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Reverb settings for orchestral sample libraries - share your set-ups. Reverb & Delay Plugins
Old 31st December 2010
  #1
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Reverb settings for orchestral sample libraries - share your set-ups.

I would like this thread to be a resource for others who need some ideas and assistance with the difficulty and frustration of obtaining a realistic orchestral sound. I have been scouring the net for some useful information about realistic reverb set-ups for use with orchestral sample libraries and I have found a few things. but all in different places and forums.

It seems that there is no definitive set-up as the various libraries that exist all differ (some being dry and with reverb already added). so I will post some of the ideas I have found.

A clear winner seems be the TODD AO IR's in Altiverb (with people using various settings)...

In This tutorial: Applying Early Reflections to get That sound. SvK (Steven Von Kampen) posts some good ideas. Hope he does not mind me sharing them here for eager learners...

BASIC SUMMARY of SVK's ideas

6 Altiverb instances:
In 3 of them the only thing activated is the ERs.
In the other 3 the only thing activated is the Tails.

So flutes for example would have 2 send knobs - one sending to the ER instance and the other to the Tail instance.

Let's take a Dry (important) Bass Clarinet.

1). Set up a Altiverb Bus with the 8m Todd AO.

2). In Altiverb turn off Direct, Placement and Tail...ONLY Leave on the EarlReflections....mix is 100% WET.

3). Send dry Bass Clarinet to that Early Reflection.

4). Using a level meter make sure that Early Reflection Buss is circa 2 db LOUDER than the Dry Clarinet sound.

You get the idea, notice how dialing in the Early Reflections correctly on the Bass Clarinet brought out the low-end? Just how it is in reality (now you don't need to EQ, nature did it for you).

(PS: For Violins and Violas, use the 3m early reflection.....and on these the relationship is the Early Reflec. is circa 6db LOWER than dry Dry Violins. Also on winds the ER should be circa 1 db LOWER than direct stem).

Tail Only Busses - adjust the pre-delay to accommodate for the ER's. I think I dialed in 3m=70ms, 8m=80ms, 12m=90ms. So adjust them so that the tails kick in right after ER subsides.

Other cool Ideas from SvK

PERCUSSION
Clinton Studios 8.3meter (ER and Tail) + Todd AO 12 meter [email protected] delay sounds terrific - It's the bomb.
The clinton is fat / short, then add tail of Todd and your there.

Westlake Drum room- Sounds awesome on drums / orchestral Percussion etc, if you use that then just add the 12 m Todd Tail.

Also you can use a reverb on the Master Bus for the Tail only - a nice hall for smooth Hall.

Found some great templates for Altiverb and Vienna Instruments from a composer called Hetoreyn Here:

Please contribute more ideas and set-ups.
Old 1st January 2011
  #2
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whinecellar's Avatar
Man, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is an almost impossible topic on which to give clear, objective advice since the end goal is so subjective.

As an admitted reverb snob, I'm currently watching several different threads related to my current favorites (Lexicon LXP/PCM bundles & 2c Audio's Aether & Breeze). While people's reactions to those products is overwhelmingly positive, there's always someone who makes the rest of us scratch our heads with a statement like "I didn't really like it" or "I prefer (product x)." It is very much a matter of preference.

Most of my scoring work is done ITB so I'm always on a quest for realism, while keeping in mind the big question isn't whether it's "real" - but rather "is it real good" (credit to Jay Asher for that quote).

That said, I think the biggest favor anyone can do for themselves is to simply listen to existing scores, pay attention to how they sound, and keep trying to emulate that as much as possible. Figure out your mix deficiencies, play with EQ (match EQ can be a good learning tool when comparing to commercial scores!), learn instrument placement, learn to make different sample libraries work well together, and of course play with reverb settings & balance.

Personally, the benchmark I'm always shooting for is the sound of my favorite scores - the majority of which were recorded at Abbey Road. It's an unmistakeable sound, and I'm always trying to emulate it. I've gotten really close with several different reverb plugins, and when I have a chance I'll post a .zip file with a handful of presets. For my taste, the best ITB verbs available these days are the above (Lexicon & 2c), but I've gotten great results from freebies like Apple's AU Matrix Reverb, believe it or not.

