Hardware vs. software reverb and effects

Discussion in 'rec.audio.pro' started by David Nobel, Aug 28, 2003.

  1. David Nobel

    David Nobel Guest

    I'm wondering how people feel about using outboard digital hardware
    effects, particularly reverbs, as opposed to software plug-ins such as
    Waves, for home/project studio recordings of high-quality acoustic
    music. There seems to be some nice, used vintage hardware out there
    that doesn't need regular, expensive upgrading/updating and can
    sometimes be had for a song on e-bay.

    Specifically, do the best plug-ins really rival all but the
    highest-end of their hardware counterparts, as is sometimes claimed?

    Also, anyone have any thoughts on the AltiVerb plug-in?
  2. Raymond

    Raymond Guest

    David wrote
    >I'm wondering how people feel about using outboard digital hardware
    >effects, particularly reverbs, as opposed to software plug-ins such as
    >Waves, for home/project studio recordings of high-quality acoustic
    >music.


    The whole thing with plugs and home rigs is of a matter of $, the home user is
    not (for the most part) going to drop 2K on a reverb just to buy gear. The
    studio pro will because he will turn more money/clout to his/her income than
    the part time hobbie horse guy. I will say that many part time guys and gals
    out there have hi-end gear to but do it for more than the income.

    >There seems to be some nice, used vintage hardware out there
    >that doesn't need regular, expensive upgrading/updating and can
    >sometimes be had for a song on e-bay


    You have point there but again IMHO say that it's all in the eye of the one
    that does the buying and not what one may think is the best. I'm using some of
    the same plugs (again for the most part) I've had for 3 or 4 years, it does
    help to have more sounds to give to your clients...but thats another thing all
    together.
  3. In article <42329f4f.0308272154.20274717@posting.google.com>,
    David Nobel <dnobel@sympatico.ca> wrote:
    >I'm wondering how people feel about using outboard digital hardware
    >effects, particularly reverbs, as opposed to software plug-ins such as
    >Waves, for home/project studio recordings of high-quality acoustic
    >music. There seems to be some nice, used vintage hardware out there
    >that doesn't need regular, expensive upgrading/updating and can
    >sometimes be had for a song on e-bay.
    >
    >Specifically, do the best plug-ins really rival all but the
    >highest-end of their hardware counterparts, as is sometimes claimed?


    I like more than a few plug-in reverbs. The Waves Renaissance reverb
    and Digidesign's DVerb get used fairly regularly around here, so I
    don't consider them to be 'cheap substitutes' for real stuff. I also
    use hardware reverbs when I want those textures. The Lexicon NuVerb
    is a favorite, as is the TC M2000.

    As for regular, expensive updating, I've found Digi and Waves to be
    very generous about updates. It hasn't cost me that much at all to
    own these plugins. I have to pay a tax to Waves every year or two to
    update my bundle, but it's been pretty darn cheap in the scheme of
    things to upgrade tons and tons of plugins that I use daily. Digi has
    simply updated my original DVerb purchase for nothing with every new
    ProTools software upgrade and it has to have been 5 years or so since
    I bought the plugin.

    >Also, anyone have any thoughts on the AltiVerb plug-in?


    It sounds great! If I could cope with running DP, I'd probably use it
    quite regularly, but that won't happen anytime soon. I'm just not
    that happy with the editing in DP yet, and Altiverb isn't so keen a
    thing to run as an outboard hardware effect due to the latency. But,
    yes, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could fashion an
    Altiverb rig for use with ProTools because it sounds so freaking good.
    I wish that could happen...

    If you're working with DP, then by all means, get Altiverb. It's
    absolutely fantastic, even when compared to the best hardware.


    Best of luck,

    Monte McGuire
    mcguire@theworld.com
  4. Unfortunately, most of the reverb plugins suck. Badly. And I've tried quite
    a few of them. Most of them seem to suffer from a ringy, comb-filtering kind
    of sound

    MasterVerb was recommended to me rather enthusiastically, but I tried the
    demo and didn't find it that convincing. Maybe I should give it another
    listen.

