Waves introduced its new convolution-based sampling reverb at the January NAMM show in the USA. This is obviously intended to blow the competition (Altiverb and Space Designer) out of the water - and it does, but at a price.
As Audio Ease did for Altiverb, Waves has developed an extensive library of impulse responses from renowned acoustic spaces for the IR-1. And like Emagic did for Space Designer, Waves has also taken responses from over 50 classic electronic devices. The difference is that Waves has done the job right - the company collaborated with acoustics Professor Angelo Farina of Parma University in Italy, funding his research while he developed a world-class library for the IR-1.
But the best thing is the amazing selection of well-known acoustic spaces included in the library. Legendary studios such as Westlake Audio Studio D, the Masterfonics Tracking Room, the Sydney Opera House, and the Ryman Auditorium in which the Grand Ole Opry is staged, are a bit more interesting than Gerhard Lengeling’s room in the Emagic building.
The other big difference is that Waves IR-1 is the first convolution-based reverb to provide parameters that actually affect the convolution - they don’t just filter the result as with Space Designer. Conventional digital reverbs offer more control of individual reverb parameters, but lack accuracy when simulating real acoustic spaces. Convolution based sampling reverbs reproduce natural acoustic spaces much more accurately. But they don’t provide the familiar reverb control parameters offered by conventional digital reverbs.
IR-1 offers the best of both approaches - convolution reverb plus conventional control parameters. You can control room resonance, de-correlation, damping, CPU usage and convolution length for the convolution process. You also get conventional controls for reverb time, size, decay envelope, early reflections and EQ.
So, in contrast to Altiverb, you can lengthen the reverb time. And the IR-1 goes much further than Space Designer when it comes to providing parameters to tweak. For example, a graph-based multiple breakpoint envelope lets you re-shape the decay behaviour and, using the size parameter, you can vary the early reflections part of the IR to make the space smaller or larger. You can control the actual IR’s reflections, resonance, and randomness to make the space clearer or denser. And you can colour the reverb sound using the built-in four-band paragraphic EQ.
From Sydney Opera House to the Knitting Factory, with many other famous venues in between, Waves IR-1 offers a better selection of high-quality natural-sounding Impulse Responses than you will find anywhere else. A bit pricey, perhaps - but this is the Rolls-Royce of sampling reverbs.