04.21.2018

Lists

By Shane

Reverb is an essential tool for any mix, in any genre. Without high quality, good-sounding reverb, your mix will ultimately feel flat and lifeless. In 2018, we are both blessed and burdened with literally hundreds of reverb plugins to choose from. 

Our roundup features a selection of stellar-sounding reverb plugins that will add astonishing detail, dimension, and vibe to your mixes. The list isn't in order of 1 - 15, It's just a look at the best options out there as well as what you guys suggested as your top reverb plugins on our Facebook poll.

 

But first... Let's get some of the basics out of they way. 

NO THANKS I'M A PRO, TAKE ME TO THE LIST

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a paid review. Echo Sound Works is not affiliated with any of the companies listed below. 

We have also omitted any reverb plugins that can't run on native processing. So no UAD in this list.

2 MAIN TYPES OF COMPUTER BASED REVERB

Algorithmic

 

Algorithmic, or digital reverb, rose to prominence during the digital era. These reverbs use various signal processing algorithms in order to turn a source sound into the reverberant version of that sound.

Convolution

Just about 10 years ago, if you produced in the box in a DAW, convolution reverbs were the next big thing. At the time, computers weren't powerful enough like they are today to handle the DSP burden of truly great sounding digital reverbs. 

Convolution reverb uses samples called Impulse Responses, IR for short, of real world physical spaces. These are captured with special microphone techniques. You could, in theory, capture an impulse response of your bathroom and use that in a convolution reverb plugin.

4 MAIN SUBTYPES OF REVERB

1.) Room Reverb 

Rooms are not created equally. You're probably sitting in a room right now reading this, so go ahead and clap. The echo you hear is the reverb created by all the characteristics of the room: its shape and all of its reflective surfaces. Both algorithmic and convolution reverbs can emulate a myriad of rooms, everything from bathrooms to warehouses and even studio rooms.

2.) Hall Reverb

 

You'd be forgiven if you thought this meant hallway reverb. Thankfully, it doesn't, as that would sound pretty bad. Hall reverbs are essentially a room reverb, but these reverbs are emulating concert halls, rooms tuned and set up specifically to make music sound amazing. 

3.) Chamber Reverb

 

Before digital reverb was commonplace, studio owners would set up a room filled with reflective surfaces to create a poor man's version of a concert hall natural reverb or other large space.

Chamber reverb was seldom perfect and usually colored any sound source ran through the room. You could say that the more colored, vibey sounding digital reverbs nowadays are emulating that sound of the chamber reverb.

15 BEST REVERB PLUGINS 2018

best algorithmic reverb

FabFilter Pro-R is an extremely versatile reverb that looks as good as it sounds. It's also really easy to use. 

 

The Pro-R is an algorithmic room reverb that covers a ton of ground and sounds great on a lot of sources. 

As with all FabFilter plugins, if you hover over any knob or active part of the GUI, a helpful tooltip will tell you what it is and how to use it.

The Pro-R also has a unique spin on reverb EQ. Some reverbs include an equalizer so you can control the high and low frequencies to better fit your mix. The Pro-R takes this to a whole new level with the decay rate EQ, which allows you to control the EQ of the decay tail.

Overall, this is probably one of my favorite reverbs of all time. 

PROS

  • Musical controls and names like character, brightness, distance, etc.

  • Retina support and resizability

  • Pre and post EQ (THIS IS AMAZING)

  • Tempo synced pre delay 

  • Very reactive UI

  • Easy-to-tweak presets

  • Sounds great on almost anything you throw at it

 

CONS 

  • If you are looking for complete control over all things reverb, Pro-R might leave you wishing for more

  • A little pricey at $169

HD Cart revreb review

HD Cart is the newest reverb I have, and I have been using it a ton since I picked it up.

HD Cart is modeled after a very popular reverb unit from the mid 80’s, the Lexicon 480L Digital Effects System, and the optional (but rare) HD Reverb/Surround expansion cartridge.

It's easy to use and sounds great. It also has some features you just won't find in other reverb plugins, like the wander control that adds a huge amount of realism to any sound.

