We're currently living in the age of digital audio, and in-the-box mixing within a digital audio workstation is commonplace. Plugins are, therefore, invaluable assets for the modern audio engineer. Whether recorded naturally or as an audio effect, reverb plays a significant role in music production and sound design, so it makes sense how so many reverb plugins have come to market. With so many reverb plugins out there, we'll discuss the top 12.
What is the reverb effect in terms of audio? The reverb effect recreates the natural result of Reverberation, which happens when a sound wave hits a surface (or multiple surfaces) and reflects back to the listener at varying times and amplitudes. This process creates a complex echo that holds information about the physical space.
There are various types of reverb effects, so in our top 12, we'll actually be discussing the top 3 of 4 different categories. These reverb types are:
The top 12 best reverb plugins for digital audio workstations are:
- Eventide Spring Reverb (spring reverb)
- AudioThing Springs (spring reverb)
- PSP Audioware Springbox (spring reverb)
- Arturia Rev PLATE-140
- LiquidSonics Lustrous Plates (plate reverb)
- UAD Pure Plate (plate reverb)
- Softube TSAR-1 (algorithmic reverb)
- Exponential Audio R4 (algorithmic reverb)
- Eventide Blackhole (algorithmic reverb)
- LiquidSonics Reverberate 3 (convolution reverb)
- Audio Ease Altiverb XL 7 (convolution reverb)
- SIR Audio Tools SIR3 (convolution reverb)
It should go without saying that any “top X” article is subject to bias. I would expect the next person's top 12 to be different from mine but hope there would be plenty of overlap.
That being said, I believe these plugins to be the best reverb plugin options today. The criteria I used to judge these plugins include the following:
- Sonic performance: how does the reverb plugin sound subjectively/objectively?
- Graphic user interface (GUI): how does the reverb plugin look when loaded in the DAW?
- Ease-of-use: how user-friendly is the reverb plugin?
- Functionality: how many different functions does it serve and/or how many parameters are available for the reverb effect?
- Accessibility/compatibility: how easy is it to acquire the reverb plugin, and what are the system requirements?
To learn why they made this list, let's discuss each of the top 12 best reverb plugins in greater detail.
Top 3 Best Spring Reverb Plugins
What is spring reverb? Spring reverb is produced by vibrating a spring and recording the results. An input transducer vibrates one end of the spring (that converts the audio signal into physical vibrations). The other end of the spring is connected to an output transducer (that converts the spring vibrations back into audio).
Spring reverb plugins emulate the performance of such reverb devices.
The top 3 spring reverb plugins are:
Eventide Spring Reverb
The Eventide Spring Reverb (link to check the price at Sweetwater) models the character of guitar amplifier spring reverb with a notable amount of additional parameters.
The Eventide Spring Reverb is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats. There is also a version for iOS.
Eventide's Spring Reverb captures the sound of Rockability, Garage and Surf music in a plugin that affords users much more control than vintage units.
This reverb plugin offers two virtual spring tanks (Small and Large) along with the ability to digitally morph the sound of the reverb between one and three springs. The Ribbon function found in Eventide's H9 Series plugins allows users to seamlessly blend the sound of this reverb between two distinct settings. The result is a wildly flexible spring reverb plugin.
Along with the impressive reverb effect, the H9 Series Spring Reverb features a tube-amp-style tremolo, pushing the sonic possibilities even further while maintaining a character reminiscent of many great guitar amplifiers. Route the tremolo before or after the reverb, and choose to sync the modulation to the host DAW's tempo or not.
To learn more about tremolo, check out my article Complete Guide The Tremolo Audio Modulation Effect.
Damp the effect at the low and/or high ends to your taste and change up the resonant characteristics of the reverb effect with ease. Dial-in the standard reverb settings and have yourself a fantastic spring reverb effect in an easy-to-use audio plugin.
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Eventide Spring Reverb user manual.
Eventide is featured in My New Microphone's Top 11 Best Audio Plugin (VST/AU/AAX) Brands In The World.
The AudioThing Springs (link to check the price at Plugin Boutique) features 11 vintage spring emulations along with a beautifully modelled 3-band Baxendall EQ for a distinct analog sound.
The AudioThing Springs is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats.
As mentioned, AudioThing's Springs has a whopping 11 different springs from which users can choose from. The sonic character of each vintage spring unit has been carefully recreated via a combination of digital modelling and convolution (yes, this reverb plugin is both a spring and convolution reverb).
