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Vienna Symphonic Library Vienna Hybrid Reverb

March 14, 2012

Fig. 1. Hybrid Reverb combines convolution reverb in series and parallel with algorithmic reverb. This shows the author’s setup for gated-room reverb.

CAN’T DECIDE whether a convolution or algorithmic reverb would sound best on your project? Then try both at once—Hybrid Reverb lets you choose an impulse response (IR) and combine it with an algorithmic reverb inside a single (AU/VST/RTAS, 32/64-bit hosts) plug-in. The IR provides the early reflections, and the algorithm the reverb tail for the composite stereo effect. A host of sound-warping parameter controls make Hybrid Reverb a compelling tool for both music production and sound design.

Hybrid Reverb is a free update to the Vienna Symphonic Library (VSL) Vienna Suite plug-in bundle. Vienna Suite’s other plug-ins include a convolution reverb, compressor, exciter, stereo imager and spectrum analyzer; two different equalizers; and wideband and multiband limiters. Unfortunately, Hybrid Reverb isn’t available separately. Vienna Suite requires a ViennaKey or Steinberg USB dongle.

Breakdance You can modulate your chosen impulse response’s volume, panning, decorrelation and low- and high-pass filter corner frequencies over time by creating and dragging breakpoints along respective graphic curves for each function. For example, I could de-correlate the early reflections midway through an impulse’s timeline to make them bloom into a wider stereo image. Another application is to modulate the low-pass filter corner frequency in sync with panning modulation to create unnatural ambiences (think sci-fi and supernatural thriller sound FX).

I crafted an excellent gated-room reverb by plunging the volume envelope for a room IR midway through its length, and muting the algorithmic tail. (Muting the tapered algorithmic tail prevented it from masking the gated-reverb effect, as the tail’s volume envelope can’t be edited to dip it quickly; see Figure 1.) Unfortunately, you can’t resample an IR in Hybrid Reverb to extend its length as you can in Vienna Suite’s Convolution Reverb, making it infeasible to create convincing gated-reverb effects with short IRs. Happily, you can import third-party IRs into Hybrid Reverb.

I could also fashion multiple steep peaks and valleys—lessening in amplitude over time—in the IR’s volume envelope. Programming the panning envelope to modulate in sync with the volume peaks created a diffuse ping-pong delay. Unlike discrete ping-pong delays, the result was a repeating reverb—a far more complex and rich sound. I wish breakpoints and pre-delays could be synced automatically to the host DAW’s tempo, but they must be calculated and edited manually.

Any breakpoint edits you perform are applied to subsequent IRs you recall (unless and until you click a button that resets all functions to their static default states). I could create outstanding automatic doubletracking (ADT) effects by modulating a plate IR’s volume and pan envelopes in rapid and synchronous succession while muting the algorithmic tail. Subsequently recalling different room, stage, and studio IRs in turn retained the ADT effect, superimposed on a different IR. Easy!

Looking for Tail Vienna Suite’s Convolution Reverb plug-in offers the same breakpoint editing as the IR section of Hybrid Reverb; where Hybrid Reverb differs is in the ability to route the IR both in series and parallel with an algorithmic reverb tail to create an evolving space. I was a bit disappointed to learn that Hybrid Reverb offers only one algorithm for the reverb tail, but changing the density and other parameters changes its sound fairly dramatically. The result is a morphing space-scape not achievable with any other plug-in—and that makes Hybrid Reverb a winner.

STRENGTHS: Sounds great. Creates composite virtual spaces not possible using other reverb plug-ins. Innovative parameter controls for IRs. Can import third-party IRs.

LIMITATIONS: Can’t sync any parameters to host. Can’t create gated algorithmic reverbs. Only one algorithm available for the reverb tail. Can’t purchase alone.

$570 MSRP

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