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Digital reverbs - why outboard?
Old 8th April 2021
  #31
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Ya... the way I see it is that when you are manufacturing a hardware box, you can tailor the software for best results given any hardware limitations (bit depth, dither, sample rate). On the flip side, you can choose hardware specifically for the software needs (which chip, number of cores, converters, src, analog stages etc.).

Well designed hardware just sounds more special because of this custom tailored approach, where plugins are designed to just do the most accurate emulation, convolution, etc. in any daw on and operating system. So while both can be great, the hardware is just a bespoke system as opposed to some code running on some computer in some daw.

All I want is an emt 250...

-B
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #32
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
This seems a false equivalency - are you claiming the hardware reverb, when routed back through the “boring” daw engine, has its sound improved or degraded?

I’m trying to follow your logic.
Whats false ? If a preamp imparts a sound, do you negate the fact the circuitry inside an EMT or Lexicon hardware also does ?

Playback systems are not transparent.

Even less ones from the era we are talking about.

To answer your question ; It now has the sound of the hardware reverb output.. printed back through your daw setup. ;-)
Old 8th April 2021
  #33
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by franktree ➡️
I'm a little confused about why the value of something like, for example, the Lexicon 480L is so high these days. I understand why someone would choose an analog reverb over a digital one--a real plate, or a real spring reverb, for instance. But with gear like the Lexicon, it's a digital reverb in outboard, versus a digital reverb in the box. I have to imagine that whatever processing power the Lexicon had decades ago is at least comparable to what exists in the box these days, so it can't be an issue of DSP power, right?

So what is it? What is it about the outboard digital reverbs that lead (some) people to prefer them over in-the-box digital reverbs?

And for the record, I'm not trying to suggest it's wrong or silly to prefer outboard digital reverbs. I'm asking to be educated about what it is that outboard digital reverbs bring that (at least arguably) can't be achieved in the box, just so I can understand better.
The way I tend to think about this, is that the hardware was created at a point in time...when they reached an amazing result. So, even now...it's still an amazing result. It doesn't matter that it happened a long time ago. OTOH, I recently heard Bob Clearmountain's Spaces...which is another example..imho...of a great result.
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #34
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Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by the octopuss ➡️
Whats false ? If a preamp imparts a sound, do you negate the fact the circuitry inside an EMT or Lexicon hardware also does ?

Playback systems are not transparent.

Even less ones from the era we are talking about.

To answer your question ; It now has the sound of the hardware reverb output.. printed back through your daw setup. ;-)
My lexicons sound less good than my software verbs, but my Mac represents them transparently.

My point is, there’s no reason to believe software reverbs are less able to render the math required to fulfill the reverb designer’s intent. That doesn’t mean all verbs are created equally, far from it, but I no longer think only the best reverbs are hardware.
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #35
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vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
maybe some rich kids here on gs - i do however don't know any serious engineer who'd be impressed much by hype or rant; imo they rather base their choice on experience of working with the gear after careful evaluation.
Yes, some will base it on experience. And others might wanna know what reverb Elvis used.
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #36
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier ➡️
Yes, some will base it on experience. And others might wanna know what reverb Elvis used.
Ya I totally agree! I interpreted the post in question to mean that people want to replicate things they subjectively like. They are used to a certain sound and find it cool so they want to buy gear that allows them to attain a similar sound.

I don’t *think* the post was about marketing something to the masses based on clout...

-B
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #37
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️

My point is, there’s no reason to believe software reverbs are less able to render the math required to fulfill the reverb designer’s intent. That doesn’t mean all verbs are created equally, far from it, but I no longer think only the best reverbs are hardware.
I wonder if we can go beyond "believing" and get some facts? I've followed this thread pretty closely, but has anyone with real firsthand knowledge chimed in yet as to how in fact an algorithm run on a dedicated outboard chip yields a different signal from the CPU of a modern computer? At some point, the signal, whether from the hardware unit or the software plugin, gets processed by the sequencer - DAW.

In the case of the Bricasti it doesn't even have to leave the digital realm. So with that unit it's not some analog magic going on, just the processing power of the chips, which some have indicated are not necessarily more powerful than our Intels. Some have also suggested that the fact the chips in a hardware unit are doing only one task, that accounts for the "superior" sound.