The 11 options the AudioThing Springs offers are:
- A-199 (3 springs)
- REV-25 (1 spring)
- RA-844 (1 spring)
- Audition (1 spring)
- Echo Box (1 spring)
- GBS (6 springs)
- RE-201 (3 springs)
- RV-1 (3 springs)
- SR-202W (2 springs)
- HR-12 (2 springs)
- HVS-1 (2 springs)
In addition to all the standard reverb controls, the powerful editor provides users with a series of tools to adjust each spiring model's impulse response directly. Choose the perfect spring style for your application and dial in the ideal reverb for whatever needs that vintage spring reverb sound.
Filter the input signal and mix the dry/wet signals at the Bandwidth section of the plugin and take full advantage of the superb Baxandall EQ at the output to fine-tune the equalization of the mixed signal.
To learn more about audio equalization, check out my article The Complete Guide To Audio Equalization & EQ Hardware/Software.
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the AudioThing Springs user manual.
PSP Audioware Springbox
The PSP Audioware Springbox (link to check the price at Sweetwater) is an excellent emulation of classic hardware spring reverberators, though not a direct model of any particular unit.
The PSP Audioware Springbox is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU, VST and RTAS formats.
PSP's Springbox beautifully recreates the spring-like bounce on transients and offers accurate resonating reverb effects we've come to cherish about hardware spring reverbs.
Choose between 2 or 3 springs (or double of either) in mono-stereo or stereo-stereo modes. Quickly dial in 2 distinct settings (HPF, Presence, Damping, Time value and Trim) and A/B them by the flip of a virtual switch.
Convincingly classic with modern controls, the vintage sound of the Springbox can be shaped further by users via the Diffusion, Spead and Pan/Balance knobs. Use the Pan/Balance control to either pan the stereo output jointly left or right or rebalance each channel's levels.
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Springbox at PSP Audioware.
PSP Audioware is featured in My New Microphone's Top 11 Best Audio Plugin (VST/AU/AAX) Brands In The World.
Top 3 Best Plate Reverb Plugins
What is plate reverb? Plate reverb is produced by vibrating a plate and recording the results. An input transducer will convert the audio signal into a mechanical vibration to get the plate moving. As the plate vibrates, an output transducer will convert these vibrations into an electrical audio signal, which sounds like the input signal with reverb.
The top 3 plate reverb plugins are:
Arturia Rev PLATE-140
The Arturia Rev PLATE-140 (link to check the price at Plugin Boutique) is a circuit-accurate recreation of the iconic EMT 140 reverb and its vacuum tube preamp.
The Arturia Rev PLATE-140 is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats.
Like the original EMT 140 (first released back in 1957), Arturia's Rev PLATE-140 offers the silky-smooth, resonant tones of vintage plate reverb with ease. Dialling in the perfect plate reverb of the Rev PLATE-140 is made easy with straightforward controls and an authentic-looking user interface (though much different than the original hardware).
This plugin offers different 3 plate models for a variety of reverb options.
Along with the evolving decaying characteristics we'd expect from such an emulation, Arturia's 140 brings forth a chorus modulation unit and post equalizer for even more control over the superb sound of the plugin.
Use the modelled tube preamp to inject a vintage character to the reverb by adding subtle saturation to overt analog-style soft clipping.
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Arturia Rev PLATE-140 user manual.
Arturia is featured in top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
The UAD EMT 140 (link to check the price at Universal Audio) is another superb EMT 140 emulation, though this plugin requires the appropriate UAD hardware to be run.
LiquidSonics Lustrous Plates
The LiquidSonics Lustrous Plates (link to check the price at LiquidSonics) recreates seven incredible plate reverbs.
The LiquidSonics Lustrous Plates is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats.
LiquidSonics has mapped seven advanced plate reverb algorithms into this powerful plugin using its proprietary Temporal Acoustic Spectral Mapping technology. TASM profiles the sound of real plates using multiband dynamic capture and analysis to provide a beautiful sonic representation.
So the LiquidSonics Lustrous Plates is considered an algorithmic/plate reverb plugin. It offers the wonderful sound and diffusion of real plates with the controls of an algorithmic reverb.
The plate options provided by the Lustrous Plates are:
- Chrome: rich, full-bodied plate with a classic plate multi-band decay profile
- Silver: light, airy plate with de-emphasized low-mids for enhanced clarity
- Steel: similar in nature to the chrome plate with a reduced low band decay time
- Rhodium: bright and rich, with a very neutral decay profile
- Beryllium: very reflective, lustrous metal inspiring a plate with a bright tone
- Corbomite: very dense and heavy plate
- Iridium: very dense, with a highly emphasized low decay profile
Choose 1 of the 7 plates, adjust the pre-delay and width, modulation, and overall mix of the effect. Utilize the left-side panel to dial in the perfect amount of reverb damping time and frequency dispersion for the perfect plate reverb.
