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Digital reverbs - why outboard?
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
franktree's Avatar
 
Digital reverbs - why outboard?

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.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
i'm using hardware reverb/efx devices 'cause i own them since the days before plugins even existed, 'cause i got the entire variety of devices which cover all my needs, 'cause hardware still outperforms plugins in some ways/has some advantages (and limits), 'cause the hardware never got emulated (in pleasing ways or at all) etc.

...but then, i've never fully adopted to working itb anyway and keep mixing on (digital) desks and (digital) outboard.

that said, prices of some old gear (not only efx!) has been climbing to stratospheric heights, not least considering the fact that support can (or long has) become critical due to various reasons...

...so would i start out today, i'd probably embrace itb/plugins - at the same time: is there anything more ridiculous than a list of plugins?!

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 1 week ago at 04:27 PM.. Reason: wording
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by franktree ➡️
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?
Two things come to mind for me:

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.

2. The A/D and D/A converters especially in the early digital devices weren't that great, but in a good way. They impart character and vibe (usually via lower bit depth and sampling rate) to the reverb. It's largely the same reasons that early samplers like SP-1200's are still highly sought after. It's just part of the overall sound that while again can be emulated will never be an exact replication.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
In the software world nothing sounds like a 224 that I've heard. Crappy specced converters, simple algorithms and transformers all over the place. In practice it sounds otherworldly and rich. Absolutely garbage for emulating real spaces but SO useful in music.

On the other end of the hardware spectrum is the Bricasti which still hasn't been (and likely wont ever be) ported over to software. Lovely unit, faster to get the sound in my head most of the time than any of the plugs i've got.

Special mention goes to exponential audio reverbs and Valhalla for doing great ITB verbs that sometimes outclass their hardware competitors for certain tasks...
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Some wax lyrically about how the digital hardware algorithms aren't replicated or replicable in the software options ... and certainly H9 algorithms are not quite the same as the old Eventide rack ... or the new one. But some of the nostalgia collector's and the spares sourcing are the reason for some of the silly prices ... same as it is for synths of the same era.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Because you can's fit a Bricasti M7 inside your PC. You would need around 10 Pentium processors to get there. You can wait several years for PC's to catch up or buy the M7 today.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Oldone's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Whenever I've done the ITB vs OTB reverb comparison, there is always a smoother decay with a bit higher frequency content as well as depth and width information with the outboard. This is true even with lower end units. That has been my experience. I recommend you experiment yourself because with online comparisons you never know if the files you hear were done by somebody who knows what they are doing or possibly manipulating the files. Let your ears and experience be your guide.

From where the sun now stands I will not engage in another thinly veiled ITB vs OTB or Hardware vs Plugin thread again.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'm like Deedee, I have a bunch of outboard and I know them well, and like them, so I use them.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams ➡️
Because you can's fit a Bricasti M7 inside your PC. You would need around 10 Pentium processors to get there. You can wait several years for PC's to catch up or buy the M7 today.
Some of the best reverb algorithms don’t require extensive dsp, though. Outboard or in the box.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
Some of the best reverb algorithms don’t require extensive dsp, though. Outboard or in the box.
Seventh Heaven (LiquidSonics) does a mighty fine, licensed, Bricasti M7 in-the-box
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Gear Addict
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
It's just mystical...I can't get my UA or Valhalla plugins to do the exact same magic my hardware does...Like the Lexicon PCMs. They just fit in the mix somehow easier than the Valhallas which I also like very much.
Also I don't even try to do certain things with hardware since plugins get there so easily...

I have 2 Bricastis, Pcm70, 80 and 90, Eventide Eclipse and TC 4000. I use UA (Lexi, EMT and Capitol) and Valhalla and Reverb Foundry plugins.

-- M
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
So a bricasti has ten pentiums inside?

At any rate, MY reverb hardware from over the eons sounded different from itb software for one...
Uno....reason.

Reason? They have metal quarter-inch jacks and associated dubious output circuitry.....to which I connect.....wires.....that then go to....
Patch bay....that is made of.....metal....that then goes to metal-connected.....wires.....that then go to.....metal-connected quarter-inch jacks on....console.....that then goes...through line-in opamp circuits....that then goes through a bunch of.....pcbs.....to land at.....my send and receive strip....which then eventually feeds to....wires...which......


All of this .....all...change the signal, change the phase relationship, change levels, change the voodoo quotient....and so on.

One interesting thing I like is having one of the dedicated daw slaves labelled as "reverb". All the reverb plugs are there......connected to....the analog i/o of interface and.....(see "wires" paragraph). I don't pitch it as a lifestyle, but maybe check it out.

