We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jonathan Guillemette from the YouTube channel The Tone Lounge to chat about guitar gear, online content creation and Celestion SpeakerMix Pro!
First of all, Jonathan, it is great to speak with you today. It’s always really interesting to sit down with content creators and chat about all the exciting ways they’re using Celestion products.
To start off, could you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Thank you for this opportunity! I’m a guitar player and recording engineer. I started out playing in wedding bands, cover bands and then gradually made my way into writing original content with my former bands. This forced me to learn about home recording. After a few years of doing it on my own, I decided to enroll in a college program and learned the art of recording at the now defunct Pacific Audio Visual Institute in Vancouver, Canada.
In 2018, I decided to start a YouTube channel. I started out with a main focus on home recording, but had a video go viral really early on. Since it was about Vox amps, I doubled down on that content. I’m slowly pivoting and getting back to home recording, these days.
As an online content creator, what is your day-to-day work like?
It starts with doing research on Google and YouTube. I usually have pages filled with ideas that I’ve brainstormed, and then use these search engines to see if there is any interest for these types of topics. If so, what is the competition doing? Then, I think of ways to make unique content that will best serve my audience.
Once I have enough ideas, I script my video. Sometimes I have to do multiple drafts, and when I feel that I have something solid, I plan the shoot. Doing this alone is challenging, since I have to be the camera operator, lighting crew, audio engineer and on screen talent! A lot can go wrong, and sometimes a lot does go wrong.
So, most of the time at the moment are you using a physical setup, or digital?
I’m using a hybrid setup as much as possible. I use valve amps, such as my Vox AC15c1 or my Bad Cat Hot Cat 30r and use the Two Notes Captor 16 to connect to my PreSonus Studio 192 Mobile audio interface. I then use SpeakerMix Pro inside Reaper. This way, I can record for long hours and not bother my neighbors. I love recording a live amp, but sadly, that is not always feasible.
What first led you to try Celestion’s Speaker Responses?
I’ve always been a massive fan of Celestion speakers, the Greenback being one of my favorites. Going digital for the speaker portion of the recording meant that I was left with IR’s made by either competent engineers, or by novice home recording enthusiasts, who may or may not hit the mark.
When I heard that Celestion were creating their own IR’s, it made a lot of sense to get them from the company who makes the real deal.
And then SpeakerMix Pro and trying out the Dynamic Speaker Responses?
I was using the Two Notes Wall of Sound with official Celestion IR packs. This system served me well for many years, but once I caught wind of the fact that Celestion had built their own platform for IR’s, I wanted to try it. The DSR technology was very appealing to me, as I’ve always struggled with the 2D aspect of Impulse Responses.
There is a perceivable difference between a great recording of a physical speaker, and an average IR. When you use a great IR, the differences start to evaporate. The DSRs have kicked it up a notch. At this point, I can say with certainty that I am not hearing an audible difference, the DSRs sound spectacular.
What would you say to someone who is considering buying SMP, but hasn’t done it yet?
I would say that whether you are using a hybrid system, like myself, or are going digital with an amp modeler or using VST, SpeakerMix Pro is a powerful tool to have. It gives you the flexibility and tools that you would get from doing things the traditional way, allowing you to audition speakers and cabinets on the fly. You have three Studio standard mics, the ability to mic the front and back of your cab with two SM57s and you can move the virtual mic around as well.
There is also a room IR, where you have multiple mics to choose from or can load your own room IRs. You can EQ your speaker right within SMP, and you can also EQ your room. There is even a mid-side EQ to make your guitar sound larger, and a very handy mono switch to make sure you aren’t overdoing it. All this can be done within the software – that’s pretty powerful!
Is there any additional information you think we need to add to the CelestionPlus website to help people invest in this new plugin?
I think that a series of videos on your website, explaining each section of the software and how easy it is to use, might help those still on the proverbial ‘fence’. It would highlight the strengths of the SPM and give value to those who may be new to this whole home recording thing.
Do you see yourself moving over fully to using DSRs or a combination of both IRs and DSRs?
Whenever I am recording with a hybrid setup, I use SpeakerMix Pro with DSRs exclusively. It sounds great and it was easy to implement in my workflow.
What do you like most about SMP and what do you think could be improved?
I love the simplicity of the interface for the user and how deceivingly complex it is behind the curtains. It seems like a very to the point piece of software while using it but, considering all that it can do behind the scenes, it’s impressive.
A feature that I would love to see implemented would be comp/limiting on the master bus. It would be super helpful for those looking to do as much processing ‘in the box’.
How do you think SMP and our DSRs are going to improve/alter your workflow moving forwards?
It already has. The idea that I have all the tools necessary to get a great guitar tone, without any of the typical sacrifices of using subpar IRs is really awesome.
Would you recommend the SpeakerMix Pro and our Celestion Speaker Reponses to a beginner tone quester?
Absolutely. A lot of the features implemented in SpeakerMix Pro are actually derived from the real
‘recording a live amp’ situation. It’s just a much simpler and practical way of doing home recording, or even plain guitar playing at home. There are so many great IRs and DSRs to choose from, and all the options are powerful, yet not overwhelming.
Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking of trying Celestion Digital products for the first time?
Just download the free demo and give it a good try. Experiment with the different features and options – you’ll see how quickly you can get a great tone.
Do you have any favourite Celestion Speaker Reponses? If so, what are they?
I’ve always been a fan of the G12M Greenback, yet I’ve been favoring the G12H-75 Creamback lately.
There is something really interesting about the complex mid characteristics of that DSR.
Some guitarists are still skeptical and think nothing can replace a real speaker cone. What’s your take on this?
Oh, that’s a Hot Button topic right there. I’ll put it like this: the quality of the recording is far more important than digital vs analog. Fresh strings, a great setup on the guitar/bass, and a great D.I. Box or great amp will make a world of difference on the final result. If the source material is great, then the speaker or IR/DSR will sound great. I’ve never heard anyone say, “That a killer song dude, but I just wish that the guitars were played through real speakers instead of IR’s”. If it sounds good, then it is good.
It’s been really great to chat to you! Do you have any closing thoughts or anything you would like to promote before we wrap up?
If you are interested in guitar-related content, nerdy guitar deep dives and home recording stuff, then I invite you to check out my YouTube channel called The Tone Lounge. I am also working on my very first online course, about home recording for beginners, which should be out early 2023. Thanks again for having me, this was a fun interview. Cheers!