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Digital Stand alone Reverb vs Plug-in Reverb
Old 8th May 2006
  #1
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Digital Stand alone Reverb vs Plug-in Reverb

How can a plug-in reverb be any worse than a digital stand alone? Doesn't the potential of plug-in = to a box type if they're both utilizing algorythyms of x's and o's? Maybe there's more to it?
Old 8th May 2006
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundUniverse
Maybe there's more to it?

Exactly.

(Cute kid in the picture.)
Old 8th May 2006
  #3
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stand alone reverb has some significant advantages, the first and most important being that it is a dedicated unit which has its own processing power. the best reverb algorithms (and face it - reverb is probably the most important tool you have to make a mix sound good) are extremely CPU intensive. really good plugins can eat your processor and cause all kinds of problems. i have used a lot of reverbs over the years, and frankly you pretty much need to spend a bundle to get a professional quality reverb, such as the lex 480 or tc 6000. yes, you can buy some really nice plugins now, but you better have the computer horsepower to run them or you will be sorry... in my book, stand alone units are a better way to go, and let the computer pay attention to handling the basics.
Old 8th May 2006
  #4
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jdjustice's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman
stand alone reverb has some significant advantages, the first and most important being that it is a dedicated unit which has its own processing power. the best reverb algorithms (and face it - reverb is probably the most important tool you have to make a mix sound good) are extremely CPU intensive. really good plugins can eat your processor and cause all kinds of problems. i have used a lot of reverbs over the years, and frankly you pretty much need to spend a bundle to get a professional quality reverb, such as the lex 480 or tc 6000. yes, you can buy some really nice plugins now, but you better have the computer horsepower to run them or you will be sorry... in my book, stand alone units are a better way to go, and let the computer pay attention to handling the basics.
Good advice.

I like the TC Reverb 4000 stand-alone unit... it's just the stereo version of the 6000. Pricey at $2500 but coming down in price from when it was first launched....
Old 9th May 2006
  #5
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Don't forget the inbetweenies like the Powercore and UAD1 - dedicated DSP doing the work that a standalone unit would yet using the DAW outs and ins.

But, I think there's something about outboard that still has a magic, even cheap stuff - it may even be to do with the inadequacies of a unit, crusty old A/D and D/A and the fact that you have to run it back through a desk usually.
Old 9th May 2006
  #6
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paterno's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman
stand alone reverb has some significant advantages, the first and most important being that it is a dedicated unit which has its own processing power. the best reverb algorithms (and face it - reverb is probably the most important tool you have to make a mix sound good) are extremely CPU intensive. really good plugins can eat your processor and cause all kinds of problems. i have used a lot of reverbs over the years, and frankly you pretty much need to spend a bundle to get a professional quality reverb, such as the lex 480 or tc 6000. yes, you can buy some really nice plugins now, but you better have the computer horsepower to run them or you will be sorry... in my book, stand alone units are a better way to go, and let the computer pay attention to handling the basics.
I don't know if I agree with this. The 'processing power' in a lot of the older units is quite small compared to the processing power of a modern computer.

I have been using Altiverb for a couple of years now, and while it may have been a bit constricting in earlier versions, I now have had zero problems using it as much I need to complete a mix.

And I'm not sure 'reverb is probably the most important tool you have to make a mix sound good'. I think a good mixer is the most important, followed by a good song to mix...

In the end it comes down to what your set up is, and what your needs are.

Cheers,
john
Old 9th May 2006
  #7
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I have several reverbs but none will touch my Lexicon MPX-1 and G2. I don't have the higher end Lexicons but I'm sure they'd be even better.

IR-1 doesn't come close to the MPX-1 either. Their is just something magic about Lexicon. After all, they've been doing this for a long time!

And yes, no CPU hogging either stike
Old 9th May 2006
  #8
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GP_Hawk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheeky b
Don't forget the inbetweenies like the Powercore and UAD1 - dedicated DSP doing the work that a standalone unit would yet using the DAW outs and ins.
Even with the DSP, those are still taking on too much processing power imo.
Now a dedicated system for reverb via FXTeleport might give you a break on the main DAW. But still.....I see a hardware unit taking on the main reverb chores.
Old 9th May 2006
  #9
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cheeky b's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GPl
Even with the DSP, those are still taking on too much processing power imo.
Now a dedicated system for reverb via FXTeleport might give you a break on the main DAW. But still.....I see a hardware unit taking on the main reverb chores.
Err... Not on my system - I can stick as many reverbs on my two (PCI) powercores as they will allow with no discernable spike in the G5 CPU system usage that Logic is aware of. That was kind of the point in buying the buggers!

