Whether used heavily to create a mix with three-dimensional depth from front to back, or lightly to glue a mix together, reverb is a crucial tool for music production. Of course, when over-used, reverb can completely destroy a mix. And using the wrong reverb can be worse than using no reverb at all. That's why we've put together this review of the best reverb plugins.
Brief History of Reverb Hardware & Plugins
Back in the old days of mixing, the choices of reverb were quite limited. There were spring reverb units, such as the AKG BX20, physical plate reverbs, such as the EMT 140, or odd-shaped, full-room chambers where they'd stick a microphone.
By the late 70s and early 80s, though, a new breed of reverb was developed. This hardware units ran digital code inside of them. Some attempted to recreate the classic reverbs from before, while others tried to create entirely new sounds. I'll be that you can almost instantly tell certain songs are from the 80s, just by the sound of the reverb!
Thankfully, technology has come a long way!
In today’s music technology, creators can choose between a wide variety of digital reverbs, many of which emulate some of the above hardware units. However, with so many different options on the market today, finding the right reverb for your needs can be quite tough.
Today, we’re going to explore some of our favorite reverb plugins so you can load up your plugin arsenal and create high-quality mixes. First, however, let’s dive into a short history of reverb.
Note: This article may contain affiliate links, meaning I would receive a commission - at no cost to you - for any products you purchase.
The history of artificial reverb is quite extensive. It all started back in 1947, when audio engineer Bill Putnam Sr. became the very first person to utilize artificial reverb in a pop song. Peg o’ My Heart, a song by the Harmonicats, made use of a chamber reverb sound, which was then mixed into the production in parallel.
After that, major studios began building these large chamber rooms, all of which were made of reflective concrete, in isolated, underground spaces. The rooms would vary in shape and size depending on the needs of the studio. An audio signal would be sent to a loudspeaker in the room, triggering the room’s acoustics before a microphone in the room would pick up the ‘wet’ signal and route it back to the mixing board.
By the 1960s, Hammond, the popular organ company, had developed the spring reverb unit, which became extremely popular in dub and surf music. Digital reverb units didn’t come around until the late 1970s, though didn’t rise to popularity until the 80s and 90s. Eventually, Sony released the very first real-time convolution reverb unit in 1999, known as the DRE-S77, which would pave the way for software reverb plugins.
|Arturia Rev Plate 140||
|Arturia Spring 636||
|Universal Audio Capital Chambers||
|TC Electronics DVR 250||
Best Reverb Plugin for Vocals - Izotope R2
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use reverb plugin for vocals, we highly recommend checking out the Izotope R2. Izotope has long been known for its ultra-detailed, high-fidelity plugins, and R2 is no different. This reverb has tons of character and a lush quality that can help your music shine. The parameter controls are very intuitive, and the ability to add in real-time effects makes it extremely versatile.
Even with the fact that it is a digital reverb, it provides very natural soundscapes using its unique stereo reverb algorithm. Within R2, you’ll find a plate reverb algorithm and five additional early reflection algorithms beyond the natural stereo reverb.
One of the unique features that we love in the Izotope R2 plugin is the dynamic tail suppression, which lowers the tail of the reverb during louder parts of a mix. Izotope makes plugins for people who want results quickly, and with over 1,200 presets to pick from, finding the right sound for your mix is easier than ever.
With adjustable, tempo-based pre-delay and delay parameters, you can quickly make tweaks so that your reverb fits nicely within the bounds of your mix. Beyond all of that, the interface is very clean and professional-looking, allowing you to make any adjustments you need without feeling overwhelmed.
Pros of the R2
- Great sound
- Clean interface
- Dynamic tail control for streamlined clarity
Cons of the R2
- Not as versatile as other reverbs
- Digital sounding (in a good way)
Best Reverb Plugin For Beginners - Izotope Neoverb
Izotope continued to leverage its expertise in intelligent music software design when creating the Neoverb plugin. As with many of the company’s other plugins, Neoverb is incredibly streamlined, perfect for beginners in the world of producing and mixing. Neoverb lets you bypass the usual, tedious work that goes into dialing in the perfect reverb sound for your mix.
The beauty of Neoverb is that it uses the Assistant feature found in Ozone 9 Advanced, Nectar 3, and Neutron 3, though applies it to the plugin’s unique algorithmic reverb parameters. The Neoverb Assistant feature uses AI-powered technology to analyze every track and create custom reverb presets based on preferences selected by the user.
You can choose if you want a dramatic reverb with bright or dark tones, or a natural reverb with soft, warm tones. Neoverb will take your preferences into consideration and do the rest. Once the preset is made, you can choose to stick with it or dive in further to customize the sound using the various parameters. You can even use automation to mix between various reverb types as your track moves forward.
If you’re in the market for a single, easy-to-use reverb that can pretty much do anything you need it to do quickly, then we highly recommend Izotope Neoverb.