PROS

  • Sounds Great

  • CPU Efficient

  • Sounds good on a wide range of sounds

  • Character section allows for a ton of control 

 

CONS 

  • A little bit on the pricey side at $199 (can be had for a sale price of $129)

  • Requires iLok

  • Lots of tabs to go through

exponential audio r4 review

Exponential Audio makes some really unique reverb plugins. R4 is their newest offering and might be their most feature packed yet.

R4 is a hybrid algorithmic reverb, meaning it's capable of recreating small room sounds to large halls and anything in between. Some reverbs are clean sounding and others are full of character. R4 falls into the latter. 

Dave Pensado also loves it. 'Nuff said.

 

PROS

  • Incredible Sound

  • Independent control over attack and tail 

  • CPU Efficient

  • Sounds good on a wide range of sounds

 

CONS 

  • Expensive at $299

  • The GUI may not be your cup of tea

  • Might be intimidating to beginners

  • Requires iLok

valhalla room reverb review

Valhalla DSP is going to show up a lot in this list, and for good reason. 

Valhalla Room is an algorithmic room reverb plugin that gives you a ton of control over how you process your sound. This used to be my favorite room reverb, but I do prefer the Pro-R and a couple others over this nowadays. That being said, it still gets used a lot in my productions and mixes.

PROS

  • Sounds Great

  • CPU Efficient

  • Great on vocals

  • Resizable GUI

  • Inexpensive at $50

 

CONS 

  • Might be a little confusing to beginners

  • No tempo synced pre delay

soundtoys little plate review

Soundtoys make some of my favorite plugins. They have a knack for making highly creative products that are also easy to use.

 

Inspired by the original, and legendary,  EMT 140 plate reverb, Soundtoys captured the gorgeous sound and vibe of this studio classic and turned it into a fun and easy to use plugin.

PROS

  • Sounds great on vocals

  • Easy to use GUI

  • Reasonably prices at $99

 

CONS 

  • Might not offer enough control for some producers/engineers

  • iLok required

best ir reverb

Seventh Heaven is the first IR reverb to make our list, but labeling it simply as a convolution reverb doesn't tell the whole story. It uses "Fusion-IR", a type of convolution response that also uses algorithms to create a more dynamic response.

 

It's modeled after the legendary Bricasti M7 reverb unit. You can score one of those for about $4 grand if your grandma just left you a hefty inheritance, but if you're slowly stealing twenties from your mom's purse like the rest of us, this $299 plugin is a much more reasonable choice.

There is a pro version and a less expensive standard version, but either sounds great and can be your go-to reverb plugin on almost any source. You will just have a little more control with the pro version.

PROS

  • GUI Looks great and makes for quick use

  • Faithful recreation of the Bricasti sound

  • Additional EQ not found on original units makes it suitable for modern production needs

 

CONS 

  • Pro version is expensive at $299

  • Can't simulataneously see the advanced section and the master EQ

  • iLok required

best reverb under 200

This is an example of the truth in the saying "it's what's on the inside that counts." Arts Acoustic Reverb doesn't get enough love in my opinion. It is ugly, but it sounds great and doesn't destroy your CPU. 

If you've ever used ReFx Nexus and the onboard reverb, you've used Arts Acoustic Reverb. 

 

Arts Acoustic is an algorithmic room reverb plugin that covers ton of ground and it sounds great on a lot of sources. The ambiences are some of my favorite starting points for vocals and guitars.

PROS

  • Sounds Great

  • CPU Efficient

  • Sounds good on a wide range of sounds

  • Reasonably prices at $115

 

CONS 

  • Might be a little confusing to beginners

  • The GUI isn't for everyone

  • No tempo synced pre delay

  • Preset browser could use an update

best reverb under 200

I told you Valhalla DSP was going to show up some more. They make 4 reverbs, and 3 have made this list. 

Shimmer is a very unique reverb. It's not meant to be a "do it all" type of reverb; instead, it's meant to create lush, huge sounds.

Think of it as a flexible hall reverb. It sounds great on strings, pads, ambient Hip Hop sounds, and anything that could benefit from sounding like it was recorded in a huge concert hall.

PROS

  • Unique sounds

  • Easy-to-use GUI

  • CPU Efficient

  • Great for sound design

  • Inexpensive at $50

 

CONS 

  • If it's your only reverb, you might wish it was more flexible

  • If you get this needing it to be a work-horse do it all type of reverb, you may be let down

best reverb under 200

Waves HReverb is the only Waves reverb I use regularly anymore. It sounds pleasing and is a nice mix of classic reverb concepts paired with more modern innovations. It's part algorithmic and part convolution.

