SoundMagic Neo Reverb Review
Neo Reverb is a brilliantly unique approach to convolution reverb. Neo Reverb is an interesting marriage of algorithmic-like features joined to the natural space prowess typically dominated by convolution reverbs. It is, of sorts, a hybrid reverb plug-in. It is a novel take on the “static” convolution reverb and it does prove itself to be a very interesting concept.
Part of the Neo Series Giveaway, here on Reviewer's Revival!
I generally find the sound of Neo Reverb’s impulse responses to be agreeable and varied enough for most reverb/ambience needs. There are 137 IRs of natural spaces grouped in six main categories. These range from tight, ambient spaces, chambers, plates, rooms, halls, outdoor spaces and even a couple of caves. The outdoor IRs did not sound like natural outdoor spaces to me, but actually sounded much like the hall IRs. To be honest, I don’t find that there is quite enough difference between some of the IRs. The ones that I consider to be the nicest-sounding, are the smaller, intimate room and ambient spaces.
There are two algorithmic types to choose from: The “Neo Reverb” type and the “Old Style”. It isn’t clearly defined in the user’s manual what the differences between these are, but it sounded to me as though the “Old Style” disables the modulation and perhaps some of the additional effects filtering.
The interface is quite functional; albeit a little dated looking. Veering from the typical “Graphite Black” GUI design that most Neo series plug-ins use, this plug-in’s interface is a highly-contrasted silver and black motif. The background is “anodized” silver, featuring black accents and large, easy-to-read silver knobs. The typeface and text display elements are quite large.
Easy A/B comparisons are made using the two large buttons named respectively, along the top.
The plug-in is written in assembly language, but sits in a Synthedit shell. The SoundMagic folks are working hard at preparing native, 64 bit versions of many of their plug-ins for future release. For example, they have very recently released a native, (non Synthedit) 64 bit version of Neo EQ 2.
Most of the parameter controls that one would expect to find on a good algorithmic reverb can be found on Neo Reverb. As a matter of fact, there are a total of about 40 different controls spanned over the three tabbed panels. For this reason, this convolution-based reverb can be considered a ‘hybrid’. SoundMagic claim that the impulse responses that are shipped with this plug-in are IRs that have been ‘converted’ into algorithms. “Converted into algorithms?”
The general sound quality of the plug-in is pretty good. Even with all of its features, I would not classify this convolving reverb in the same calibre of say, Native Instrument’s Reflektor. I really wanted to like this reverb, but no matter what I did with it, it just seemed to “ride-on-top” of the source. Do you know what I mean? Some reverb plug-ins are highly acclaimed for their ability to ‘surround’ or ‘wrap around’ the source. I recently wrote a full review of an algorithmic reverb that fits very well into the “surrounds the sound” category. This reverb is not synthetic-sounding, it just doesn’t wrap the sound quite as much as I would like.
But . . . and this is a big BUT, I absolutely love the "Studio" IRs. I put my favorite little blues piano clip through "Studio C" @1 second, and my send set to "35" in Mixcraft Pro Studio 6. It's a beautiful room sound. As a matter of fact, it's a fantastic studio room sound - very, very convincing. This one does not sound as though it's "riding on top" of the source at all; rather it's a subtle ambience that gives the source more 'breath'.
The concluding remarks of this brief once-over of Neo Reverb are concerning its CPU consumption. On my 6 year old dual core AMD system, this little scallywag required 40 percent of my CPU! Even without playback, by simply just being loaded into the project, my Mixcraft Studio Pro 6 consumption jumped from 3% to 40%. On a modern, (6 core) Intel i7 3930, the CPU consumption was almost 3.5 percent. 2C Audio’s Aether runs on the same system at only 0.8 percent.
Neo Reverb is a great concept; a really GREAT concept. Nevertheless, it reminds me of a tri-athlete who has to swim 6km, then jog 6km, and finally, cycle for 18km; but just can’t quite make it past the 17 km mark. I am not declaring that this is a bad plug-in. On the contrary, it is quite good. However, it is the opinion here at Reviewer’s Revival, that SoundMagic’s pricing is a little too aggressive for the degree of quality offered. I would consider this plug-in an even better buy if it were priced 20 or 25 percent less in its current state.
Higher-than-average CPU demand makes this one a little bit of a tough sell for anyone who isn't using an up-to-date computer. The reverb doesn't "wrap around the sound" quite as much as I would like to hear. I honestly believe that if SoundMagic "nail down" both of these concerns, this plug-in will breeze right past the 17th km mark to the finish line. - €99/$129 (USD)
Here you can listen to how Neo Reverb sounds. According to SoundMagic, this is a direct comparison with famous expensive hardware reverbs (Lexicon 480L and TC System 6000).
As part of the Giveaway competition, guess which one of the three processed samples is the software. Don't worry, you won't lose a chance to win because of an incorrect choice. The answer will be posted back here once the competition closes. Good luck and thanks for your interest. :)
Brother Charles is a freelance writer, Gospel artist and minister. Charles had been a professional touring musician during the nineties; working primarily as a lead guitarist in the Canadian country music industry. Brother Charles is also involved with music production and quality home recording.
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