The 10 Best Reverb Plugins In The World

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NEW VERSION: There’s a new version of this post updated for 2013 here!

A lot of mixes stand or fall on their use of reverb – the process is used to give the impression of sounds being in a real acoustic space, providing your mix with front-to-back depth, and is often referred to as the ‘glue’ binding all the different parts of a mix into a coherent whole. Using just enough reverb to do these jobs, without overdoing it and turning your track to sonic mush, is one of the major components of the mysterious pro sound.

But, as a great writer once said, not all reverb plugins are created equal. Different types of reverbs are good for different applications, so it’s unlikely that you’ll want to use the same plugin for everything. You might want to use a plate reverb for drums, and a high-grade convolution reverb  for strings or background ambience. Often, you don’t want the most ‘natural’ sounding reverb – you want to add a particular colouration to the sound, and that’s why there are so many variations on this vital effect.

Adding to this idea, most of us have grown up listening to music processed with rather artificial-sounding spring, plate and digital reverbs, and those sounds are ingrained in our subconscious as musically appropriate – it’s what we’re used to hearing. So don’t sweat about ‘realism’ too much.

Confused yet? Read on and before I get to the Best 10, I’ll try to unpick things a little.

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Reverb: A Pocket History

Ever wondered what all the preset names on reverb plugins actually refer to?

Room / Hall / Chamber: The first reverb effects used for recorded music were created with echo chambers – a loudspeaker would play the sound back in the chamber, and a microphone would pick it up again, including the echo of the room itself. The same principle still applies for simulated ‘room’ and ‘hall’ reverbs -you’re capturing the ambience of a particularly sized and shaped space.

Plate: Next came plate reverb, used a lot in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Plate reverbs use a transducer to create vibrations across a large ‘plate’ of sheet metal. A pickup captures the vibrations as they bounce across the plate, and the result is output again as an audio signal. Plate reverb tends to be bright and clean-sounding, and it holds a special place in many producers hearts.

Spring: Uses a similar principle to that of plate reverb, but with a metal spring instead of a plate. A transducer at one end and a pickup at the other are used to create and then capture vibrations within the spring. Being compact and relatively cheap to manufacture, many guitar amp designs ended up incorporating a spring reverb unit. Spring reverb adds a distinctive metallic colouration to the sound, and in the days of classic rock ‘n’ roll it was known that you could shake the reverb cabinet while recording so that the springs clashed together for a properly unhinged sound. I wouldn’t recommend attempting this with a plugin version though :)

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Algorithm vs. Convolution

Almost all reverb plugins (as well as hardware digital reverb units) use one of these two digital processing methods.

Algorithmic reverbs use calculations based on hypothetical rooms and other spaces to generate their reverb sounds. Generally this gives a sharper, more artificial sound, typified by most hardware digital reverbs of the last 30 years. This is not necessarily a bad thing though – as mentioned above, musically we’re not always after the most ‘natural’ sound, but the one that has the right ‘character’ for the track. Algorithmic reverbs are also far lighter on the computer’s CPU than…

Convolution reverbs use pre-recorded samples of real rooms and spaces to build Impulse Response (IR) files of those spaces. The impulse response is then ‘convolved’ with the incoming audio signal you want to process, hence the name.

Convolution reverbs then, are generally far better at simulating real spaces than algorithmic reverbs – the only major downside is that they also require significantly more CPU processing power to work, so you are more limited in terms of the number of instances of the plugin you can run simultaneously.

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The 10 Best Reverb Plugins – The List

So now we know that choosing the right plugins for each job is crucial, and we’ve covered the basic differences between the types. Now I’ve compiled a rundown of what I consider to be the very best reverb plugins, whatever your price range.

I should add that in the end, ‘best’ is highly subjective when it comes to reverb – there is a lot of choice out there, and picking a personal favourite is literally a lot like choosing a favourite colour. You’ll notice I’ve included some ‘Honourable Mentions’ alongside the best 10 below, mainly because I couldn’t bear not to include some excellent reverbs like Waves Trueverb and Magnus’ Ambience that might not otherwise have been accounted for.

Anyway, here’s my two-pennies worth…

1) Best Free Convolution Reverb:

Knufinke SIR1

SIR1 is a freeware convolution reverb, using impulse response (IR) files to achieve a great variety of excellent sounds.

(By the way, you can get free IR files from places all over the internet, such as Voxengo and NoiseVault. With these you can quickly build up a library of your favourite ‘spaces’ to apply to your mixes.)

