Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
SvenH
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Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Post by SvenH » Mon Apr 10, 2017 10:32 am

Being a Live noob (havn't really had time to play with Live that much since I bought it half a year ago), I am now going through "what's in the box" before just throwing in my usual VSTs.

I was pleasantly surprised today when I played with the reverb! I have read so many comments that you *must* get a third party reverb with Live. Maybe it is not *the best* reverb out there, but it is definitely useable! What is it that you don't like about it?

TomKern
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Re: Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Post by TomKern » Mon Apr 10, 2017 10:39 am

It has a very specific sound that has the tendency to feel tacked on. If that is what you are going for then Lives reverb is great.
But if you want something that really gives the feeling of "roominess", others work much better for little money. (Like the Valhalla ones, or the basic Lexicon bundle)

But in any case, use what you like 8)
Last edited by TomKern on Mon Apr 10, 2017 10:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

Stromkraft
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Re: Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Post by Stromkraft » Mon Apr 10, 2017 10:39 am

SvenH wrote:Being a Live noob (havn't really had time to play with Live that much since I bought it half a year ago), I am now going through "what's in the box" before just throwing in my usual VSTs.

I was pleasantly surprised today when I played with the reverb! I have read so many comments that you *must* get a third party reverb with Live. Maybe it is not *the best* reverb out there, but it is definitely useable! What is it that you don't like about it?
It's an OK reverb, especially for "unhearable" short make-room-in-the-mix reverbs. As opposed to put the music into a real, or unreal, room.

It's only that when you compare to something better you're blown away.
Make some music!

madlab
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Re: Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Post by madlab » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:22 pm

Like the Convolution reverb pro if you have M4L...
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Angstrom
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Re: Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Post by Angstrom » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:38 pm

it's OK, it's got a very specific sound.
it's the sound of a Freeverb variant! https://ccrma.stanford.edu/~jos/pasp/Freeverb.html
Like others have said it's not great as a front-and-centre feature reverb. It's better for smaller tasks and it's usually best not to use it as your only reverb though. The mix will start to sound sonically limited.

But it's not terrible, it's just specific. People still like all kinds of artificial reverbs because of their unique flavour which may be useful in particular recipes, all the way from bucketbrigade to convolution and beyond.

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Re: Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Post by Tarekith » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:40 pm

I always found the Eco algorithm to sound the best for my uses, strangely.

+1 on the Convolution M4L Reverb from Suite being really good though, I use that one a lot these days.

Angstrom
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Re: Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Post by Angstrom » Mon Apr 10, 2017 1:06 pm

Yep, the Convolution Pro reverb is very good but it's a real shame it's not a native device because convolution is notoriously resource intensive ... and there's surely some additional M4L resource overhead. Surely a good Reverb unit is a core music making tool and so worthy of a dedicated device - it's not well suited to being created in an open and resource heavy IDE whose stated purpose is hacking bespoke devices.
I mean ... Has any user made a startling variant of the M4L convo reverb? It's like making a car out of Lego, impressive that they could do it but I wouldn't want to use it in a street-race.

That said - I use the super-springs impulse so often I think I need to get myself a spring tank.

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Re: Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Post by Coupe70 » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:05 pm

Given that Ableton Reverb is "free", what are your free alternatives for reverb ?
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theophilus
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Re: Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Post by theophilus » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:25 pm

i recommend reading this article:

https://valhalladsp.com/2011/01/21/reve ... artifacts/

the older reverbs had limitations that you may or may not be hitting. the key to a reverb is getting enough echo density quickly, while avoid ringing artifacts. the older algorithms tended to be on a continuum where you could trade off attack for ringiness - fast buildup of echo density and lots of metallic ringiness, or slow buildup of echo density and less metallic ringiness. (ringiness = lots of resonances in the sound that may or may not even be harmonically related).

so e.g. for short reverbs on percussive sounds, the metallicness is less audible because 1) lots of noise in the source and 2) the reverb is short anyways (but you do need fast attack). for other sounds, if you can deal with the slow buildup, you can get a longer reverb time. chorusing on the tails helps with the metallicness by spreading out the resonances so any one frequency doesn't stand out as much, with the downside of making it sound 'washy'.

every reverb does have a sound of its own, which i won't pretend to explain (since i don't really understand it myself :) but one thing more modern reverbs do is address some of the above - change the topologies so that the ringiness is reduced in general requiring less chorus and just sounding better, and expand the ability to have fast attack with less ringiness.

incidentally, of course there is variety in real rooms as well - there are some really bad sounding rooms as well, and you could probably build one that had the same bad resonances as the early allpass-delay based reverbs. convolutions work by, instead of trying to figure out an algorithm that sounds good, just recording a room that already sounds good. but obviously you can't change that sound very much.

