Best Reverb plugin I’ve ever heard!

Have you ever tried to get realistic sounds from a digital reverb, and been disappointed at how granular or “digital” they can sound?  Well, I want to introduce you to the reverb that changed all that for me!  It’s called Altiverb, from a European company called Audio Ease.

It’s not just any reverb, it’s a convolution reverb, which means that the reverb algorithms are based on actual sample recordings of real spaces.  These guys travel the world to bring you real world spaces in which you can place your audio.  In addition, they’ve given you the ability to record your own IRs (Impulse Responses) so that you can recreate the room sound from anywhere to use with audio recorded somewhere else.  <<I will DEFINITELY post more detail on this topic in the future, but for today I will focus simply on the incredible effect that one of its presets can have on a piece of music.>>

Reverb 101:  Quite often the way you use a reverb, like many time-based effects, is to send the dry (original signal) to the input of the reverb and bring the “wet” or reverberated signal back to be mixed with the original (“dry”).  You essentially control the “wet/dry” mix by deciding how much of the reverberated signal you want to mix with the original.  This determines the amount of the effect and the perceived distance between the source and the listener.

How is Altiverb different?  Well, Altiverb is different in many ways, but today I’m focused on how you might use it.  Altiverb sounds so good, that most of the time, I use Altiverb as an insert (entire signal passes through the device and wet/dry is controlled in the plugin) on either an individual track or a submix.

I was working on a piece of music with Tanya Ostrovsky, an amazing musician and composer, where we needed to come up with a pirate theme.  Her music was perfect, but I wanted to make  it sound as if we had hired musicians and played in an incredible concert hall.

I routed all my strings to a submix and inserted Altiverb.  I chose the Concertgebouw Concert Hall in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  I adjusted the wet/dry mix to taste, and… amazing!  It sounded so good, I sent the percussion and flute to the same sub and renamed it “orchestra” instead of “strings”.  It’s essentially my entire mix running through this reverb.  If you’ve ever used reverb this way (which, typically you shouldn’t), you may have used a wet/dry mix of anywhere from 6% to 20%, but in this case I am using over 30% wet/dry.  It would be extremely rare that I would use that much reverb in this type of application with any other plugin.  Listen to my example below.

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Mixing Minute

Audio Plugins Intro

Audio plugins come in three basic categories: Dynamic (compression, limiting, etc.) Spectral / Filter effects (EQ, etc.) Time Based effects (delay, reverb, etc.) All three are critical for a good mix, but I dare say that no mix is complete without compression and EQ.  So let’s start there. First thing to know about plugins is that you need to buy some!  You say, “My NLE (or DAW) comes with a ton of plugins already…”  Buy some anyway.  In fact, buy the Renaissance (RennMaxx) bundle from Waves.  I’ll tell you why. First, Dynamics.  The R-Compressor is extremely versatile and colorless.  I literally use this compressor every day.  I will go into detail on best practices in a later blog post, but for now just know that for dialog or voice-over, this compressor is easy to use and sounds great.  Also a part of dynamics is de-essing.  The R-DeEsser is quite possibly the best DeEsser available at any price.  It just plain works.  Set it to “Split” and adjust the threshold and range so that it’s working.  The R-Vox and Renaissance Axx plugins are simple, two knob compressors that certainly have their uses as well. Default_PluginsSecond, Spectral/Filter Effects.  The Renaissance Equalizer is my go-to EQ for the same reasons.  It’s colorless and easy to get the results you need.  There are many reasons to use different EQs, but my “desert island” EQ would have to be the REQ-6. Also in the spectral category is the Renaissance Bass plugin.  R-Bass is a really nice effect to use to bring out bass elements that you need, or to prepare low frequency sounds for playback on less-than-full-range systems.  Quality plugin, but not essential for everyone. Third, Time-Based Effects.  The Renaissance Reverb is extremely good.  I have better reverbs, but not even close to this price range.  It’s easy to use and sounds very good.  You also get the IR-L Convolution Reverb, which is more difficult to get a good sound right out of the box, but has capabilities beyond that of the R-Verb. Lastly, as part of the bundle you get Waves Tune LT, which can be used to tune or modify pitch.  I use the “non-LT” (Full) version of Waves Tune all the time to change the inflection of dialog.  For example, if you have to cut a sentence and make it finish on a word, when it actually keeps going, you often need to change the pitch and length of at least the final syllable.  Waves Tune does that well.  Personally, I found the LT version less useful for my purposes, but the full version works for me. So, my first audio plugin recommendation is for the Waves RennMaxx bundle.  Until next time!

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