Having said all that, SvK offers some great tips in the links you posted, and I agree with the idea of using ER's on different instrument groups and then an overall tail on the stereo mix to put everything in the same room. However, this can all become academic if the stuff feeding those reverbs isn't any good. Put another way, great reverb settings are just a part of the overall impression when it comes to mockups. A crucial part to be sure, but a part that makes little difference in realism if everything else isn't great first.

Finally, you can't get too scientific about it; start with those settings (or similar), but you ultimately have to use your ears, and by all means compare to a score in the same ballpark! I think that's where people's work tends to fall down in comparison; they're listening in isolation and forgetting that all-important comparison. It's too easy to think your stuff is sounding good, then you fire up iTunes when you think you're done, only to find out you are nowhere close. Personally, I have iTunes open when I start mixing a cue, and I'm ALWAYS going back & forth comparing, listening & learning.

Oh, one other thing. I was a convolution fan for some time, and I still think it has its place. However, I've come to find algorithmic verbs (with modulation) are usually a better choice for orchestral stuff, at least for the final stereo mix. There's something about what modulation does to the reverb tail that you can't get with a static impulse; to my ear it adds a bit of life & movement that's hard to get otherwise. Obviously this depends on the algorithm and this is just my $.02, but compare a great Lex hall to a static impulse & it should be fairly obvious...

Whew - sorry for the novel! I'll try to post some example presets when I have a chance to compile them.

Cheers!
Old 1st January 2011
  #3
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Thanks whinecellar, good post.

Yeah I am an AB freak too, I always have comparison pieces to judge mine against because as you mention - when working in isolation you can get a nasty shock when you fire up iTunes to test it against the big stuff!.

I am so impressed with the Breeze plugin, and that turned me on to Aether and will have to purchase both - at the mo' I just run Breeze and have to screenshot my presets because it's still in demo mode - but my god that plugin is inasanely good for the price, how did they get it so silky smooth, and those tails...

I just thought it would be good to have an idea of a few set ups. I heard some of the work from the guys over on the Vi forum and it sounded great (I know that was down too composition and skilful use of multiple libraries) but just learning about reverb tips can help a great deal to get the ears adjusted and sonically informed so to speak, especially if you bag a gig with a limited budget and the producer has ambitious goals!
Old 1st January 2011
  #4
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whinecellar's Avatar
Yes indeed, and I'll try to post some stuff as I'm able. As for Breeze, I've posted 2 custom presets already over on the V.I. forum - one is an early reflection geared for brass, and the other is a stab at the Abbey Road room 1 vibe. If you combine them on most orch stuff, it will totally get you in that ballpark... it really is a stunning product! I've been A/B'ing it against the Lex stuff and find myself preferring it on quite a few sources!

Speaking of which, I posted some samples of these 2 presets working together yesterday if you want to hear them - also compared to the Lex LXP Hall for good measure ;-)

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/6167977-post185.html
Old 2nd January 2011
  #5
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Checked the Abbey Road and Lex comparisons, yeah it's getting there...

The Breeze preset is a little bit more resonant and lively, not quite as smooth as the Lex, you can hear the extra lift/bounce of the verb after the final note - a bit more tweaking and yeah, very close.

I suppose that therer are no Abbey Road Room 1 impulse responses out there?...
Old 2nd January 2011
  #6
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Yep, as I mentioned in that post, I dialed that in within the first few minutes of the demo; I've made some great progress with it since, and I'm liking it just as much as the Lex stuff for certain things. I actually preferred the Breeze decay in that sample - it's a bit smoother/less grainy than the Lex. Man, I need to make sure I didn't get them backwards!

As for Abbey Road impulses, there aren't any commercially available (wink wink) because they have a strict "no sampling" policy. However, if you send me a PM I can point you in a direction that may fulfill that need. Although as I said above, I don't think any impulses are quite as nice as a good algorithmic verb on an orchestral mix ;-)

Cheers,
Old 15th January 2011
  #7
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Just curious, since you guys seem to be chasing after the "big" Abbey Road orchestral sound...would there be only one Lexicon reverb that tracks are being aux'ed to? Also, what's a good RT - I have about 2.25 S dialed in at the moment.
Old 15th January 2011
  #8
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whinecellar's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben J View Post
Just curious, since you guys seem to be chasing after the "big" Abbey Road orchestral sound...would there be only one Lexicon reverb that tracks are being aux'ed to? Also, what's a good RT - I have about 2.25 S dialed in at the moment.
No, rarely is just one verb sufficient if you're really going for detail. Early reflections are a big part of it (particularly for brighter instruments like brass & percussion) so I have several different flavors each on their own aux - then the whole mix will get a touch of overall "scoring stage" to glue everything together in the same space.

