Reverb Plugins: The Top 7 to Buy in 2021
With the wealth of digital reverbs and technology always changing, choosing the perfect reverb plugin in 2021 is not an easy task. But the research phase is a worthwhile undertaking, as reverb is central to audio production!
From creating acoustic spaces for instruments to adding depth and dimensions to mixes, reverb is used in various ways. There’s no correct way to use reverb, but there are some time-tested principles that can help make your tracks stand out. For instance, shorter, tighter reverbs make tracks sound more exciting, whereas longer, larger reverbs help to soften a track’s presence in the mix.
However, due to their massive size, analog reverbs are not always a feasible option for audio engineers, so many have turned to digital reverbs to secure the same effects. Companies like UAD, Valhalla, and The Department of Sound create high-quality digital reverb plugins and presets that can accomplish as much as (if not more than) analog reverbs.
Here’s a list of the seven most popular reverb plugins to buy in 2021.
Lexicon Reverb — $659
Lexicon is widely accepted as a standard for digital reverbs. As such, it’s worth taking a closer look at their most recent reverb bundle: PCM Native Reverb. Lexicon’s bundle offers 7 legendary reverbs with hundreds of finely-crafted studio presets, including recognizable classics from Lexicon’s immense sound library.
Whichever reverb algorithm you choose, the software can be run in either mono, stereo, or a combination of the two. There are even Input and Output Meters, and a graphical EQ section for fine-tuning your sound.
The UI displays parameters for customization, and allows you to go deeper with an editing matrix. Custom presets can be compared to the original for faster A/B testing, and can be saved and loaded into a different DAW.
UAD EMT 140 — $199
For over 60 years, UAD has been pioneering audio production and recording. Many of their hardware and software technologies are used every day by major recording artists, like Kendrick Lamar, Coldplay, and Dr. Dre.
With three different reverbs, the UAD EMT 140 replicates the EMT 140’s Classic Plate Reverberator. UAD’s EMT 140 reverb plugin harkens back to the classics, modeling the EMT 140 — the only reverb used on Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side of the Moon.
With the EMT 140 plugin, you can sculpt your sound with the EMT 140’s original controls, such as mechanical damping and system input filters, adding natural depth and shimmer to all your tracks.
Valhalla VintageVerb — $50
Valhalla DSP is an excellent developer of amazing audio tools, created by Sean Costello. Valhalla makes a wide variety of reverbs, plugins, and other resources for serious and hobbyist audio engineers.
According to the site, “VintageVerb is a postmodern reverb plugin, inspired by the classic hardware digital reverbs of the 1970s and 1980s.” In this way, Valhalla’s VintageVerb plugin is an homage to the classic and expensive reverbs of the past. It has three modes — 70s, 80s, and NOW — and each mode has their own features and artifacts worth exploring.
In the studio, the VintageVerb has excellent sound quality and an extraordinary range of effects for each mode: decay time and predelay, damping control of high and low frequencies, and EQ and modulation controls. These effects can be changed while sound is processing, which lend themselves to dynamic, interesting audio. There are even mouse-over tooltips to help you learn how to make the most out of your effects.
Valhalla Room — $50
At The Department of Sound, we’re big fans of Valhalla. They get two spots on our list. While their VintageVerb is a classic throwback, their Room reverb is a modern take on reverberation tools.
Room features twelve original reverberation algorithms, and produces a wide range of natural reverberation. The sounds vary from ambiences and rooms to more traditional hall and plate sounds. There are even massive modulated spaces, created by Sean Costello to push the boundaries of audio production.
With all the reverb types and parameters, the options are endless. However, there are lots of well-chosen presets to help you get up-to-speed with the tech, if you’re just learning.
FabFilter Pro-R — $199
Though reverb is a powerful tool, too much can make your mix sound muddy. Fab Filter Pro-R helps to mitigate any unintended noise or unwanted artifacts by offering a smooth digital reverb.
FabFilter’s Pro-R is designed to be intuitive, easy-to-control, and instant. The UX is visually-appealing, and addicting to use. The range of available parameters help you dial in more natural reverbs, or take your mix to an entirely different level.
While there are lots of presets and other goodies, the integrated 6-band post-EQ will help you shape your reverb in great detail, with incredibly accurate results on shape and character.
Waves Renaissance Reverb — $99
Emulating vintage sounds, Waves offers a reverb that has 12 reverb types, reflection systems, and rich reverb tails. The multitude of features offer a jumping point for making your reverbs more dense and textured.
There’s even a dual-band EQ, damping controls, and a great UI. Leading producers and engineers even have offered their ears to create presets for the plugin. If you’re looking for a flexible reverb plugin, at a low-cost, try the Waves Renaissance Reverb!
Ecoplate — $150
Designed by Los Angeles-based company The Department of Sound, Ecoplate is a model of the original Ecoplate I. It’s been modeled with precision, care, and 30 years of industry experience to deliver authentic, true-to-life sound in a digital reverb plugin. In fact, The Department of Sound has even upgraded the original analog Ecoplate interface with modern features and a clean UI.
Ecoplate by The Department of Sound is a wide, robust, and luxurious plate reverb plugin. With a simple download, the Ecoplate reverb plugin brings the massive physical Ecoplate into any studio, for an affordable cost. New software-only features include pre-delay with tempo sync, low- and high-pass filters, and even an analog model that includes Ecoplate’s original noise floor, offering a vintage vibe and added color (the actual hardware noise and hum) to your recordings.
True to its roots, the controls for Ecoplate are modeled after the original model, including the famous lever system. There’s even a settings menu, where you can further manipulate tone, analog noise level, analog saturation, and stereo width. Fatten up your bottom end, or fine tune your stereo image to match the personality of your session. Sign up for our beta here.
While this list is not meant to be exhaustive, we hope that it will help you understand how and why to buy a digital reverb plugin in 2021. With so many other technologies out there, are there any that you think we should add to the list? Let us know below.
No matter what, the best reverb plugin is the one that will work best for your project. However, your budget, recording experience, and ability to experiment with the tech should be deciding factors when choosing your next reverb plugin. Want to chat reverb plugins or get more recommendations? Reach out to us on the web, Instagram, or Facebook.