Late last year, Apogee Digital released Clearmountain’s Domain [Tape Op #135], a plug-in that allows users to emulate the effects that renowned mix engineer, Bob Clearmountain, has been using on hit records for decades. Clearmountain’s Domain houses a stereo delay, impulse response reverbs, and a modulation section (all with extra features such as input de-essing, Blur saturation, and EQ). Read my previous review for more info, but the short story is that it’s wonderful, and I use it often on mixes.

So why am I writing about something that’s already been published? Well, Apogee Digital has recently released Clearmountain’s Spaces plug-in: a simplified, stripped-down version of Clearmountain’s Domain that focuses on just the reverb section and is available now for only $49 (compared to Domain’s $349 price tag). Clearmountain’s Domain has eight different impulse response reverbs (IRs) while Spaces keeps it simple with just three: Apogee Studio, Mix This!, and Roscoe. Apogee Studio is an IR of the in-house studio at Apogee Digital. It’s a very short reverb time yet adds an organic depth to a mix. Mix This! is an IR of Clearmountain’s home wine cellar/turned reverb chamber adjacent to his control room. It’s a bright, medium-length reverb that Bob likens to the sound of the splashy chambers heard on many Motown records. At first, I thought the Mix This! chamber IR was a bit too bright, but it actually fits into a mix beautifully with little to no additional EQ needed. Roscoe is a long, lush chamber IR from one of Bob’s friend’s studios, captured with an AEA R88 [#96] stereo ribbon microphone. On slower ballads, this ‘verb sounds gorgeous on vocals. It’s long, but the diffusion is very pleasant.

With sliding faders for each IR, you can use any combination of all three reverbs at once. A simple 3-band EQ can be applied to the input signal for tighter control of your effect. The plug-in GUI also offers a nifty DS button that automatically applies a smooth de-esser in before hitting the IR, as well as a Pre-Delay fader that can add a subtle or wild separation between your source and its effect. Finally, a Wet/Dry fader makes it easy to use this plug-in on individual tracks, or as a fully wet effect send.

Clearmountain’s Spaces may not be a tool you use every day, but it’s really incredible how three-dimensional your mix can become with just a light dusting of this plug-in. Adding a little of the Apogee Studio IR to your drums, or a touch of the Mix This! chamber to your guitar bus goes a long way! Spaces is included with the Symphony Desktop’s plug-in bundle and available separately at a fraction of the price of Clearmountain’s Domain. AAX Native, AU, VST or VST 3.

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Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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