If someone with real knowledge of the differences has already explained all this, I apologize.
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #38
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vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmdaugherty ➡️
Ya I totally agree! I interpreted the post in question to mean that people want to replicate things they subjectively like. They are used to a certain sound and find it cool so they want to buy gear that allows them to attain a similar sound.

I don’t *think* the post was about marketing something to the masses based on clout...

-B
Well, as for the OP asking: "What is it about the outboard digital reverbs that lead (some) people to prefer them over in-the-box digital reverbs?"

I think some reasons are . . .

Sound: ..old outboard units include analog circuitry, among other things, that effect the sound.

Tactile experience: ..one might desire turning knobs or pushing sliders.

Visual ..one might like the looks of an EMT 250 or Lexicon 224 ..or, pick your favorite.
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #39
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Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob 28 ➡️
I wonder if we can go beyond "believing" and get some facts? I've followed this thread pretty closely, but has anyone with real firsthand knowledge chimed in yet as to how in fact an algorithm run on a dedicated outboard chip yields a different signal from the CPU of a modern computer? At some point, the signal, whether from the hardware unit or the software plugin, gets processed by the sequencer - DAW.

In the case of the Bricasti it doesn't even have to leave the digital realm. So with that unit it's not some analog magic going on, just the processing power of the chips, which some have indicated are not necessarily more powerful than our Intels. Some have also suggested that the fact the chips in a hardware unit are doing only one task, that accounts for the "superior" sound.

If someone with real knowledge of the differences has already explained all this, I apologize.
The answer is no, no one has explained it.

For years people have been claiming the reasons you cite: “multi tasking of PC processors having too much to handle (to process verb),” “ size of the chassis and its ability to take on multiple processors”, etc., and it’s all bs.

The only proof is can the “superior” reverb be singled out in a double blind test? The spitfire audio double blind is proof it cannot, at least not in that test - predictably and with great certainty the naysayers now simply dismiss that test and pretend it doesn’t exist.

It would seem to me a six or seven thousand dollar reverb should be easy to discern the superiority of, there should be no question, no need to even double blind it, the difference should be night and day, but that isn’t the case.

It’s 2021, there’s no longer a strong argument to support outboard reverb as the superior choice, but this is a gear site, so, there ya go.

Last edited by Sharp11; 8th April 2021 at 11:53 PM..
Old 9th April 2021 | Show parent
  #40
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Looneytune's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
The answer is no, no one has explained it.

For years people have been claiming the reasons you cite: “multi tasking of PC processors having too much to handle (to process verb),” “ size of the chassis and its ability to take on multiple processors”, etc., and it’s all bs.

The only proof is can the “superior” reverb be singled out in a double blind test? The spitfire audio double blind is proof it cannot, at least not in that test - predictably and with great certainty the naysayers now simply dismiss that test and pretend it doesn’t exist.

It would seem to me a six or seven thousand dollar reverb should be easy to discern the superiority of, there should be no question, no need to even double blind it, the difference should be night and day, but that isn’t the case.

It’s 2021, there’s no longer a strong argument to support outboard reverb as the superior choice, but this is a gear site, so, there ya go.
My ears
Old 9th April 2021 | Show parent
  #41
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Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Looneytune ➡️
My ears
Yes, that’s hilarious, sadly so.
Old 9th April 2021 | Show parent
  #42
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Looneytune's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
Yes, that’s hilarious, sadly so.
Old 9th April 2021 | Show parent
  #43
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🎧 10 years
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SM02GXXeHH0

Worth a watch. Reverb shootout
Old 4 weeks ago
  #44
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
im with Psycho on this one.

i have racks of hardware reverbs, but i do not intend to buy any more.

the ITB plugs have reached the point of being acceptable to my ears.

and multiple instances makes it a no brainer.

Buddha
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #45
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
well, i have multiple instances of hardware reverbs...

(no kidding! - i lost count how many m5000 engines i have)


___


anyway, i find comparing itb vs hardware devices (not only efx) rather pointless: either you can achieve what you want with specific gear or you can't - if you can't, change gear (although chances are that it's not the gear's fault)!



p.s. is my tc reverb 24 still hardware reverb unit or a itb reverb running on a dedicated rackmount computer? i couldn't care less and i don't bother to compare its algorithms (some of which got ported from the m5000) to the 'real' device - why should i? i use them for different purposes anyway...