So, get the right IR file, and SIR1 can do a pretty decent job of sounding like just about any reverb you want.

Like all convolution reverbs, SIR1 is still a fairly heavy load on the CPU – but at least it’s light on the wallet eh?

More info & download here.

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2) Most Flexible Reverb:

112dB Redline Reverb

Developed by Martijn Zwartjes, who used to work at Native Instruments, the Redline Reverb’s first incarnations were the Rev-6 and Space Master ensembles for NI’s Reaktor. Both of those are still favourites among many producers, and the Redline just builds on their sound, performance and musicality even further. A future classic.

I gather this plugin scored 10/10 in a Computer Music review recently, and also won their Best Plugin of the Year (of any type), so it’s obviously worth checking out.

More info here.

Honourable Mention:

Wave Arts MasterVerb 5

I couldn’t not mention MasterVerb. It sounds great, is very versatile and has a very cool and clear interface, so it’s quick and easy to tweak settings.

It would compete pretty well against most convolution reverbs, but being of the algorithmic variety MasterVerb uses about half the processing power of most convolution plugins.

More info here.

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3) Best Convolution Reverb:

Audio Ease Altiverb 7

Altiverb 7The established daddy of all reverb plugins, and something of an industry standard. No, it’s not cheap, yes you need a powerful computer to run it… but the sound and flexibility it affords is generally well worth it. The XL version also includes surround reverb and a TDM version for Pro Tools.

More info here.

Honourable mention:

Waves IR1

The IR1′s presets are based on many famous venues and spaces from around the world. So if you want to hear what your music would sound like in the Sydney Opera House or at legendary NY punk rock club CBGBs, this is the reverb for you.

As far as I know, the IR1 is also unique for it’s parametric controls, whereby you can plot your settings on the interface display in the same way as you would on a parametric EQ.

More info here.

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4) Best Surround Reverb:

M-Audio Wizooverb W5

Surround mixing can get very complicated very quickly, but I think this reverb handles it with ease due to its sleek and clear interface. Obviously the sound quality is top of the line as well! It features HDIR (High Definition Impulse Response), and can be run in stand-alone mode or inside your host application.

Incidentally, the W5’s slimmer stereo-version sibling Wizooverb W2 is also a strong contender for best reverb overall.

At the time of this update (August 2012) the official page isn’t available, but I did notice M-Audio are running a promotion of 60% off Wizooverb W2 and W5. more info on that here.

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5) Best Bundled / Series Reverb:

Waves Renaissance Reverb

Some of the most useful reverbs are parts of bundles or series of plugins that work really well together.  The Renaissance Reverb is my  personal go-to reverb, as are many of the Waves plugins, especially the Renaissance series. A well balanced reverb in terms of overall sound and versatility, with simple but effective graphic EQs for quick shaping of the reverb return signal – great for efficiently slotting the sound into a busy mix without adding clutter or low-frequency mush.

More info here, and you can buy all the Waves plugins here: Click Here to Buy

Honourable Mention:

Waves TrueVerb

Another Waves reverb plugin, but this one is more of a room emulator than a conventional reverb like the Renaissance Reverb. Together, they’re an excellent combination.

TrueVerb actually combines an Early Reflections simulator with its standard reverb algorithms, to produce very natural-sounding room sounds.

More info here.

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6) Best Free Algorithmic Reverb:

Kjaerhus Audio Classic Reverb

The Classic Reverb from Kjaerhus Audio is probably the best basic free reverb plugin out there. Low CPU usage, but it still handles sampling rates up to 96kHz, meaning that if you’re aiming for super-smooth reverb tails on a budget, this is the way to go.

More info: The Kjaerhus Audio website is no longer in operation, but you can still download the plugin as part of the complete Classic Series for free from here.

Honourable Mention:

Smartelectronix / Magnus Ambience

Another excellent reverb with a great reputation. Created by a guy called Magnus, apparently in his spare time between ‘studies’, the sound quality is much better than you might expect – in fact a lot of people swear by Ambience as their go-to reverb. Magnus also lets you decide how much you want to pay for the plugin, what a guy.

More info and download here.

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7) Most Expensive Reverb!

Lexicon PCM Native Reverb Bundle

This reverb collection from the long-serving hardware effect/processor company really is in a league of it’s own, both in terms of price and quality. It’s the company’s first step into the purely digital plugin domain, and as they’ve set the gold standard for digital reverbs with their hardware over the last 40 years, they really had to deliver. Fortunately it seems that they did! Another nail in the coffin for cumbersome external hardware units :)

More info here.

