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What is the best reverb plugin for vocals?
What is the difference between convolution and algorithmic reverb plugins?
We present 7 extraordinary reverb plugins ranging from $50 to $500+.
Reverb is a treasured effect and a favorite of many musicians and producers. There’s something so irresistible about the way it alters a sound!
In the early days, reverb was added by literally playing back the dry track in a reverberant room or chamber, then recording the resultant ‘wet’ sound and blending it into the mix. Later, digital hardware units were developed that could emulate the reverb of various spaces.
These days, it’s much more common to find reverb as plugins. As computer specs have increased so much over the years, it’s easier for plugins to produce sophisticated reverb effects without causing glitches and dropouts.
What Are The Best Vocal Reverb Plugins?
Altiverb comes out on top as the best convolution reverb as far as vocals are concerned. The meticulous and staggering library of impulse responses is hard to beat, and it’s no surprise they’re the go-to choice for high-end studios. Valhalla Plate & Waves H-Reverb are superb budget options, and the UAD Lexicon 224 is our runner-up.
To make things easy for you, we’ve rigorously tested out several digital reverb plugins and are pleased to share this list of our favorites in the current market. So without further ado, let’s check out some top-shelf reverb plugins that are worth serious consideration.
Audio Ease Altiverb (Our Pick!)
Valhalla DSP Plate (Best Value)
Waves H-Reverb (Best Value)
Universal Audio UAD Lexicon 224 Digital Reverb (Runner Up)
Altiverb 7 is invaluable for adorning your mix elements with just the right reverb. For post-production, you'll appreciate the speed with which you can conjure the perfect ambiance to match the scene you're mixing.
Altiverb is the godfather of convolution reverb plugins and is reputed for being the standard choice for high-end studios and legendary engineers. It has a staggering library of impulse responses painstakingly recorded across the world in venues ranging from the Wembley Stadium in London to ancient caves in Malta and everything in between.
It features a handy IR library view where you can scroll through and audition hundreds of available impulse responses, with more added monthly.
It has an abundance of world-class reverb ambiances to choose from to treat your vocal track. You can dial in a cavernous dreamy sound with the IR from a real church or get some intimate space with an amazingly realistic chamber reverb.
A feature to search by keywords and visual representations makes it a breeze to find the perfect sound and recall it any time later. While this may have you drooling, Altiverb’s incredible power also comes with a hefty price tag.
Valhalla DSP has carved out an impressive spot for themselves in a saturated audio software market in a relatively short time. Their Room reverb plugin has received high praise and been adopted by top-of-the-line producers worldwide. Their follow-up Plate plugin lives up to and perhaps even exceeds the lofty expectations set by Room.
Valhalla DSP brings the signature shimmering sound of plate reverb to your mix without having to lug around the EMT140’s 400-pound footprint. At the heart of it, Vallhalla Plate is an algorithmic reverb that has the uncanny ability to just fit gorgeously into any mix right out the box.
Plate’s lush spaciousness and brightness without a smidgen of harshness have made it a personal favorite. The UI is minimalist and flat as with Valhalla DSP’s other offerings. It presents all necessary controls within reach while abstracting away the technical jargon under the hood.
The result is a clean, versatile reverb that pushes your vocals to the front while simultaneously providing a lush bed for them to sit on. It reminds you of the unique quality of the reverb produced by vibrating sheets of metal that were used in past with iconic units like the EMT140 (one of the first plate reverb units ever produced).
I’ve found Vallhalla DSP’s plugins to be indispensable in many of my projects. At just $50, this plugin offers features and quality that makes it an absolute steal. The reverb is clean, lush, and smooth without sounding harsh, boxy, or unnatural. It’s hard to get more bang for your buck than this.
Using a revolutionary FIR (Finite Impulse Response) software engine, the Waves H-Reverb hybrid reverb plug-in provides you with malleable, unbelievably rich-sounding reverb tails that add incredible dimension to your tracks without muddying up your mix.
Waves looked to combine established reverb concepts with state-of-the-art digital signal processing techniques to create their H-Reverb ‘Hybrid Reverb’ plugin. From real reverse to advanced analog modeling w/ drive control, there are a lot of great features for mixing engineers to look forward to.
