10 Best Convolution Reverb Plugins For Music Production in 2020


Best Convolution Plugins For Music Productionnnn

Which plugin you should choose depends on various factors. In this review, we will talk further about the best convolution reverb plugins in 2020.

Foreword

A quick word on reverb. Reverb is an effect that we use to adjust audio to make it sound as if it were being played in a particular environment. For instance, an instrument played in a sound booth sounds different when it is played in an amphitheater. This is because, in the sound booth, there will be very little reverberation when compared to the amphitheater. The environment affects the reflection (echo), delay, and decay rate of the reflected sound.

The Reverb effect is an essential part of the modern music world. When producing, most of the time, you feel like there is missing something. That’s the Reverb that makes the difference. People are using Reverb to avoid the signal sound so dry when they want to achieve better transitions in the passages, but also to bring up the atmosphere to the mix.

Before the days of digital, we used to add reverb (reflection, delay, decay) to a signal by adjusting knobs on a hardware box. Think about guitar pedals and amps. Then with the digital age, we can add reverb to an audio signal using the software. We may not know the difference between algorithmic (mathematical algorithm) and convolution reverb plugins because, on the surface, it may seem that they are just different ways of adding some reverb to enhancing our sound. Well, let’s dig in a bit deeper to reveal more information about what exactly Convolution Reverb is.

What is Convolution Reverb?

Convolution (or Sampling) Reverb is the effect and potent tool that simulates the audio environment and acoustic spaces. Even when you have less customization with convolution reverb, when we compare it to algorithmic reverb, it sounds more realistic, natural, authentic, and includes a high density of reflections. It doesn’t mean that it’s not so good, but the difference is that algorithmic reverb simulates the fundamental process of the sound meanwhile convolution reverb using impulse responses that simulates real spaces and environments (that are converted into audio files/samples.) to generate the sound. The main problem with Convolution Reverb is that it could be more CPU intensive.

How Does Convolution Reverb Work?

Before describing the convolution reverb, let’s take a quick look at algorithmic reverb. Algorithmic reverb tools create a reverberant effect by changing the incoming signal using digital delays and filters to simulate different “reverb environments.” The incoming audio signal is digitally altered.

Convolution reverbs use sampling — the same way we sample physical instrument sound dynamics and store them in software files. Convolution reverb tools have banks of physical environment samples that are blended with the original audio signal. This is done by recording an environment’s Impulse Response (IR) to an audio signal. Our convolution reverb tool then blends (convolutes) that response sample with our audio so that it sounds as if the audio is being played that environment.

What Are Impulse Responses, and how does it work?

An impulse sound (like a bang, pop, or longer sine wave sweep) is played in a physical space (lounge, cathedral, cave, etc.), and a recording of the response of the environment is made as a sample. So we are not sampling the initial sound. We are sampling the environment’s response to the sound – Echo, delay time, decay, harmonics, and so on. This Impulse Response Sample is then stored the same way an instrument sample is stored in our DAW’s reverb tool.

When we add a convolution reverb, we adjust the extent that we want the IR sample to be blended with the original audio file. The original audio file signal is not adjusted, as is the case with analog reverb. With the convolution reverb, the original audio file is ‘blended’ with the IR sample. With many convolution reverb IRs, the original sound and early reflections are much stronger than with algorithmic reverbs.

You do get a strong sense of sitting in real space rather than listening to a sound with a layer of reverb stuck on top. The trade-off is CPU usage. Convolution Reverbs use more computing power than analog reverbs.

How Do You Use Convolution Reverb?

Convolution Reverb Effects are used in different ways for different purposes.

You could use your convolution reverb plugin just to enhance your entire mix, or bring out an instrument in the mix. Like algorithmic reverb plugins, you can adjust your decay time, distance from the sound source, wet and dry mix, and so on. Now because convolution reverb VSTs work with samples, your IR sample does not have to be an acoustic environmental setting only. It can be another sound or instrument sample.