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 4 weeks ago at 01:07 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #46
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
This same thread theme pops up here a couple times a year. Check those threads for specifics but if you really want to know the nuts and bolts differences between DSP and CPU operations look up the thread(s) on the Yamaha and Sony convolution hardware units, as both had a crapload of DSP chips in them. Pay attention to parallel vs. serial and time vs. frequency domain processing. Is it that hard to realize that different processing methods results in audible differences (we see that in plugs themselves)?

Use whatever tool you can get your hands on and kick the tires of everything else so you learn differences and if it makes sense to incorporate it. The thing is that many hardware boxes with interesting usable sounds have never been emulated, likely due to the fact that plugs copy expensive hardware with a name to sell more plugs, via the illusion that you will get the same thing for less money. Well you get something different, likely usable but different. Be happy there is a cheap alternative and you are not droping $4k per box anymore. I've got a number of inexpensive interesting sounding hardware boxes that will likely never be emulated. Start there if you want to do some experimentation with workflow and sonics. Remember buying a used unit at below market price will allow plenty of audition time and if not for you, just resell with likely only being out shipping cost or you may actually be a few dollars ahead.

I've got to learn just to copy and paste my old repies from thread themes that keep repeating here LOL
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #47
Moderator
 
psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by the octopuss ➡️
Eventually...so that hardware sound will be printed back.

Hardware has specifications that impact rendering, it is not just about the processing algo.

Watch a DVD on your super hi def tv screen, now compare with a 80's TV cathode ray screen.

Same algo , different result
Not a great analogy...where does a hi-res bluray fit in? we have that option too now....and a hi-res screen the size of an 80s cathode ray would look different again.

I get the point you're trying to make though.

The point is it's easier to make the hi-res look (or sound) vintage than it is to make the vintage fit the hi-res.

As I said - I have no interest in vintage digital FX.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #48
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom H ➡️
Does anyone use a seperate computer dedicated for reverbs and timebased effects? I have only done this live but it could be nice to do this in a studio especially with an analog mixer with sends.
Me. One of the daw slaves. I also often do something else extremely unpopular....make & route stems realtime out of the master multitrack daw (via wired interfaces via patchbays) into a synchronized slave, often creating the new stems at a new sample rate at the receiving slave. Rather than export bounces etc.

There's often just something more pleasing to me in the results. Whether because of the wires, the quadruple a/d, d/a routes...or because I imagine it....but I often do that.

If I particularly like some of the various reverbs and settings that I've used during tracking & rough mix ideas, I print the reverbs as separate audio tracks along with the stems (noting which instruments each rev or delay etc is intended ror)....not that the mix engineer will necessarily use them, but as references, it gives clarity to what I like. Plus, the results are extremely tidy imo at the receiving end.

And then it's those stems that go out for mixing elsewhere.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #49
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier ➡️
Yes, some will base it on experience. And others might wanna know what reverb Elvis used.
Hahaha.....exactly the kinds of stuff I used to ask Chips Moman.....except I wasn't as interested in that so much as his innovative, super-secret tubular bells/console trick.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #50
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by sl1200mk2 ➡️
1. Unless it's a 1:1 code port it's an emulation and not going to be 'exact'. Some will always prefer the sound of the original algorithm no matter how close the emulation is.
Actually a few of the designers have chimed into these threads saying specifically that some of these products are indeed the exact same code. 1:1 People who used to work making hardware and now design plugins are on record. Yet so many are quick to jump in and say: "it's still not the same". So either someone is lying or some kind of 'magic' is happening in a dumb set of extra conversions from sending and returning to a hardware unit.

Because what else is there?

I have been at this for a long time, I still own my hardware reverbs from the days when DAWs and Plugins did not exist yet. I can tell you this: in terms of vintage digital, 'the same' is something I personally am not willing to expend any effort in pursuing. I barely care in terms of vintage microphones.

Quote:
2. The A/D and D/A converters especially in the early digital devices weren't that great, but in a good way.
Whether grainy sound is "bad in a good way" or just plain "bad" is a matter of taste and opinion, not a matter of intrinsic quality. If this is what makes it so desirable, why not hook up some crappy old converters and stick in a totally superfluous set of D/A/A/D conversions out from our reverb sends, back into the DAW to the plugins and out and in one more time?

