Audio Ease, the creators of Altiverb and Speakerphone, and masters of Impulse Response Reverbs have released Indoor - a new Convolution Reverb plugin with a brand new take on the user interface.
Convolution or Impulse Response reverbs can be very tricky. Even if you have the technical skills to record or harvest a suitable impulse response sample, there's no easy way you can make it work as well as a preset. It's an incredibly unintuitive process that requires a good understanding of physics and how sound actually works in the real world.
Algorithmic Vs Convolution
I'm one of those mixers who tends to lean towards algorithmic reverbs rather than convolution. I can't put my finger on why but I generally seemed to get better results using a couple of basic reverbs, with some fine tweaking of their presets.
This is because my feeling is that once I've loaded an impulse response, I can't tweak it much without everything starting to fall apart. I end up going back to my favourite presets. There is also the added factor that often the natural reverb from the set isn't similar and is therefore undesirable. There's no point matching a convolution reverb to an on-set reverb that you don't actually want.
This is where the clever people at Audio Ease come in. With Indoor, they have spent an awfully long time using an incredibly sophisticated rig to measure some "standard" scenarios.
But that's not where the cleverness ends. They also designed an intuitive user interface to help you customise the sound you want.
The GUI on this plugin isn't just to look pretty - it's an integral part of the user interface.
What, Only Ten Presets?
Some might look at the range of "presets" available and say something like, "Why on earth would I need a yacht interior?"
The great thing about this reverb is that they've measured both the interior spaces but also the exterior spaces relating to them. So for instance on the SUV preset, you can also put the source and microphone on the pavement (translation for our US cousins: Sidewalk). In the hotel room you can go out to the corridor. You can even adapt some of the smaller spaces to sound like somewhere totally different. For instance you could use the toilet compartment of the yacht as a coffin interior or the interior of a wardrobe.
In Indoor sixty spaces have been measured in ten locations. That's over 1000 new indoor impulse responses, specifically designed for post production, and those can be in either MS or AB systems. It's important to view these as base scenarios, rather than presets.
Direct Off Or On?
Where Indoor differs from most other reverbs is that it can operate in two distinctly different modes - Direct Off and Direct On.
With Direct Off Indoor can be used like any other reverb - the dry signal coming from the direct source, sending audio post fade (and processing) on an aux send, and the wet reverb return coming back in on an aux input.
Typically in post production you would use this arrangement, as any signal sent to the reverb has been EQ'd, noise-reduced and sculpted before it gets sent to the reverb. You can then control the perspective by controlling the aux send and the reverb return levels.
It also allows for sensible management of processing resources - you can have a couple of reverbs for all your dialogue tracks, rather than a separate insert for each dialogue channel, which uses a lot more processing.
Thankfully Audio Ease have worked hard to keep the processor impact to a minimum, so you can safely run multiple instances of Indoor.
This becomes more important when working in surround sound, and using the angle selection control rather than using Pro Tools' panner. More about this in part two.
Another way to work with Indoor would be to have a sub group for treatment. This is still not as efficient as using the Direct Off workflow, but as we'll hear it affects how "realistic" the results are.
Surround But With Stereo?
Think about it. How do you know when a sound is coming from behind you? You only have two transducers - your ears. All manner of manufacturers have claimed to get "3D Audio" out of stereo. A lot of these synthesised the effect. What Audio Ease have done is take all the surround measurements in acute detail, and apply them through the angle selection panner, even when Indoor is only running in Stereo.
As with all psychoacoustic surround effects, listening on stereo speakers demands you being within the sweet spot, but the effect is really believable. On headphones though, it's spooky!
Watch (and listen to obviously) my video to hear for yourself.
Like Being There
With the careful and precise measurements Audio Ease have taken, the results sound disturbingly realistic.
Indoor is on sale for 699 Euros from Audio Ease, and in my opinion is an essential post production tool for both moving image and radio, especially immersive or 360 degree productions.
Come back for part two, where I'll take a look at using Indoor in surround sound, and comparing workflows for placing the sound within the surround-scape.