In this week’s episode of The Logic Pros, we are looking at Space Designer, Logic’s flagship reverb plug-in. Much like the Delay Designer we detailed last week, Space Designer is highly customizable with various shaping tools and the ability to create your own impulse responses.
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Reverb plug-ins are basically the emulation of the way instruments sound in a particular room or space. This effect is used commonly in music production to add life to various instruments in a mix, simulate the sound of each instrument having been recorded in the same room and for a number of other creative purposes. Logic Pro X provides several options in the reverb department, but today we will be focusing on the flagship convolution reverb: Space Designer.
Convolution reverb uses data of recordings of actual sounds reflecting in certain spaces to provide realistic reverb to producers in the studio. Space Designer can do both convolution and synthesized reverb sounds, which is a great place to start when it comes to going over the UI and designing our own reverb sound:
Firstly, Space Designer has two main modes of operation: IR Sample and Synthesized IR. The two options can be found/selected on the top and bottom of the Impulse Response Parameters circle (IRP circle in our case). As explained above, both options offer different tonal qualities when it comes to shaping our reverb sounds. We can load up various samples of different spaces (or Impulse Responses) from the small pull down menu along the top of the IRP circle, or start with one of the many excellent presets Apple provides.
Also in the IRP circle, we can set the length of the reverb tail and choose the sample rate. The length of the reverb (in seconds) determines how long of a tail or reflection your sound will have. Keep in mind, in IR Sample mode you can only choose a length as long as the sample you have chosen or lower. In most cases you will want to keep the sample rate slider at its highest, but as always, experimenting with the warmer low rates can result in some desirable effects.
Much like Delay Designer, most of the action takes place in the LCD looking display in the middle of the UI known as the Main Display, with most controls (along with a few extras) doubled up in the light blue Parameter bar below. We have the Volume Env(elope), Filter Env(elope), Density Env(elope), EQ, and Reverse features. All off which are represented in the colored Button Bar along the top of the display.
The Volume Env(elope) or overall shape of the reverb sound has basic attack and decay time/level settings. You’ll likely be spending most of your time in here shaping the actual tail of your reverb sound, but there are also some very interesting possibilities when experimenting with slow, sweeping attack times and more.
Note: The Reset button in the Button bar will reset the currently selected control’s parameters back to default or that of the currently selected preset. The All button right next to it will do the same thing for the all the parameters in the Button Bar.
Filter Env(elope) allows us to chose how much the filter effects various portions of the reverb sound and by how much. You’ll notice the actual multi-mode filter can be controlled in the bottom left corner of the UI. There is 6 and 12db low pass filters, a band pass and a high pass option, along with a resonance control for each. Simply tapping the Filter Env(elope) in the Button Bar will enable the filter, but you can bypass it again from the on/off button in the bottom left corner as well.
The EQ panel is just what it sounds like: a handy little built-in 4-band (low shelf, 2-bands and a high shelf) equalizer to shape the tone of our reverb sound.
The Reverse tab is also exactly what you would think. Get creative here, as it can offer some pretty amazing results on everything from drum sounds to pulsing synth leads and lush pad sounds. Keep in mind, that when reversing an IR Sample, you are essentially using the tail end of the sample and may need to adjust the IR Start time (more on this below).
We have left the Density Env(elope) feature for last, as it is only available to you when in Synthesized IR mode. The Density Env(elope) essentially allows you to shape and build your own impulse response from scratch, in a way making up for some of the built-in data that comes with Impulse Response samples. It might be considered a 2-phase envelope with level and timing controls to shape the overall sound of the synthesized reflections.
Outside of the the usual wet and dry output controls on the right hand side of the UI, just below that we have the Pre-delay, IR Sample start time, and Spread controls. The Pre-delay determines the amount of time it takes for your reverb sound to begin after Space Designer has detected the incoming signal. IR Start determines at which phase of the IR Sample recording the reverb sound starts at.
The Spread controls are only available in the Synthesized IR mode. The Spread knob is basically a typical stereo-width spreader effect determined by the crossover frequency set on the Xover knob directly below it. All frequencies below the set value are spread across both the left and right channel, with the rest staying more towards the center (which is typically what happens in actual acoustic spaces).
And those are the main controls for the entire UI and more than enough to get you going on getting some great reverb sounds specifically tailored to your songs and creations. Like we mentioned above the categorized presets Apple has provided offer some amazing options for realistic room tones and even some wacky spacial effects. And here is one last tip:
Create your very own Impulse Responses and spacey synth sounds. Creating a custom made Impulse Response is as easy as dragging an audio file from the Finder directly on to the Main Display or loading one from the pull down menu on the IRP circle. In most cases, for realistic reverb tones the professionally recorded provided options will be much better, but you can get some crazy rings and even some downright impressive synth sounds this way.
The Logic Pros is a regular series exploring all of the most interesting gadgets and software for making music on your Mac/iOS devices. If there is any gear you would like us to take a closer hands-on look at, let us know in the comments section below or shoot us an email.
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