Does EastWest's new collection of impulse responses take reverb to the final frontier?
In some quarters, convolution reverb is written off as being flat and sterile, and there are those who say that the engaging qualities of an acoustic space or plate can never be fully recreated by an impulse response. EastWest's original Spaces plug-in, released back in 2011, sought to counter this perception through a new approach to 'sampling' rooms. Rather than capture his impulses using measurement mics through an ultra-transparent input chain, engineer Nick Phoenix employed high-class vintage studio gear bristling with valves and transformers. Spaces also pioneered what EastWest call 'instrument specific' impulse responses, whereby speakers are carefully positioned to reflect the typical positioning and firing pattern of different instruments within a hall, thus yielding very particular settings for violins, trumpets, woodwind and so on.
I reviewed the original Spaces reverb back in SOS June 2011, and found that Phoenix's approach brought obvious sonic benefits, especially when the goal was to make sampled instruments 'sit' within a realistic concert hall environment. At the same time, however, the original Spaces plug-in was little more than a basic convolver, with variable pre-delay being the only way to shape the sound; and although the 'instrument specific reverb' concept worked very well, presets that actually used it were in a minority, with just one hall having been captured in this fashion.
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