I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Cinematic Rooms Professional. This is a very special product designed primarily with the post-production engineer and score mixer in mind. I established a number of important objectives after talking with a wide range of industry professionals. I wanted to determine the pinch-points in their workflow, and what they thought the next generation of surround capable reverbs really needed to be able to do as we work towards a future where Dolby Atmos deliverables are fast becoming an industry norm.
I was delighted with their thoughtful and insightful responses, and have been humbled by their reaction to the finished product. Cinematic Rooms Professional really is a product of their design, made to meet the needs of the current and next generation of post-production and score mixing professionals. Their guidance has been tremendously influential on the direction this product has taken.
Although the most innovative workflow tools are reserved for Cinematic Rooms Professional, the standard edition of Cinematic Rooms benefits from the same advanced surround reverberation engine. Acoustically it pulls no punches (and also reaches up to 7.1.6), but has a more affordable price and a reduced set of interface functions. I am sure it will delight musicians at every level of the industry, whether they are working in stereo or surround. It is my pleasure to introduce Cinematic Rooms to you all.
Matt – LiquidSonics
Over the last few years we have seen demand for post-production and surround capable reverbs increasing dramatically. The emergence of Dolby Atmos capable consumer hardware and its accelerating roll-out in theatres is driving streaming services and movie studios to demand delivery in the format with increasing regularity. The demand for innovation in traditional channel-based surround reverbs continues to grow unabated.
There has been a steady growth of requests for surround versions of many LiquidSonics products in recent years, however it would need a blank page and a new technology to avoid the constraints of what already exists. Innovative interfaces and new workflow concepts are essential to harness the full potential of the powerful surround delivery formats we have today. They offer great opportunity for creativity, and reverb has an important role to play in this process.
The lineage of many surround capable reverbs available today can be traced back through to a design methodology established many decades ago. Advances in hardware and native stereo reverb design over the last decade have taken a new path, yielding tremendous advances sonically as computing capability has marched onwards. This has led many professionals working in surround and post-production to devise novel techniques to use their favourite contemporary stereo reverbs in the increasingly demanding surround working environment.
In recent months score mixers have been leaning more heavily into their reverbs than ever before. Previously unthinkable shifts in our daily lives and working environments have touched our industry, we now have orchestrations heading for film and television release that cannot afford to be delayed, but cannot be recorded as usual.
We are seeing orchestral musicians recording remotely at home, and the creation of scores entirely using sample libraries is now a reality for some big budget films – workflows that would never have been contemplated before, and some degree of change will be with us forever. Reverberation is usually applied very sparingly on a recording made at a world-class scoring stage for subtle enhancement, but now score mixers face challenges to create a believable and coherent space within which to place solo instruments and samples with minimal compromise.
Cinematic Rooms is an innovative, forward-thinking, and highly advanced reverberator. It is uniquely positioned to accommodate a wide range of surround and post-production requirements in a rapidly evolving landscape, whilst providing a level of acoustic quality until now only available in the very best stereo reverb devices.
There were a number of clear objectives for Cinematic Rooms:
- Create a room reverb with best-in-class sound.
- Provide innovative, creative tools for use in complex surround mixes.
- Make it simple and intuitive enough for lightning-fast workflows.
Following are some highlights of the innovative creative tools available in Cinematic Rooms, and an outline of some of the techniques allowing it to make real strides in the acoustic quality of multichannel surround reverb.
Innovative Creative Tools
Surround Editing Planes
Cinematic Rooms Professional provides an unprecedented level of control over the definition of a surround environment.
When using stereo reverbs for surround applications, it is common to select the same preset across all instances to create cohesive space. Often, we then apply small deviations for different regions (front, rear, sides) as required to create the subtle perturbations and variations in acoustic spaces that we are accustomed to hearing in the world around us. We may also elect to use more dramatic differences for emphasis or creative effect.
Managing a configuration like this takes time to set up and may stifle the creative process. When under intense time pressures the likelihood of an engineer experimenting with different presets is lower if the implication is they will need to reconfigure multiple instances every time.
Cinematic Rooms Professional simplifies this workflow with its surround planes editing concept. Whilst the plugin algorithms are inherently fully surround in operation, conceptually they can be divided into true-stereo instances along the front, side, rear, centre and elevated planes. The planes can be acoustically isolated from each other as well if desired (or run in multi-mono mode).
The parameter values from the master plane can be biased across the surround planes similarly to the way you might use an envelope or LFO can be used to time-vary master parameters in a synthesiser. As the master parameters are changed, so do all of the surround planes by their relative amounts.
