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Can pro mastering fix Space Designer weaknesses?


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Hi everyone --

 

As time goes on I'm becoming less and less satisfied with the reverbs in Sound Designer. I'm noticing some frequency-shaping as a result of using this plugin that nearly always adds in some nasty "digital-sounding" sourness depending upon the particular instrument...the best way I can describe it. What I end up doing is adding massive EQing to compensate, trying to remove as much of the offending frequencies as possible -- probably in the 3-4k range depending upon the reverb.

 

I've been reading about reverb plugins, most notably Lexicon and Breverb, but right now I just can't spend any more money on this stuff.

 

However, at some point, if I get together some songs that warrant this, I plan on getting them professionally mastered. I have neither the expertise, time, or equipment to learn about this and do it myself, and for the reasonable cost, it's probably money well-spent. If, at the same time, the engineer can do something about the reverb as well, then I'd be money ahead if I didn't try to spend more on expensive plugins.

 

My question is this -- if I don't go crazy with the reverb now during the mixing process, and use it as minimally as possible to aid in imaging/placement, can an additional global reverb be added to the entire mix during the mastering process to give it the ambience and lushness I'm missing now? Or would it overdo it? Are there other things that can be done during mastering to add space and ambience to minimize the weaknesses of Sound Designer and digital weirdness?

 

Or, should I spend time on learning how to tweak the other reverb plugins available in Logic? Do any of these have any particular advantage over Sound Designer? I must admit one of the reasons I use Sound Designer to begin with is its ease of operation, and the others seem to require much more understanding about how reverb needs to be set up. Give me a preset, and the abilitiy to control the wet mix, and I'm good to go! :-)

 

Sorry if I don't know enough about this to ask the right questions. I appreciate all the help everyone offers on the message board, and I learn a lot from reading all the posts.

 

Thanks!

 

-Bruce

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Are you talking about Space Designer?

 

In general it's never good to leave major parts of a mix to a mastering engineer - he's there to master, not to mix. I've heard that mastering engineers in general prefer not to apply reverb to a whole mix except in very exceptional circumstances.

 

If it were me, for a fraction of the cost of going to a mastering engineer, you could buy a reverb plugin that you do like. Look for plugins which you can try for a few days before you can buy, and test them out on your mixes. There's plenty of great quality reverbs out there that sound very different to Space Designer, that are also very reasonable in cost. Can't remember too many off the top of my head, but there's:

 

Eos ($49)

Toraverb (39 euros)

Reverberate (£49)

EAReverb (89 euros, only till 15th Feb though)

 

and loads of others. There's quite a few free ones out there too. Have a search on KVR.

 

Also... Are you aware that you can EQ a reverb from within Space Designer? Just go to the Eq tab at the top right of the black panel.

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Thanks very much for your responses. Yes, I did mean SPACE Designer!!! *facepalm*

 

I didn't know about the EQ in Space Designer. I'll have to learn more about that.

 

And thanks for those links to inexpensive plugins. Those are worth a look.

 

I found this review of Lexicon on Sweetwater music, that if nothing else, describes the same thing I'm noticing:

 

"I had the good fortune to actually be involved as a beta tester for these plugins in the last couple of months before release, and so I've been using them for quite some time. Quite frankly, I love them!"

 

"The LXP bundle may not be their "flagship" bundle but I can tell you that it is still a fantastic reverb package. There is no metallic ringy-ness or uncomfortable digital sounding reasonance as I have heard on some other "budget" reverbs. The sounds are classic lexicon - beautiful, lush, rich reverbs that really sit well in the mix. The user has control over a very large number of parameters in order to provide limitless possibilities to customize and shape the sound. "

 

Thanks again for your comments! I guess my take-away from this is not to expect too much from mastering...

 

-Bruce

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Thanks again for your comments! I guess my take-away from this is not to expect too much from mastering...

 

-Bruce

 

The idea is not to expect the wrong thing from mastering.

They're not gonna fix your reverb or other individual issues, they'll fine tune the frequencies in your mix and add compression whenever needed.

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Thanks for that, triplets. I've read that, but then when I've listend to a/b comparisons from mastering websites, I guess I've been overly impressed!!

 

OK, so I've been listening to audio demos of some of the reverbs mentioned here. The two main applications of high-end reverb that I really need is for my main go-to Steinway piano, and for vocals. I don't need a lot of processing on vocals, but I do need the reverb to be good. The Toraverb is especially impressive, but is this primarily a special EFX plugin for heavily-augmented processing? The demos generally empasized this aspect, and a couple of reviews indicated this as well. Is this the case, or have I misunderstood something?

 

I tried Googling the others, and didn't come up with much that was helpful. Given what I'm looking for...any recommendations?

 

Thanks!

 

-Bruce

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You really can't find a good verb preset out of Space Designer?

 

I've used it lots and there's usually something there that can work. You can also shorten the reverb with SD as well.

 

I'm wondering if you're just using too much reverb? That could well create some ringing that you wouldn't notice otherwise.

 

I still use SD but my go-to verb for a while now has been Aether by 2C Audio. It aint cheap but by God it's a gorgeous reverb. Lot's of tweakability, beautiful animation in the tail and a great dedicated early reflection section. Not to mention tons of presets.

 

I've read that 112db's Redline Reverb is also very good and it's simpler and cheaper than Aether.

