Convolution reverb is a powerful tool used in sound design and music production to create realistic and immersive soundscapes. It works by using a process called convolution, which involves applying the impulse response (IR) of a real-world space or device to an audio signal. The result is a sound that is imbued with the unique characteristics of the IR, such as the room's size, shape, and materials.
The first step in using convolution reverb is to select an appropriate IR. There are many libraries available online that contain IRs of various spaces and devices, such as concert halls, churches, bedrooms, and even specific reverb hardware units. It's important to choose an IR that is suitable for the source material and the desired soundscape. For example, if the source audio is a solo piano, a large concert hall IR may not be the best choice, as it may be too "boomy" and overpower the piano.
Once the IR has been selected, it needs to be loaded into the convolution reverb plugin or software. The IR is typically in a file format such as WAV or AIFF, and the plugin or software will have instructions on how to load the IR.
After the IR is loaded, the next step is to adjust the parameters of the convolution reverb to achieve the desired sound. The most basic parameters are the wet/dry mix, which controls the balance between the dry, unprocessed audio and the wet, reverberant audio, and the decay time, which controls how long the reverb lasts.
Other common parameters include pre-delay, which adds a delay before the reverb begins, and early reflections, which simulate the reflections that occur before the sound reaches the walls of the space.
It's also possible to adjust the EQ of the convolution reverb to achieve a specific tonal balance. For example, if the IR has a lot of low-frequency energy, it may be necessary to cut the bass to prevent the reverb from becoming too "boomy".
Convolution reverb is a digital signal processing technique that uses a mathematical operation called convolution to apply the characteristics of a real-world space or device, known as an impulse response (IR), to an audio signal. The process of convolution involves multiplying the audio signal by the IR and summing the result over time. This process is often implemented using a technique called overlap-add, which is more efficient than performing the convolution in real-time.
The process of convolution reverb was first introduced in the 1950s by Manfred R. Schroeder, a German scientist and engineer. Schroeder's research focused on the acoustics of real-world spaces and how to replicate them electronically. He discovered that the impulse response of a space, which is a measurement of the sound that is reflected back to a listener when a short burst of sound is played, could be used to create a realistic simulation of the space.
Schroeder's work laid the foundation for the development of convolution reverb, but it wasn't until the advent of digital signal processing (DSP) in the 1970s that the technique became practical for use in music production and sound design. With the advent of DSP, it became possible to perform the complex calculations required for convolution in real-time, which made convolution reverb a viable option for use in audio production.
The process of convolution reverb can be implemented using various programming languages such as C++, C# and Python. The basic steps of the process are as follows:
First, the impulse response (IR) is loaded into memory. The IR is typically a stereo audio file, such as a WAV or AIFF file, that contains the characteristics of the space or device that we want to simulate.
The audio signal that we want to process is then loaded into memory. This is typically a stereo audio file, such as a WAV or AIFF file, that contains the source audio that we want to add reverb to.
The convolution process is performed by multiplying the audio signal by the IR and summing the result over time. This can be done using a technique called overlap-add, which is more efficient than performing the convolution in real-time.
The resulting convolved signal is then output to a stereo audio file or sent to a digital audio workstation (DAW) for further processing.
Convolution reverb is a powerful tool that can be used to create realistic and immersive soundscapes, but it's important to use it judiciously. Overuse of reverb can make a mix sound muddy and unclear, and it's often better to use a little reverb to enhance the source audio rather than completely submerging it in reverb. It allows us to replicate the sound of real-world spaces and devices, which can add realism and immersion to our soundscapes. It's important to select an appropriate IR, adjust the parameters of the reverb, and use it judiciously to achieve the desired sound.