Don’t let the name fool you; Embody’s Immerse Virtual Studio plug-in is not a tool for creating immersive audio experiences. It is designed specifically to put you in the driver’s seat at some well-known studios to listen to your mixes in those rooms.
Immerse Virtual Studio sits on your master fader. When you’re done, you’ll either bypass or remove it before you export your mix. You get several studios to experience—Erik Reichers and Bob Horn’s Echo Bar, SAE’s Diamond Control Room, Warren Huart’s Spitfire Studio, and Carlos de la Garza’s Music Friends Studio. I have no first-hand experience with any of them, so I have no frame of reference as to how close they came…but each gets highlighted with photos and pages of information about their gear, engineers and artists that have used them. For this alone, the plug-in has educational value.
Embody has captured room responses to recreate the reflections and overall feel of each space. There seems to be a pretty wide range of styles in them, from what I consider a more traditional studio with soffited speakers to more personal spaces with speakers just piled up along the meter bridge and pretty close to each other. By selecting the headphones you’re using within the plug-in, the playing field is leveled via EQ, allowing the modeling of the speakers in each studio to translate more evenly. It takes some getting used to, and you’ll no doubt find your favorite space to be in.
Getting to work
To put the plug-in through its paces, I loaded up an old project that I’ve been aching to revisit. It was tracked on 2” tape on an SSL E Series with lots of external Neve mic pres, and later transferred to Pro Tools. It features a wide range of acoustic and electric instruments and vocals to test with. My hope was to close my eyes and be at that SSL again instead of my home studio.
When transitioning from a traditional headphone mix to this virtual room, there is a shift in how things are panned, moving to subtle and distant panning based on the position of the speakers in front of you. The acoustic vacuum of your headphones is given new life via replicated virtual acoustics (essentially a short reverb). While this helps to create the illusion, I found myself dialing down the ambience, especially when trying to listen for similar early reflections in the drum mics or even the lead vocal. Thankfully, Embody gives you control of that.
I want to pull back for a moment and manage expectations: You are not gaining a pair of Genelecs or Focals for your home studio. Instead, there is an EQ curve applied to represent the characteristics of those speakers in your headphones. I found the tonal differences when switching between virtual monitors a bit disconcerting at first, but got used to it. What really bothered me was trying to mix the lead vocal; the phase manipulation and other processing made it hard for me to cope. Admittedly annoyed and just not feeling it, I was beginning to dismiss the experience completely when I thought, “Let me bypass the thing and listen on my speakers for a minute.” And that’s when…
It worked! When I switched back to my real-world monitors, I had little expectation that anything would translate—but it did…and it did so beautifully! Generally, music is mixed in studios and translates well to headphones; this is the first time I had mixed in headphones and had it translate to the speakers.
There is a free trial available for Immerse Virtual Studio so you can poke around and explore on your own. It’s a nice way to hear a mix back on multiple speakers when you’re limited to one set. I would love to see them add some more ‘world-class’ studios to the mix, as well as a surround option. If you’re in a situation what you need to keep the noise down but want to continue working on a mix, this is a fun solve! Is it worth the price tag? You’ll have to decide for yourself.
Embody • https://embody.co