For years, Ableton Live’s default native Reverb device has provided reliable spatial effects – though more recently, it’s fallen somewhat short of advancements in virtual reverb technology. Live 11 addresses this with Ableton’s all new Hybrid Reverb. Merging a flexible convolution unit with five lush algorithms, there’s quite a few features under the hood that make Hybrid very much more than meets the eye.
Convolution reverb takes an impulse response – a sample recorded in any actual acoustic space – and uses that as a model to emulate the sound of that space. Hybrid Reverb’s convolution unit can be run in serial, prior to the algorithmic unit, in parallel, alongside the algorithm, or all on its own, which is what I’ll do here.
The Convolution IR choosers offer an array of unique spaces, from drum-specific usage to vast expanses and experimental textures. Each of these is represented by the waveform display above, which can further be manipulated via Attack and Decay time, as well as Size, which shrinks or expands the resulting response by re-pitching the sample.
The final Convolution IR chooser option is User, where any impulse responses you’ve used are retained and referenced. Importing an impulse response is easy: just drag and drop any audio file onto the waveform display from anywhere in your OS’s file Finder/Explorer, Live’s Browser – or from any audio clip your set.
This means you can create tuned textures by dragging a harmonic audio clip in your project into the Convolution IR display, allowing you to impose harmonic texture on the resulting reverb tail. One example might be to put Hybrid Reverb on a snare, then take a chord stab, vocal, or pad from your project and use that as the Convolution IR, then fine-tune Hybrid Reverb’s EQ to really dial it in from there. The sky is the limit on this stuff – the highly creative combinations are not only possible but encouraged.
Using the same Convolution-only routing described above, it’s very easy to create reverse-reverb effects. Find an impulse response audio file you like. Echo Thief (INSERT LINK: http://www.echothief.com) has some great ones for free. Drag it to an audio clip and hit the Reverse button in the Clip’s sample settings – or reverse it in a third-party editor if you prefer. Then drag the reversed sample to Hybrid’s Convolution IR display, adjust settings, EQ to taste, and voila – reverse reverb ready to go.
As with most reverb effects, Hybrid Reverb comes with a Predelay that can be controlled in milliseconds. This corresponds to the time it takes for a sound to first reach the walls of a space, with larger spaces taking longer than small ones. If you’re going for an instantaneous reverse reverb as described above, you’ll probably want to leave this at or close to zero.
However, you might notice Hybrid Reverb offers the ability to control the Predelay time in host-synchronized 16th note intervals. Increasing the Feedback slider below and setting the timing interval to 3/16 or 6/16 creates a dub-style dotted 16th or dotted 8th delay effect strictly on the reverb response – not the original dry signal.
Adjusting the EQ settings and playing with the feedback and Stereo output can create some very intriguing rhythmic textures with minimal effort. Better yet, Hybrid Reverb features a Send input control, allowing you to automate dub-style splashes as an insert effect, with the feedback decaying naturally even after you turn the Send back to zero.
Switching to algorithm only and reducing Predelay time and feedback, it’s time to focus on the powerful modulation textures made possible with the Tides algorithm. Select Tides from the algorithm chooser, then adjust Decay and Size to taste. Delay is optional but to hear the effect most clearly, I would suggest leaving it at 0.00 ms; you might also want to diminish the Damping amount to hear it as clearly as possible.
Now increase the Tide dial to 100% to really hear the ripply modulation taking place. This modulation is synchronized by default, with Phase controlling stereo offset. Adjust the Rate dial for desired modulation LFO timing, while the Wave setting morphs from a randomized noise LFO shape at 0%, to a smooth sine at the default 50%, to a stark square at 100%. Tweak and automate Wave and Rate for dynamic textural sound design sure to take your sounds into another universe.
Better yet, you can Freeze the reverb input and still adjust these parameters – along with Size for pitch shifting effects – to really go to town on a more static texture; enable Freeze Input to continue feeding source signal into the algorithm while you tweak.
Perfect for ambient music or anyone seeking lush cosmic vibes, pitch-shifting reverb is available with Hybrid’s Shimmer algorithm. Increase the Shimmer amount to emphasize the pitch-shifted results. The Pitch dial default is set to go up one octave which provides classic ethereal effects – but you can experiment with other settings to craft a more unsettling result.
With Size and Diffusion at 0%, Shimmer can produce almost glitchy, super short pitch delays; increasing Mod or Diffusion at small Size settings will smooth these out a bit, but if you’re aiming for an out of of body experience, you’d be best advised to increase the Size amount considerably. You can mellow high frequencies to smooth things out a bit with the Damping control – and of course further tune the frequency response via Hybrid Reverb’s dedicated EQ section.
One may well argue that to take full advantage of Hybrid Reverb, you should combine the Convolution unit with your selected algorithm. Thanks to Hybrid’s routing menu, doing so is not only easy, but flexible. It might be normal to expect a serial routing as the only option, and along with the Blend dial, you would still have plenty control over the balance between the two.
However, the Parallel routing option allows for concurrent, independent use of both units simultaneously, easily creating layered spatial textures emanating from the same source, yet occurring in different sonic spaces.
Along with its three other algorithms, dozens of built-in impulse responses, and a multi-band parametric EQ section, Hybrid Reverb can easily carry your production into new sonic realms.