TH2 Producer: Not Only Guitars

TH2 Producer amp sim can do more than you might think

By Craig Anderton

Overloud’s TH2 Producer offers amp modeling with multiple amps and cabinets, as well as several effects. So while it’s a perfect subject for guitar month, and hopefully the following will give some inspiration to guitarists, let’s also consider what non-guitarists can do with a processor designed for guitar.

The power of parallel. Parallel processing is one of my favorite techniques. Fortunately TH2 not only accommodates parallel processing (the signal path follows a serial—> parallel—> serial  protocol), it also provides different “flavors” of parallel processing.

The parallel section starts with a crossover, so the parallel split can:

  • Provide “bi-amplification,” and send highs to one path and lows to the other
  • Enable a Bandpass filter mode, where one path has a bandpass-style boost, while the other has a complementary notch. A separate “spread” control determines the notch bandwidth
  • If neither is enabled, both paths are simply a parallel connection with no filtering

For extra flexibility, a “swap” button reverses the outputs (e.g., if one output was highs and the other lows, swap reverses that).

The output mixer sums the parallel paths back together again, with Phase Inverse, Delay, Width, Pan, and Level controls, as well as a Balance slider. The TH2 Producer manual can fill you in on the details.

Bass wah. Let’s start off by not straying too far from guitar, and looking at how to use TH2 Producer with bass. A problem with putting any kind of filtering or distortion on bass it that it thins out the sound. You can solve this problem by using the crossover to separate the low end and keep it clean, while adding wah to the midrange frequencies (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Parallel processing can keep the low end clean, but process the highs (click to see the entire image).

Again, we’ll use the Normal Splitter mode, with 490Hz as the split frequency. The Crying wah pedal handles the higher frequencies. The rest of the controls are straightforward, although I prefer setting the output mixer balance to favor the lower frequencies, with the wah effect providing more of an overlay.

This technique is also wonderful for adding “growl” to the bass. Replace the wah with the Amp + Cab processor, and you can apply some grit without affecting the low end (Fig. 2). Of course there are many amp options, but what works for me with bass is a morph of the Dark Face and Rock ‘64, with the VariFire option turned up to 7.

Fig. 2: Adding some crunch to a bass’s high frequencies, while leaving the lower frequencies undisturbed, gives an aggressive but full bass sound (click to see the entire image).

With bass, also try flipping a mixer channel’s phase switch. This cancels out some of the mids and gives a “rounder” sound.

Lo-fi drums. Drums lend themselves well to a little crunch, but there are limitations. If you apply something like a bitcrusher, the sound will become indistinct—which may be what you want, but I prefer to have a monster low end and a more defined high end. This usually involves copying tracks, inserting a Sonitus Multiband Compressor into each track, setting it up to be a crossover, then adding some kind of distortion in the low-frequency track. However, TH2 can do all of this in one track, and more flexibly as well (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3: TH2 can give monster drum sounds, yet retain definition thanks to the crossover module. This does the reverse of the bass example given above by crunching the low frequencies, but keeping the highs relatively clean (click to see the entire image).

Start the signal chain with the TH2 Splitter in Normal mode, Balance set to halfway, and a crossover frequency around 230Hz. Send the low frequency output to the Randall amp. Other amps will work too, as will the TubeNine overdrive, but I prefer the Randall’s tonal characteristics. Select Overdrive mode for the Randall, turn Gain up about halfway, and Level to around 4 o’clock.

The high-frequency split provides the “clean” sound. The screen shot shows digital delay followed by spring reverb, but that’s just a particular example of what I wanted to add. Next, the TH2 Mixer Pro combines the parallel paths back into serial. Make sure the mixer is set to stereo, then use the Balance slider to adjust the ratio of monster lows to clean, defined highs.

Make pads more ethereal. This effect works best with vocal choirs and string pads, but can also work really well with individual solo vocals. The basic technique uses the Splitter in Normal mode to send only high frequencies to one path, while the other path carries the dry sound. Insert a modulation effect like chorus or phaser, or delay, into the high-frequency path. If you restrict the high-frequency range sufficiently (e.g., above 5kHz or so), you can add a significant amount of the effect without sounding excessive.

Stereo electric piano. Here’s a way to convert a mono, vintage electric piano sound into stereo. Use the Splitter in Bandpass mode, with the X-Over Freq set to around 800Hz, and the Freq Spread to 2.0. At the mixer, pan one channel all the way left, and one channel all the way right (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4: Frequency-based stereo synthesis can be effective, and not cause cancellation problems when summed back into mono (click to see the entire image).

As with any mono-to-stereo type of conversion, always check what happens to the sound when summed to mono, and tweak if needed to make sure the sound doesn’t get thinner.

Changing the look of the “floor.” If you get tired of the pseudo-wood floor background, there’s an easy way to customize this. Right-click on an empty space in either the main section or the smaller map, choose Add New from File, navigate to any PNG or JPG file, select it, then choose Open. Note that if the picture is smaller than the “floor,” TH2 Producer will tile it to fill in the entire space. For example if you want a solid color background, open Paint and make a solid color of virtually any size. Save it, and when you select the file, that will become the new background. (Note that the Map View automatically adds an attractive gradient to any solid color.)

TH2 Producer is definitely a useful addition to SONAR—but it’s even more useful when you realize it has potential that goes beyond guitar.

All versions of SONAR X3 include either TH2 SONAR or TH2 Producer.