With this functionality, crafting original sound design possibilities are endless. Example; take a guitar power chord as your sound source and load a church bell sample as your IR sample. Your dry mix is your guitar, and your wet mix is your church bell. You have a new sound for a game. Play the church bell in reverse and see what happens!

What Is The Use of Convolution Reverb?

Some plugins offer tons of IRs so that you can use only these that fit great with specific instruments (longer or shorter.) Let’s say that you need a long reverb to make the atmosphere – in the algorithmic unit, to affect the length of the sound; you have to change the parameters like – Size, Decay Time, Decay Rate, Space, Distance.

When Should I Use Convolution Reverb? (What it is good for?)

Convolution reverbs are great to apply on ambient acoustic sounds, like guitar pluck, which then can be used as a trigger for another sampled instrument like a synth sweep or can have a radical canyon echo. It’s also great to use a  to achieve original ambient sounds, acoustic room for your main drum bus, or atmospheric pads, but also, it would find good use in the sound design.

Other than that, it’s great to use on your landscapes, textures, effects, overheats, hi-hats, but also anytime when you want to make your sounds more unique. It can also be used as a custom sound design for videos and games. With the two examples above, we would put a convulsion reverb on the instrument track.

Alternatively, we would put it on the final output track of a mix to give the whole arrangement an effect. It is unlikely and undesirable that we would put a different convolution reverb effects on each track of a multi-track arrangement.

When To Use Rather Convolution Over Algorithmic Reverb?

Well, the safe answer is, it depends.

Convolutional Reverbs can be very natural because they are samples of real-life acoustic environments. The disadvantage is that they are more CPU intensive than algorithmic. So if you are busy with a multi-track mix, how important is it for all the tracks to have a different convolution reverb effects when you might add a reverb onto the final output track?

Remember, with convolution reverb, we are blending two audio signals — the original instrument or voice with an IR sample.

For example, we can have three tracks:

1. A Choir
2. The Tenor Vocal Soloist
3. An Organ

We may want to, but some analog reverb onto the tenor soloist to make the voice fuller. Now we want two versions of the arrangement, one in a chapel and one in a cathedral. We would put our convolution reverb either on a bussed track or on the output track, then bounce the same arrangement performed in two different environments.

Various factors determine the quality and flexibility of the reverb:

The higher the sample rate of the IR, the more natural the effect, and the higher the CPU usage and potential latency issues.

Best Convolution Reverb Plugins For Music Production In 2020 (Also FREE)

Convolution reverb plugins are useful for both music and audio post-production engineers. Which plugin you choose depends on your area of specialization and budget.

Here are ten options for you to choose from:

10. WizooVerb W5 Convolution Reverb

Manufacturer: Wizoo
More Info

Wizooverb W5 Convolution Reverb

Compatibility

Windows

-Windows XP or higher
-VST 2.0-compatible host software with 5.1 surround support
-5.1 surround compatible audio hardware
-DVD-ROM drive for installation
-Internet connection (via any computer) for software activation

Mac

-Mac OS X 10.3.8 or higher
-5.1 surround compatible audio hardware
-DVD-ROM drive for installation
-Internet connection (via any computer) for software activation
-VST 2.0-compatible host software with 5.1 surround support

Features & Specifications

WizooVerb W5 claim to fame is full 5.1 surround sound, combining the authenticity of HDIR ( High Definition Impulse Response) impulse-based reverb with the of Wizoo’s A.I.R. algorithmic reverb.

All completely editable for creative expression. The plugin including 100 pre-made presets where you can choose from. Compatible with VST hosts as well as a stand-alone operation.

WizooVerb W5 has

  • 5.1 Surround room emulation and creation with spatial accuracy
  • Freely combinable HDIR impulse response and A.I.R. algorithmic reverb technologies for early reflections and reverb tail
    HDIR (High Definition Impulse Response) technology with 15 models A.I.R. algorithmic technology
  • 150 user-editable categorized presets from high-end room emulations to surreal spaces imports IR audio files to access a virtually unlimited number of rooms
  • Graphic editing of imported IR files

Library content includes

Ambience, Basement, Booth, Cathedral Brick Wall, Cathedral Dome, Chamber Large, Chamber Medium, Chamber Small, Church Concrete, Church Wood, Concert Hall, Dance Club, Drum Booth, Drum Room, Forest Site, Opera, Orchestral Hall, Philharmonic Hall, Room Medium, Room Small, Scoring Stage, Stage, Studio Large, Studio Small, Swimming Pool.