SvenH
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Re: Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Post by SvenH » Mon Apr 10, 2017 3:57 pm

Thanks for your replies!

I have not really had time for making complete songs since buying Live, maybe that's when it's limitations will be obvious. On my next song, I will compare Lives reverb as main send with Valhalla room and Fabfilter Pro-R which I also own.

Thanks for telling about "M4L Convolution reverb pro". Didn't know such a thing existed! I will try that one too.

ecuk
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Re: Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Post by ecuk » Mon Apr 10, 2017 4:01 pm

Angstrom wrote:Yep, the Convolution Pro reverb is very good but it's a real shame it's not a native device because convolution is notoriously resource intensive ... and there's surely some additional M4L resource overhead. Surely a good Reverb unit is a core music making tool and so worthy of a dedicated device - it's not well suited to being created in an open and resource heavy IDE whose stated purpose is hacking bespoke devices.
I don't often say much on these forums, preferring to read and to learn, but I do find myself now and then having to comment when one of the usual suspects says something dodgy—all too often, it seems, when they say something to denigrate M4L.

Convolution Reverb and Convolution Reverb Pro both use a 'native' Max external called multiconvolve~.mxo/mxe/mxe64 (depending on your OS). Externals like this are written in C, and they are as fast performance-wise as anything baked into Live (or any other DAW or VST or whatever).

Moreover, the comment about Max being a 'resource heavy IDE' belies a basic misconception about both IDEs and about Max itself. IDEs are 'Integrated Development Environments'. The 'development' part of this is important. Yes, Max provides a wonderful but possibly resource-intensive environment while developing, but when the resulting patch is running none of this matters. In a similar vein both Xcode on the Mac and Visual Studio on Windows are unbelievably resource-intensive during development—far more so than Max will ever be—but this has nothing whatsoever to do with the performance of the program/app you develop with it.

Max itself is one of the Music-N series of computer music languages, the first of which was written by Max Matthews in 1957. (Hence the name Max.) Once a patch is running, Max uses the same underlying architecture as Csound, Supercollider, Pure Data, ChucK and pretty much everything else commonly used for computer music these days (except Extempore). This architecture has survived for 60 years (!) because it does exactly what it needs to do and does it very efficiently. Believe me, in the 1950s and 1960s your code needed to be efficient! The basic idea is that you take a bunch of 'unit generators' or UGens and connect them together. These UGens are anything from 'sum two signals' to anti-aliased oscillators to FFTs. Most of the basic UGens have been around since time immemorial, and their algorithms are well-tested and well-understood. New UGens, such as the 'multiconvolve~' used in the Convolution Reverb (Pro) are, in Max, written in C and just as efficient as the native, built-in UGens (which are themselves externals written in C that happen to be distributed with Max so you don't need to reinvent the wheel).

The performance of the audio DSP is the same regardless of whether you hook these UGens together with a text-based language such as Csound or a visual-based patcher as with Max or Pd. Once you start the thing running and processing audio, the environment you happened to use to develop it does not matter.

All that said, yes, there is a minimal overhead in the interface between Live and Max, but it is a lot less than one might imagine. If it were anything but minimal and insignificant, it wouldn't be possible to send signal-rate audio back and forth between the two. (Latency is another issue, but it is not due to the interface between Live and Max, it is due to the block size used for audio and DSP and whatever latency is inherent in the algorithm.) In any case, the overhead within Max is no more than it is within Live. The performance of good Max devices is the same, if not better than, native Live devices. And Convolution Reverb (Pro) with its use of a C-coded external is definitely what I would call a 'good' Max device.

'Nough said.

