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JEL 4th November 2015 07:12 AM

LiquidSonics Reverberate 2.0
Sound Quality: top-score.

Ease of use: easy enough once you get used to it, but of course there are some buttons to learn.

Features: pretty much what you need. A ducking-control would be nice though.

Bang for buck: a huge bang!

Just a few words first.

When I started making music, hardware-reverbs was the only way.
When software became more useful for this, I started looking into soft-verbs and have been interested in the progress of this ever since.

I've never been a big fan of the sound of algo-verbs. It always sounded somewhat synthetic to me.
Recently I've heard some that do have a useful sound though (but only really on a narrow type of tracks, not broadly useful like i found hardware-reverbs to be)
Algo-verbs have been slowly getting better over time and are probably going to keep getting better. But I think the scope of sound-material that works well with them is still somewhat narrow. I think of them as mostly unsubtle special-FX still (YMMV)

Static convolution reverbs was a clear step forward, in my opinion. Convolution in general seems to have an edge (in terms of sound-clarity and sound-brilliance) almost everywhere it's implemented (over algo-stuff)
But of course static convolution reverbs are static and that is obviously an undesired limitation when using them for music (a limitation algos don't have)

So I'm always searching for THE soft-reverb (aren't we all ;) )

I've been using Voxengo's "Pristine" for a long time (in my mind a brilliant static convolution-reverb), but kept missing that 'life' that a truly good reverb brings. The movement, or whatever one wants to call it. That special hard-to-define 'something' that makes music spark (in terms of reverb)

I discovered Nebula only recently (about a month ago or so) and really liked what it brought sound-wise.
However, because of my dislike of Paypal I haven't been able to purchase the Nebula, so I've only used the free version Acustica offers (which has a great sound as it is)

The free Nebula version has some reverbs which I quickly found to sound better than static convolution reverbs.
But... the ones I've heard are still static.
It seems to me the Nebula uses a more or less deterministic way of selecting which IRs the sound should pass through (I don't know exactly how the Nebula works, I'm just basing my guess on my own sound-experiments with it), which is perhaps why it sounds really good as amp/EQ sims for coloring the sound (and it does that really well, in fact much better than the algos I've used so far)

But when feeding the Nebula an A440 sine-wave (annoyingly sterile sound when listened to dry, haha :lol:), there's no movement over time (when the sounds settles after the initial start-confusion)
In that regard the Nebula and the Pristine are completely identical static impulse reverbs.
Of course when you feed the Nebula music (and generally only geeks listen to test-tones :lol:), you get a slightly more complex reverb than with Pristine.

I was impressed with the Nebula but got caught out by my dislike for Paypal and Acustica having no alternative ways of purchase (I've heard they have plans for 2016 that may include people like me into the geeky Nebula sect ;) )

Then I saw LiquidSonics post a new product alert here on Gearslutz :)

Reverberate 2.0

I had earlier tried the first version, but didn't like the ping-pong modulation used on some presets. Other than that version 1 was just as good as Pristine, for my uses at least. So I didn't think anymore of it and didn't try to buy it.

Then i demoed Reverberate 2.0... and I was just about not to, because I figured it was probably just more of the same type of modulation, only perhaps a tad more complex, but still not really useful in creating the kind of reverb sound I was looking for... and if that was the case I wasn't going to spend hours downloading those huge FIR-reverbs just to demo it and find it uninteresting...
So I almost passed on it, but this is one time I'm extremely pleased to have been wrong :)

Reverberate 2.0 has the best sound I've yet heard in a soft-reverb. And not just the best sound but a truly magnificent sound. We may all have different tastes in what good sound is, but the sound qualities that I'm personally looking for in a reverb is all there in Reverberate 2.0.

But alas I discovered... yes, you guessed it... payments are made through Paypal :deth:
I felt so bummed right there. Something worth spending money on, only to meet the roadblock that is Paypal.
(I know it's MY headache, and that others happily buy through Paypal, but for me it's a self-imposed roadblock i simply refuse to lift. Whatever. It is what it is)

While feeling the pain of losing out on Reverberate 2.0, I get an email from Waves about a sale they have in which they mention the "H-Reverb hybrid". I see they mention the word FIR, which is also mentioned with Reverberate 2.0, so I can't help but think that maybe this reverb uses a similar technique and could be a viable alternative (especially since it's on sale and since Waves do NOT use Paypal ;) )

So I download the Waves-reverb and put it through the paces of my usual testing...
It's not a bad reverb by any stretch, but it uses a similar modulation technology as Reverberate 1.0.

When I feed it the A440 sine-wave, the Waves reverb keeps the sound modulated, but in a repetitive and cyclical way. They seem to have a semi-random (it sounds like 2 oscillators running side-by-side but slightly out of sync) type of modulation going on, but after a short while the repetitive pattern is fairly clear.

If it was a step-up from a normal static convolution reverb, this would be an improvement. But after having heard Reverberate 2.0, it was a step backwards.

The Waves reverb had 3 modulation-controls. An "AM", an "AM-rate", and an "FM" control.

