This is one my go-to reverb plugins for pads, synths, and even drums. It does a really good job creating room (hence why it works well on drums). Speaking from a GUI point of view, it is a bit different from traditional reverb plugins, so it may be a different learning curve for some people (including myself). But overall it's a great plugin.
GUI - a very nice-looking interface. It's obvious what everything does, and it's nicely set out in appropriate sections.
Stability - rock solid and most importantly it doesn't use much CPU so it's no hassle to use it as a send and maybe a few instances of inserts if you use alot of reverb. Probably one of the best in terms of CPU in its quality range.
Features - all the usual parameters. An added bonus that not too many reverbs give is the gating - IMO this is one of the strengths of Ambience - basically because although I don't much like it as a general purpose reverb, it is good for metallic based reverbs such as plates and springs - if you're going to use it as a plate reverb, then the gate is essential for some treatments with drums. Many better sounding reverbs don't give you the option of the gate, so this is a big plus.
Sound - I don't like knocking freebies but I really can't say this is a general purpose reverb or anything approaching release quality reverb. As mentioned, I think it has good value as a plate or spring reverb - it's character is definitely metallic and a little reminiscent of, say, some 80's Yamaha reverb. Reverb is very much down to personal taste, so many will disagree with me, but it is far to metallic to be used as a room, hall or other real-space reverb. I'm also reluctant to knock it too much because it really shouldn't be compared with pro quality reverbs - as long as you bear in mind that this is a free reverb and use it as such then you won't be disappointed, but if you've had any experience of the good reverb units, then basically, you wouldn't touch Ambience for general treatments.
I would say it has value for specialist treatments - artificial reverbs, special FX used sparingly, and plates. But the lesser reverbs really show up when you use it as a send on several channels - the metallic edge begins to get very noticeable, and make it unusable for a serious mix..especially if you want realistic room space reverb. I've heard it compared to good reverbs - and trying not to sound too condescending (as said - it's down to taste often) - those comparisons are from people who probably haven't had much experience with the better ones - it has a type of in-yer-face appeal, but for serious useage that is not at all what you want or need. Good reverb should be almost un-noticed in a mix - Ambience cannot do that. Not that you can't get pro quality freebies - things like Endorphin, Fish Fillets, Freealpha disprove that (they are superb quality for free) but Ambience is not one of them - I am a bit picky with reverbs, but a lesser quality one can ruin a track - I don't mind artificial in-yer-face mod FX or specialFX but room & hall reverbs are meant to be realistic - this isn't.
Compare to something like SIR that is free, but pro quality but uses alot of CPU and has latency - you have to balance those considerations. Ambience won't gobble CPU and is great for sketching rough mixes, but it's not mix quality.
User Interface: Looks pretty good. The layout is excellent. Every knob feels like its in the correct place. My only gripe is the font size, which, on my 1600x1024 monitor, is squint-tastic!
Sound: Actually I'm very impressed. So far ambience has done a great job with any audio I've thrown at it. The tails are sharp and clear. In my opinion this Reverd stands very well amongst other plug-ins costing hundreds of dollars.
Features: Special mensions should go to the Quality/CPU parameter, which can help tame cpu useage whilst mixing, and the 'Hold' parameter which effectively freezes the reverb tail until the button is released. Nice for automated madness! I'd say Ambience has just the right amount of features. You don't get bogged down trying to find the 'size' parameter in amongst 400 others, but there's enough to meet all but the strangest reverb requirements. The demo is fully featured, but has a nag screen, and no time restriction.
Documentation: I honestly haven't had to use it! Ambience is super-intuitive :)
Presets: Comes with about 60 or 70 presets. Many from KVRians! You can almost always find a good starting point.
Customer Support: I've not needed it, but the Smart Electronix Forum here at KVR is the place to look.
Value for Money: 11/10 on this. This is probably the best donationware plug-in I've come across!
Stability: I've never had a crash, but the CPU can load can be heavy. There's always the 'Quality' settings if you find its too much.
Overall: I'm extremely happy with this plug. Its become my staple reverb source, due to incredible ease of use, and wonderful sound. You'd be daft not to download it really!!
Additional Note: We as consumers should be encouraging more of these wonderful Donationware projects. Please do donate something (anything) if you use this... it can only benefit everyone :)
I was astonished when,the last year, downloaded Freeverb: I made a "double blind" comparision with my Lexicon hardware reverb(MPX100) and realised that it had almost the same quality:surely I had found a mini-Lexicon for free, and thought it was no doubt the best free reverb on the net: until yesterday, when I met this incredible software: I don't find the right words to describe its great professional quality: its great warmth,clearness,density without any lost even with many sec.decays,with more controls than freeverb and with ambience and reverse programs wich freeverb is missing. I've never heard hardware or software revs of this quality,and MIDI learn controls is a piece of cake!.
Latest 4 reviews from a total of 4
Comments & Discussion for Smart Electronix Ambience
Would love to see a gui OS X universal binary version...! The non-gui intel version is somehow quite unstable. Sometimes a song with Ambeince inside will suddenly overdrive/trash output until reloading the song... This seems to happen on Core2X processors and not on Core iX processors...
This reverb still is a diamond. I wonder why the author doesn't build a solid OS X intel version for VST and AU... Ok, the algorithm was sold to Steinberg for usage in RoomWorks, so the author maybe doesn't want the freeware to sound better than the commercial product. I don't know :)