Royalty Free Sound Effects & Sound Libraries

What is Impulse Response?

What is Impulse Response And How To Use In Ableton Convolution Reverb Pro

About a year ago, I got a message from a sound designer asking me if I could record impulse response. He realized that I travel the world and go to all these unique places.  He mentioned that recording these sound effects together with room tone could be an awesome opportunity for him and would very helpful for sound engineers all over the world!

While reading this I thought to myself “what is impulse response?” And “how can I record it?

I started searching for blogs and articles about impulse response and for some reason I came across another new word that was new to me. Queue… Convolution reverb! Together both IR and convolution reverb work very well together! Even better, nowadays you can find great reverb plugins that you can use with your own recorded impulse response!

What Is Impulse Response?

In a nutshell, to capture the impulse or the natural reverb of a room you need a loud and sharp sound effect like an exploding balloon, clapping of a slate, or even clapping with hands.

I read that some people have used firecracker, gunshots, or even scream very loud to record an impulse response but the possibilities are endless. Recording Impulse Response in 32 Bit Is A Game Changer!

I use the Zoom F6 and captured all my recordings in 32 bit. If it comes to impulse responses it’s simply the best. Why? Because you have zero clipping and distortion in the audio file. Later, you can lower the gain in post to the desired level and you’re done.

If you record in 24 bit or lower you need to check the levels each time while recording or process the files later in post what takes time. You will definitely lose more information in the file.

What Can You Do With Impulse Response Sound Effects?

That was my biggest question while researching about this topic. What can I do with these sounds and how? That’s when the convolution reverb comes into play.

Alone with sound design you have endless possibilities to recreate this sound effect but after discovering the Ableton Convolution Reverb plugin everything made so much more sense to me.

I can use this impulse response to make my voice sounds like I’m in a tunnel, a parking garage or standing in a church without even being there.

But it’s not only incredibly helpful for voices or spoken dialogues. I can record my footsteps in a small room, use this plugin and I magically walk in a tunnel. This is perfect for ADR, animations, video games or even for dubbing a movie from an original language into another like German, French or Japanese for example.

Imagine the main characters meeting in a dark spooky parking lot and have the dialogue right there. When listening to the reverb of the voices and the spooky ambience it will sound like a parking garage.

If this movie gets dubbed the voice actors aren’t flying to the same location and record the scene. They are standing in a soundproofed studio booth and the sound engineer uses a convolution reverb to match the sound with the scene.

If the location sound recordist who worked on set has the room tone and the impulse response recorded, then this would be perfect for the sound designer to use. That means they can later use this effect to make the voices, footsteps or a door closing sound of a car sound authentic to the space.

I know there are some very expensive convolution plugins like Altiverb out there that cover almost everything but not everyone has $600 or $1000 to spare on a plugin like this. If you’re an Ableton user you can download it for free on their website and use it either with your impulse response or use one of the 200 presets.

Check out these Free Convolution Reverb Plugins

If you’re curious now how to use a convolution reverb but you don’t have Ableton check out Bed Room Producers Blog. Tomislav wrote a very nice article about free plugins!

Sound Samples

Below is our popular royalty-free sound library with 77 different impulse responses! To download click on your desired library and you’ll be directed to our Bandcamp account!


Who would have thought a handy sound recorder in Cambodia would lead us here?

Hi there we’re Marcel and Libby and every sound on this site has been recorded by us. For nearly 7 years, we’ve been traveling around the world recording unique sounds for others to use! 

If you’re curious and want to learn more about our journey traveling full-time as sound recordists you can read on here or on CNN Travel.

Free to Use Sounds Story

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