At the risk of sounding really obvious, what works really well on certain sources doesn't work at all for others. Strings & brass really take well to modulated algorithms while perc & piano tend not to - they often sound better through an impulse.

Whatever the case, it's just a matter of listening to what evokes the response you're looking for. As for RT, 2.25 sounds about right, but it can vary significantly if you're using an impulse. Best thing you can do is listen to some reference scores you like and try to emulate those ;-)

Hope that helps,
Old 15th January 2011
  #9
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IMHO it's not the kind of reverb you use that's important, but how all the instruments blend together. Which is why I like VSL better than EW and other orchestral libraries, because the instruments are very dry (even EW's close mic positions aren't 100% reverb-free.)

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, using different reverbs for different sections can achieve a higher degree of realism than just washing everything in the same "concert hall" reverb.

I think one of the biggest errors people doing orchestral mockups make is going for total clarity of all instruments. In a real orchestra, not everything is crystal clear.
Old 15th January 2011
  #10
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I use a separate Altiverb instance (Todd AO) for each section. I also use some Neve console, tape, and eq plugins (Nebula) on each stem to add some warmth and realism. So I have my template set up as close to being a real recording session as possible. It seems to be a good starting point, but it's not as "homogenized" and polished as the real thing.

I suppose my original question should have been "how much artificial reverb is added to the Abbey Road, or similar, mixes? Would they still use separate instances for each section?"

It might be a pointless question to ask since no single musical cue would call for exactly the same mix as any other, nor am I working with Abbey Road 1 impulses...I just wanted some more insight in post-processing for those types of scores.
Old 15th January 2011
  #11
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gramophone's Avatar
 

Smile

I am also really interested in what their mixing approach is.

Peter Cobbin mixed both the Half Blood Prince & Order Of The Phoenix soundtracks, and I've been listening to them regularly as I'm a huge fan of that Studio 1 sound at AR.

I found a youtube video of the scoring session - and I would imagine the sound of the room (if I'm right in saying this?) plays an enormous part in the final sound.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sASbCxnjAg

John Barry's The Beyondness Of Things was also recorded in there, and I love the sound of the orchestra on that recording too.

I also managed to dig up some information on the studio's specs from the Abbey Road website - I'm wondering if this info could be used to create a space in a reverb (PCM Native or other)?

Overall Length: 92ft 7in / 28.22m
Overall Width: 55ft 5in / 16.89m
Overall height: 39ft 10in / 12.15m
Clear height: 33ft / 10.05m
Floor are: 4908sq ft / 456 sq m
Reverberation Time: 2.3 sec
Live Room: 16 square metres.
Vocal booth: 11.8 square metres.

2.3 secs then eh. I might see if I can get in the ballpark with my trusty VSS3. heh

All the best folks!

Last edited by gramophone; 15th January 2011 at 06:58 AM.. Reason: youtube url
Old 15th January 2011
  #12
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whinecellar's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, using different reverbs for different sections can achieve a higher degree of realism than just washing everything in the same "concert hall" reverb.
Bingo - that's what I was trying to say, but PaPi61 said it much better ;-)
Old 15th January 2011
  #13
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whinecellar's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by gramophone View Post
I would imagine the sound of the room (if I'm ...plays an enormous part in the final sound.
You would imagine correctly, and it's why you can tell the sound of just about anything recorded there from a mile away...
Old 15th January 2011
  #14
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Animus's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gramophone View Post
I am also really interested in what their mixing approach is.

Peter Cobbin mixed both the Half Blood Prince & Order Of The Phoenix soundtracks, and I've been listening to them regularly as I'm a huge fan of that Studio 1 sound at AR.

I found a youtube video of the scoring session - and I would imagine the sound of the room (if I'm right in saying this?) plays an enormous part in the final sound.

YouTube - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Score Session: Behind The Scenes

John Barry's The Beyondness Of Things was also recorded in there, and I love the sound of the orchestra on that recording too.

