One of our most frequently asked questions: Which Valhalla reverb plugin is best for vocals/drums/guitars/etc?
We believe in subjectivity, so our most accurate answer is “whichever reverb sounds best to YOU!” Also, most of our reverb plugins cover a lot of ground, so you really can’t go wrong. VintageVerb, for example, is equally adept at short vocal reverbs and huge ambient washes.
However, as you might imagine, we do have strong preferences. I’ve logged countless hours in the reverb mines, and Don Gunn mixes with Valhalla reverbs daily, and has many good suggestions for best reverb uses. And, since all of these recommendations come from our heavily opinionated minds, we also asked YOU, the public, via Twitter which Valhalla reverbs you prefer for different styles and applications.
So, without further ado, here’s Valhalla’s Guide to The Best Reverb Plugin For _____ suggestions!
Best Reverb Plugin for Ambient Music
We created ValhallaShimmer with ambient music in mind. The pitch shifting in the feedback loop and the lush cascaded diffusors create huge ambient washes from any audio source. For a truly symphonic sound with evolving clusters of pitches, try cascading several instances of Shimmer in series.
The Hall algorithms in VintageVerb are also perfect for replicating that late 70s and 80s ambient sound. Turn up the diffusion in ValhallaDelay, and you have some glorious washes that rival what ValhallaShimmer can do. Plus, you can use the Pitch and Reverse Pitch modes for feedforward pitch-shifted reverbs. This allows for more precision over your ambient sounds.
ValhallaSupermassive also has many unique reverb algorithms that are ideal for ambient. And it’s FREE!
Best Reverb Plugin for Classical Music
ValhallaRoom is the most popular Valhalla reverb for classical applications and virtual orchestral instruments. The Depth slider in Room is useful for setting up an early reflection / late reverb balance. The 12 unique algorithms in Room allow the user to put instruments into a realistic acoustic space.
VintageVerb is a great “jack of all trades” reverb, and the various Smooth algorithms are perfect for realistic acoustic spaces.
Here’s what y’all said on Twitter:
Best Reverb Plugin for Drums
Don prefers the Ambience, Dirty Plate, Dirty Hall, and Chaotic Chamber algorithms in VintageVerb for his drum mixes. He says, “I use Ambience when I want the impression of the space without hearing the space. I use Dirty Plate and Dirty Hall for bigger, splashier sounds, to make snare hits sound explosive, and for accents. I like Chaotic Chamber for smooth chamber sounds, and that chaotic modulation gets my motor running.”
ValhallaPlate is also useful for super smooth and dense drum reverbs. And the Depth slider in ValhallaRoom can be used to emphasize early reflections, which is great for emphasizing the attack of drums without hearing a ton of late reverb tail.
The Twitter results were surprising to me!
Best Free Reverb Plugin
ValhallaSupermassive. No contest. With 16 unique reverb/delay algorithms, Supermassive holds its own with any reverb plugin on the market – and it’s FREE! FREE! FREE, I TELLS YA, FREEEEEEEEEE!!!
Best Reverb Plugin for Gated / Nonlinear / Reverse
VintageVerb has a fantastic Nonlin algorithm. It gives you short gated reverbs with realistic room decays, long reversed reverbs, and everything in between.
ValhallaÜberMod can get some great nonlinear reverbs using the 16 or 32-tap modes. The Tap Slope parameter allows you to dial in whether they fade in, fade out, or stay flat through their duration. The Sync parameter lets you sync the nonlinear time to your tempo.
Best Reverb Plugin for Sounding Expensive
OK, this is a nebulous category. When people talk about “sounding expensive,” it usually means sounding like something with expensive gear, but also smoother than vintage gear from the 80s. The Smooth algorithms in VintageVerb are the perfect solution. Inspired by vintage digital algorithms, I added a tapered decay for a smooth, natural exponential response.
Best Reverb Plugin for Synths
All of them, if I’m being honest! As part of my development process, I tune all the Valhalla plugins playing one or more analog synths as a live interactive sound source, along with the standard recordings of drums / vocals / piano / etc. But, for our purposes here, I’m gonna pick one: VintageVerb. Start with the Homestar Bladerunner preset, and work from there. That 3-4 sec decay in Concert Hall and Dirty Hall makes all the synths in the mix sound huge.
During the coding process, I dialed ValhallaDelay in with the Moog Grandmother. Turn up the Diffusion, and you have some great synth reverbs. I also used the Grandmother and Prophet-6 as sound sources when designing Supermassive.
The Twitter poll results skewed heavily towards VintageVerb, although in retrospect I should have added Delay and Supermassive as polling options.
Best Reverb Plugin for 60s / 70s Vintage Sounds
I designed ValhallaPlate to replicate the classic analog steel plate reverbs found in studios during the 1960s and 1970s. It’s perfect for “vintage” sounding reverb for acoustic guitar, vocals, drums, and what have you.
Best Reverb Plugin For Vintage Digital Sounds
To dial VintageVerb in, I referenced various high-end 80s digital hardware reverberators. I tuned Dirty Hall and Dirty Plate modes using a classic 1984 reverberator. I also paid special attention to the quantization noise, the “modem” noise from the delay modulation, and the lush and long decays found in that unit.
Best Reverb Plugin for Vocals
The Early and Late Diffusion controls in VintageVerb make it easy to get a smooth vocal reverb without sounding metallic. My recommendation is to adjust the Diffusion until the time response on sibilance is smooth (i.e. without obvious echo patterns), and then bring the Diffusion down just a touch to reduce coloration.
The good folks that follow Valhalla on Twitter seem to agree that VintageVerb is great on vocals:
Best Reverb Plugin for Weird / Experimental
From the ground up, I designed ValhallaÜberMod for weird and experimental reverbs. It’s full of delays, echoes, modulation effects, and all sorts of sounds that defy categorization. The Diffusion section can serve as a reverb in its own right. You can also toss in up to 32 modulated delay taps for results ranging from super flanged reverbs to jittery pitch glitching orchestral sounds to lush ensemble washes. Even after all these years, this plugin continually surprises me.
ValhallaDelay also has all sorts of aggressive and strange sounds on tap. Turn up the Diffusion, and any delay mode can turn into a lush reverb with weird characteristics. With analog-esque saturation, multitap feedback, and the unique Ratio mode, Delay is perfect for sound design and sounds that leap out of the mix.
And, of course, ValhallaSupermassive holds its own in the weird reverb race, and is FREE!
The results of the Twitter poll skewed pretty heavily towards Supermassive:
As always, this kind of thing is subjective, so we’d love to hear your thoughts. Did we nail it? Miss something? Let us know in the comments below!