Who does that? Anybody? Show of hands?

Quote:
It's just part of the overall sound that while again can be emulated will never be an exact replication.
I am not challenging anyone to a blindfold test. I will stipulate to their claims that it's not the same - and that they can hear it under any and all circumstances. But I say: so what?

'Not the same' still does not imply audible superiority. Only difference. The artists of the past that I admire who were using that specific gear were using the newest, most modern gear available to them. They were exploring new (to them) sounds, not 'nailing' some older sounds. I seek to emulate their approach, not necessarily their exact sound.

Having lived through that past and struggled against the limitations of low bit rates and crappy converters, I am having a hard time generating the same level of enthusiasm for this kind of gear.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #51
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq ➡️
'Not the same' still does not imply audible superiority. Only difference. The artists of the past that I admire who were using that specific gear were using the newest, most modern gear available to them. They were exploring new (to them) sounds, not 'nailing' some older sounds. I seek to emulate their approach, not necessarily their exact sound.

Having lived through that past and struggled against the limitations of low bit rates and crappy converters, I am having a hard time generating the same level of enthusiasm for this kind of gear.
The mystique of physical box-with-wires is destined to be with us a while longer. But it's fading. It's like your 87 yr. old grandma who never could figure out the ATM. Give it another ten years. By then, hardly anyone who used the Lexicons, and Eventides etc., in actual working studio environments, will still be alive.

Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #52
Gear Head
 
I'm not going to quote it but the idea of a Bricasti or whatever being 10x Intel CPUs in a rack unit is so incredibly bogus...

Reading the thread I found two actual answers:
  1. the same reason old samplers like the MPC60 and SP1200 are revered: "****ty" conversion quality
  2. people who bought this stuff when it wasn't vintage have simply kept it around

I really was hoping to learn more myself!

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq ➡️
Whether grainy sound is "bad in a good way" or just plain "bad" is a matter of taste and opinion, not a matter of intrinsic quality. If this is what makes it so desirable, why not hook up some crappy old converters and stick in a totally superfluous set of D/A/A/D conversions out from our reverb sends, back into the DAW to the plugins and out and in one more time?

Who does that? Anybody? Show of hands?
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #53
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq ➡️
Having lived through that past and struggled against the limitations of low bit rates and crappy converters, I am having a hard time generating the same level of enthusiasm for this kind of gear.
You really took what I said and ran with it? You're speaking as if I'm ranting at you!

Sounds like you've been there, done that and moved on -- that's great. Fact is, some people will like the 'original' over any emulation... and you know what, that's fine. Good for them. Whether or not you or I agree with it is largely irrelevant. Heck, you have people on this very forum that will argue the all digital Weiss EQ and compressor hardware sounds different/better (with no AD/DA conversion involved at all) than the Softube plugins which are 1:1 code port of the algorithms backed by the originator himself. People will hear what they want to hear.

I was simply pointing out that part of the allure, magic, fairy dust or whatever you want to call it of 'vintage' digital reverbs is due in part to the digital conversion of that time. It's just part of the sound and I don't think saying that is a stretch.

For what it's worth, I have no skin in the game as I don't own any vintage gear at all. Aside from handful of outboard, I prefer to work ITB. But it's just that... preference.

EDIT: For clarity, I'm not taking anything the wrong way. I just thought it was funny is all. I'm not hung up on vintage gear at all, but at the same time, I don't mind if someone is. We're all allowed to enjoy different things and whatever drives/creates someone's art or what they get enjoyment out of is fine by me.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #54
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axisdreamer's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
What hasn't been brought up yet is that some of us still use an analog console and bring outboard reverb units through the console and that changes the sound and perhaps adds depth, width, 3d, if you have a nice sounding console etc. Many people on here say that just bringing a mix out into a mid priced console can even make a mix sound better .