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Thanks, camillo for your comments. I don't think I'm using too much reverb with Space Designer...every preset I choose I normally cut the wet level back to the -21 to -26dB level. Most seem to be set around -10dB, which is MUCH too heavy for my preferences.

 

I don't mind using Space Designer on most of my tracks...it's just fine. But usually I have a piano lead with my vocal, and for those two instances, I need something special that isn't going to color it with the digital garbage I noted. Interesting that you spoke of Aether as being a special reverb...so you must be noticing the same things I am. As I read more on the web, I'm finding more complaints about cheap plugins.

 

I took a look at 112dB Redline, but aside from the fact that it's a hair beyond my budget at the moment, it looks like it's designed for "tweakers" and not simple-minded newbs like me! :oops:

 

-Bruce

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And Aether is even worse for uber tweakage! I got it not because I disliked the sound of SD but more because I wanted to be able to do some sculpting and for the easy preset browsing. With Space Designer, even though I liked it a lot, I found the relatively slow auditioning of presets frustrating. And I had collected a ton of 3rd Party IRs but of course they become even more inaccessible until you create presets for them all. I just haven't had the desire to do that particularly robotic task. (Although now there's an app that will do that for you. Can't remember what it's called.) The other thing is that convo reverbs are static. In this area, Aether excels with lovely and controllable animation in the tails.
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Google for the free Bricasti M7 impulse responses from Acousticas. They sound pretty nice and the nicest feature is that they're free!

 

Somewhere out there online there are presets for SD to go with them. I know because I downloaded them at some point and they work. Look around and I'm sure you'll find them.

 

Hope this helps!

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Thanks again for the helpful comments! I checked out the Bricasti M7 page, and it says this: "...to comply with the request from Bricasti that it is allowed to create impulse responses with the M7, as long as these IRs are not included in any commercial product." Does "commercial product" mean a software plugin to be resold, or could it mean a recording that is sold for profit?

 

There are so many different file downloads, I'm not sure which one would be appropriate for my system. I wish it gave a little bit more info on the interface, and how it is used. I need something with basic presets and a wet/dry adjustment.

 

Thanks again!

 

-Bruce

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Thanks again for the helpful comments! I checked out the Bricasti M7 page, and it says this: "...to comply with the request from Bricasti that it is allowed to create impulse responses with the M7, as long as these IRs are not included in any commercial product." Does "commercial product" mean a software plugin to be resold, or could it mean a recording that is sold for profit?

 

That would be silly, if you would not be allowed to use these IR's in a song... I would safely guess that you can use it in a song, you just are not allowed to sell on the Impulse Response itself.

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As time goes on I'm becoming less and less satisfied with the reverbs in Sound Designer. I'm noticing some frequency-shaping as a result of using this plugin that nearly always adds in some nasty "digital-sounding" sourness depending upon the particular instrument...the best way I can describe it.

 

Usually the type of sound you're describing is caused by the artifacts created by the plug-ins that are either before the reverb in your aux channel, or in the track channels. While you may not notice them so prominently with the reverb disengaged because they're masked, the reverb will smear them over time which makes them much more perceptible. This is particularly true if you have both compression and EQ on those tracks, and even more so if you have some sharp EQ settings followed by hard compression.

 

There's a couple of things you can try. First, duplicate those regions to new tracks with no effects. Create clean sends to your verb and defeat the sends on the original tracks. This will give you a non-effected signal at the reverb. See if that alleviates the artifacts you were hearing.

 

Another thing is to create a parallel aux with another reverb. Using the EQ within the verb, use a gently sloped hipass on one and a lopass on the other. This gives you hi and lo freq reverb returns that you can easily control, and doubles the density of reflections. You can use different algorithms too, like a short plate on the hi and a medium hall on the lo.

 

The third thing is a bit more subtle. Using the dual return technique I just described, insert a channel EQ (non-linear phase) on the aux returns (post-verb). Create EITHER a lopass or a hipass filter that is just outside the freq range of the instruments feeding the aux. Audition with different slope settings. This will shift the signal phase group delay of one verb against the other and change the character of the reverb.

 

Lot's of other techniques to try, but those can get you started. It isn't always about having better tools. Sometimes it's about how you use the ones you have.

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Thank you very much Eriksimon and fader for your comments. Fader -- what you say may be true to a degree. I actually use very little processing on my channel strips, and the only thing ahead of the reverb on my Steinway piano is EQ. I really boost the upper end of the EQ (but roll off above 10k) because I like my piano bright. To my ear, I don't hear the sourness at the EQ stage, but only after I add the reverb. As you say, though, the reverb may be multiplying something.

 

I have also noted this sourness on my vocals -- using a very high quality tube mic (Miktek CV4). I don't EQ the upper end of my vocals, so this tends to point to an issue with the reverb.

 

I've tried to understand your suggestion about sending and splitting to an aux channel, but this is beyond me. I'll try re-reading, and see if I can find more on this in David's book.

 

Thanks again!

 

-Bruce

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I've tried to understand your suggestion about sending and splitting to an aux channel, but this is beyond me. I'll try re-reading, and see if I can find more on this in David's book.

Yeah, read David's section on creating sends to busses and picking that up on aux channels. Once you've got a good feel for how that works, post back. Then if I have time, I can post a little example project that demonstrates this technique.

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