The use of reverb helps to create space and depth within a mix. It's an invaluable tool because it creates an environment for the vocalist/instrumentalist to live in. Your choice of reverb has a huge influence on the vibe and spatial chemistry of your track. Think to yourself, “what kind of sound stage do I want to create for this production?”
Creators and producers will use reverb to convey emotion and vibe while engineers will use it to place each component of the mix in its own space. Reverb plugins can either simulate acoustic spaces such as chambers, halls and rooms or they can emulate devices such as plates, springs and outboard hardware. Below is a list of my top 10 reverb plugins and what they’re best used for.
1. Valhalla Vintage Verb
This has been my go-to reverb lately and for good reason! It sounds absolutely incredible and their price is unbeatable. The plugin features rooms, plates, halls, chambers and several heavily modulated spaces. The presets are ready to use and the interface offers a multitude of parameters such as damping, eq, modulation, pre-delay and more!
Who Should Use This: This plugin is great for sound designers and mixers who need a rich reverb that sounds authentic and believable. The only bad thing I can say about it is that it doesn't have any spring reverbs.
2. Universal Audio BX20
Here is yet another amazing offering from the best plugin developers in the market. I'll keep it simple; I own a hardware BX-20 at Freq Shop as well as this plugin. They sound the same to me. This plugin is so good it hurts! I think music speaks louder than words. Hit the link above and listen to their demo.
Who Should Use This: This is a great plugin for all you mixers out there that want to get that cool indie sound!
3. Lexicon PCM Native Bundle
Lexicon has blessed the pro audio community with the best hardware reverbs ever made. The 480L and 224 are studio classics and have been used on every record you love since their release in the late 70s. These tools revolutionized the way records were made. It opened the door to soundscapes that were previously impossible to achieve in the recording studio. Now they've done it again! Lexicon has entered the software world with an incredible offering which matches the magic of their hardware counterparts.
Who Should Use This: Anyone who needs a quality reverb that sounds as expensive as the price tag!
4. Universal Audio Lexicon 480L
Tagged “The World's Most Famous Algorithmic Reverb” by Universal Audio, this classic piece of hardware is the sound of every record and movie of your youth. No one creates more authentic hardware emulations than Universal Audio. This plugin is an exact copy of the unit and sounds the part.
Who Should Use This: It is perfect for sound designers, mixers and producers who are looking for THAT SOUND.
5. Audio Ease Altiverb 7
Altiverb 7 was king of the hill for a long time and rightfully so. Their library is extensive, boasting some of the most creative impulse responses on the market. You have supreme audio quality at the touch of a button along with access to any space imaginable. They also do wonderful emulations of classic hardware pieces making this a real powerhouse!
Who Should Use This: I would highly recommend this software to anyone working in film, post or sound design.
6. Fabfilter Pro-R
The plugin developers of the future! Fabfilter is fast becoming the most hyped company in the market. The Pro-R interface looks like NASA ground control software and the sounds within this plugin will definitely take you to outer space. The reverb is lush and 3D and sits perfectly in the mix. No digital harshness here!
Who Should Use This: This is a great choice for producers and mix engineers who are looking to be on the cutting edge of modern music production.
7. Slate Digital Verbsuite Classics
Price: $19 per month
Slate Digital offers an affordable and great sounding IR pack that's filled with hardware emulations of some of the finest reverbs out there. They have partnered with LiquidSonics to provide digital recreations of such classics as the Lexicon 480L, Bricasti M7 and EMT 250 to name a few.
Who Should Use This: Slate Digital work by subscription only but the $19 price tag gives you access to their entire plugin catalog. Looks like a no brainer to me whether you’re a mixer or need a great collection of plugins as a producer on the go.
8. Softube TSAR-1R
This plugin is particularly attractive because it's not an emulation or snapshot of a particular piece of hardware or acoustic space. Its unique algorithm gives it a sound of its own. If you're looking for a plugin copy of your favourite plate or hall this is not the reverb for you.
Who Should Use This: If you're a producer or creator that wants to push new sonic boundaries and move away from the “good old days” and offer up new, innovative tones, this is the toy for you!
9. Exponential Audio PhoenixVerb
Created by former Lexicon designer Michael Carnes, this convolution reverb is quickly becoming a favourite among engineers and producers who are looking for a clean, modern reverb sound. What makes this plugin truly unique is a polymorphic algorithm that can essentially emulate any sound imaginable without any undesirable pitch effects or periodic artifacts found in many other reverbs.
Who Should Use This: If you want your production to sound like 2019, grab this one!
10. Waves Abbey Road Plate
Waves has been a pioneer in the pro audio plugin game since the very beginning and this is one of their finest reverbs. This plugin is fantastic if you're looking for an authentic sounding plate, in fact, they offer 4 different plate selectors! Stay away if versatility is what you're after. This plugin is a one trick pony in that it's purely an emulation of the classic EMT 140 plate reverb.
Who Should Use This: Ideal for producers looking for that classic plate sound.
Any of these plugins will help elevate your spatial game. They are the best sounding digital reverbs on the market. Like anything else, do your homework. Download the demos. See what tickles your ear. They all have a different character and need to be used in the right circumstance. My favourites are based on my personal taste and requirements. I own most of these and have tried them all. You can never have enough reverb options when it comes time to work on a mix, so start your research and welcome to the wonderful world of reverberation.