Today I received an email from one of my favorite music software providers SoundsOnline, home to the East West and Quantum Leap libraries that have become a staple in my musical arsenal. Today’s announcement was for Quantum Leap Spaces, a new convolution reverb. I’ve been pretty happy with Altiverb for a long time, which is one of the more common reverbs, but am always happy to hear a new alternative. So, I’ve downloaded the 10 day trial, and given it a quick listen.
After installing and authorizing the software, I pulled up my DAW and loaded a piano sound, and a recording of acoustic guitar, which I purposely mixed without reverb, to test both through the reverb. I loaded both Spaces and Altiverb onto busses so that I could quickly A/B the two, and see how they compare. When I first opened up Spaces, I was greeted by a very pleasant looking, and simple interface, reminiscent of analog gear. There were a total of 4 knobs, which were Dry Signal, Input Signal, Wet Signal and Pre Delay. There’s also a flip switch called “mode” with “Stereo” and “True Stereo”, however I have yet to find a preset that let’s me change between the two. The top bar of the interface feels similar to their sample libraries with the menu and settings buttons, and where the preset browser would normally be, a preset and bypass button.
The presets themselves felt very similar to the presets in the rest of the Play libraries, and there is probably an overlap between the impulse responses (IR). The only downside to these presets is that they are labeled very generically. So we get things like “San Francisco Hall” but they don’t tell us which hall that is. Although they do have a section called “Offbeat Locations” which list things like “Carlsbad Caverns”, so there are some specifics. I’m sure with a little research I could figure out where each IR comes from.
So, I finally start playing through the verb and suddenly everything is much louder. I look and the dry signal is turned all the way up. This reverb is designed to be an insert, and not a send. This is great in some situations, where I just want to add verb to a few instruments, or sounds, but in general, I like using a send and routing every instrument through the same verb. So I will have to compensate by turning down the dry signal in the verb and move forward. It creates a nice clear sound, very inviting. I think I’d like a longer tail, but that option does not exist. I guess I will have to find one. Luckily they list the IRs with how long the verb lasts. A little disappointing if I like the sound of a certain hall.
So how does it compare to Altiverb? I found a similar sounding hall in both plugins and switched back and forth. In general, Spaces had a much brighter sound, but also a ton of dry signal mixed in on every preset. Every time I changed the preset, it would reset the dry level gain. Altiverb tended to color the sound a little more, especially in the low mids, but it seemed to add something interesting, in my opinion. In general, the IRs in Spaces were shorter and cleaner. Altiverb has a much wider selection (and has been accumulating responses longer), with more variation in the length of delays. Altiverb also allows you to add your own impulse responses, as well as third party responses, where Spaces seems closed to what Quantum Leap provides for you.
Overall, Spaces would be a great buy as your first reverb! It sounds great, and is half the cost of Altiverb. It is limited in the amount of editing you can do to the sound, but has a nice variety overall. I’m sure that as the software is developed, they will add some great new features.
Are there any other reverbs you recommend I try, or that you would like to hear about?