    The Waves reverbs are a bit awkward in that they do a relatively convincing
    job of simulating an acoustic space (better than some hardware boxes, IMHO).
    On the other hand, they don't sound as "nice" (lush, expensive, silky,
    blah...) and can't give that "studio reverb sound" obtainable with Lexicons,
    etc.

    The closest plugins to the "studio reverb" sound I've come across are the
    Timeworks 4080L and ReverbX. The 4080L is pretty useful (that's not really a
    raving endorsement, though).

    Ryan
  5. "Ryan Mitchley" <rmitchle@removethis.worldonline.co.za> wrote in message
    news:3f4dd718$0$3397$a32e20b9@news.nntpservers.com...
    > The closest plugins to the "studio reverb" sound I've come across are the
    > Timeworks 4080L and ReverbX. The 4080L is pretty useful (that's not really

    a
    > raving endorsement, though).


    I find that I like even the cheapest hardware reverbs better than the most
    expensive plugins.
  6. RWH> I find that I like even the cheapest hardware reverbs better than the
    RWH> most expensive plugins.

    Yeah - it's rather mystifying. If there's any domain where software plugins
    could better (or at least equal) hardware boxes, I would have thought it
    would be reverb. Reverb boxes are generally digital and linear, and the
    computations are well suited to a PC. If anything, I would have guessed that
    compressors with their strange non-linearities and other weirdnesses would
    have proven difficult to translate. However, I find that I'm not lacking in
    the compressor plugin department at all (everything from transparent to
    pumpy to in-your-face is covered).

    Apparently Lexicon tried to enter the plugin market but got burned in some
    way? Anyone know something about this? I think even a fairly limited
    $200-$300 Lexicon plugin would totally seize the market. Maybe software
    piracy is an issue . . . ?

    Ryan
  7. Fingerz88D

    Fingerz88D Guest

    Not only that folks, but what's also amazing is the fact that a $200.00 (TC
    M300) can sound nearly as good as a Lexicon PCM 70 (IMHO).....nearly......

    Everybody wins!
  8. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Guest

    David,

    > I'm wondering how people feel about using outboard digital hardware

    effects, particularly reverbs ... do the best plug-ins really rival all but
    the highest-end of their hardware counterparts <

    I'm surprised nobody mentioned what to me is the biggest advantage ALL
    plug-ins have over hardware: you can contain the mix entirely in your DAW so
    all settings are recalled. As soon as you have even one external hardware
    device, you have to remember and set physical knobs to exactly duplicate a
    mix.

    You are correct that many reverb plug-ins are poor, and that's because the
    plug-in designers have to trade reverb density - more is better - against
    minimizing CPU loading. EQ and compressor plug-ins are not nearly as
    processor hungry, so it's easy to make good ones in software.

    One good trick to improve plug-in reverbs is to put TWO instances on the
    buss, using slightly different settings for each. As long as the various
    parameters are all different, you'll get twice as many echoes which makes
    the reverb twice as dense.

    --Ethan
  9. Brian Takei

    Brian Takei Guest

    "Ethan Winer" <ethan at ethanwiner dot com> ("Ethan Winer" <ethan at
    ethanwiner dot com>) wrote:
    >
    > > I'm wondering how people feel about using outboard digital hardware

    > effects, particularly reverbs ... do the best plug-ins really rival all but
    > the highest-end of their hardware counterparts <
    >
    > I'm surprised nobody mentioned what to me is the biggest advantage ALL
    > plug-ins have over hardware: you can contain the mix entirely in your DAW so
    > all settings are recalled.


    No, many [and most if not all newer] digital outboard boxes can be
    controlled via MIDI, though I think 'flying faders' type control of
    analog effects is rare or nonexistent.

    But AFAIK, the big advantage ALL plugins have over a box is the ability
    to use multiple instances of it in a mix. Of course, if you're just
    using a single (or relatively few) instance(s) on a send/bus (e.g.
    reverb), then that advantage is minimized.

    As far as whether plugins rival hardware, obviously this largely depends
    on the ears of the person making the judgment. I don't think there is
    any product that rivals the "highest-end" ears, there are no shortcuts
    to getting them, and one recurring consequence of improving one's ears
    is an often negative reassessment of prior purchases! (speaking from
    continued experience, and hardly even _close_ to approaching the high-
    end ears).