Pros of the Neoverb
- AI assistant for speed and ease
- Great for beginners
- Allows interesting combinations of reverb
Cons of the Neoverb
- Less control than many full featured reverbs
- Average sound quality
Best Plate Reverb Plugin - Arturia Rev Plate 140
There is nothing quite like the silky-smooth and resonant sound of a plate reverb. From giving drums iconic, airy tones to helping vocal performances shine, plate reverbs can bring entire mixes together while delivering bright and polished overtones. While there are many plate reverb plugins on the market today, we’ve found the Arturia Rev Plate 140 to be most true to the original, classic EMT-140.
There’s something quite enamoring about the legendary rich tones that it emulates. The interface has many simple controls, allowing you to extend the decay and adjust the width of your reverb. There are several integrated effects on the Rev Plate 140 as well, including pre-filtering, post-filtering, EQ, and chorus. Whether you want to create a clean touch of air to add to your various tracks or some zany, all-out modulated tones for a modern touch, the Rev Plate 140 provides you with plenty of options. There are three unique plate models found within the plugin, each of which has its own sonic characteristics.
We love the fact that this plugin comes with a Mix knob too, as you can dial in just the right amount of reverb on your individual tracks. As an upgrade from the original, you can also use pre-delay to carve out space for your signal.
Pros of the Rev Plate 140
- Amazing quality plate reverb
- Perfect set of controls for dialing in your sound
Cons of the Rev Plate 140
- It only does plate reverb
Best Spring Reverb Plugin - Arturia Spring 636
Since the original spring reverb was devised in the early 1940s, it has brought a joyful bounce and boing to countless records. From dub to surf rock to psychedelic music, spring reverb is an iconic sound. The Spring 636 authentically replicates the original spring hardware units, giving you a realistic, physical tone, right in your DAW.
Within the Arturia Spring 636 plugin, you’ll find several reverb spring tank units, each of which has vibrant spring characteristics. You can dial in some of your favorite iconic spring tones with the onboard presets. To give your spring reverb some crunch, use the Germanium Drive input. This ultra-musical parameter helps add a bit of grit to your tone, perfect for getting a sound that is a bit more distorted.
As you can expect, Arturia modernized this plugin with a few software-style features. For starters, you can choose between eight different spring tanks, including studio classics, rare vintage units, and modern builds. There are a few new parameters on the interface for helping your reverb fit better in your mix, including pre-delay and filtering. De-clutter your low-end or give your signal some space before your reverb kicks in.
You’ll also find a handy three-band EQ on the post-end of the plugin, giving you the ability to carve out a bit of space so that your reverb fits nicely in your mix.
Pros of the Spring 636
- Great sound
- The only spring reverb you'll ever need
- Excellent controls for tone shaping
Cons of the Spring 636
- Spring reverb is probably the least useful style of reverb for most mixers
Best Convolution Reverb - Altiverb 7
Altiverb might not be the prettiest or most modern-looking plugin on the market today, nor the least expensive by far, though when it comes to high-quality convolution reverb plugins, there is no other plugin on the market that is quite as versatile.
Altiverb became popular for its ultra-realistic replication of real spaces. It might even be safe to say that this is the best reverb money can buy today. Since 2001, the Audio Ease team has been adding new locations to the Altiverb plugin. Even to this day, you can find new impulse responses for download. Do you want to have it sound like your vocals are coming out of the Sydney Opera House? Maybe you want that guitar solo to sound like it’s being played in Wembley Stadium.
Even beyond the traditional record studio spaces and venue spaces that the plugin has available, there are several unique spaces embedded into the Altiverb 7 plugin, including homes, office buildings, closet spaces, automobiles, and more. With so many spaces to choose from, it is one of the best choices for post-production audio and broadcasting.
Of course, the major downside is that this plugin is wildly expensive, it may be out of reach for most home studios. However, if you decide to buy it, you’ll probably never need to use another reverb plugin again.
Pros of AltiVerb 7
- Great sound
- Amazing versatility
Cons of AltiVerb 7
- Seriously expensive
Best Reverb For Sound Design - Eventide Blackhole
While all of the reverbs above are great for re-creating real spaces or emulating old-school hardware units, the Eventide Blackhole plugin is a little bit different. If you’re looking for a reverb plugin to create out-of-this-world tones, the Eventide Blackhole is the way to go. The entire plugin is based around the Blackhole preset that can be found on the Eventide Space reverb pedal.
The Eventide Space effects pedal has made its way into studios around the world thanks to its decidedly non-traditional qualities. If you want small, dry room reverbs, this plugin probably isn’t for you. However, if you’re looking for unrealistic, evolving atmospheres, there isn’t a better reverb plugin on the market.
Within the Eventide Blackhole plugin, you’ll find infinite reverbs, bizarre, otherworldly soundscapes, or cascading delays. If that sounds like your jam, the Eventide Blackhole reverb plugin is an excellent choice. Blackhole is the right reverb for the job if you are in need of a dreamy atmosphere or modern, chaotic elements. One of the really cool things about this plugin is the ribbon strip, which you can use to blend in the numerous parameters on the Eventide Blackhole. That parameter alone makes it one of the most interactive plugins on the market.