The only Powercore plug that does drain the CPU is Tubifex AFAIK. Which, as an Amp sim it needs to able to be triggered in real time .
Old 9th May 2006
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GPl
Even with the DSP, those are still taking on too much processing power imo.
Using two UAD-1s with a PC cubendo system, I get pretty much zero CPU use until I pass about 90% on the UAD meter at which point I get spikes and somewhat glitchy playback.

What kind of system did you have where the UAD-1 taxed the host CPU?

-Z-
Old 9th May 2006
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheeky b
Don't forget the inbetweenies like the Powercore and UAD1 .......
Um..... just be aware that they may well be obsolete in a few years.....

especially if the manufacturers want them to be.... or they may keep charging for updates!



Old 9th May 2006
  #12
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I wondered the same thing until I got a TC M3000. The just sound fuller and wider. Let me put it to you this way, my wife even can pick out the differences in a blind test and she dont know a damn thing about mixing.
Old 9th May 2006
  #13
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I just picked up a Kurzweil Rumour for this exact reason. Ultimately, I wasn't happy with software reverbs. I have dozens of them, and some are fairly good, but not quite right.

I found that convolution reverbs with good impulses sounded the best. From there, I found that I prefered the sound of certain hardware machines - invariably expensive.

It seems a bit silly to use convolution of algorithm reverbs, but until the software algorithmns are as good, there's really no option.

The good hardware makers patented their algorithmns, and they have the years of research and development. They don't want to give these away to be hacked, so the best way to protect their investment is to use proprietory chips in a steel box.

Since I liked the sound of the KSP8 impulses I obtained for free, it seem logical that the hardware unit would sound as good, or better. The Rumour is the cheap version of the KSP8, but exactly the same algorithmns and presets. The number of channels, and apparantly the quality of D/A converter and clock is not as good as the KSP8. But that becomes irrelevant when using s/pdif and an external clock.

I can confirm that the sounds are better than the impulses - in fact, i didn't realise how truncated the impulses were until I had the real thing. Also, i had previously noted the sine-sweep artifacts in the impulses - which didn't come from the real thing.

But the good thing about the real thing is that you can tweak the sound to your own taste.

In all fairness, it's not a quantum leap in sound quality. But worthwhile, since I need a spare D/A converter too, and the Rumour is pretty good.

The Sonicflavours R66 software reverb proves to me that it is possible to get highend reverb from a software plugin. They just need to re-develop the GUI to make it accessible to humans.
Old 9th May 2006
  #14
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u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundUniverse
How can a plug-in reverb be any worse than a digital stand alone?

how? very easily, by all accounts.


gregoire
del ubik
Old 9th May 2006
  #15
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I used to have and own the Tc M3000, Eventide Eclipse, Lexicon MPX1. I loved them a lot.

I then heard some PC reverbs and thought "yeah - dream on"

Then I got Wizoo W5. Then I got UAD-1's plate 140, TC powercore VSS3, DVR2, Non-lin.

Next thing that happened is I sold the putboard rev's and have never ever looked back.

Take the TC M3000 for starters. Great great piece of kit. It can give you two independent reverbs at 48khz for around £1500. But you cannot automate every parameter.

I got the powercore firewire, and the VSS3 algo, the same one as the TC M3000 has, for under £1000. It gives me 4 independent reverbs at 96khz fully automatable and sounds EXACTLY the same.

So it's bollocks when people say DAW reverbs cannot cope or sound as good. Utter ****e!

The DVR2 and NON-Lin sound exactly the same as the system 6000 one's also.

And the Wizoo W5 is THE most realistc reverb I have ever heard. Import and modulate some of the tails are you have very Lexicon type sounds. It holds it's own with the 91 (not heard the 960 or 480 L so can't say but does keep ground with the System 6000 for real life spaces) but it blew my old MPX1 away and I can run 4 of them for £255 quid!

Paul

Last edited by Blenn; 9th May 2006 at 05:31 PM..
Old 9th May 2006
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor
Exactly.

(Cute kid in the picture.)
Thanks Thrill that's my son who for some reason loves buttons, faders and lights!
His mom is in big trouble.