Waves couples this impressive technology with a practical and versatile preset library. Moreover, the innovative approach and ‘input drive’ feature make this forward-thinking plugin a formidable option in the digital reverb domain.
The H-Reverb plugin utilizes a technology called ‘Finite Impulse Response’ reverberation that claims to provide richer, more detailed reverb tails without muddying the mix.
H-Reverb expands possibilities beyond just reverb by including a set of EQ, modulation, and dynamics processing controls – all within the same plugin. These features can also be paired with resonant filter sweeps to produce creative effects with the initial reverb sound.
Waves have implemented their analog modeling technology within the plugin in the form of a ‘drive control’. This allows you to cover the whole gamut of sound – from subtle ambiances to massive cathedrals.
The inbuilt effects, modulation, and dynamics controls make it very easy to get ducked, reversed or perfectly gated reverb effects all from a single plugin. The preset library also adds to the value with several vintage and modern options that act as starting points that can be tweaked to suit your mix.
Currently on sale for just $29.99*, this is the most affordable digital reverb plugin on this list. Even when it’s not on sale, it’s still very affordable yet it packs a high-quality punch. It really is a versatile one-stop solution for creative reverb effects.
This plugin is also well suited for those who wish to experiment with reverb, as it is capable of some rather unique sounds. For others, there is plenty of reverb on tap for all uses – conventional or otherwise.
Track and mix with the legendary Lexicon 224 Digital Reverb, using the same algorithms as the original hardware. Employ eight classic reverb programs and one chorus program on drums, vocals, guitars, and more.
Universal Audio is renowned for making extremely high-end emulations of historic audio equipment, and their rendition of the classic Lexicon 224 reverb unit is no different.
The original Lexicon 224 unit has been heard on countless hits since it was first unveiled in 1978. This plugin goes to extreme lengths to recreate its legendary sound to the highest possible degree of authenticity. It has led to the plugin becoming a fast favorite among top industry producers.
UA’s plugin models every single parameter of the original unit, right down to the inherent system noise and bug fixes in its chorus program (which can be enabled or disabled). The unit is rich in vintage character, although there are rivals that may offer better options to realistically recreate a room or space.
You might need some time to study the original unit to figure out the best way to operate this plugin. For instance, you need to run two instances for surround sound applications (quadraphonic). Once you get the hang of it, you can go from coarse to cozy, smooth to surround, and a wide array of modeled Lexicon sounds.
While they are vintage EMPT 140-esque plate emulations, there is something familiar (and pleasant) about the sound. It is practically impossible to tell them apart from the actual thing. And, you can add a generous dollop of it without overwhelming the mix.
The plugin is currently available for a great price of $139 considering its quality, but do remember that all UA plugins require compatible UAD or UA-Apollo hardware with inbuilt DSP to run.
The original unit was an instant hit for vocals ranging from pop to rock, and this faithful recreation carries over that legacy of sounding amazing on vocals. It has an uncanny ability to make vocals sound spacious in the smoothest of ways.
Seventh Heaven is an extremely detailed and accurate software model of the legendary Bricasti M7 hardware reverb unit. The M7 enjoys a venerable reputation of being one of the most versatile and smooth sounding reverb units ever produced. This plugin brings that power to your DAW.
Seventh Heaven ships with numerous presets covering all kinds of reverb styles from plates and chambers to concert halls and churches, and some unusual ambiances are thrown in for good measure.
Its rich, complex sound is the result of its three independent reverb engines for early, late, and low-frequency reflections, with the amount of each being completely controllable.
From the get-go, Seventh Heaven’s presets sound great on vocals, making them sit beautifully in a mix without compromising clarity. The gorgeous UI is complemented with detailed editing capabilities.
The multiband decay control and a special low-CPU mode make the plugin among my favorites to use. These well-considered design features make a strong case for its place in any producer’s toolkit.
A Bricasti M7 hardware reverb unit will cost you $3000+. On the other hand, this ‘almost-there’ software reproduction brings that sound to you for $69 and $299 for its Regular and Pro versions respectively.
The Pro version boasts additional presets and more in-depth tweaking compared to the Regular version. We recommend you define the scope of your needs and buy the version that suits you. Either way, the versatility of this plugin ensures that it is money well spent.