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8) Best Simple But Versatile Reverb:

Audio Damage Eos

I really like Audio Damage software, apart from anything else their plugin and instrument interfaces are refreshingly different and stylishly minimal. I also like their audacious and witty Avatar-referencing sales blurb, so I’m going to quote it here, hope you don’t mind:

“Where Eos really comes into its own is when you drop Superhall on your piano or synthesizer tracks. The long modulated hall sounds of Eno-style ambience are where Eos thrives, something that is made of unobtanium with convolution ‘verbs. Quite simply, an impulse response can not do what Eos does.”

Eos only has 3 algorithms, but it’s so well thought out that in my opinion they cover everything you’ll need, at least for modern/electronic styles.

More info here.

Honourable Mention:

PSP EasyVerb

PSP are another great company (I will probably be mentioning their magical Vintage Warmer plugin a lot in other posts). EasyVerb looks basic, and it is, but in the best possible way – easy to use, good sound and low CPU overhead.

More info here.

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9) Don’t forget…

Your Sequencer’s Reverb

One great thing about all the major modern sequencers – Logic, Pro Tools, Cubase, Sonar, Digital Performer etc. – is that the average quality of the bundled plugins and instruments is actually very high these days, and certainly for the most part useable in ‘pro’ productions. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Something to bear in mind through all of this is that no-one (except maybe another producer) is ever going to come and say to you, “I really liked your track, it was really amazing… it’s just a shame about the slightly brittle quality of the reverb tails…”

The best things about using the reverb plugins supplied with your sequencer are that a) you don’t have to pay any more, and b) they are likely to run more efficiently within their host program than a third-party plugin. Shown here is Logic Pro 9′s Space Designer Convolution Reverb.

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10) Best ‘Classic Emulation’ Reverb:

Universal Audio EMT 140 Classic Plate Reverberator

Having just written the above, I’m going to switch back to gear fetish mode so I can tell you about the EMT 140 Classic Plate Reverb. It was EMT’s founder Wilhelm Franz who actually invented plate reverb in the late ’50s with the original EMT 140, so the pedigree for this plugin is pretty impressive. UA locked their ‘DSP circuit modelling experts’ in a room for four months until they came up with this emulation, so for their sakes, give it a try.

More info here.

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So there you have it, the best reverb plugins in the world today. I hope you find the article useful – if you’re spluttering over how I’ve completely overlooked your favourite amazing reverb that you use on every single production, or you have a request for further info or future articles, let me know below!

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If you found this post useful, you’ll probably also like my other list posts:

The 10 Best Delay Plugins In The World>>

The 10 Best Compressor Plugins In The World>>

The 10 Best Free VST Plugins In The World>>

NEW VERSION: There’s a new version of this post updated for 2013 here!

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47 Responses to “The 10 Best Reverb Plugins In The World”

  1. Guitar Player
    28. Jun, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

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  3. Acoostic Zoo Recording Studio
    07. Jul, 2010 at 7:17 am #

    Real Glad you added space designer. :) put a smile on my face. Great write up btw. I enjoyed reading it. What about this fairly new reverb Aether that’s all the rave on the net atm? Any thoughts/experiences? I love VSS3 by tc electronics and offcourse the Lexicon PCM Native Bundle.

    Josef Horhay
    Mixing Engineer
    http://www.acoosticzoo.com

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  10. mk
    29. Aug, 2010 at 8:29 am #

    Excellent list…Does the list change now with the availability of Lexicon’s PCM and LXP plugins?

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  14. Dave C
    21. Sep, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    Two that were not mentioned, but really should be are:

    2CAudio’s Aether 1.5 – http://www.2caudio.com/

    and

    Acusticaudio’s Nebula3 Pro – http://www.acustica-audio.com/

    Both are premium-grade reverb units and Nebula3 has huge extensibility with people like Signaltonoize making patches for it
    http://www.rhythminmind.net/presetblog/category/samples/nebula-programs/

    Lots of lovely choice!

    • george
      21. Oct, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

      Hey Dave C, thanks for the links – I havn’t tried any Acustica stuff yet, will get on it!
      I just spent far more time than I should have browsing the rhythm in mind blog – I wish I could design my own plugins and sounds as simply as this guy seems to… :)

  15. tuned in
    09. Oct, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    Hey George, fantastic article. I was wondering if you have any suggestions for a good vintage spring-verb plug? Everything I’ve tried seems inauthentic. Looking for something that represents an Orban spring, or something like that.