What made me think of this was watching the reverb blind test link posted above in this thread. If everything is playing back itb is that taking away from the outboard being able to shine through a console and taking advantage of the circuits and op amps and transformers in the console and how that interacts with the outboard reverb circuits. I would love to hear this test above done to compare outboard in it's own environment. That's why I still personally own outboard reverb because I never went in the box..
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #55
Gear Maniac
 
franktree's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by axisdreamer ➡️
What hasn't been brought up yet is that some of us still use an analog console and bring outboard reverb units through the console and that changes the sound and perhaps adds depth, width, 3d, if you have a nice sounding console etc. Many people on here say that just bringing a mix out into a mid priced console can even make a mix sound better .

What made me think of this was watching the reverb blind test link posted above in this thread. If everything is playing back itb is that taking away from the outboard being able to shine through a console and taking advantage of the circuits and op amps and transformers in the console and how that interacts with the outboard reverb circuits. I would love to hear this test above done to compare outboard in it's own environment. That's why I still personally own outboard reverb because I never went in the box..
But you could just as easily run ITB reverbs through an analog console too, right?
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #56
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
To my ears there's something going on with plugins in today's DAWs. Slightly smeared is what I would call it. For quite a long time theorizing has been going on that floating point processing has something to do with it... I definitely do not know.

But those old integer math hardware units usually sound better to my ears...

It isn't the converters, my old Lexicon units have more clarity, feel of a room and glueing with the source than the plugins when connected via AES/EBU, too.

There's obviously no reason why a 1:1 port of an old algorithm wouldn't sound the same, but I doubt most if any plugin can claim that.

It's quite similar with some digital synths, for example an old DX7 smokes any "emulation" out there sonically.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #57
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob 28 ➡️
The mystique of physical box-with-wires is destined to be with us a while longer. But it's fading. It's like your 87 yr. old grandma who never could figure out the ATM. Give it another ten years. By then, hardly anyone who used the Lexicons, and Eventides etc., in actual working studio environments, will still be alive.

I don't know, sometimes I think the people who did not "live through it" are the ones with the worst cases of FOMO and "not-stalgia". Young kids running their tracks "through" a cassette deck. To "warm it up".
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #58
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by metalgearsolid ➡️
I'm not going to quote it but the idea of a Bricasti or whatever being 10x Intel CPUs in a rack unit is so incredibly bogus...
People only compare apples to apples when it suits their argument.

When I was a kid, my transistor radio boasted of "SIX Transistors". A friend of mine had one with "SEVEN Transistors". Even as a kid, I figured that there had to be more to it, than just 'adding up' the amount of components of a particular type which were inside.

These Six-Cylinder Engines Are More Powerful Than Most V8s


Quote:
wait, are you raising your hand in response to my question about "who" runs their signal through a pair of superfluous low-quality conversions to get that 'vintage' sound? I was being rhetorical, I was not expecting anyone to say: "sure that's how I do it".
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #59
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by franktree ➡️
But you could just as easily run ITB reverbs through an analog console too, right?
And get those extra conversions!
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #60
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Looneytune's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassmankr ➡️
This same thread theme pops up here a couple times a year. Check those threads for specifics but if you really want to know the nuts and bolts differences between DSP and CPU operations look up the thread(s) on the Yamaha and Sony convolution hardware units, as both had a crapload of DSP chips in them. Pay attention to parallel vs. serial and time vs. frequency domain processing. Is it that hard to realize that different processing methods results in audible differences (we see that in plugs themselves)?

Use whatever tool you can get your hands on and kick the tires of everything else so you learn differences and if it makes sense to incorporate it. The thing is that many hardware boxes with interesting usable sounds have never been emulated, likely due to the fact that plugs copy expensive hardware with a name to sell more plugs, via the illusion that you will get the same thing for less money. Well you get something different, likely usable but different. Be happy there is a cheap alternative and you are not droping $4k per box anymore. I've got a number of inexpensive interesting sounding hardware boxes that will likely never be emulated. Start there if you want to do some experimentation with workflow and sonics. Remember buying a used unit at below market price will allow plenty of audition time and if not for you, just resell with likely only being out shipping cost or you may actually be a few dollars ahead.

I've got to learn just to copy and paste my old repies from thread themes that keep repeating here LOL
This is a fantastic post, it either works or it doesn’t. I also think my hardware revers are very unique, take my Sony V77 for instance I love the sound this imparts.

I just don’t understand these threads anyway, it’s like the poster is seeking some sort of confirmation that using plugins is ok!
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