Cheap, High-Quality Reverb Audio Shoot-Out

Mixing/mastering studio Submersible Studios created this audio comparison of several cheap, but high-quality software audio reverbs.

The audio comparison includes two from VallhallaDSP, AudioDamage’s Eos, and the stock Logic Platinumverb (and the convolution ‘verb Space Designer for comparison). The audio embed includes tags that indicate the individual reverb and setting. 

They note, “Frankly, any one of these plugins are kind of ludicrously well-valued at $50.  They hold their own against  more expensive products and even sampled reverbs.  This does raise the question of just what you’re getting when you spend $200 for an algorithmic reverb plugin.  The cynic in me thinks the name on the badge is an extra $100 right there.”

Check out the audio examples and let us know what you think! Can these inexpensive reverbs hold their own against more expensive alternatives?

via waveformless, Submersible Studios

15 thoughts on “Cheap, High-Quality Reverb Audio Shoot-Out

  1. Article header fail. This is comparision between Sean Costello’s reverbs (Sean IS ValhallaDSP and he also made the algorithm behind Audio Damage’s EOS plugin, all ace), and some reverbs bundled with Logic. Comparing three $50 reverbs with two bundled reverbs and call it a comparison with more expensive alternatives is quite silly in fact. There’s so many more which could be included in this “test”.

    1. Not sure where you got the idea that this was “a comparison with more expensive alternatives” – it’s a comparison of cheap reverbs.

      The big question I have is why Costello seems to be the only guy that can do great reverbs and sell them so inexpensively.

  2. I think digital reverbs are now well understood and relatively easy to implement.

    The only arguments for big bucks that I can see would be:
    1) genuine sampling of the acoustics of exotic locations, concert halls, cathedrals, caves & the Taj Mahal for example
    2) more advanced physical modelling of surface textures, 5.1 surround sound etc.

    1. Disagree with 1) as a justification for higher prices- there a zillions of high quality impulses of exotic spaces and expensive gear, easily available, for free.

      1. I’d say it depends on the location. If for example you need impulse responses for Carnegie Hall, the Hungarian State Opera House or the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, there aren’t any free options available. Those locations would probably charge a hefty price just to get the impulse reverbs properly recorded in the first place, which would drive up the costs for end-users. I realize most musicians aren’t going to *need* these types of impulse responses, but for those working in film and television it’s a very real possibility, as it is for musicians who may consider them a unique tool in their arsenal.

  3. Though I like the idea of comparing reverbs in this way, have a a simple piano line doesn’t really put a reverb through “its paces”.

    The real test of the weakness of any reverb (especially a cheap one ) is to run some percussion through it. A closed high-hat, a clave, a kick drum, a snare, a cross-stick snare, a floor tom, a groove, some congas.
    These transient sounds expose how smooth or granular these cheaper reverbs sound. A lyrical little solo piano is just a way to make a mediocre reverb seem ok.

    Another useful test is to run some fairly dynamic full-program material like a real chamber group or some brass with some accents & staccato parts (think star wars tie fighter scene).

  4. I use Logic and have the convolution reverb at hand if needed, but I have discovered that what was true in my Boss pedal days is still true. Even with a convo as a master Send, I find myself Inserting lesser reverbs into things like Mellotron tracks. Its a vague art form to get a good blend, but whether your ‘verbs are cheap or Altivec-crisp, there’s more to it than any flat comparison can impart. Reverbs are like synths. You often need at least two to really draw the cream from the results.

    1. Not sure if this what you’re getting at or not, but I think our ears gravitate towards the effects that we’re used to hearing with certain keyboards.

  5. Yikes, uh, for the record, I never intended this piece to be seen as anything approaching comprehensive, so, um keep that in mind. The piano riff audio is just a demo so anyone remotely interested can hear the reverb tails – not either the sum total of my tests nor should it the sum total of anyone’s decision-making.

    I edited the post to try and make this clearer.

    And I *knew* I shoudln’t’ve added that line about the “what are you getting” bit. *facepalm* Well, to be fair, the article is called “cheap reverbs.”

  6. Sorry to bust your balls. Clearly this is a subject that folks care about.

    Perhaps in a subsequent test, you can follow that piano phrase with a hand-clap, a hi-hat hit, a snare hit, and a bass drum hit. Would also be cool to include some other freeware verbs. You could host the dry audio, and folks with various reverbs could print their favorite reverbs (say 50% wet) and upload. Ok. Now that I’ve typed that it seems like a crazy idea.

  7. Jorge, the reason only Costello can do such feats of awesomeness is that he is an awesome guy. Of course, I might be only slightly biased, as he offered me a great deal on a Prophet-5 back in the day, which is still mint in spite of the fact I use it daily. I shall be purchasing Valhalla Verb, as I prefer it to Space Designer. Both are great, but Valhalla just evokes things I want to feel.

  8. Yeah, if I ever do another one of these, I’ll throw more stuff into the demo file, since people seem to want this.

    My critera for testing was “what’s $50 or less”, “what do I already own” and “what was the guy I know on FB asking about?” 🙂

  9. I recently purchased Vallhalla and love it. Historically I’ve shied away from putting a lot of reverb in my music (which is unusual for my genre) and have gravitated towards delays. But this reverb sounds great to my ears and I’m have a lot of fun with it.

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