Making Verbs


Alright so I recently I shot various spaces located around McNally Smith College. Mostly halls and stairwells. Now when I say shot I mean I a played a sine sweep through the space and recorded it at the other end using some microphones. I then loaded the recorded file into Waves IR-1 reverb plugin. It’s about as basic as it gets.

This link will get you the session file, complete with the appropriate sine sweep. So you can capture your own spaces.

Making Verbs Session Files

It’s a ProTools session. The 2 tips I can recommend are these.

1 – highlight the sine sweep and record. IE record EXACTLY 25 seconds. For some reason the IR verb doesn’t handle files of different lengths very well. Now that doesn’t mean to say that something interesting doesn’t happen. It just will not be the verb/space you expect it to be.

2 – Use microphones and speakers that have the flattest and color-less responses you can find. The further away from that you get the less your verb will sound like your space. Now maybe you intend to make it darker, or brighter. Experimenting with different mics/speakers could yield cool results in the same space. (Compare the Audix and U87 samples I did)

Ok, so that pretty much sums it up. I took most of the dirty work out of it for you, basic running the session is on you. I’m happy to answer questions should you have any. —


The Verbs


So here is a zip with all the audio from my various spaces, and the verbs (.wir) they created. I did the work of making pairs out of the mics and combining them into a file the IR verb will read. So basically you have to download it and then load the plugin into your session. Under the load option of the plugin choose “Load Impulse Response” option. Navigate to where your downloaded them. Enjoy. If you save them as a preset they will be loaded into the plugin’s library for future use.

McNally Verbs

If you’re interested in knowing more about the spaces and the mic setup see the information as follows

Recorder: RME OctaMic II lightpiped through a 002
Sample Rate: 24bit 44.1 (I don’t believe in 88.2 —ha, kidding just didn’t think about it)
Speaker: Genelec 8050a
Mics: Audix TR40 Reference Mic and Neumann U87ai

Spaces (most of this will mean nothing if you’ve never been to McNally Smith):

1 – RecLab Hallway (right side of picture)
The speaker was placed outside the door to Studio 5’s Performance Area and pointed towards Studio 2 hall. The fire stairs doors were open. The left microphones were placed 3/4 the way down the hall and the right microphones were placed down the hall to the right near Studio 6’s control room door (testing indirect affect).

2 – FireStairs (not pictured)
The speaker was placed at the bottom of the stairwell pointing towards the stairs. The mics were placed at the mid point landing and at the top of the stairs where there is a small landing area (about 8’x8′). The stair well was all tile floor and I think a combination of tile and drywall walls.

3 – RC_SouthHall (modified bottom left)
The speaker was turned around and pointed at the orange garage door in the picture. The microphones were placed at either end of the hallways going right and left from the speaker. At the end of the hallways they both turn and mirror each other into a secondary hallway. The microphones were placed slightly in front of where this turn occurs. Though not labeled, the U87s were set to omni for these sweeps.

4 – EnsHall (bottom left)
Pretty self explanatory from picture. The mics in the foreground are the mid mics. The far mics are another 20ft or so back and near a glass wall (seen in bottom left picture). The is the only location I remembered to try both omni and cardioid.

5 – EntryTop (modified top left)
Speaker was in the same location as pictured but the microphones were placed at the top of the stairs and the other was placed to the right just above the white can lighting. On that floor there is a vending machine it was near. Thus getting the label vending.

6 – Entry (top left)
Again pretty self explanatory, the lower mics were placed straight back near the glass wall and placed about 8ft high. The mid stairs are on the landing in the picture.

Well I think that sums it up. I am not claiming that any of these are pure magic, or that you don’t already have reverbs that do what these do. All I did was set out to capture the space that is McNally Smith College. I found the RC_SouthHall to sound pretty darn close to a drummer actually practicing in that hall. I wanted to learn how to do this and well now I’ve got some goals in mind and some new spaces I’m already eyeballing. So if you venture into the world and make your own I’d love to hear them, or maybe you combined some of my mic combos (try different mics from different spaces – follow the how-to included in the session files). Either way leave a comment, send me an email, reach out to the audio community. There’s no reason we all have to be secret shut-ins.