I also managed to dig up some information on the studio's specs from the Abbey Road website - I'm wondering if this info could be used to create a space in a reverb (PCM Native or other)?

Overall Length: 92ft 7in / 28.22m
Overall Width: 55ft 5in / 16.89m
Overall height: 39ft 10in / 12.15m
Clear height: 33ft / 10.05m
Floor are: 4908sq ft / 456 sq m
Reverberation Time: 2.3 sec
Live Room: 16 square metres.
Vocal booth: 11.8 square metres.

2.3 secs then eh. I might see if I can get in the ballpark with my trusty VSS3. heh

All the best folks!
That's a start but all the acoustic baffling and other treatments play a big role on top of room shape etc., then you got all the nice mics and other gear, plus experienced engineers (probably the most important part outside the player themselves).
Old 15th January 2011
  #15
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gramophone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Animus View Post
That's a start but all the acoustic baffling and other treatments play a big role on top of room shape etc., then you got all the nice mics and other gear, plus experienced engineers (probably the most important part outside the player themselves).
Very good point.

I actually mocked up a piece called 'Dumbledore's Farewell' from the Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince soundtrack using LASS and VSS3, and am currently trying Altiverb on a 15-day trial.

I'm also giving QL Spaces a go too - and as many have said - using your ears and trying to emulate the sound of your favourite scores is often a great place to start...
Old 15th January 2011
  #16
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I fooled around for a while with 2 instances for each section ala SvK for a while and reached the conclusion that to my ears sending them to 1 or 2 auxes, each hosting a UAD EMT Plate 140 and a Todd AO early reflection achieved a result that was as good or better with a substantially smaller drain on CPU.

Here is a trailer I recently scored where I did precisely that. A respected composer buddy of mine wrote me, "Wow, what a difference a good hardware reverb makes" mistakenly thinking that was what I had used.

My first trailer for Lionsgate on Vimeo
Old 15th January 2011
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashermusic View Post
I fooled around for a while with 2 instances for each section ala SvK for a while and reached the conclusion that to my ears sending them to 1 or 2 auxes, each hosting a UAD EMT Plate 140 and a Todd AO early reflection achieved a result that was as good or better with a substantially smaller drain on CPU.

Here is a trailer I recently scored where I did precisely that. A respected composer buddy of mine wrote me, "Wow, what a difference a good hardware reverb makes" mistakenly thinking that was what I had used.

My first trailer for Lionsgate on Vimeo

I am getting great results with orchestral instruments with using scoring stage impulses (ER and tails, it blends much better with the tails too) on inserts with adjusted Mix knob and then sending that to a Lexicon type reverb. Which from what I read is pretty much what the big boys do. They record on a scoring stage and send to Lexicon verbs in mix time. I am doing this with VSL Solo Strings and Hollywood Strings (mid mics) and it sounds fantastic.

Checked your trailer out. Sounds good overall. A little loud and consistent over the picture though. Only thing I really didn't like as far as the music was the fake sounding solo soloist. Like the soft porn in the trailer though! lol
Old 15th January 2011
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Animus View Post
I am getting great results with orchestral instruments with using scoring stage impulses (ER and tails, it blends much better with the tails too) on inserts with adjusted Mix knob and then sending that to a Lexicon type reverb. Which from what I read is pretty much what the big boys do. They record on a scoring stage and send to Lexicon verbs in mix time. I am doing this with VSL Solo Strings and Hollywood Strings (mid mics) and it sounds fantastic.

Checked your trailer out. Sounds good overall. A little loud and consistent over the picture though. Only thing I really didn't like as far as the music was the fake sounding solo soloist. Like the soft porn in the trailer though! lol
Well, they temped in with "Habenera" from Bizet's "Carmen" and that is roughly how they mixed it, so that was my paradigm.

Yeah, I wish the budget had allowed for a real singer.

I would like to hear a piece with your combo that sounds "fantastic" so I hear where your taste is.
Old 15th January 2011
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashermusic View Post
Well, they temped in with "Habenera" from Bizet's "Carmen" and that is roughly how they mixed it, so that was my paradigm.

Yeah, I wish the budget had allowed for a real singer.