    All said, the new Kurzweil Rumour and Mangler boxes (at around $550
    each) have really piqued my interest.

    - Brian
  10. Scott Dorsey

    Scott Dorsey Guest

    Ryan Mitchley <rmitchle@removethis.worldonline.co.za> wrote:
    >Unfortunately, most of the reverb plugins suck. Badly. And I've tried quite
    >a few of them. Most of them seem to suffer from a ringy, comb-filtering kind
    >of sound


    What do you want from a PC? You just don't get that many taps on a reverb
    if you want to do it realtime, unless you have dedicated hardware to do it.

    I'd still settle for a hardware unit that sounded like a real room, let
    alone a plugin.
    --scott

    --
    "C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
  11. SD> What do you want from a PC? You just don't get that many taps on a
    SD> reverb if you want to do it realtime, unless you have dedicated
    SD> hardware to do it.

    The Lexicon PCM91 was introduced in 1998 . . . surely a modern 2.8GHz
    machine has serveral times the MIPS rating of a 5 year old chip? Are the
    Lexicon effects pure convolution based FIR algorithms? - I think I had heard
    somewhere that they aren't, but utilise some rather nifty recursive
    algorithms (which are obviously kept a well guarded trade secret!).

    I wonder if the DSP capabilities of a typical 3D card could be "hijacked"
    and used as a convolution coprocessor . . .?

    SD> I'd still settle for a hardware unit that sounded like a real room, let
    SD> alone a plugin.
    SD> --scott

    True!


    Ryan
  12. >You are correct that many reverb plug-ins are poor, and that's because the
    >plug-in designers have to trade reverb density - more is better - against
    >minimizing CPU loading


    I find that the latest reverb plugins are pretty awesome. Spin Audio Verb 2,
    Timeworks X, Classic Verb on Powercore, and I use Freeverb on some things and
    its great. Oh and there is also the Ambience plugin which isn't bad. But what
    I use MOST is SIR with 480 and 960 responses. I don't go near the Waves stuff,
    its boxy and crappy. And yes, I've used the best reverb boxes out there from
    960s to Yardsticks...
  13. In article <3f4dd718$0$3397$a32e20b9@news.nntpservers.com>,
    "Ryan Mitchley" <rmitchle@removethis.worldonline.co.za> wrote:

    > The Waves reverbs are a bit awkward in that they do a relatively convincing
    > job of simulating an acoustic space (better than some hardware boxes, IMHO).
    > On the other hand, they don't sound as "nice" (lush, expensive, silky,
    > blah...) and can't give that "studio reverb sound" obtainable with Lexicons,
    > etc.


    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    They sound just like a room somewhere, but they don't give me that
    "Sarah McLachlan's Vocals" lush reverb that I used to get with a good
    Lexicon hardware unit.

    I miss it.


    CT
  14. In article <20030828122312.18495.00000091@mb-m13.aol.com>,
    blacklinemusic@aol.com (BlacklineMusic) wrote:

    > But what
    > I use MOST is SIR with 480 and 960 responses.


    What's SIR?

    CT
  15. Arny Krueger

    Arny Krueger Guest

    "Ryan Mitchley" <rmitchle@removethis.worldonline.co.za> wrote in
    message news:3f4dd718$0$3397$a32e20b9@news.nntpservers.com

    > Unfortunately, most of the reverb plugins suck. Badly. And I've tried
    > quite a few of them. Most of them seem to suffer from a ringy,
    > comb-filtering kind of sound


    If REALLY realistic reverb is what you want, you might want to look at Adobe
    Audition. I understand that it is widely used for architectural acoustic
    simulations. Basically calculated convolutions are used with anechoic
    recordings to produce audio files that predict the sound quality of proposed
    performance spaces such as concert halls and practice rooms.

    Here's a starting point: http://www.ramsete.com/aurora/ , which still calls
    Audition Cool Edit. Google searching on aurora, convolution and Cool Edit
    yields a rich trove of possibly useful leads.
  16. "Charles Thomas" <cthomas@REMOVE_SPAM_BLOCK.facstaff.wisc.edu> wrote in
    message news:cthomas-D836C9.11360028082003@teta.doit.wisc.edu...
    > In article <20030828122312.18495.00000091@mb-m13.aol.com>,
    > blacklinemusic@aol.com (BlacklineMusic) wrote:
    >
    > > But what
    > > I use MOST is SIR with 480 and 960 responses.