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the LiquidSonics Lustrous Plates user manual.
UAD Pure Plate
The UAD Pure Plate (link to check the price at Universal Audio) is another superb plate reverb plugin from UAD (along with the EMT 140 emulation I briefly mentioned earlier).
The UAD Pure Plate, like all UAD plugins, requires UAD hardware to function with your DAW. UAD hardware is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS, and the plugins are available in AAX, AU and VST formats.
In fact, UAD's Pure Plate sounds a lot like the EMT 140. However, rather than having two direct emulations of the 140, I decided to add the Pure Plates to this list instead. That being said, the EMT 140 is likely a better choice due to its greater functionality.
This relatively affordable and straightforward plugin gets us to lovely plate reverb with minimal effort on our part. Pure Plates has all the essentials of an ideal plate reverb plugin without all the bells and whistles. It's a user-friendly, sonically superior reverb.
Get all the warmth and texture you need and want from effectively 7 controls: the 3-way low-cut (high-pass) filter and pre-delay switches, reverb dial roll, 2-band shelving EQ (bass and treble), balance, mix and wet solo.
To learn more about high-pass and shelving filters, check out the following My New Microphone articles:
• Audio EQ: What Is A High-Pass Filter & How Do HPFs Work?
• Audio Shelving EQ: What Are Low Shelf & High Shelf Filters?
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the UAD Plugins manual.
Universal Audio is featured in top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Top 3 Best Algorithmic Reverb Plugins
What is algorithmic reverb? Algorithmic reverbs utilize digital algorithms with delay lines, loops and filters to simulate the general effects of a natural reverberant environment. These algorithms are often programmed to achieve space emulations such as rooms, chambers, halls and cathedrals.
The top 3 algorithmic reverb plugins are:
The Softube TSAR-1 (link to check the price at Plugin Boutique) is a true stereo algorithmic reverb.
The Softube TSAR-1 is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats.
Softube's TSAR-1 is remarkably versatile, even as an algorithmic reverb. This modernized reverb will effectively get us whatever reverb sound we're after: from light and vibrant to dark and dreary to otherworldy to incredibly natural, this reverb will provide it.
This feature-rich plugin has a superb user interface reminiscent of early digital hardware units. Its interactive display makes it easy to dial in the exact reverb we want or, if we so choose, to select one of the many amazing presets.
Adjustable parameters in the TSAR-1 include the typical pre-delay, time, density, tone and high-cut (low-pass) filter, diffusion and mix. The modulation of the plugin offers superb vintage chorus and modern movement alike. The algorithms include early reflection types (large, medium or small rooms), and these reflections can be mixed into the signal exactly how we see fit.
To learn more about low-pass filters, check out my article Audio EQ: What Is A Low-Pass Filter & How Do LPFs Work?
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Softube Plugins user manual.
Softube is featured in top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
iZotope Exponential Audio R4
The iZotope Exponential Audio R4 (link to check the price at Sweetwater) is a world-class reverb from a world-class plugin designer (Exponential Audio), now owned by the renowned audio plugin company iZotope.
The iZotope Exponential Audio R4 is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats.
iZotope's Exponential Audio R4 is incredibly powerful. Its comprehensive and creative range of controls allows for simple dialling of superb reverb effects (with over 1,200 presets) and more complex configurations of the ideal reverb (if we're willing to get into the details).
To get into all the possibilities would require a whole series of articles. From the rooms, plates, halls and chambers to plates and lesser-used but equally impressive algorithms from the Freeze, Gated and Effects categories, the R4 has it all.
Let's instead stick to the key features of the superb plugin:
- Warp controls with compression and overdrive
- Pre-delay and reverb delay adjustable by tempo
- Chorus and Gate modules for musical effects
- 5 additional early reflection patterns
- Dynamic tail suppression
- EuControl support
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Exponential Audio R4 at iZotope.
iZotope is featured in My New Microphone's Top 11 Best Audio Plugin (VST/AU/AAX) Brands In The World.
The Eventide Blackhole (link to check the price at Sweetwater) is defined accurately as an “otherworldly reverb”. It only has a single algorithm with a history that ties back to the superb rackmount DSP4000 (first released in 1994).
The Eventide Blackhole is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats. There is also a version for iOS.
Eventide's Blackhole got its start in the 90s and is as much of a great reverb now as it was then. This effect, now in plugin form, allows users to create virtual spaces that would otherwise never be possible on Earth.
The Blackhole's single algorithm boasts a wide range of sizes, soft attacks and ethereal release times. From the vastness of outer space (if sound could be heard in the vacuum) to the impossible tightness of negative space, the Eventide Blackhole pushes the reverb effect beyond the physical realm.
