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TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader Review – Killer Simplicity!

    Hello there and welcome back to yet another gear review for you! This time we will be looking at the TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader pedal which, in my opinion, offers possibly the best design and user experience ever!

    In this TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader review, I will provide the reasons why I have switched from ENGL Cabloader to TC Electronic Impulse, all the details you need with this awesome impulse response loader and also a demo video along with product photos and manual as well.

    If you are one of my regular visitors, you are probably aware of the gear I’m featuring in here. For the IR loader, I have been using my ENGL Cabloader for almost 2 years now without any issues. However, using the Cabloader has made me realise some design flaws in my use case scenario.

    Check out my ENGL Cabloader review here

    Just like most bedroom guitar players, I like to play covers. This means that I need flexibility in terms of being able to create guitar tones that are very close to the original guitar tracks on the songs I like. I’m not a big fan of collecting exact gear to play and record a song as this is not financially feasible. So having flexibility with impulse responses is the most logical thing to do.

    You may ask “Why would having lots of impulse response options give you that flexibility?“. If you just do some research and watch some comparison videos, you will understand the reason.

    In the real world, guitar players buy guitar amp heads and speaker cabinets along with their guitars and pedals. However, they often neglect the importance of speaker cabinets and chase other guitar pedals, heads or guitars to get that guitar tone they have been chasing. It’s actually quite the opposite.

    Having watched countless comparison videos by legendary Youtubers such as Ola Englund and Spectre Sound Studios (Glenn Fricker), I noticed that all these iconic guitar amp heads by Mesa Boogie, ENGL, Marshall, Peavey…etc can be made to sound very very different just by using different guitar speaker cabinets.

    Just watch this video below by Ola. He uses various amps and matching cabinets from the same brands but he also combines heads and cabinets using a guitar amp & cab switcher.

    Just be honest, would you be able to distinguish these amps from each other while they are connected to the matching vs combined cabinets?

    Also, just think about it. Would you agree that different combinations of these gear in the above sound completely different and sometimes very similar? So in order to replicate this impact in the digital domain, you definitely need a lot of IRs that will fit in the guitar tone you are chasing!

    Why Switch from ENGL Cabloader to TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader?

    I think guitar speaker cabinets are the most powerful and dominant EQ that determine how the rest of your guitar signal chain. Currently, I’m using my ENGL E570 tube preamp and ENGL Cabloader to direct record my guitars. And actually, I’m pretty satisfied with the results. I think ENGL Cabloader is a great piece of gear, possibly one of the most practical IR loaders on the market. However, it lacks flexibility in terms of external IRs.

    Apparently, it is designed to make you use ENGL’s own speaker cabinets with a variety of microphone and power amp simulations. It already gives you an infinite number of possibilities. But you can only load 4 external IRs and you should be careful as some of the controls such as distance and centre controls still affect the external IRs. I think this is a design flaw.

    Once I accidentally left these settings in the previous positions and couldn’t believe my ears as I was hearing huge rumbling sounds that led me to investigate the external IRs first.

    On top of that, it features 2 footswitches so you can save and assign settings, but after a while, you tend to forget about the exact positions of each control as there’s no way you can get this information on the interface.

    Number of External IR Slots

    Lately, I have found myself trying external IRs via my DAW and the more I tried, the more satisfied with the results I got. There are tons of free and paid IRs on the internet that sound completely different and so good in specific guitar tone scenarios.

    Therefore I started researching alternative IR loaders on the market and I focused on a couple of parameters such as the number of external IR slots and the maximum IR length.

    The reason I focused on the number of external IR slots was that I really wanted to test all my external IRs thoroughly via my DAW and migrate as many as possible to this new IR loader so I can avoid overloading my CPU while direct monitoring.

    This is pretty critical based on my experience because even with a powerful CPU and an optimised laptop, I still get crackling noises when I add effects to the chain in the digital domain.

    IR Length

    The second reason was that I wanted to make sure I can load IRs in 200ms length. As you can see from ENGL Cabloader tech specs, it only allows 23.22ms long IRs which is pretty short. Based on my research, I found out that the minimum should be around 18-20ms if you are after that closed mic recording feel.

    There are also 500ms IRs but it’s already overkill as you only get some of the early reflections in the room that the speaker generated while capturing that IR.

    There’s an excellent video made by legendary guitarist Pete Thorn. Please watch this carefully and you will understand how IR length impacts the overall tone and feel of your direct guitar signal.

    In my opinion, having a limited IR length of up to 20ms is not ideal as one can access countless excellent IRs, carefully captured and provided that are 200ms in length.

    Here is the new objective for the purchase of the TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader.

    I want to have an IR pedal that offers the maximum number of external IR slots and allows at least 200ms IR length. 

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader

    With this justification in mind, I started researching alternative IR loader pedals to my much-loved ENGL Cabloader. What I noticed was that there were many options but limited in terms of what I was looking for.

    There are really good options that even offer 500ms IR length such as Strymon Iridium, but it comes as a package that features an amp modeller and IR loader/speaker simulator. It’s also very pricey for my budget.

