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JMG Sound Hyperspace

Algorithmic Reverb Plug-in By Paul White
Published February 2020

JMG Sound Hyperspace

One look at the interface and you can tell right away that there's more to JMG Sound's Hyperspace than your usual reverb plug-in. Its GUI is divided into four sections denoted by colour. The blue controls provide the parameter adjustments you might expect from an algorithmic reverb — such as pre-delay, decay time, early/late reflections balance, damping, density, EQ, modulation, serial/parallel early reflections routing, and so on. The other sections, of which more later, are what differentiates Hyperspace from your grandad's reverb.

At the top of the GUI is a strip that houses Bypass, the various level and balance controls, preset handling, three randomiser dice and an X2 button that allows you to use oversampling (at the expense of using more CPU). The three die buttons work as follows: the one-spot die affects only the vector pads, the three-spot one affects the more common reverb settings within sensible limits, while the five-spot die mixes everything up.

So what do the other sections bring to the party? For starters, in addition to offering Vintage, Classic, Retro, Modern, Sci-Fi, and Cosmic algorithms by using the purple vector pads, it's possible to modify the algorithms to create something new. The left panel controls the structure of the algorithm based on which type of reverb you select, while the right panel changes the overall sonic character. Each reverb type actually loads two algorithms, which can be both crossfaded and modified using the two axes of the leftmost X/Y pad. Modification is achieved by varying both the structure and parameter values within the algorithms themselves, and machine learning has apparently been employed to keep all this under control and sounding musical so that you can just move the cursor and work by ear. The right pad's X axis affects all the delay times in the algorithms, while we're told its Y axis "morphs frequency ranges and internal routings for the algorithms".

Alongside some very sweet reverbs, you can create some quite otherworldly effects that could work well in a number of ambient, filmic and experimental musical genres.

In the green section are four mixing tools: Focus, Follow, Transient and Dynamics. These are based on spectral noise separation (so that more or less reverb can be added to the pitched and unpitched components of a sound), ducking/matching, transient recovery, and dynamics control, respectively. A single knob dictates the intensity and direction of each tool — all of the controls offer two options either side of centre. Follow, for example, gives ducking in one direction, or matches the reverb level to the signal level (the opposite of ducking) in the other.

The orange section on the right has eight controls, four of which are amount knobs and the other four horizontal parameter sliders (though you move the cursor vertically to adjust them!). These parameters are linked 'under the hood' to several other controls and to the Algorithm pad. Multiply effectively puts a digital delay on only the early reflections, the finer adjustments to which are linked to the Character pad. Space sets its basic delay time. Resonate brings in a series of comb filters to add metallic resonances, and Form changes the distribution of the resonator delays, again with further changes linked to the Character pad. Shimmer places a pitch shifter inside the reverb algorithm's feedback network, and Pitch adjusts the frequency, in semitones or fractions thereof over a ±1 octave range. Inertia freezes the reverb, to create very long washes or drones that seem to sit beneath the main reverb tail, and Tone sets the damping of the Inertia reverb tail.

On the technical front, Hyperspace employs 64-bit audio processing and works at sample rates up to192kHz. All the usual Mac/Windows plug-in platforms including AAX are supported, and authorisation is via a licence file that allows you to install the plug-in on all your computers. It's heavier on CPU load than typical 'basic' algorithmic reverbs, registering at about half a core on my ageing Mac Pro, but then this isn't the type of plug-in you're likely to instantiate on lots of separate tracks in a mix.

There are lots of presets arranged into categories, and these give you a good idea of the creative scope of this plug-in. You can treat any of them to a dose of randomisation, simply tweak the controls to see what happens, or dive in and build your own effects from scratch. Do that, and you'll discover that alongside some very sweet reverbs, you can create some quite otherworldly effects that could work well in a number of ambient, filmic and experimental musical genres. All the parameters can be automated in the usual way, but be aware that moving the cursor in the X/Y pads causes glitches if operated during playback (hardly surprising, as the algorithms are essentially being rewired — the designer tells us these controls were not designed to be automated, even though they respond to automation).

Hyperspace is capable of some quite magical sounds, and despite its flexibility most adjustments result in something worthwhile. It manages to cover most of the conventional room/hall/plate reverb sounds, for which the different algorithms all provide their own character. The Sci-fi algorithm embodies some erie dissonances reminiscent of ring modulation, while Cosmic sounds big and floaty. Once you start dialling in the other parameters, though, it soon becomes apparent that the effects on offer go well beyond 'normal' reverb. The Shimmer pitch shift doesn't actually recreate the classic octave–up reverb shimmer effect, as the pitch shifting seems to go on inside the reverb algorithm rather than before it, but it does create new textures ranging from subtle detuning to dissonant rumblings. Maybe adding a button to place it pre-reverb is something the designers could think about for a future update? There are reverbs that sound like huge metal drums, fluttery delays, modulated reverb, sci-fi drones, static flange-like resonances, grainy washes and everything in between, the common element being that they rarely go so far as to be musically unusable. The more I played with Hyperspace, the more I came to appreciate its possibilities. If your musical styles demand the 'reverb less ordinary', I can recommend it. If you're not sure, get the free trial version and take it for a spin yourself. You might find you like it anyway!

information

£109 including VAT.

unitedplugins.com/hyperspace

Published February 2020