Suppose that you have a 1 second decay on the master with a subtle extension to the reverb in other planes; perhaps a 1.2 second in the sides and a 1.4 in the rears. If you pulled the master decay time back to 0.5 seconds, you probably wouldn’t want the sides to stay at 1.2 seconds and the rears 1.4 seconds as they could easily overwhelm the space. In Cinematic Rooms, the reverb in other planes automatically tracks down to 0.6 seconds in the sides and 0.7 seconds in the rears so that everything stays in step. This helps retain the consistency of the space despite variations made within it with a minimum of maintenance.
The same applies to the reflection size, filtering, and early/late mix – in fact almost every parameter can be controlled in this way with Cinematic Rooms. Using parameter locks, you can even work through the hundreds of presets retaining master parameter values and associated biasing.
This could all become very difficult to manage, if it were not for Cinematic Rooms’ inclusion of notification symbols under every control to indicate whether there is a surround plane biasing active. It also displays a count of the number of biases active per plane in the top right corner of the plugin at all times so that you can immediately see all planes’ statuses at a glance.
If this all sounds like a level of complexity that just one step beyond your requirements, the planes can simply be hidden away and everything continues to work as you would expect in the background (whether a preset contains biased parameters or not).
It was established many years ago that reverbs should produce output in every channel for each of their input channels. A sound received on one channel reverberates into all other channels to some degree just as it does in real life – usually with some degree of delay and attenuation. Ideally that audio should be fully decorrelated from all the other channels.
Many surround reverbs do a good job of controlling this effect in their reflection modules. Delays, levels, filtering and more – all can be controlled by the reverb designer very well (even if that control is not extended to the user directly).
The design of most surround reverberators to date tends not to allow any control over the nature of the crossfeed between channels. This creates a challenge creatively if one would prefer a reverb to respect and track panning, as if often the case with post-production. We do not always want cross-fed reverb of equal magnitude emanating from all channels because as we pan the source around the reverberation does not follow it. Likewise control over the spectrum and delay of any cross-fed audio would be incredibly useful.
Cinematic Rooms Professional provides much greater control over crossfeed than you may be accustomed to. It allows pan tracking in greater fidelity than ever before. The level, delay and filtering characteristics can all be controlled individually. This means reverb heard next to the source of the sound can be closer, brighter and louder than the reverb that floods to the other channels – as the sound is panned around a surround space it retains these properties without any need to adjust the reverb plug-in in sympathy.
Best In Class Sound
Modern stereo reverbs are often characterised by three key metrics. Firstly, a purity of tone that imposes an absolute minimum of spectral colouration to the sound, transporting it into another space without blemishing its character in any way. Secondly, and a decay that is maximally (and constantly) dense throughout the body of the reverberation creating a thick, luscious decay. Thirdly, subtle modulation that allows the space to adopt the source in a very neutral manner.
Cinematic Rooms excels in all three because it has a pioneering multichannel constant density surround algorithm that exhibits spectral achromaticity.
Multichannel Constant Density
Reverbs are typically made of early reflection modules that simulate the initial bounces off walls that allow the ear to make discerning judgements about our environment and the sound within it, and late reverberation engines that simulate a lush decay once the reflections are no longer discernible as individual echoes.
A key benefit of the algorithms used in Cinematic Rooms is that they are able to retain a constant (maximal) density irrespective of the number of active channels. This is often not the case. As a result, when the listener is not in the listening sweet spot they can still expect to hear a very lush, thick reverb tail. Since the tails are fully decorrelated, fold-down compatibility is very good.
High quality contemporary stereo reverbs achieve extreme levels of density and can create rooms of any virtual dimension without compromising their spectral purity. They remain virtually colourless (i.e. achromatic).
Cinematic Rooms excels at the simulation of small, tight spaces. The reflection engine crafts, shapes and then purifies reflections so that they remain strictly decorrelated. This means that they can be placed close or far from one another (even on top of each other) without the comb filtering one would usually experience when correlated delay lines stray to within a few milliseconds of each other in length as is necessary in a simulation of a very small space.
It is even possible to devise a room that sounds tighter at the front than in the rear using the surround planes without worrying about how it may sound when it is folded down into stereo. The delays will not trample over each other as you may expect with the associated peaks and nulls in the spectrum.
This all comes together to ensure that surround spaces in Cinematic Rooms present an uncanny level of realism, usability and a quality as yet unheard of in any surround product to date.
Cinematic Rooms presents a range of powerful workflow capabilities in an approachable and attractive interface. Sound quality is second to none, and in the surround space sounds like no other reverb – it outperforms hardware surround devices at ten times the price. It truly is a simply powerful reverb.