You can never own too many algorithmic reverb plug-ins! That’s why today we have a selection of the current best plug-ins in this category. Among the selection are some classics, a brand new plug-in, and a sound design monster! To get you started, we have a tip for every tool, so you can get more out of it. What are your favorites? Which reverb plug-in do you take to your desert island? Let us know in the comments!
Algorithmic reverb plug-ins: A short history in reverb
One reverb is not the same as the next one in music production. There are a variety of reverb categories. For instance, spring reverbs, aptly named because the reverberation is created by running an audio signal through an actual spring, are often found in guitar amps. Especially since the resurgence of the canny eighties drum sound in many of today’s productions, plate reverbs with their metallic sound quality have been increasingly popular.
Then there are a number of different room reverbs which can create a small room impression, like a recording booth or a bath room with short decay times. In some plug-ins you can also find a dedicated chamber category. Here you can find room sizes with decay times that are a bit longer, like ball rooms or bigger recording rooms. And then there are the churches, stadiums, and arenas you find in the hall category with decay times of fifteen seconds or even more!
What is the difference between algorithmic and convolution?
Since not everyone has the opportunity to record in a church or arena, digital algorithmic reverbs, long before any plug-in solution, have been the choice to create a big hall sound. The two most famous examples are Lexicon 480L and Bricasti M7. These two rack effects created the reverb effect based on internal algorithms. Both excelled at their job so much that you can hear them in practically every big album production of the late eighties and early nineties.
As close as algorithmic reverbs came to the real thing, they never really fooled anyone. Reverb was just too complicated to create artificially. Until convolution reverbs came along. These powerful plug-ins with many gigabytes of libraries attached to them create the reverb effect based on so-called impulse responses (IRs). To put it into simple terms, IRs are created by recording a single loud clap or a sine sweep in the room you want to use as a reverb, basically as an acoustic imprint of the room. With a procedure called “de-convolve” the raw, reverb-less clap or sine sweep is then removed from the recording. What is left is the impulse response. There are a number of free and commercial plug-ins for convolution reverb with Audioease Altiverb 7 or EastWest Spaces II being among the most popular ones.
Baby Audio Crystalline
Just shy of one month old and already on a list! Baby Audio Crystalline is one of the best-sounding reverb plug-ins. Not only that, but it also boasts innovative features like synchronized pre-delay and decay times. In addition, a dedicated “gate” parameter quickly turns Crystalline into the gated reverb machine that you need for that eighties snare sound. Also, that shimmer knob makes Crystalline sparkle.
Tip: If you are looking to use Crystalline for sound design, take a close look at “Freeze”. Once activated, it holds tiny snippets of reverbed audio in Crystalline’s buffer. You can create beautiful, flickering soundscapes with that.
AI algorithms have arrived in algorithmic reverbs! Not only does Sonible’s smart:reverb bring a very well-sounding reverb algorithm to the table. In addition, the plug-in’s AI algorithm analyses the input signal and adapts decay time and density automatically. If you’d rather do the work manually, you can set up every parameter like pre-delay, decay time, or density yourself.
Tip: smart:reverb has a couple of options included that are useful for sound design. With “Infinity” you can create endless reverb tails and ghostly vocal effects with the click of a button!
Relab Development LX480 Essentials
No single picture of a mixing desk in a studio in the eighties or nineties is complete without the little white LARC remote on top of it. It remotely controlled the immensely popular Lexicon 480L. The 480L can be found on countless records in the eighties and nineties. It was famous for its “plate”-setting. With the LX480, Relab has made the algorithmic reverb into a plug-in. The “Essentials” edition may just have four modes, but these four come awfully close to the original hardware.
Tip: If the reverb from the LX480 ever sounds too harsh, make use of the integrated low-pass filter to tame the higher frequency.
Blackhole by Eventide is almost a modern classic among algorithmic reverbs. This effect is not about realistic room effects, but dark, brooding, endless reverb tails from another planet. The plug-in became so popular at one point that Eventide put out a hardware pedal version of it. Blackhole’s algorithm is based on those included in the famous DSP4000 and H8000. It does not get much darker and alien-like than with this plug-in.
Tip: Use the “Hotswitch” to quickly change between two sets of settings of all the parameters. Because of the sudden switch the reverb rail becomes highly unstable. Any piano of guitar loop will turn in to lo-fi hip hop material immediately.
Sonnox Oxford Reverb Native
Sonox’s Oxford Suite is closing in on a decade in age, which in plug-in terms is making it almost vintage material. Nonetheless, Oxford Reverb is still among the best sounding algorithmic reverb plug-ins on the market. Additionally, the detail and flexibility of Oxford Reverb‘s parameters are almost unmatched. For instance, you can separately set and influence early reflections and the tail. With over 120 presets, you also have reverbs for just about any occasion.
Tip: Remove unwanted bass frequencies of the input signal with “LF Roll-Off”. Too much reverb on bass can make a track sound overly muddy. With this parameter you activate and set a dedicated high-pass filter.
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Originally published on Gearnews.de by Julian Schmauch.