Anyway, back to verbs. I have a limited amount of plug-ins (Waves IR1, Renverb and UA) and I have two stand alone boxes SPX90II and a Line 6 echo pro I got for $250. I don't like reverb (sound) for the most part victum of being in a band that recorded a bit in the late 80's so I use very little, but I tried the UA Space Echo plug and loved it. I realized what I do like is the space it creates.

So, as an investment would I be better off with a box? My budget limits me to Kurz Rumour/Lexicon MPX1 or just get the Space Echo and Plate140 for my UA card and be happy?

Thus far I've enjoyed investing in what I've felt more important: Elux 251, e47, Chndl TG2, Portico 5012, ISA 428, UA2610, DRWM 1969, UA1176(pre 1900 S/N) So, it's kind of hard not to want to go out and get a Distresser.heh
Old 9th May 2006
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mixerguy
Um..... just be aware that they may well be obsolete in a few years.....

especially if the manufacturers want them to be.... or they may keep charging for updates!



And maybe they wont! Maybe something better will come along. Everythign has a shelf life. But in the meantime they are hear and now and sound great!

Paul
Old 9th May 2006
  #18
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I agree with Blenn.

I use to own a bunch of hardware units and have sold all but one - an MPX1 - that I use strictly for tracking (monitor).

The VSS3, Non-Lin2, and the R66 (for wilder effects) are "software" reverbs that are superior to the all of the hardware units that I've owned. The UAD Plate 140 is pretty good as well but not quite in the same league as the PoCo and R66 -at least for me.

Prior to these though, plug-in verbs did leave quite a bit to be desired.
Old 9th May 2006
  #19
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+1 for hardware even though at the moment I've rid myself of all hardware reverbs.
I used to have a Lex 480L and 300. Loved both. Eventually got rid of both when a reverb plug in came out for my Emu EIV sampler's RFX engine. I was happy. I used all three reverbs. Then one day when needing to fund what seemed like a more pressing gear purchase I put the 2 Lexicons up against the Emu reverb on a lot of different material. While the Lexicons were far more tweakable and versatile, the lushness and quality of the Emu was enough that I offed the Lexicons. Unfortunately I later offed the Emu for non reverb reasons. So far I don't think I've come across any DAW related reverbs that compare to those hardware boxes. Those "in house" algorythms compiled for the hardware they run on do have some magic. The convolution verbs are good but a different beast entirely. I remember first hearing the Sony hardware convolution verb. Sounded very interesting. Different. Nice. Convolution verbs are pretty cool. I think they are very well suited for post work. I've not tried Altiverb but have some experience with other convolution reverbs (TL Space, Space Designer). They are totally usable. Might take some more massaging to get what you want out of them. At this point the difference (an obvious difference) between hardware and software is not enough for me to want another box in the rack (let alone a beast like the 480L). Convolution and software algorythms don't beat the boxes but they're getting much better.
Old 9th May 2006
  #20
One of the things that are missing in DAW reverbs today is the actual designers themselves.


In the early days of digital reverb you had some of the best scientists around developing the algorithtms:

Dr. Barry Blesser and Karl O Baeder who helped design the EMT250, David Griesinger of Lexicon, Tony Agnello of Eventide, Chris Moore of Ursa Major, the Quantec designers,etc.

These guys were trying to get the most out of what the technology had to offer at the time.


And remember back then the gear was expensive so things were designed with the word "World Class" in mind.


The problem with today's plug in designers is that it feels sometimes they are making plugs that fill niches instead of "world class" tools.


The money is no object type tools.


Now there are a few, but you make an expensive plug that's worth it and then you get everybody complaining that its too expensive and not worth it.
Old 9th May 2006
  #21
Old 15th August 2006
  #22
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Okay I must admit I love my pcm 81 and pcm 91, but I am sure that it would be possible to run an algorithm like that on your DAWs CPU wothout any problems today, because they run on an older processor!

By the way: Powercore offers nice reverbs. Is it possible to use external harddrive, mh2882 and a powercore on the same bus? this sound a lot like traffic jam!
Old 15th August 2006
  #23
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I've found software reverbs aren't bad but they lack the dimension of even middle of the road hardware. I haven't tried them all but have heard most of them and the decays don't sound natural to me. I have used them on secondary small spaces with decent results as long as it's not an in your face type reverb it's not bad. But add that with the cpu hit and for me it still makes more sense to stay 90% hardware 10% plugin with verbs.
Old 15th August 2006
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewj View Post
Okay I must admit I love my pcm 81 and pcm 91!
It's hard not to because they can sound so good.

