Quantum Leap Spaces review
It indeed is. A few weeks ago I finally got my copy on Quantum Leap Spaces and have since then put it through its paces. Read after the jump what I think of it.
Installation was painless and worked well as can be expected. A note on authorization: EW recently changed their auth system, which now requires the username instead of the email address. In my case, OSX still had the old login data (i.e. the username) saved and it took me a while to figure out why the application did not accept my activation code. Once I entered the username instead of the email address, everything worked like a charm!
For me, the nicest thing about the plugin itself is the look and ease on the eyes. The window is very big, which is great on huge screens and has precious few dials and buttons. I am aware that people with small screen will not be happy about this design decision, but I think it is great.
Spaces is very much preset-driven. In fact, Nick Phoenix states (correctly in my opinion) that all the presets have been adjusted very carefully to that under normal circumstances you will rarely have to touch any knobs at all. What makes Spaces unique is the concept of the "instrument specific reverb setting". What does that mean? Basically, it means that from the same location (i.e. a concert hall) you have a number of presets using different impulse responses specifically emulating the exact placement of a given instrument of instrument group. You have string presets, woodwind presets, brass presets and you also have a sizable number of general presets spanning larger sections. What QL did was to record the impulses in exactly the way they are produced by real instruments - they had a look at how instruments distributed the sound and how exactly it bounces off the walls. Spaces sounds very, very nice, as you can hear from the demos on the EW site.
Most of the impulse responses are geared toward orchestral music. As such, there are lots of concert halls in there (including Dortmund/Germany), but also a bunch of other locations. The mandatory caves with an eternal reverb are in there, of course. One setting I particularly like is the Sound Stage, which basically is a relatively dry and neutral scoring stage. This setting is just perfect for giving track utilising lots of different sample libraries or live tracks recorded in different places a sense of unifying space. Then put one of the concert halls at the end of the signal chain and tracks really sound great. For very dry sample libraries such as the VSL, Spaces works very good. I settled for giving each VSL section a dedicated Scoring Stage reverb. Because Spaces introduces only minimal latency, you can leave it switched on while recording, which in my opinion helps tremendously for shaping your performance because you hear a real hall, not just the dry samples.
The different impulse responses are neatly organised after either location, with submenus for the different instruments/groups, or after instruments, with the corresponding locations listed in a row. Most impulses are available as Stereo and True Stereo (basically meaning you can do a surround mix with them as they have 4 channels); there is an indicator switch telling you which mode is active.
Some technical things: Currently, Spaces only works as a 32bit plugin on the Mac, but EW has announced that it will go 64bit at the same time as the rest of their Play plugins. Spaces by the way is based on the Play engine, too. The plugin runs very, very well and uses very little resources. Loading times are quite fast - in fact you can easily change patches while listening to a piece when looking for the perfect impulse response to use. On my MacPro I had no problems giving every single instrument in a big orchestral score its own reverb. You wouldn't do this, of course, but it works. Performance-wise I would give Spaces an Outstanding, especially compared to competitive products.
If you are into EW products or not, when looking for a reverb plugin, Spaces is a very serious candidate! Keep in mind the hopefully not too distant 64bit version (according to EW, a private beta is already running) and this seems to be a very good investment.
Visit the East West website, listen to the audio examples and try the 10-day demo.