Capturing and using my church's acoustic?


Audacity 2.3.3, Windows 10.

Context: due to covid-19, singers are hunkering down, at home, but we would like our mixed (Audacity) recording to sound like we’re singing in our usual venue.

So, I am interested in capturing my church’s acoustic properties, and using this information to alter a set of soundtracks recorded separately by members of our choir. I’ve got a mix of the choir members singing already built in Audacity, and now I would like to make it sound like we recorded our group singing in the church.

I’m reading a bit about recording “balloon pops” in the venue, and then using this recording to do a what I think is called a convolution reverb to make it sound like our group was singing in the space.

I’ve found several references to a reverb tool in Audacity which would let me model the space with a set of configurable parameters, including room size, wet and dry gain, and other values.

However, I’m interested in capturing the actual acoustics of the space, and using that information to post-process our mix.

Is this possible in Audacity? Is there a tutorial or set of documents or links I should read? Really interested in a step-by-step how-to now, and would like to understand the theory too, later.

(I’m not afraid of the math and science, I rather enjoy these things - but I have a (self-imposed) pressing need to get a product out right away.)

If the “balloon pop to final reverb mix” isn’t possible or realistic in Audacity, I’d like to know, lest I go to deeply into a non-productive rabbit hole.

Any advice or help would be much appreciated.


There is free plugin called Boogex which can apply Impulse Response files …
It’s designed to emulate electric-guitar amplifier-cabinets,
but if you have the IR files for the church I think it should do that too.
(Boogex also has “Old Skool” reverb built in, which may be of use).

but I have a (self-imposed) pressing need to get a product out right away.)

I’d recommend starting with “regular” (algorithmic) reverb. It may take some time to get a good custom impulse response reverb, and if you are doing all of the recording, mixing, and production yourself, you’ll have your hands full already. If you can’t get a sound you like (or a sound that’s similar to your church) with Audacity’s built-in reverb there are lots of 3rd-party plug-ins.

I’ve never tried it, but what you’re talking about is taking an “impulse response” and then using it with a “convolution reverb”. Off-hand, I don’t know of a convolution reverb that works with Audacity but I assume you can find one.

With Google I found [u]The Quick and Easy Way to Create Impulse Responses[/u].

Did you previously record the church service? If not, be aware that the amount of reverb that sounds great live, coming from all directions in a big room, usually sounds unnatural when played back through a pair of speakers (or headphones) in a living room. So the microphones need to be closer to the source for more direct sound, not back in the usual seating/listening position (when you take the impulse response).

You’ll also get more reverb in an empty room compared to one filled with sound-absorptive bodies. (A long-long time ago, I read an article about making a recording an orchestra in a concert hall and they put something in the seats to simulate bodies without getting any audience noises.)

Reverb also makes lyrics less intelligible.

I just checked, Boogex can do that, you just turn off all the amp controls …

& load your (church balloon) WAV file in the convolver section.

[ The mix knob in the convolver section allows you to blend the reverbed with the original ].