I would like to hear a piece with your combo that sounds "fantastic" so I hear where your taste is.
Well it sounds fantastic in the sense of my personal benchmark, best results I've gotten personally. I make no claims how it stacks up to anyone elses. Whenever I finish up this project I will post some demos for sure.

It's weird though they would mix your score that loud over all the dialog. Usually they at least duck things out.
Old 15th January 2011
  #20
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Since Jay asked for some samples using our current paradigm(s) I thought I'd direct you fellas to one of my posts on another thread:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/6205553-post209.html

This was a quick-n-dirty comparison of 2cAudio's Breeze vs. Lexicon PCM/LXP bundles. The point was how good their $150 verb sounds compared to a $1500 one, but the relevance here is that either example (to my ear anyway) is reminiscent of the big Abbey Road vibe. Definitely brighter and with a longer tail than the real thing, but the width and overall character is in the ballpark. I used Breeze for the ERs on the brass (I left those in on the dry version) and then ran the whole mix through Breeze/Lex for the tail.

Just excuse the "mockup" - I threw down the whole thing in about 3 minutes just to have a reference that most would be familiar with ;-)
Old 15th January 2011
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Animus View Post
Well it sounds fantastic in the sense of my personal benchmark, best results I've gotten personally. I make no claims how it stacks up to anyone elses. Whenever I finish up this project I will post some demos for sure.

It's weird though they would mix your score that loud over all the dialog. Usually they at least duck things out.
Well, sounds "fantastic" is a subjective judgement by all of us, no? At the end of the day all that matters is that you like it and your client likes it. In this case, it was very true for me with this piece, which is why I posted it, which I rarely do.
Old 15th January 2011
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashermusic View Post
Well, sounds "fantastic" is a subjective judgement by all of us, no? At the end of the day all that matters is that you like it and your client likes it. In this case, it was very true for me with this piece, which is why I posted it, which I rarely do.
Right. And I wasn't implying your piece was bad in anyway compared to mine. I even said I liked it, except for the relative levels to the trailer and the vocal sample. You composer types are so sensitive. heh
Old 15th January 2011
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Animus View Post
Right. And I wasn't implying your piece was bad in anyway compared to mine. I even said I liked it, except for the relative levels to the trailer and the vocal sample. You composer types are so sensitive. heh
I totally understand and I never get upset with honest opinions of my work that have negative aspects unless I distrust the agenda of the poster, which I have no reason to do with you.
Old 21st January 2011
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashermusic View Post
I fooled around for a while with 2 instances for each section ala SvK for a while and reached the conclusion that to my ears sending them to 1 or 2 auxes, each hosting a UAD EMT Plate 140 and a Todd AO early reflection achieved a result that was as good or better with a substantially smaller drain on CPU.

Here is a trailer I recently scored where I did precisely that. A respected composer buddy of mine wrote me, "Wow, what a difference a good hardware reverb makes" mistakenly thinking that was what I had used.

My first trailer for Lionsgate on Vimeo
really really nice jayit was the perfect emotion most def heart felt i cant wait to get my uad 2 so i can try the emt verb i have the lexicons plugin reverbs so ive been really happy there very efficient cpu wise
Old 21st January 2011
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayclas View Post
really really nice jayit was the perfect emotion most def heart felt i cant wait to get my uad 2 so i can try the emt verb i have the lexicons plugin reverbs so ive been really happy there very efficient cpu wise
Thank you for the kind words, jayclas.

The Lexis do indeed sound great and if I did not own a UAD-2, I would be looking at them.
Old 20th March 2011
  #26
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rectifried's Avatar
great thread
Old 20th March 2011
  #27
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Have you Guys tried the new Flux Ircam Spat? I am really impressed with it - ease of use and great sound. I switched off the verb, fed the localized sources into a Bricasti Boston Hall reverb and it sounded amazing. The problem is that Ircam is quite expensive.
Old 20th March 2011
  #28
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Aha, here is an example of Ircam Spat fed into my Bricasti. All string sections are localized with Spat.

At Via Dolorosa by dogcatstudios on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free
Old 24th April 2012
  #29
bee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogcatstudios View Post
The problem is that Ircam is quite expensive.
Hahaha, So is the Bricasti. I'm really interested in Spat but price is kind of putting me off.
Old 25th April 2012
  #30
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Mir Pro
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