Sim­u­lated space – vin­tage re­ver­ber­a­tion

Computer Music - - Make Music Now -

His­tor­i­cally, early en­gi­neers were forced to rely on ac­tual phys­i­cal spa­ces to pro­vide am­bi­ence. How­ever, the use of real spa­ces is not al­ways prac­ti­cal, nor does it of­fer any con­trol over the size of the room. For this rea­son, an ar­ti­fi­cial so­lu­tion was – and is – of­ten re­quired.

Early ar­ti­fi­cial re­verbs were electro­mechan­i­cal de­vices. In 1939, Lau­rens Ham­mond patented a spring-based de­sign for in­clu­sion in the Ham­mond Or­gan. This sort of re­verb fun­nels the sig­nal to one or more sus­pended springs in a small en­clo­sure. The ex­cited springs then act to cre­ate some sem­blance of space.

Spring re­verb units were com­mon­place among gig­ging mu­si­cians, and can be found built into cer­tain gui­tar combo amps and early syn­the­sis­ers.

In 1957, Elek­tro-Mess-Tech­nik (EMT) be­gan de­vel­op­ing its now-fa­mous 140 Re­ver­ber­a­tion Unit, a 240Kg be­he­moth that worked by ex­cit­ing a sus­pended me­tal plate us­ing trans­duc­ers. Ini­tially a mono ma­chine, it made use of an in­ge­nious damp­en­ing sys­tem in or­der to pro­vide users with con­trol over the re­verb time.

With units in­stalled at RCA’s stu­dio in Nash­ville, as well as EMI Abbey Road, EMT’s plate re­verb would find its way onto many a clas­sic plat­ter.

Other com­pa­nies would in­tro­duce plate re­verbs, but due to their size and weight, they were rel­e­gated to pro record­ing stu­dios.

Dig­i­tal re­verb units first ap­peared in the 1970s. EMT’s rack-mount­able 144 was re­leased in 1972, but its lim­i­ta­tions hin­dered its suc­cess. The com­pany then col­lab­o­rated with state­side com­pany Dy­na­tron in or­der to pro­duce the stan­dalone 250, a bona-fide multi-ef­fects unit that counted dig­i­tal re­verb amongst its mul­ti­tude of of­fer­ings.

A few years later, Lex­i­con would re­lease its 224, the be­gin­ning of what would be­come a long and sto­ried as­so­ci­a­tion with dig­i­tal re­verb.

Th­ese units sim­u­lated am­bi­ence by sam­pling the in­com­ing au­dio sig­nal and re­play­ing many copies back with vari­a­tions in pitch, phase and tim­ing. The more so­phis­ti­cated (and DSP in­ten­sive) the al­go­rithm, the more real­is­tic the sound.

The first in a leg­endary line of digi re­ver­ber­a­tion units, Lex­i­con’s 224 still sounds good to­day

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