A lot of us have years of painstaking work in programming our effects.

For me it's not so much about if I can do it with a plugin but more or less just give me about 10 years with some of the plugs I own to build up an arsenal.

Some will and some won't get replaced - same as hardware. Just because a new version or model comes out doesn't mean I have to stop using the older one. I will keep using those plugs. Same thing with hardware, I'll keep using those too.
Old 15th August 2006
  #25
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It's the designers.

For one thing the designers of plug in stuff are bringing a product to market that satisfies the "world class" world and the "bedroom" recording world at the same time.
Most really good sounding stand-alone boxes were/are designed for the "world class" world.

There is a huge differnce between even expensive versus in-expensive boxes built by companies like Lexicon. The difference between even a LXP-1 and a stock 224 is fairly pronounced.

It's all in the algorythms and design philosophies incorporated.

A Lexicon 224 still sounds pretty good and they only have high end going up to around 5K!!!! Then again, real reverb in real acoustic spaces doesn't have much going on above that.

Too much high freq. stuff is what makes a lot of the early generation digital 'verbs sound wrong to me. That'd be all of the Alesis boxes, Yamaha SPX90s, REV7s, and the Roland units as a whole. At least the SPX90 had a place as a snare drum 'verbs for a while, but I wish I could peel it off of a lot of mixes I did in the '80s!

We still have and use a Lexicon 200 and two 224xls.
They sound good and they are about twentysix years old!
Then again, when were the echo chamber that Les Paul built at the Capitol Records building in Hollywood designed?
People still use them!

Danny Brown
Old 15th August 2006
  #26
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Some boxes have good algorithms some don't, same with plugs. There's no black magic involved, maybe on really old unit the restricted bandwidth for today's standard of the A/D/A gives them an "euphonic" quality but I doubt it, I thinks this euphonic quality lies more in the ingenuity of the designers who tried to get the best results from the technology available (which often meant restricting some hi freqs!!!)
I think there's some really cool reverb plugs around now (altiverb, UA, TC) and they are on a par or better than the hardware I've heard. Actually I hate most of the 80's digital reverbs which IMO ruined many great recordings.
Old 15th August 2006
  #27
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Yeah, and those restricted design parameters resulted in a box that sounds more like REAL reverb in a REAL acoustical space!

I have yet to hear a plug in that sounds as good as the better Lexicon or TC boxes.

Danny Brown
Old 15th August 2006
  #28
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The designer of both the Timeworks Lex90 clone for Creamware Scope and the CSR-1 reverb stated at another board that he had to change the algorithm to run on a CPU. He said the chips on the Creamware cards could do stuff that would take way too much CPU-power (probably not because the DSP chips are more powerfull in general but because they understand different instructions). I think it has to do with the simple fact that PCs are not dedicated audio hardware. There is definitly no plugin around that I've heard that comes close to my Lexicon hardware.

BTW, I think the most important tool to make a mix sound good is EQ.
Old 15th August 2006
  #29
It's always a good feeling to 'cheat the computer' IMHO

So I like hanging hardware reverb off my DAW rig

I use 2 via AES TC M3000 & Eventide DSP 4000 and one via Analog i/o AMS RMX 16
Old 16th August 2006
  #30
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DSP's are really optimized for that application, and an instruction set that's very efficient for things like filters, reverbs, etc. Some of the hardware reverbs have a reverb-intensive instruction set - Lexicon, for example. And the reverb gets all of that processing power.

A plugin designer has to figure out how much processing power that he/she can use up, and stay within that bound. It doesn't matter if YOU have the biggest, fastest, computer. It doesn't matter that YOUR meter never goes about 25% while running 20 reverbs concurrently. What matters is that on the designer's target computer, that was the amount of time they could spend running the algorithm, so it would run on some target computer that's much slower than yours. Once the algorithm is set that way, running it on a faster machine does not result in a more lush reverb. It does not magically add more taps or stages to any of the internal reverb delays and comb filters. It simply finishes its work earlier.

My day job is writing software for embedded systems. I routinely pull things off with a 40 MHz 16-bit processor that people dream of pulling off on a PC of any speed. That is because the hardware on the chip I use is optimized for the applications that I am writing software for. But I can't get it to do emails or browse Gearslutz.
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