We’ll look at what the best reverb plugin is. If you are going to do serious recording, then you need a few different types as opposed to just one. We’ll break these into categories, and pick the best for each.
These reverbs literally used plates to create their sounds, and are especially good on vocals and drums.
The EMT 140 is not only the best Plate Reverb out there, but if we were forced to only pick one, this would be our pick for best reverb plugin overall. You can read our more in-depth review of the EMT 140 here.
The Soundtoys Little Plate is “in the style of” the EMT 140, but they didn’t want to be tied to modelling to a hardware unit. It’s much simpler to use than the EMT 140. We have a review on the Little Plate as well.
Some people consider this a cheap reverb sound, and it’s the type typically included on guitar amps.
The UAD AKG is quite a resource hog, so you won’t get many tracks out of it, but it sounds great.
Softube Spring Reverb
If you don’t have UAD hardware then a good second option would be Softube’s Spring Reverb. This was actually used by Andrew Scheps on an Adele album, so you know it must be high quality.
UAD Lexicon 224
The Lexicon 224 is one of the most iconic hardware reverb units ever. It has been used on a ton of (80s) hit records, and a few of their presets “just sound good” without a lot of tweaking required. The hardware was notorious for breaking down, making a software emulation quite convenient. Sometimes referred to as “dark” and a requirement if you are going for the Synthwave/Chillwave sound or are really into “Stranger Things”. This is one of our overall favorites and a definite go to. Definitely try it on Vocals and Drums.
UAD AMS RMX 16 Expanded
The AMS RMX was another gift from the 80s, and is best known for Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” and Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”. This thing is amazing on drums and another must have if you like 80s Rock or Pop. It has lush hall reverbs, an awesome chorus, and a reverse setting that almost creates a snare roll out of one hit.
While it claims to not be modeled after anything, the Softube TSAR-1 Reverb has an interface similar to the Lexicon, so it seems like that’s the inspiration. The slider for the Pre-Delay is on the opposite side as the Lexicon, and the High Cut seems synonymous with the Lexicon’s Treble Decay. It does offer a little more tweak-ability and you don’t have a UAD device, this might make a decent Lexicon substitute. It does include some Lexicon 224 presets, but also has some EMT plate presets as well as some originals.
Legends like Chuck Zwicky and Greg Wells swear by the Softube TSAR-1 Reverb!
Unfiltered Audio’s Sandman Pro is probably our favorite for “creative use” in that just playing with it will give you new ideas and get the creative juices flowing. If you have a track that’s a bit stale, try Sandman Pro! It can add a bit of swing to your track, similar to what a delay could do, but it can also do pitch shifting. You have to try it to really appreciate it. It’s the total opposite of a subtle EMT 140.
Exponential Audio R4
R4 by Exponential Audio is really great at creating lush reverbs to fill in the background space. It does this really well and if you are working on Synthwave or Ambient styles, this may be just what you need. While it can do plates and halls, the gate, filters and freeze functions make it more flexible. If you are doing Film Scoring, this is amazing for sound design. If you leave the Wet knob dialed all the way up, it essentially kills the source, and you are just left with the reverb. I know other reverbs have this option, but this one just sounds different. It’s great for adding that ambience. If you have a great sound, but it has too much attack, this technique can take the edge off of it, and give it a much more mellow sound. Definitely check out R4 for Trap and Chillwave styles.
This stock Logic Pro X plugin sounds really good, with 14 rooms to choose from. If you already own Logic Pro X, then you need to look no further.
Valhalla Room Reverb is an algorithmic reverb that offers room and hall models. While the price of ChromaVerb can’t be beat, if you don’t have Logic then this is a good option.
Ocean Way Studios
Some very famous recordings have occurred at Ocean Way Studios. This plugin let’s you play in those studios “virtually”, and is great if you want a natural sounding reverb as opposed to an effect. You can adjust the mic placement, as well as the mics used, and the volume of each.
The Best Reverb Plugin – Final Thoughts
There are many more reverb plugins out there. Really, what you need first when starting out is a good Plate Reverb. If you own UAD hardware, the EMT 140 is the absolute best reverb plugin followed by the Lexicon 224. For non UAD owners, the Sountoys Little Plate is your best option. If you are a Logic Pro X owner, make sure you’ve exhausted ChromaVerb before looking elsewhere. Sandman Pro is amazing if you want to get creative. Exponential Audio’s R4 may be the best sounding reverb overall. Close your eyes, and it just sounds like you’re in a hall. If you are looking to fill in the spaces on a mix with lush reverb, want realistic sounding chambers, or just like lush reverb, then you can’t go wrong with R4.