Sampling Spaces (Make your own impulses for convolution reverbs) – Part 2


How To Sample Reverb Units In Your DAW
Tutorial: How to sample your Reverb Units to use them in Convolution Reverbs.

Before you haul all of your gear out into the world and attempt to sample real spaces, it is worthwhile to make a few Impulses of reverbs you have in your studio.  I’m aware that convolution reverbs take WAY more CPU than your average reverb unit, but I do think it’s important to follow this guide to really get the process down.  By doing this you can demystify convolution reverb sampling and have a better understanding of how it all works before wasting a lot of time sampling real spaces.  To do this you only need a few things.  Really, it is a pretty simple thing to do.  Let’s get down to business!

List of gear you need to sample a Reverb unit.

  1. DAW and Convolution Reverb unit (Obviously)
    1. I”ll be using REVerence which comes free with Cubase 5.
  2. Hardware or Software Reverb unit.
  3. DeConvolver to decode the recorded signal.
    1. Voxengo DeConvolver – This program is free to try and awesome.  It can generate your sine sweep impulses and DeConvolve sampled spaces so you can put the IRs into your Convolution Reverb Unit.

Once you have the necessary components you can follow these steps to sample a reverb unit.

  • Run Voxengo DeConvolver.  Click the button at the bottom that says Test Tone Gen.
DeConvolver Test Tone Generator
DeConvolver Test Tone Generator
  • Now load the SineSweep into your DAW of choice.  Put the reverb unit you want to sample into the first Plug-in Insert.  I used a Hall Church setting that is in RoomVerb from Cubase 5.  Any reverb unit will work.
    • Set the reverb unit to 100% wet so it will be entirely outputting a reverb signal.  I also recommend turning the volume down to about -8 to allow headroom.
  • Bounce the signal going through your reverb unit.  Be sure to set the bounce region to be long enough to keep the reverb tail.  I left about 2 seconds for the church hall.
  • Take the bounced signal and import it into Voxengo DeConvolver to DeConvolve the signal.  First load your original Sine Sweep test tone file at the top, then load the bounced signal into the program.  See the screenshot below for my settings.
    • Click process to generate your very own Impulse Response file!

CONGRATULATIONS!  You have just taken the steps to make your very own Impulse Responses for convolution reverbs.  That wasn’t so bad was it??

  • Now make a new track in your DAW with a convolution reverb.  Import the IR into your Convolution Reverb and you are ready to hear your sampled room at work.  After comparison you can hear that they are almost exactly alike.
Sampling Reverb Units in Cubase 5
Screenshot of Sampling Reverb Units in Cubase 5

This process isn’t limited to reverb units!

That’s right!  You can sample EQs, your favorite filter settings, or really anything you can put as an insert.  This is where you can start to get creative.  I hope this has demystified the process of sampling reverbs for you all.  I also hope you all start to get creative with this process.  If you do please take the time to comment and let me know what you’ve come up with.

Now that you know how to sample gear, you can use similar steps to sample real world spaces.  Stay tuned to the blog for Part 3 where I’ll show details on how to sample an acoustic space using a variety of gear.  This is where it will start to get REALLY useful.

-Aaron B


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Sampling Spaces (Make your own impulses for convolution reverbs) – Part 1

iPhone microphone - FFT Analysis
iPhone microphone – FFT Analysis

Places with interesting acoustic properties have always been interesting to people around the globe: Cavernous canyons have mystical qualities, old churches can produce heavenly reverbs, and large man made halls can all create larger than life sounds. All of these spaces can be useful to audio engineers, but until fairly recently it was extremely hard to reproduce the exact properties of a particular acoustic space. Can you imagine how useful it would be to “sample” a room’s properties and recreate it anywhere and at anytime? Now, with so many convolution reverbs available to audio engineers, it has never been easier to do! You only need a few things to start creating your own impulse responses! Ahhh, what a great time to be an audio engineer.

I’ve recently decided to start sampling spaces. As a sound designer and musician these will be useful in many ways. For example, I can sample a world class recording studio to give samples a more realistic room sound. Outdoor canyons can give an extra touch of realism to a space. I can also sample a trash can to see what texture that can add to my mixes.  Another use is to sample locations you have recorded in so you can simulate them later for overdubbing or post.  There are a multitude of creative applications for convolution reverbs.  So why is it that none of the audio engineers I know take the time to record their own impulse responses for convolution reverbs?

Over the years i have come to realize that if things aren’t simple and easily accessible they don’t get done. Now re-read that last sentence and really internalize it. To demonstrate this try putting your instrument out in the open for a week and see how often it gets played. Now take the same instrument, put it in it’s case and keep track of how often you play it. I guarantee you play it more when it is readily available.

It is for this reason that I’m making a simple tutorial on how to sample your own acoustic spaces. I will attempt to sample a variety of spaces using a variety of gear; iPhone, portable PA (crate taxi), Microtrack, MBox, Rode NT4 and Studio Projects C4 microphones. These results should tell you what results you can get from these devices. They should also give you all the information you need to make your very own impulse responses!

I will create the steps over a series of posts since otherwise this would be one giant post.  Stay tuned for more soon!



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