    Excellent writing man, really looking forward to there being more to come.

    Cheers

    • george
      21. Oct, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

      Hey tuned in, thanks for the comments – yeah, there definitely is a shortage of good-sounding spring reverb plugins around.
      I would suggest a couple of things: first, try the SIR reverb that I mention up top, and go to Noisevault where you can find a great selection of free IR files for download. In the ‘Springs’ folder, you’ll find a IR file from an Orban 111b Dual Spring…
      If that’s not doing it for you, experiment with putting extra effects inserts on your reverb send channel – or in English, don’t use reverb clean, but put it through EQ’s, distortion, tremolo or other modulation effects. You can get much more subtle sounds and variations this way, which may go some way to achieving that ‘vintage’, ever-changing sound.

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  28. Wesly Snipes
    27. Jun, 2011 at 1:43 am #

    It is almost unbeliveable that there is no even mentioned the most natural sounding reverb software 2CAudio Aether.
    Aether outperforms all those reverbs in definition and smoothness with possibilities to render offline with unheard quality yet on the PC DAW’s. http://www.2CAudio.com

  29. Sacco
    22. Jul, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    Don’t forget Image Line “Convolver” based on the same engine on Liquidsonic “Reverberate” a zero latency convolution plugin.

    http://flstudio.image-line.com/help/html/plugins/Fruity%20Convolver.htm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzAmGtoswAE

  30. Sam Swenson
    14. Aug, 2011 at 11:57 pm #

    Since you listed a few IR library sources, I thought to mention a free resource called the Open Impulse Response Library ( http://irlibrary.org ). Currently, it has over 220 IR files for free download. And the cool thing is, it’s open so anyone can upload their IR files. This might also mean that the IR files might not be the best quality. But like with anything in music “quality” is in the ear of the beholder :)

  31. Fan
    24. Aug, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    You have forgot the best plugin,its the Realverb 5.1 from Kind of Loud,its the best Surroundreverb for Protools ever!

  32. ted
    14. Nov, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Other good ones , not mentioned:

    arts acoustic reverb
    2caudio aether
    lx480 relab.dk
    d16 toraverb
    softube tsar-1
    softube spring reverb

  33. Art
    13. Jan, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

    ArtsAcoustic Reverb very good.

  34. Stephen Frost
    20. Feb, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    I would like to mention Tone 2′s Warmverb as one worth checking out, that and Camelspace are my favourite 2 plug ins .

  35. thunderaxe
    21. Feb, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    i’m amazed that there was no mention of bootsy’s epicverb for ‘best free algorithmic reverb’.

    http://varietyofsound.wordpress.com/

  36. Steve Schow
    12. Apr, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    You forgot IK Multimedia’s, Classik Reverb, which is also quite special

  37. Mike
    13. Nov, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    I also second IK Multimedia’s Reverbs, cannot believe they did not make the list.

  38. Walter Cruz
    27. Dec, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    Now you can remove the lexicon from the category of most expensive reverb :)

    Well, don’t know if their prices drop is a promo or will stand.

    BTW, I missed CSR and Valhala on this list!

    • GeorgeGTPS
      04. Jan, 2013 at 9:15 am #

      Thanks Walter: check out the update of this post
      Lexicon, CSR and Valhalla all present and correct!

  39. Nemesis
    06. Feb, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    Nice recollection!

    You missed Aether reverb tho… it could have its own categroy i think, the most Metaphysical!

    http://www.2caudio.com/products/aether

    • GeorgeGTPS
      06. Feb, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

      Thanks Nemesis – you can actually see Aether in a recent 2013 update I did of this list, here.
      Cheers!

  40. sarah
    23. Apr, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    I’d put LiquidSonics ‘Reverberate’ over most of these, and they do a free ‘LE’ version.

    I’d also suggest Variety Of Sound’s (Bootsy’s) ‘EpicVerb’ as the best free algorithmic

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    [...] The 10 Best Reverb Plugins In The World | getthatprosound.com Plate reverbs use a transducer to create vibrations across a large ‘plate’ of sheet metal. A pickup captures the vibrations as they bounce across the plate, and the result is output again as an audio signal. Plate reverb tends to be bright and clean-sounding, and it holds a special place in many producers hearts. [...]

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