If other reverb plugins attempt to capture the glory of the past with emulations of classic hardware, FabFilter’s Pro-R gaze is intensely set into the future. Fab’s Pro-R is a digital algorithmic reverb that doesn’t try to sound like a real space. Instead, it hands over the reins to the user to design the reverb that they want while still remaining natural-sounding overall.
Pro-R boasts of complex inner workings presented in a simple and easy to follow format. Instead of providing technical terminology, the plugin knobs are labeled with more familiar names such as ‘Brightness’, ‘Character’, and ‘Distance’.
This “layman” approach extends to the overall layout as well. FabFilter allows users to dial in a wide variety of reverb sounds from clean and transparent to lively and dense. There is also the added possibility to venture into wacky modulated ambiances for those who wish to do so.
It features a parametric “Decay Rate EQ”, which provides far more flexibility in shaping the reverb’s decay characteristics than traditional crossover based EQs. Furthermore, a 6-band post EQ helps tailor the reverb to your precise needs.
FabFilter’s guiding philosophy in designing this plugin seems to be providing total control of the sound without overwhelming the user with jargon and technicalities. It is as easy to use as they get.
Slate Digital VerbSuite Classics is a plug-in suite that's packed with eight of the industry's most-used digital reverbs. Delight in rich, smooth, dynamic ambience, thanks to LiquidSonics' celebrated Fusion IR processing.
What’s better than having an excellent software emulation of a legendary classic reverb hardware unit? Well, having excellent emulations of them all in one package. That’s exactly what Slate Digital partnered with LiquidSonics to create.
The plugin includes models of 8 pro-grade classic reverb units: the Lexicon 480L, Eventide SP2016, EMT 250, Quantec QRS, Sony DRE 2000, Neve RMX16, TC Electronic 6000, and finally the Bricasti M7.
VerbSuite uses LiquidSonics’ proprietary Fusion IR technology which harnesses multi-sampled IRs to provide more detail than found in conventional static impulse responses. An expansion pack extends the collection to include models of the Lexicon 224 and 224XL.
While the plugin packs so many goodies underneath, the interface remains quite simple and sleek. It features controls for the usual parameters like decay, attack, and width as well as a chorus control for the characteristic modulation of each of the units.
This is the sound of hardware worth tens of thousands of dollars in one sleek, simple software package. It’s simply an offer that’s just too good to resist. The 480L, QRS, and M7 models sound especially good on vocals, but all the models are worth exploring.
Today, we have software plugins that can easily add the sonic characteristics of a massive concert hall or church to our mixes. These reverb plugins tend to fall into two major categories: convolution reverb plugins and algorithmic reverb plugins.
Convolution plugins utilize actual audio recordings of a physical space’s reverb in response to a short sample sound. This recording is called an ‘impulse response’ of that particular space. A plugin may contain several impulse responses of various physical locations.
The plugin uses a mathematical function called convolution to alter the audio source (i.e. a vocal track on which you need reverb) with the impulse response. This gives you a realistic rendering of what the sound source would sound like in that actual physical space.
Since convolution plugins contain libraries of actual recordings and must perform mathematical functions in real-time, they can be quite large and relatively heavier on computer resources. The upside is that they produce highly realistic and natural-sounding reverberations.
Algorithmic reverbs do not use impulse responses. They simulate the reverb response of a particular space by representing the sonic characteristics as algorithms using parameters like room size, material, reflectivity, etc.
Since algorithmic plugins only simulate spaces mathematically and do not store any actual recordings, they are significantly smaller in size than convolution reverb plugins and hence much lighter on your resources.
However, because they mathematically “estimate” the characteristics of physical spaces, they are less nuanced and realistic than convolution plugins. To some, they sound clean and perfect and to others, they sound a bit too sterile or artificial.
Reverb is inarguably one of the most important and frequently used tools in any music producer’s arsenal. Just about every modern recording utilizes reverb on nearly every element from the drums to the vocals.
All of the plugins listed here are stellar products that can make your vocals sit smoothly in a mix. But in the end, it is up to your ear and personal judgment to decide what style of reverb to use for a given situation.
Time and practice are key, of course, but I hope this article helps you find the requisite tools to dial in a killer vocal sound.