I didn't read the manual, but the AM sounded like volume-changes, so I assume AM is amplitude-modulation.
What it did sound-wise was to raise and lower the volume of the sound, in different tempo on the left and right channel. It could be dialed in to sound fairly well, but the repetitive pattern couldn't be completely avoided. It didn't sound musically interesting to my ears. It's the kind of modulation you could set up before a normal static convolution reverb by simply automating the pan and fader buttons on the send-signal going into the reverb.
Of course the Waves reverb wouldn't require you to set up such automation, as it has the controls for this itself. So clearly convenient in that respect, but sound-wise not very impressive.

The FM sounded similar to a phaser effect. Like the AM it also seemed to modulate the left and right channel independently of each other and in a semi-randomly way, but also like the AM a repetitive cyclical pattern could be heard.

I wasn't able to make the Waves-reverb produce a non-repetitive sound in its modulation.

For some types of music this may not be a big deal, but if you have music with more slowly evolving patterns (chill-out and ambient styles, for example) I feel pretty sure the Waves-reverb would fall through and not sound too useful. In fact I think a clean static convolution reverb would sit better than the Waves-reverb in such types of music, because a static reverb wouldn't draw attention to its cyclical repetitive patterns (obviously since there aren't any in a static reverb :) )
Of course for such use you could dial out the modulation on the Waves-plugin, but then you'd have nothing more than a beefed up static convolution reverb (with included EQ and reverb-ducking (a very nice feature, by the way, the reverb-ducking)

When I ran the same test through the Reverberate 2.0, I never experienced the sound becoming repetitive or cyclical in its modulation (when using the new FIR reverbs)

Instead I got a continuous motion going that seemed to buzz gently around (much more subtle and sonically pleasing than I could dial in with the Waves-modulation. In fact the Waves-reverb's modulation was hard to keep calm and I never really managed to get it to do gentle subtle swirls to the sound. It was always too intrusive)

It's hard to describe the sound, but sonically Reverberate 2.0 does that special something to the sound that you would hear in a real room.

Over on Voxengo there was a debate a long time ago, about how church-organs sounded lush when recorded in a real church, versus how it sounded when played through a static convolution reverb. And in that debate things such as air-density and micro-flow was talked about. All very interesting stuff if you're into the science of reverberation (geeky stuff ablian :) )

And Reverberate 2.0 is the first soft-reverb I have heard that manages to capture that elusive spirit. That strange motion that keeps playing with the sonic character of your audio in a real room and which sounds so amazingly delightful when done correct. No wonder architects get famed when they manage to draw and build a truly wonderful sound-stage. It really is something else to hear that special reverb sound of a 'perfect' room :)

Reverberate 2.0 is the closest I've personally been able to get to that sound with a soft-reverb.
And for that achievement LiquidSonics get a full 10 out of 10 from me.

It even has a nice GUI (something that doesn't always come in plugins with otherwise good sound), so from my point of view the superlatives I've used describing Reverberate 2.0 are all very well deserved (anything that can make even an A440 sine-wave sound nice... it's a winner! kfhkh )

MarsBot 10th November 2015 08:19 AM

LiquidSonics Reverberate 2
8 Attachment(s)
• Product: LiquidSonics Reverberate 2
• Developer: LiquidSonics
• Formats: AAX/AU/VST Win/Mac 32-64
• Price: £80
• DRM: license file (provided via email upon purchase) 30 day fully functional demo.
• Website: LiquidSonics - Reverberate 2 | Convolution Reverb for VST, AU and AAX

LiquidSonics recently released Reverberate 2 convolution reverb. This update of the original Reverberate includes a new proprietary process called Fusion-IR. One complaint about convolution reverbs has been that they tend to sound more static and flat than algorithmic reverbs. Developers, including LiquidSonics, have employed various modulation schemes to mitigate this weakness. But now LiquidSonics is taking a whole new approach to solving the problem with Fusion-IRs. According to the manual:
Fusion-IR processing adds additional modulation capabilities capable of more closely capturing the inherent time-varying nature of some true-stereo reverb systems. By performing multiple true-stereo convolutions in parallel and fusing them together, a richer and more captivating reverb compliments the original source material. This brings convolution closer to the sound of an algorithmic reverb but with the powerful sculpting capabilities only possible with a convolution approach.
With Bricasti's permission, LiquidSonics has applied this new Fusion-IR technique to capture the full Bricasti v1 and v2 algorithm presets. Since many sound engineers already have Bricasti IR sets from Samplicity and SignalToNoize, I began by comparing the three sets and creating some files so people can hear whether LiquidSonics' new Fusion-IRs really does take convolution reverb to the "next level."

I used the SignalToNoize Bricasti sets for comparison because they generally sound better than the Samplicity sets. I created two versions of each audio file as seen in the SoundCloud files below (CD quality audio versions of these files are also at the bottom of this post as attachments). The "LS" versions have the LiquidSonics Bricasti Fusion-IR presets on the indicated instruments. The "STN" versions have the SignalToNoize versions of the same Bricasti presets running in Reverberate 2 with the True Stereo settings as recommended by the SignalToNoize website. Reverb levels were matched as closely as possible for volume and decay. Not all patches in the two sets are the same; the decay times can vary from set to set for the same exact patch. But generally they are very close and obviously the same Bricasti preset.