Pros of the Blackhole
- Incredibly creative
- Totally unique
- Fun and interactive
Cons of the Blackhole
- Many producers may not need it
Best Room Reverb - Valhalla Room
Even with all of the ultra-advanced features found on the Valhalla Room plugin, it has a very clean and simple interface and is a great plugin for beginners to get started with. At such a low price, this algorithmic room reverb is an absolute steal.
There are multiple parameters that you can use to adjust the characteristics of the Valhalla Room reverb, though most of the time, you get smooth and clean presets that provide you with the natural tone of a room. For EDM and organic music producers alike, Valhalla Room is one of the most popular reverb plugins on the market today.
There are twelve reverb algorithms to choose from, including a range of ‘Dark’ reverb modes. While the main focus of the plugin is the list of natural reverberation sounds and tight ambiances, you can also find traditional hall sounds, plate sounds, and modulated spaces.
Within the plugin, you’ll find several parameters to customize your sound, including early and late reflections, Modulation depth, crossover, Mix, delay, and pre-delay. You can even choose between a variety of color schemes depending on your style preference. If you need to create an idealized room impression with a reverb plugin and you don’t have more than a hundred dollars to spend, the Valhalla Room plugin is a great choice.
Pros of the Valhalla Room Reverb
- Great sound
Cons of the Valhalla Room Reverb
Best UAD Reverb - Capitol Chambers
Capitol Studios is one of the most famous studios in the world today. Just below the iconic tower in Los Angeles lies a few subterranean echo chambers that have been heard on countless records from Frank Sinatra to Muse to Beck and beyond. To this day, it’s hard to find a hi-fi ambiance that matches.
With technology from UAD, producers and engineers can now record and mix with one of the most authentic emulations of those chambers to ever be put into software form. This unmistakably natural and dense reverb is perfect for drums, vocals, and everything in-between. Beyond the chambers, you can manipulate every parameter in the entire chain, including the amplifiers, preamps, speakers, and microphones.
Of course, as with most plugin emulation of classic hardware, you get modern DAW workflow parameters like Dry/Wet Mix, Pre-Delay, and Decay. To minimize muddiness, you can enjoy a sweepable filter that moves from 80-750 Hz. Plus, there is a three-band EQ that allows users to dial in the perfect tone.
To help optimize workflow, the Capitol Chambers plugin comes with a massive collection of presets from some of the world’s top engineers, such as Al Schmitt, Darrell Thorp, and Frank Filipetti.
Pros of the Capitol Chambers
- Nails the best chamber sounds
- Great modern updates
- Very musical
Cons of the Capitol Chambers
- Requires a UAD audio interface
- Processor intensive
Best Vintage Reverb - TC Electronics DVR 250
This groundbreaking reverb from TC Electronic offers users a hybrid style of control, as it features a dedicated hardware surface for hands-on control. With DAW plug-in integration, project recall support, and automation, it is easy to dial in the perfect sonic character for your mix.
The plugin and hardware were inspired by an iconic vintage unit, which many considered to be one of the best effects to have ever touched the industry. The DVR 250 not only provides mixes with some of the best-sounding reverbs out there but it also provides effects like echo, chorus, phasing, and delay. One fun thing about this little bundle is the ‘lollipop’ parameter toggle is that you can get spot-on manipulation accuracy, giving you more control over your ambiance.
If you’re in the market for an excellent vintage reverb that’s easy to use, the DVR-250 is where it’s at.
Pros of the DVR-250
- Great sound
- Outboard hardware for easy control
- Very flexible
Cons of the DVR-250
- Requires the hardware controller (don't lose it!)
Best Free Reverb VST - Valhalla Super Massive
It’s pretty incredible how versatile the Valhalla Super Massive is considering that it’s free. This one-of-a-kind plugin has been designed for huge reverbs and delays. You can take your music to new levels, giving you luscious, atmospheric reverb, swelling feedback, and out-of-this-world delays.
The major feature of the Valhalla Super Massive is the MODE control, which allows you to toggle through various algorithms with different attack, sustain, and decay characteristics. Each delay in the structure can be up to two seconds long, giving you the ability to create major, washy spaces. Take these long delays and combine them with the WARP control, giving you echoes that fade in slowly.
From lush, minute-long reverbs to harmonic echoes, Valhalla Super Massive has a pretty incredible range for a free plugin. As you might have expected, you get a hoard of additional features, including Mix, Width, Feedback, Mod Rate, Density, EQ High Cut, EQ Low Cut, and more.
Best Reverb Plugins FAQ
Does it really matter what type of plugins I use?
For a lot of different things (especially EQ) you don't necessarily need a fancy plugin. But reverb involves fairly complicated algorithms, and you will often find that investing in a few good reverb plugins goes a long way. At the same time, don't just buy reverb plugins to buy them! There's plenty of bad ones out there too!
Does it really matter what instrument I'm using them on?
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