    You also have Two Notes products such as C.A.B. M+, but again they give you a lot such as reverbs, tuners, a clean preamp…etc

    When I noticed TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader, I was really happy because the price tag was super affordable and the tech specs definitely fit my objective.

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader is a pretty recent release and does not disappoint you with its unique features. It’s extremely compact, affordable and very flexible in terms of the number of external IR slots, up to 200ms IR length and sound quality.

    Of course, these are not the only features available in this tiny pedal! Before we go through the features, let’s have a look at the tech specs briefly first.

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader Tech Specs

    TypeIR Loader, Speaker & Cabinet Modeling
    DesignCompact Pedal (Mini)
    IR Length200ms
    Sample Rate44.1, 48 and 96kHz support
    BitPCM 16/24/32 and 32 bit float
    EQ+/- 12 dB @ 100 Hz / 10 KHz
    ControlsSingle Volume Knob
    Previous/Next Push Buttons
    Easy IR LoadingVia Impulse app or standard file explorer
    Presets99 Slots
    Guitar Speaker Cabs12 x Celestion IR
    Pedal Platform Irs8 x TC Electronic Pedal IR
    Acoustic Guitar Irs5 x Acoustic Guitar IR
    Empty Slots74 User Slots
    Input/OutputSingle 1/4"
    USB1 x USB Mini-B
    USB CableIncluded
    Power Supply9V DC 100 mA Negative Centre (not included)

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader Box Content

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader comes in a pretty small box with a pair of 3M branded rubber pads for the bottom part of the pedal, a quick start guide, a USB cable to connect to your computer, a TC Electronic sticker and the unit itself.

    I think they almost nailed it perfectly as you don’t need to search for a suitable USB cable. Most of the time with other alternative products, you have to find a USB cable which is sometimes a pain in the neck for some people.

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader Manual

    Regarding the quick guide, actually, it doesn’t tell you much about the TC Electronic IR Loader pedal but it tells you to visit the TC Electronic website and download section to get your manual.

    However, there’s no manual on the website! 🙂 They actually included a read-me file in the unit that you could only discover if you connect it to your computer. So in order to make your life easier before you buy your TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader, I prepared a PDF version of it and would like to share it with you.

    Download TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader manual in the download section here

    In the manual, you will find all the information you need for all the functions as well as technical information and a list of IRs. Hope this helps!

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader Box Content

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader Box Content

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader Features


    With its ultra-compact, mini pedal format form factor, you can actually fit this in any pedalboard or setup without even noticing it’s there!


    It comes with 25 built-in IR cab models and 74 empty slots for your external IRs and only features a single footswitch, a knob to control the output, 2 push buttons to scroll through the IRs, a standard 1/4″ input/output and a USB socket!

    As in all TC Electronic products, they aim to make IR Loader the simplest and easiest to use with the essential features so you can just focus on your playing!

    Footswitch Modes

    With a single footswitch that can be used to bypass the pedal or to be used as an A/B switch to jump between two preselected presets, it’s extremely simple and easy to use!

    By default, the footswitch acts as a classic on/off switch. But if you press and hold the footswitch, it changes to A/B mode in which you can assign two presets. Simply long press the footswitch, then find the preset you want to assign to preset A, press the right button and then choose the preset for B then simply press the footswitch again to finalise the setup.

    If you want to disable A/B mode on TC Electronic Impulse, you need to press and hold the footswitch again and back to normal mode.

    Global EQ

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader also features a global EQ which you can use for adjusting the output with low-shelf and high-frequency filters in case you have issues with the PA you are connecting to.

    In order to activate the EQ, you simply need to press the buttons simultaneously and instantly access the EQ and adjust using the volume knob.

    If you want to adjust the low shelf, just press the left arrow button, and adjust with a single knob and the same goes for the high-frequency adjustments as well.

    Both low and high EQ allows you to boost or cut -/+ 12dB at 100Hz for low and 10kHz for high frequencies.

    Once you’re done setting your global EQ, you can press the left/right buttons and go back to normal mode, but this time with an EQ symbol on the screen indicating that you have adjusted something with the EQ and enabled it.

    99 Slots

    It comes with 25 IRs and 74 external slots that are empty. But the cool thing about TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader is that they allow you to delete the factory ones and use this pedal for only external IRs. You have 99 slots to use which is extremely cool!

    As in my use case, having tested dozens of external IRs and carefully selected them for each guitar and a different scenario, I am now able to store them in this tiny pedal and take them anywhere!

    Built-In Celestion IRs

    TC Electronic did not hesitate to cooperate with one of the leading guitar speaker manufacturers, Celestion and already included their legendary IRs in the TC IR Loader pedal.

    It comes with 12 of the finest Celestion IRs that are located in the first 12 slots.

    Pedal Platform Amp Simulation + IRs

    TC Electronic also carefully thought about scenarios in which a full setup is not practical and added DI-ready, pedal platform IRs that feature not only the speaker cabinet IRs but also added legendary amp flavours to them.