In the audio files below the LiquidSonics versions are titled "LS" while the SignalToNoize versions are titled "STN". I've included brief descriptions of which instruments have which Bricasti reverbs. Be aware that I purposely muted the reverb send on the vocals for the first line of RockDrumVox and Ballad Chamber Vox so listeners can identify the reverb's entrance and how it affects the vocal sitting in the mix:
LS AcoGit - Solo acoustic guitar with Bricasti preset "Boston Hall A."

STN AcoGit - Solo acoustic guitar with Bricasti preset "Boston Hall A."

LS SoulVox - Lead vox "Rich Plate A," Choir vox "Berliner Hall," Chorus Vox "Ambience Large and Bright."

STN SoulVox - Lead vox "Rich Plate," Choir vox "Berliner Hall," Chorus Vox "Ambience Large and Bright."

LS RockDrumVox - Lead vox "Small Plate" predelay 168ms, Choir vox "Small Plate" predelay 344ms, Drums "Rooms Studio B Far."

STN RockDrumVox - Lead vox "Small Plate" predelay 168ms, Choir vox "Small Plate" predelay 344ms, Drums "Rooms Studio B Far."

LS Ballad Chamber Vox - Lead vox "Vocal Chamber" predelay 80ms.

STN Ballad Chamber Vox - Lead vox "Vocal Chamber" predelay 80ms.
Like many other people, I've just never been able to get a truly musical ITB reverb going. I'm really looking forward to doing serious mixing with Reverberate 2 on upcoming projects. I think LiquidSonics may have finally broken the ITB reverb barrier. After working with these Fusion-IR Bricasti sets for a while, I noticed how "flat" the SignalToNoize versions (which are very good conventional IRs by the way) seem by comparison. The Fusion-IRs impart a very lively, musical quality to convolution reverb that I haven't heard before. The FS-1 (Factory Set 1) Fusion-IRs are also very good, especially the halls, some of which you can hear in Diogo's video here:

PRESETS ISSUE - Some people have posted on the gearslutz "New Product Alert" thread for Reverberate 2 regarding problems accessing presets for the two large Fusion-IR downloads - Bricasti M7 and FS-1 - which are 4 GB each. This can be a little confusing. Here's how I got everything to work pretty seamlessly on a Mac:
A. Leave all banks, presets and IRs in the default installation folder and put the Fusion folders for Bricasti and Fusion-IR FS-1 in there too. Enable the "Lost Files Recursive Search" function in the browser options.

B. Go to "Saved Banks" in the plug-in, select "Favourites" and give every Fusion bank its own entry. It takes a few minutes, but then all Reverberate 2 original preset banks are easily accessible from the "Saved Banks" area.
I think the developer is likely to change this preset system given the following post of his on that gearslutz thread: "Message received, it sounds like people want to see platform specific installers for the Fusion-IRs and presets and to have these show up automatically in the product rather than the current platform independent zips with a guide of how to use them. I'll look into the mechanics of doing that."

TWEAKER'S DELIGHT - Reverberate 2 offers the option to tweak every major parameter involved with convolution reverb. I can't cover everything in this review, but clearly the developer is option-conscious and focused on providing every possible adjustment parameter. You can load two IRs and mix them. Modulation can be applied to delay, Post EQ, pan, and something called a "Split Mod" that can independently modulate the early and late portions of an IR set. A nice sounding chorus is included as well. All these modulation possibilities allow you to program lots of movement into a reverb patch. You can stretch IRs and change their envelopes. There are excellent sounding IR EQs which I found helpful in adjusting standard IR libraries to sit in the mix. On the Fusion-IRs you can adjust early/late ratios as well as the Fusion mod frequency. One function I find particularly helpful is the "Topology" menu, which allows you to automatically create True Stereo routing whenever you load a True Stereo file set like those from SignalToNoize. And if your IR is lacking something in the crucial beginning and ending areas, you can supplement with the very versatile early reflection and synthetic tail generators.

Some people are asking for a "lite" version of Reverberate 2 with a less complicated interface. And the Fusion-IRs sound so good that they don't require the kind of tweaking regular IRs sometimes need. So I think the developer could create a "lite" version without really compromising on sound quality and sell a lot of them. But keep in mind that the current version will already function as a "lite" version if you simply stay with the Fusion-IR presets. The only suggestion I have regarding the interface is that the final mix knobs for overall gain and wet/dry mix are so important that they should always be present on the interface regardless of what tab you have selected. Right now, they are hidden in the Mixer tab.

PROS - Takes convolution to the next level with innovation Fusion-IR approach, beautiful Bricasti M7 Fusion-IRs, zero latency function, extremely tweakable, great overall sound, reasonable price.

CONS - Some issues with adding presets and there is a learning curve.