Cheers,
Eric
Last edited by ecuk on Mon Apr 10, 2017 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ecuk
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Re: Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Post by ecuk » Mon Apr 10, 2017 5:35 pm

Angstrom wrote:Has any user made a startling variant of the M4L convo reverb? It's like making a car out of Lego, impressive that they could do it but I wouldn't want to use it in a street-race.
Quick follow-up to my previous (rather lengthy) post...

You have your analogy backwards. It isn't Max that is the Legos to Live's street-racer, it is Live that is the Legos. Max is the street-racer.

Cheers,
Eric
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Re: Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Post by kb420 » Mon Apr 10, 2017 7:16 pm

Image
H20nly wrote:fuck Bitwig.

Angstrom
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Re: Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Post by Angstrom » Mon Apr 10, 2017 7:17 pm

ecuk wrote:
Angstrom wrote:Has any user made a startling variant of the M4L convo reverb? It's like making a car out of Lego, impressive that they could do it but I wouldn't want to use it in a street-race.
Quick follow-up to my previous (rather lengthy) post...
You have your analogy backwards. It isn't Max that is the Legos to Live's street-racer, it is Live that is the Legos. Max is the street-racer.
If I have a set with nothing but Convolution reverb in it. I put that set on my desktop, close Live and click that set to open it = 60 seconds
If I have a set with nothing but Reverb in it. I put that set on my desktop, close Live and click that set to open it = 6 seconds


I know that Max has dozens of fervent users but my own experience has been more one of slowness and requiring to re-authorise it regularly because its authorisation process gets lost in the slow startup and shutdown. That is - it loses its own authorisation because it cant close itself properly.

I am glad for the people it works well for. Truly. Well done.
I personally would NOT want to race with this.

ecuk
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Re: Ableton reverb is not that bad!?

Post by ecuk » Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:47 pm

Angstrom wrote:If I have a set with nothing but Convolution reverb in it. I put that set on my desktop, close Live and click that set to open it = 60 seconds
If I have a set with nothing but Reverb in it. I put that set on my desktop, close Live and click that set to open it = 6 seconds
On my 12" MacBook with a 1.1 GHz processor (my MBP is not currently at hand), it takes 12 seconds to load a set with only the Convolution Reverb Pro. With only Reverb it is 7 seconds. Agreed that it is slower to load with M4L, but I am not seeing anything close to your 60 seconds. I can definitely see why you might be disparaging about anything that uses M4L.

I am reminded of an (April 1st) issue of one of the car magazines many years ago in which they decided to do a head-to-head comparison of a Porsche 911 and a NASA space shuttle. The Porsche did 0 to 60mph in about 5 seconds, the space shuttle needed about 6.4 seconds. After eight and a half minutes, however, the Porsche had long ago topped out around 200mph, whereas the space shuttle by then was doing something close to 18000mph. Which is better? Depends on how far you are travelling, I suppose.

I guess to me the question is what you are doing. If you are happy with 'presets' and only use what comes with M4L out of the box, then yes, it might indeed seem best to shy away from it. On the other hand, if you want to go beyond the 'presets', for me there is no question which is better. (Disclaimer: I have been doing audio DSP programming for several decades and tend to be much happier if I can get 'under the bonnet'.) Also, I must admit that my interests are much more in sound design and processing than they are in laying down songs or tracks (or, eek, 'beat-making'), so for me Live is a very capable front-end to Max as much as the other way around. I suspect I am not the usual Ableton customer in this regard.

Anyway, my point was simply that there is nothing inherently slower about the performance of Max devices versus native Live devices. Or there shouldn't be, barring, apparently, the loading time. Max itself (i.e., not M4L) has been around since the mid-1980s, and it has been used for real-time computer music by many serious musicians and composers all this time. It is optimised for performance, and it can do pretty much anything one cares to do with audio (and these days, video) and to do it efficiently. M4L, on the other hand, is in essence just the 'glue' that allows Live and Max to talk to one another; it does seem to have its own independent issues, however, fully agreed.

I should also add that there is nothing whatsoever wrong with using presets. I have very much enjoyed playing around with your Vintage Operators instrument racks, which you so kindly gave away at Xmas time. (Thanks!) In the end it is about the music you make, not the tools you use to make it.

Cheers,
Eric
MacBook Pro, macOS Mojave 10.14.6, 2.7GHz i7, 16GB – Live Suite 10.1, Max 8.0.8, Push 2, ATH-M50x

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