    >
    > What's SIR?
    >
    > CT


    http://www.knufinke.de/sir/index_en.html

    Graham
  17. Les Cargill

    Les Cargill Guest

    Ryan Mitchley wrote:
    >
    > Unfortunately, most of the reverb plugins suck. Badly. And I've tried quite
    > a few of them. Most of them seem to suffer from a ringy, comb-filtering kind
    > of sound
    >


    Most of 'em are constructed from ringy comb filters. Seriously.

    > MasterVerb was recommended to me rather enthusiastically, but I tried the
    > demo and didn't find it that convincing. Maybe I should give it another
    > listen.
    >
    > The Waves reverbs are a bit awkward in that they do a relatively convincing
    > job of simulating an acoustic space (better than some hardware boxes, IMHO).
    > On the other hand, they don't sound as "nice" (lush, expensive, silky,
    > blah...) and can't give that "studio reverb sound" obtainable with Lexicons,
    > etc.
    >
    > The closest plugins to the "studio reverb" sound I've come across are the
    > Timeworks 4080L and ReverbX. The 4080L is pretty useful (that's not really a
    > raving endorsement, though).



    It was pretty grainy, as I remember the demo.

    >
    > Ryan



    --
    Les Cargill
  18. Les Cargill

    Les Cargill Guest

    Ryan Mitchley wrote:
    >
    > RWH> I find that I like even the cheapest hardware reverbs better than the
    > RWH> most expensive plugins.
    >
    > Yeah - it's rather mystifying. If there's any domain where software plugins
    > could better (or at least equal) hardware boxes, I would have thought it
    > would be reverb. Reverb boxes are generally digital and linear, and the
    > computations are well suited to a PC.



    Reverb is computationally expensive. This means that the cost
    can be mitigated by changing details of the underlying hardware
    platform. Plus, anybody develops a nice reverb plug is gonna
    get it purated to hell and back, and you can't really pirate
    a box.

    > If anything, I would have guessed that
    > compressors with their strange non-linearities and other weirdnesses would
    > have proven difficult to translate. However, I find that I'm not lacking in
    > the compressor plugin department at all (everything from transparent to
    > pumpy to in-your-face is covered).
    >


    Compressors are easier than reverbs. Much easier.

    > Apparently Lexicon tried to enter the plugin market but got burned in some
    > way? Anyone know something about this? I think even a fairly limited
    > $200-$300 Lexicon plugin would totally seize the market. Maybe software
    > piracy is an issue . . . ?
    >


    Software piracy and computational intensity.

    > Ryan



    --
    Les Cargill
  19. Les Cargill

    Les Cargill Guest

    Charles Thomas wrote:
    >
    > In article <20030828122312.18495.00000091@mb-m13.aol.com>,
    > blacklinemusic@aol.com (BlacklineMusic) wrote:
    >
    > > But what
    > > I use MOST is SIR with 480 and 960 responses.

    >
    > What's SIR?
    >
    > CT


    It's a convolution reverb. You can load impulse samplesets
    from .wav files, and SIR will use those to convolve
    the reverberated sugnal.

    --
    Les Cargill
  20. Les Cargill

    Les Cargill Guest

    BlacklineMusic wrote:
    >
    > >You are correct that many reverb plug-ins are poor, and that's because the
    > >plug-in designers have to trade reverb density - more is better - against
    > >minimizing CPU loading

    >
    > I find that the latest reverb plugins are pretty awesome. Spin Audio Verb 2,
    > Timeworks X, Classic Verb on Powercore, and I use Freeverb on some things and
    > its great. Oh and there is also the Ambience plugin which isn't bad. But what
    > I use MOST is SIR with 480 and 960 responses. I don't go near the Waves stuff,
    > its boxy and crappy. And yes, I've used the best reverb boxes out there from
    > 960s to Yardsticks...


    I tried SIR, and I got a nasty delay effect - the impulse didn't
    come into play until quite a bit of time.

    And yes, I trimmed off the stuff on the beginning of the sampleset.

    --
    Les Cargill

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