    So you can directly use TC Electronic Impulse IR loader as a pedal platform and connect your guitar pedal board and convert your rig to a DI-ready solution.

    You have 8 of them and these pedal platform IRs are located from the 13th to 20th slots.

    IRs for Acoustic Guitars

    On top of these, you also have 5 IRs for acoustic guitar (nylon or steel string) with built-in preamp. That means you can directly connect your acoustic guitar’s output to TC Electronic Impulse and have microphoned acoustic guitar feeling & sound for your direct recording needs or in a stage where there’s no specialised acoustic guitar amp.

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    IR Length Up to 200ms!

    TC Electronic Impulse IR loader allows you to load IRs up to 200ms in length! At this price tag, there’s no other product that will give you this IR length. As I mentioned in combination with the number of available slots for your external IRs, this was the main selling point for me.

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader On

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader On

    If you load IRs more than 200ms in length, Impulse will cut them at 200ms with a fade out so you don’t have to edit IRs before loading.

    Impulse App

    TC Electronic IR Loader also comes with an app which is called the Impulse App. You need to download this via the TC Electronic website “Downloads” section here.

    But note that, without the app, you can still load external IRs via standard file explorer as TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader acts like a flash drive.

    In order to do that, you simply drag and drop your IR into an empty folder. But the Impulse App is definitely a nice addition as you can easily delete, load, rename and sort your IRs on the app interface.

    Again, with the Impulse App, TC Electronic once again has proven that they really care about simple and killer design in anything they touch! 🙂

    TC Electronic Impulse App

    TC Electronic Impulse App

    It is so easy to use and really performs fast. Once you load your IRs and edit them, you simply disconnect from the USB cable and it will process the changes in a matter of seconds.

    Music Plugin Deals at TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader Review - Killer Simplicity! Seymour Duncan Join The Best Musicians!TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader Review - Killer Simplicity!

    Before I provide you with my review, let’s listen to the demo video I made for this article. You will find some information on how these features are enabled and used as well as sound samples for each IR group and also some of my favourite external IRs loaded into the Impulse.

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader Review & Sound Demo (no talking)

    TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader Review

    As you may have already understood from the article, I’m very impressed with the Impulse! I think it’s one of the best designs I have ever seen for an IR pedal. Extremely affordable, on-point design that just gives you what it claims.

    Sounds Crispier?

    Soundwise, it would not make sense to comment as it is supposed to sound like the IR that you load into. But is this really the case?

    The only thing that has to be tested is the external IR via a DAW vs via TC Electronic Impulse. I did a quick test and noticed some differences. To me, the same IR via TC Electronic Impulse sounded crispier. Please check out the sample I included in the demo video above (last bit).

    I also hear built-in Celestion IRs a bit crispier than expected. But I’m not sure if this is a design flaw or anything. I have also no clue whether an IR should exactly the same going through a plugin vs going through an IR loader pedal. Also, I believe this should be tested with as many IR loaders as possible for a more solid conclusion.

    Acoustic and Pedal Platform IRs

    When it comes to acoustic IRs, unfortunately, I am not able to test them as I don’t have any acoustic or classic guitars with built-in preamps nor an electric with piezo pickups. But I can tell you that they distort really easily when you play through them with a standard electric guitar.

    For pedal platform IRs, I find them almost useless as they sound pretty weird when you just add a drive or a distortion pedal in front of the Impulse. Of course, you should test this yourself and come up with your own conclusion.

    No Fast Scrolling

    Regarding features, I have a couple of points to make. One of the things that annoyed me a little bit is the lacking a fast scrolling feature when you press and hold the left or right buttons. It doesn’t scroll, so you have to press it every time you want to switch IRs.

    It is a bit annoying during testing multiple IRs, but just can be avoided with a tidy ordering of external IRs using the Impulse App.

    Really Need to Bypass an IR Loader?

    The other thing I would like to mention is the footswitch functionality. I can’t see any reason why one would like to bypass this pedal. If you go for an IR pedal, that means you replace your guitar speakers and rely on an external speaker using your Impulse. But when would you really like to bypass this?

    So instead, I would implement a hidden feature to enable fast scrolling with the footswitch on top of the default features.

    .uli Extension!

    Also, last but not least the factory IRs’ extension! This is a bit weird as they decided to come up with “.uli” extension. 🙂 Sounds like Uli Behringer wants to leave his marks even in the file extension realm.

    Uli Extension!

    Did we really need a custom extension for IR rather than wave files? I don’t think so, not sure how I can export these .uli files and use them somewhere else. In theory, I should be able to do that as I paid for them, right? But not sure if these work in a standard IR loader plugin.


    Apart from sounding a bit crispier in comparison to how IRs sound through an IR loader plugin, I think the overall experience, ease of use, features and price tag is unbeatable. It gives so much freedom to just have an arsenal of your favourite IRs in an extremely compact pedal.

    I can easily recommend the TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader to anyone looking for a compact IR pedal with killer design principles!

    I hope you find this TC Electronic Impulse IR Loader review honest and insightful! Thanks for visiting my blog and supporting me so far! I will hopefully see you in the next review here!

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