I will never buy another hardware reverb again. I refuse to ever deal with a dying lcd display again on a hardware reverb.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #13
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
most newer hardware reverbs/efx devices can get remotely controlled, be it via a dedicated controller or via software so lcd's - if there are any at all - don't make or break an efx device anymore; besides, as long as only the lcd goes down, there is still hope it can get replaced (by cannibalising another device)...

anyway, i don't give much about using analog i/o's and don't attribute any mystical quality to older converters (and even to cables connected to i/o's although of course they can have a measureable effect).

(i'm using quantec, lexicon, tc, sony, eventide and yamaha here)
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
(i'm using quantec, lexicon, tc, sony, eventide and yamaha here)
All that stuff and no M7?
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #15
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams ➡️
All that stuff and no M7?
i had one for about half a year but sold it again - not that it is a bad piece of gear, on the contrary!

it's just that it didn't offer me anything which i think is truly unique and which i cannot achieve with my other devices but also that there's no surround version available (and no such plans afaik - linking three devices isn't quite the same and would be very expensive).

[currently, i'm mainly using a yardstick, three pcm96s and the three engines of the tc reverb 24 as surround reverbs]

looking forward to using the bricasti plugins running on yamaha rivage desks though!
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
 
dbjp's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams ➡️
Because you can's fit a Bricasti M7 inside your PC. You would need around 10 Pentium processors to get there. You can wait several years for PC's to catch up or buy the M7 today.
I think Pentiums only had a couple of threads. Current AMD 5950x has 32, not to mention Threadrippers that have 128 threads.
Your theory would suggest that it is indeed possible to emulate Bricasti.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
Gear Nut
 
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.
There is no value per se, just mystique. They actually will degrade your sound. But then again for some people that is the point of those old grainy sounding unit. They help mask the sound and some people like that. Clarity can be too revealing. Newer reverbs are very clean and that is not always desirable to some ears
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbjp ➡️
I think Pentiums only had a couple of threads. Current AMD 5950x has 32, not to mention Threadrippers that have 128 threads.
Your theory would suggest that it is indeed possible to emulate Bricasti.
I think Bricasti’s feature SHARC chips, dating back to the late 90s, early 2000s - I had them in my Sony DMXr100 and currently have them in my Prophet12. Which is a tiny desktop box.

Time has moved on
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #19
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
I think Bricasti’s feature SHARC chips, dating back to the late 90s, early 2000s - I had them in my Sony DMXr100 and currently have them in my Prophet12. Which is a tiny desktop box.

Time has moved on
"It’s based on the Analog Devices Blackfin DSP chip, which isn’t as powerful as the SHARC chips used in Strymon pedals or Universal Audio UAD-2 engines. However, a Strymon pedal uses one SHARC and UAD-2 engines have between one and eight SHARCs, whereas the M7 dedicates six dual-core Blackfins to one stereo signal!"
Old 1 week ago
  #20
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
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.
Each box is different, and the analog sections added something to the sound. But mostly, people like a brand and type of equipment that was used on their favorite albums. It's that simple.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Good reverbs eat CPU's for lunch. What mitigates this is fantastic programming and unit design. Lexicon, TC, UAD, Sony, Roland, Yamaha, etc... each company has a set of programs that were dialed in by peoples ears.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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syra's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by franktree ➡️
why the value of something like, for example, the Lexicon 480L is so high these days.
Cause there is no plug-in that sounds as good.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #23
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier ➡️
(...)mostly, people like a brand and type of equipment that was used on their favorite albums. It's that simple.
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.
Old 1 week ago
  #24
Lives for gear
 
Looneytune's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
To my ears my hardware units always sound better but I have been told I could be biased
Old 1 week ago
  #25
Moderator
 
psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I’m not sure they are that expensive anymore - I wouldn’t buy a 480 now, they break and you’ve got a doorstop - fixing them is of limited use!

In fact there’s one at the studio - I never turn it on.

I get far better results ITB (although if I did have a bricasti I concede I’d probably use that for natural rooms - plates etc the lexicon has been superseded for me).
Old 1 week ago
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Tom H's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
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.
Old 1 week ago
  #27
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
No matter how hard on cpu a plugin works or how accurate it is, it will always sound like your daw audio engine trough your converters.
The only way to escape from this boring fact is to use some hardware.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #28
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Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by the octopuss ➡️
No matter how hard on cpu a plugin works or how accurate it is, it will always sound like your daw audio engine trough your converters.
The only way to escape from this boring fact is to use some hardware.
But won’t the hardware be routed back through the “boring daw engine” ?
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #29
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
But won’t the hardware be routed back through the “boring daw engine” ?
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
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 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
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.
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