Madrona Labs Aaltoverb is a new reverb plug-in with an extremely simple interface. It may not look like much at first glance, but it has a cool trick up its sleeve that deserves our attention: Aaltoverb lets you change the size of the room in real time without artifacts. That opens up interesting sound design possibilities.
According to Madrona Labs, Aaltoverb is based on the reverb from the company’s wonderful Aalto software synth. Which, in turn, was inspired by vintage spring reverbs. But the developers say that as they lifted the reverb from the synth to create Aaltoverb, they weren’t satisfied with its flexibility. So they reworked it to give it unique performance capabilities.
Change the room size in real time
I’ve already mentioned Aaltoverb’s most promising feature: The plug-in allows you to change the room size in real time. With other reverbs, this usually results in unwanted artifacts like clicks and other weird noises. Aaltoverb does it very smoothly, without any interruptions. The resulting effect is somewhat similar to changing the tape speed on a tape delay. It introduces slight pitch shifting, while changing the perception of space at the same time. Automate this in your DAW, and the reverb becomes a creative sound design tool for all sorts of interesting effects.
Madrona Labs says that the decay control works together with the room size to give accurate T60 times, even at extreme settings. T60 is the time it takes for the sound level to be reduced by 60 dB. If you turn the decay up all the way, the reverb freezes, creating an infinite wash without noticable loop points.
Aaltoverb also has a tone control, which can shape the sound much more drastically than the filters of most other reverbs. According to Madrona Labs, the one-knob EQ is more akin to an isolator on a DJ mixer.
So it seems like Madrona Labs Aaltoverb is much more interesting than its six simple knobs suggest at first glance. More often than not, the simplest devices are actually the best for getting creative. Aaltoverb fully embraces this idea and doesn’t get in your way with presets and other unnecessary baggage. If you like to get creative with modulating reverbs, I think it’s definitely worth a closer look.
Price and compatibility
Madrona Labs Aaltoverb costs USD 35. It works on Windows 8.1 or newer (VST3) and OS X 10.11 or newer. With Macs, you should first verify that your computer supports Metal. According to Madrona Labs, any Mac that can run macOS 10.14 Mojave supports Metal.