The novel Gravity control of the Blackhole reverses the arrow of time by inverting the reverb's decay. As was mentioned previously in the discussion of the Eventide Spring Reverb, the Ribbon allows for continuous morphing between two settings. The featured Hot Switch will enable users to change any combination of parameters simultaneously.
Of course, we love talking about the extremes. However, the Blackhole is also a superb tool for everyday reverb applications. This plugin is equally at home in standard mixing procedures as it is in the unknown.
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Eventide Blackhole user manual.
Other notable algorithmic reverb plugins:
- Togu Audio Line TAL Reverb 2 (link to check the price at Splice)
- ValhallaDSP Room (link to check the price at Valhalla)
- Klevgrand Kleverb (link to check the price at Klevgrand)
- Acon Digital Verberate 2 (link to check the price at Sweetwater)
- 2CAudio Aether (link to check the price at 2CAudio)
- Rob Papen RP-Verb 2 (link to check the price at Rob Papen)
Top 3 Best Convolution Reverb Plugins
What is convolution reverb? Convolution reverb is achievable through a rather involved process. A physical acoustic space is recorded, sampled and analyzed thoroughly. Profiles are made for the initial reflections, decay time and frequency damping. An algorithm is then created to simulate that physical space.
The top 3 convolution reverb plugins are:
LiquidSonics Reverberate 3
The LiquidSonics Reverberate 3 (link to check the price at LiquidSonics) is a modulated true-stereo convolution reverb.
The LiquidSonics Reverberate 3 is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats.
LiquidSonics' Reverberate 3 takes impulse responses of legendary hardware reverbs and expands their sonic possibilities beyond what could seemingly even be achieved in hardware.
With a comprehensive set of editing and modulation tools and proprietary Fusion-IR technology, this plugin takes any third-party stereo or true stereo impulse response to the next level.
Mix various IR emulations together, add or take away effects, expand the stereo image, or adjust the original IR in any number of ways. In addition to being able to recreate the sound of legendary reverb units, the Reverberate 3 allows us to morph them into entirely new sonic effects.
This is another complex plugin that is impossible to explain in a few paragraphs. To learn more about its superb features, including the Fusion-IR editing, enhanced true stereo simulation and extended split modulation, consider reading the manual linked below.
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the LiquidSonics Reverberate 3 user manual.
Audio Ease Altiverb XL 7
The Audio Ease Altiverb XL 7 (link to check the price at Sweetwater) is proclaimed by Audio Ease as the successor of the original, professional convolution reverb.
The Audio Ease Altiverb XL 7 is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU, VST, RTAS, MAS, TDM and AudioSuite formats.
This list wouldn't be complete without this industry-standard convolution reverb plugin. This convolution reverb plugin has it all from the Sydney Opera House and Cathedral Notre Dame to the cockpit of a jumbo jet and a private washroom to various natural caves.
The XL version of this excellent plugin offers up to 5.1 surround input and output processing. Whether it's recreating the space for ADR in the next big movie release or mixing whatever style of music you're into, the Altiverb XL 7 is ready to deliver the most professional results on the market today. And being industry standard, you'll get along with other sessions famously as a professional audio engineer with this awesome plugin.
There's much more to say about this plugin, yet its continued success on the market speaks for itself.
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Altiverb XL 7 at Audio Ease.
SIR Audio Tools SIR3
The SIR Audio Tools SIR3 (link to check the price at SIR Audio Tools) is a user-friendly high-quality convolution reverb plugin.
The SIR Audio Tools SIR3 is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats.
With a wide variety of excellent HDIR impulse responses made by Pinguin Ingenieurbüro from Hamburg, the SIR3 will convincingly transport our audio into practically any physical space we need it to. Whether in post-production or music production, this plugin is a go-to.
The plugin offers control over imported IRs via the basic pre-delay, decay, pitch, early reflections cap, mix, forward/reverse and input controls. Further tweaking of the reverb is made possible with an impressive modulation section.
Detailed controls allow users to dial in frequency-dependent damping and superb dynamic control (with sidechain functionality).
For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the SIR Audio Tools SIR3 user manual.
Other notable convolution reverb plugins:
- Lernvall Audio LAConvolver (link to check it out at Lernvall Audio)
- LiquidSonics Seventh Heaven (link to check the price at LiquidSonics)
If you're interested in reading what my friends at Integraudio believe to be the best reverb plugins, visit their site by clicking here!
Choosing the best audio plugins for your DAW can be a challenging task. For this reason, I've created My New Microphone's Comprehensive Audio Plugins Buyer's Guide. Check it out for help in determining your next audio plugin purchases.
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