstation for free!
To do that, just simply find an IR loader and power amp emulation VST plugins as well as a freeware guitar speaker IR.
These still work perfectly for the same effect in your guitar signal chain when used within a DAW. However, if you want to have a dedicated pedal for this, you should definitely keep reading and find out why ENGL Cabloader is one of the best options out there!
In order to present you with the differences between old-fashioned cabinet emulation and the modern IR approach, I prepared a comparison video. In this video, you can listen to ENGL E570 built-in 4X12 speaker emulation, NadIR IR loader with TPA-1 and also ENGL Cabloader samples.
ENGL Cabloader Features
ENGL Cabloader is a full-blast IR loader pedal and a DI box. It’s one of the best solutions for DI recording setups for guitar players.
It comes with 12 impulse response-based guitar speakers, 4 power amps and 10 microphone simulations.
You can also tweak the microphone positions with distance and centre knobs, just like you can do in virtual amp/speaker simulators.
It also features a presence knob (for the power amp) and a master volume knob for overall adjustments to your sounds.
|# of speaker cabinet IRs||12 built-in ENGL based speaker cab models|
|# of 3rd Party IR slots||4 (via USB using ENGL Cabloader Software)|
|# of power amp simulations||4 (EL84, EL34, 6L6, 6V6) with adjustable presence|
|# of microphone models||10 with adjustable distance and centre|
|Input selection||Instrument or line level|
|DI Box||Integrated DI box with XLR out and ground lift|
|THRU output||THRU for using in amp's effects loop|
|Headphone output||Dedicated headphone output (1/8")|
|Preset save & recall||2 footswitches for favourite + 1 default (Total 3 switchable)|
How to save settings to footswitches?
On the pedal, you will also have 2 footswitches to that you can assign your favourite settings. Just adjust the settings to your liking then press and hold the footswitch that you want to assign your settings to for 3 seconds.
Loading 3rd Party IR files to ENGL Cabloader
Cabloader also allows you to load up your 3rd party IR files via USB using their ENGL Cabloader Software.
Once you have downloaded the setup, just install it on your PC or MAC. Then simply connect your Cabloader with a USB cable (not included). The first time you connect your pedal, it will show 4 empty slots. Simply use the “+” button to load your 3rd party IRs. That’s it! 🙂
Note that, you may have volume differences when using 3rd party IRs. When I tried this feature, my 3rd party IRs generated less output.
In the next section, I will provide you with full tech specs in a table as well as the built-in speaker and microphone models.
ENGL Cabloader Tech Specs
|Outputs||1 x 1/4“ Unbalanced, 1 x XLR, 1 x THRU, 1 x Headphone|
|Sampling Rate||at least 44.1KHz|
|Sampling Length||1024 Samples (23.22ms)|
|Power Requirements||9V DC 300mA|
|Power Adapter incl.||No|
|Dimensions||120mm(D) x 95mm(W) x55.5mm(H)|
Speaker Cabinet IRs
ENGL Cabloader also features 10 microphone models that have been widely used in guitar recording setups.
Power Amp Models
ENGL Cabloader features 4 different power amp models EL34, EL84, 6L6 and 6V6. You can also set power amp emulation to off just like you could with microphone models.
ENGL Cabloader Sounds Demo
With the possibility to have 12 speakers, 10 microphones with distance and centre parameters as well as 4 different power amp models, you can imagine how many sounds and variations you can make!
In order to give you a full overview of every variation, I have made a demo video and gone through these combinations using the same set of guitar parts.
Review & Conclusion
If you have been playing and recording guitar for long enough, you would already know that we used to stick with built-in digital or analogue speaker cabinet emulations that came with guitar processors or analogue preamps.
Unfortunately, the analogue approach was never successful with the emulation of guitar speaker cabinets. As far as I understand, this was due to having left out very important components of much-loved guitar tones power amps and microphone positions.
Thankfully, in today’s world, you can either buy individual impulse response-based guitar pedals or just go for free and paid software solutions.
ENGL Cabloader is one of the best out there among other options. Most people who are after an IR pedal specifically are looking for a pedal that can provide them with guitar speakers, power amps and microphone models.
But if you carefully inspect other products available, you will notice that many pedals also feature preamp simulations. You will also find out some of them will not give you power amp emulation options.
ENGL E570 had been available since the early 2000s and recently has been discontinued. You can imagine the analogue approach I have mentioned above was pretty much the only thing you could implement into a tube preamp back in the day.
Therefore, I have to say E570‘s built-in speaker emulation is not really successful. It still works and if you had only your E570 and a pair of multimedia speakers, you would still be able to play and enjoy your guitar. But it doesn’t really sound as good as impulse response-based speaker cabinets.
Another reason is that I didn’t really want to spend money on an IR-based pedal that also gives me preamp simulations. Since I wanted to base my guitar tones around ENGL E570, Cabloader was the best choice for me.
As I have mentioned in the beginning, you can have the same effect with free VST plugins. However, it’s only good for recording a few tracks and playing the guitar through your speakers. When you have dozens of guitar tracks with VST guitar amp plugins, IRs, effects…etc even my i7 laptop was stuttering in most cases.
So having this digital solution outside of my computer system has been really a good decision for me!
ENGL Cabloader provides so many combinations for your direct recording scenarios. It’s extremely versatile and makes everything so easy when going for direct recording.
Every parameter you change whether it’s the speakers, power amp tubes or microphone models will yield completely different results. I think for guitar players, it gives an infinite number of possibilities.
But one day, I switched on my E570 and plugged in my Truetone 1 Spot 9V/DC adapter to a wall socket. And surprisingly, nothing worked except the preamp. I tried it with other wall sockets. But there was no light coming out of the Cabloader.
Unfortunately, I had no alternative ways to test it. Sadly, I had to return these items back to Thomann. After they inspected the items, they found no issues but sent me new replacement items in a matter of days! That’s why you should always prefer Thomann for your musical instruments & accessories purchases.
Check out my “Why Thomann is the best musical instruments store?” article here.
This time, I had no issues and have been using my ENGL Cabloader since then. However, I have ended up with a decent amount of hum being generated. I suspect Truetone 1 Spot 9V/DC is causing this. The reason I think this way is that the replacement adapter generates a high-frequency signal alone when plugged into a wall socket. Sounds almost like a siren!
Check out my “Truetone 1 Spot 9V/DC” review and find out about the weird noise!
ENGL Cabloader is made in China, nothing wrong with this. However, I find the price tag a bit too much considering the fact that you have to buy a power supply and find a USB cable to load your 3rd party IRs.
Or I would justify the price if it was made in Germany as usual by ENGL. Also, the knobs are a bit funky. For instance, when you want to choose a power amp emulation, it sometimes doesn’t lock in that position easily. I reckon these are not the highest-quality parts ever. 🙂
But at the end of the day, ENGL Cabloader has cutting-edge features and really stands out in the competition. It exactly fits my purpose and already made a huge difference to my guitar tones. It is something I can totally recommend with full confidence!
I hope you have enjoyed this article and this has helped you make your purchasing decision for your IR pedal for guitar recording! Thanks for visiting my blog and supporting me so far! I will hopefully see you in the next review here!