Typically, algorithmic reverbs have more control and convolution reverbs have less control. HReverb combines these two ideas so you end up with the rich, natural sound of an impulse response and the tweak-ability of a conventional algorithmic reverb. 

HReverb can be used on a wide array of sounds. It works well on vocals, drums, guitars, synths and more. 

PROS

  • Pre delay BPM Sync

  • CPU Efficient

  • Quick reverse fx

  • On the cheaper end of reverb plugins at $69

CONS 

  • Feature rich GUI might be a lot for beginners

  • No input level control

best reverb under 200

TSAR-1R is a powerful, lush, and real sounding reverb plugin that is dripping with character. It doesn't try to be vintage, nor is it modeled after a sought after hardware unit. It's a modern sounding stere reverb, plain and simple.

PROS

  • Sounds great

  • Easy to use

  • Useable presets

CONS 

  • Might not have enough features for power users

  • iLok required

  • Expensive at $249

best reverb under 200

Vintage Verb is a highly unique plugin at a very affordable price. ​It comes with a massive 17 Algorithms, each of which can be used in 3 different modes, 1970's, 1980's, and Now. Each mode has it's own distinct sonic character, making Vintage verb a great all around reverb.

PROS

  • 20 reverbs in 1

  • Easy to use

  • Useable presets

  • Cheap at $50

CONS 

  • If you don't like bright colors the GUI might annoy you

  • Pre delay cannot sync to BPM

best reverb under 200

The Lexicon PCM bundle comes with 7 different reverbs: vintage plate, plate, hall, room, random hall, concert hall, and chamber. This puts the cost per plugin at just 85 dollars. Each module comes with it's own discreet plugin and GUI.

Lexicon and reverb go together like cookies and milk. Lexicon has been making reverbs since the 1970's. This is why, in my opinion, the Lexicon PCM bundle seems so refined. 

PROS

  • Amazing sound quality

  • Easy to use

  • High quality presets

CONS 

  • Entire bundle is expensive, can't buy single versions

  • Missing some features found in newer reverbs (came out in 2010)

best reverb under 200

This is the only reverb on the list I don't have. This was suggested by our Facebook users. It's the most expensive on the list as well, at nearly $600. 

Altiverb is the king of convolution reverb plugins. It comes with hundreds of unique impulse responses and a bunch of presets.  

PROS

  • King of the land in terms of convolution reverb

CONS 

  • Expensive

best reverb under 200

UVI is better known for its sample instruments using the UVI player engine. Sparkverb represents an ambitious and successful foray into the DSP world. 

The best way to describe the sound is musical. It's not the most polished sounding reverb in my opinion, but that doesn't matter in the end because it finds a way to feel and sit right in a mix more often than not.

PROS

  • Musical sound

  • Freeze mode for infinite decay

CONS 

  • A little on the expensive

  • Requires iLok

best reverb under 200

Back in the day, DAW's didn't come with truly high quality reverb plugins. Thankfully that has changed. Every DAW comes with at least one production and mix ready reverb plugin. 

Logic X has ChromaVerb and Space Designer (which got a nice revamp in 10.4), FL Studio has the fruity convolver, and even Pro Tools has the D Verb. Don't sleep on your stock plugins, they are getting nicer and nicer with each update.

PROS

  • You already have it

  • Probably sounds better than you think it does 

CONS 

  • Not glamorous to use stock

 

BEST REVERB PLUGINS 2018 SUMMARY

To quickly summarize the best reverb plugins in 2018:

​--- Fab Filter Pro-R

--- Reverb Foundry HD Cart

--- Exponential Audio R4

--- Valhalla Room

--- Valhalla Shimmer

--- Valhalla Vintage Verb

--- Soundtoys Little Plate

--- Arts Acoustic Reverb

--- Liquid Sonics Seventh Heaven

--- Audioease Alitverb 7

--- UVI SparkVerb

--- Waves HReverb

--- Lexicon PCM Bundle

--- Softube TSAR-1R

--- Logic X Chromaverb

--- Logic X Space Designer

--- FL Studio Fruity Convolver

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