MANUFACTURER: Fiedler Audio
PRODUCT: Spacelab Interstellar
The Spacelab Interstellar reverb plug-in effect is the best I have come across, and it allows you to position up to 256 sound objects in spaces ranging from one 1x1x1 to 50x50x50 meters. Spacelab Interstellar 1.1 supports anything from mono to Dolby Atmos and beyond.
Fiedler Audio, the company behind Spacelab Ignition and Spacelab Interstellar, based its plug-in on scientific research. Much of their appeal is related to their respective interfaces and Fraunhofer’s 3D reverb technology. Spacelab combines reverb, 3D-panning and spatialization in one plug-in.
There are two versions of the plug-in: Ignition ($169) offers to place 24 sound objects (tracks) in space, whereas Interstellar ($669) places up to 256 objects, while offering snapshot capabilities to remember complex setups.
Both plug-ins have satellite plug-ins — called Spacelab Beam — to make the objects-in-space placement possible. These blocks don’t send a signal to your output but to the Interstellar plug-in. In Logic Pro X, the Beam plug-in does send a -200dB signal to keep the app from disabling the track it’s on.
Furthermore, you get to download an MPEG-H output plug-in for exporting audio with the MPEG-H standard. Finally, there are two Dolby Atmos templates available for download as well.
With Spacelab you can recreate sound originating from a location in space, much as it does in the physical world, create reverberation to your own taste, or combine the two.
The first uses source mode and allows users to move a listener (dummy head) and sound sources (tracks) as objects. You can move objects independent of - or attached to - the listener. The latter mode is interesting when you create soundscapes for AR/VR.
Used as a straightforward reverb plug-in, Spacelab offers a large number of parameters that allow users to obtain the exact sound they’re after. This include settings per frequency band, as well as room characteristics and more.
In the 3D object/listener environment, Spacelab goes far beyond the capabilities of any reverb plug-in that I am aware of. It starts with the sources panel, where you control the placement of sound objects using a 3D rendition of a room with the listener inside. Every object can be moved around independently here, as can the listener.
In both modes the plug-in offers direct access to at least two algorithms for calculating reverb. The first one is presented in the interface as four buttons, one for each room complexity. A cathedral, for example, sits in algorithm 3. A second algorithm calculates reflection patterns, of which you can directly select one out of 12, again using buttons. These patterns are not directly tied to any type of space and you set them to taste.
For Spacelab’s spatial mode, it is especially useful that you can further tune the reverb effects using a nine-band equalizer, a nine-band spectral reverb time equalizer, a per-output-channel spatial equalizer, an automation routing subsystem and a speaker layout system that caters for individually tuning 32 speakers in the binaural, full-sphere output setting. The maximum number of speakers you can tune is 64.
To help you quickly add a Beam plug-in to every track that you want to act as a source in Spacelab, you can set up objects in a unified panel where you quickly fill in the settings.
The most important setting for each source is whether you want to put the object in room or listener mode. In the latter, an object is tied to the listener’s position. For example, when you move the listener around, the objects will travel with the dummy head.
You might be wondering why you would want to have Spacelab in your tool chest when there are many alternatives that sound good? The answer depends on what you expect from a reverb plug-in.
If all you want is something that adds echo to your signal without distortion, you can make do with a free reverb plug-in for your DAW. If you need to make it sound like the recording room was of a specific type, then Spacelab’s plug-in is the best you can get.
And if you need to put sound sources in an exact spot, like for binaural recordings, Dolby Atmos and other high-end, cinematic, game-based and surround sound output, there is currently no alternative that comes close to what you can achieve with the quality and efficiency that Spacelab delivers.
Erik Vlietinck is a regular contributor to Post and can be reached by email at email@example.com.