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Digital Reverberation and Organs

Hammond Spring ReverbYears of advancements in the recording studio industry has raised the bar for what is acceptable as artificial reverberation.  The spring tanks introduced in the 1940's and used on older organs do not create the sound of a space, but rather a special effect; an effect that is unknown in the real world.  The plate reverbs introduced in the 1950's are a smoother, more musical effect, but again they are an effect.  Plate systems are also very big, expensive and require seasonal tunings.  The better choice for creating the illusion of a larger space is the present array of digital reverb generators.

With the variety and quality of the current generation of digital reverb choices, any smaller room can sound like a small chapel, a recital hall, a massive cathedral, a grand movie palace, or an aircraft hanger.  The complex reflections and echoes that create the signature ambience of any given space can be created with dedicated hardware processors or with specialized software applications.  An acceptable quality can be obtained by blending the reverberated signal and the dry signal electrically and then presented into the room via quality speakers.   A more acceptable approach can be obtained by blending the two sounds in the air.  Our preferred approach to artificial ambiance is to amplify the reverb signal (wet mix) separately and feed the results to dedicated amplifiers and speakers.  

With manufactured organs and most virtual instruments,  the reverb can be applied with one or more hardware digital reverb processors, stereo amplifiers and multiple Ambiance two way speakers.  Stereo reverberation can be created from mono sources when necessary.   Whatever the original signal from the organ, stereo reverberation can be created, or a very elaborate multiple channel ambience system created.

With Virtual Pipe Organs that have the necessary CPU power, the reverb can be applied with convolution software and specialized impulse response files.  Using separate audio outputs from the multi-channel audio interfaces, the reverb effect can be fed to stereo amplifiers and multiple Ambiance two way speakers.  Stereo reverberation can be used or a complex multi channel ambience created.

In the most critical installations, a digital speaker management processor is used to more accurately match the ranks of a primary organ, amplifiers, speakers and the room. These processors specialize in providing band pass,  high pass, low pass and all pass filters,  parametric and graphic equalizers,  protection limiters,  phase adjustments and level controls.

Many choices are available in off the shelf digital reverb processors.  Here are just a few recommendations for units we have used with excellent results.

Some model worth considering -- Lexicon  MX 200, MX300,  MX400   Alesis MIDIverb4, Wedge, QuadraVerbii    TC Electronics MX-OneXL, M350

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