9. Halls Of Fame 3 Free Edition Convolution Reverb

Manufacturer: Best Service
More Info

Best Service Halls of Fame Convolution Reverb

 

Compatibility

Windows

Windows 7+
VST and VST3 (32-bit and 64-bit)
AAX (64-bit, Pro Tools 11+)

Mac

Mac OS 10.9 – 10.15
AU, VST, VST3 (64-bit only)
AAX (64-bit, Pro Tools 11+)

Features & Specifications

  • Best Service has sampled the IR of 13 legendary hardware reverbs and combined them in one plugin with modern editing capability. From plate and spring to algorithmic reverbs, Halls Of Fame 3 (free edition) offers a limited, but sufficient for general use reverb variety for your production. The plugin offers several content packages of some of the most significant and popular reverbs of the last 50 years.
  • The majority of the presets were designed for use on vocals, but there are also several reverb settings that are good for use on drums, guitars, and other instruments.
  • Reviews on the internet are generally positive, and although the registration and installation process seems to have been frustrating for many uses. Many reviews express satisfaction with the end result when using Halls of Fame free edition. Considering that it is for free, Halls of Fame (free version) offers excellent value and quality results.

The library contains two presets of the following well-known reverb modules:

Digital Legends:

-Lex 96L
-Lex 96
-T600C
-Bric M7
-R 880
-QRS 2496.
-Even T 2016

Vintage Legends:

-EMT 240
-EMT 250
-Lex 224
-Lex 300
-Lex 480
-AKG BX 20

Overall features of each IR:

13 legendary reverbs with two presets each
Produced in stereo
Detailed Impulse Responses
Intuitive GUI with access to all important parameters

The majority of the presets were designed for use on vocals, but there are also several reverb settings that are suitable for use on drums, guitars, and various other instruments.

The registration and installation process seems to have been frustrating for many uses.

8. Convology XT

Manufacturer: Impulse Record
More Info

Convology XT Convolution Reverb

Compatibility

Windows

VST2, VST3, and AAX

Mac 

AU, VST2, VST3, and AAX.

Features & Specifications

  • The free version of Convology XT includes 70 Impulse Response samples from the full version, which has 2965 IR samples. The UI provides an easy way to increase or decrease the speed of the loaded impulse response with a single control parameter.
  • UI also features all the basic and advanced controls one may need when using impulse responses. In addition, true stereo 3rd party IRs, are supported by 4-channel WAV/AIF files, stored as L, R, L->R, R->L. The Impulse Responses samples included in the freeware edition of the software sound excellent and cover a broad palette of reverb types. Most of them were sampled from vintage hardware units and boutique studio effects. Convology XT also includes some guitar amp spring reverbs.
  • Increase or decrease the speed of the loaded impulse response with a single control. The UI also features all the basic and advanced controls one may need when using impulse responses.
  • The start time of the loaded IR file, the attack and release time, decay, and pre-delay, as well as the gain and mix parameters.

Convology XT includes:

  • 70 CPU efficient factory IRs
  • Easy browse IR selection
  • Loads external WAV and AIF files
  • True stereo and 3rd party IR’s support
  • 4-channel WAV/AIF files, stored as L, R, L->R, R->L.
  • Low latency and zero latency modes
  • Max IR length 2min samples
  • 192 kHz sampling rate

Upgrading to the full edition involves buying additional libraries. There are 10 separate libraries:

The 80s-90s DSP 1 Basic,
The 80s-90s DSP 2 Classic,
The 80s-90s DSP 3 Pro,
Plates, Springs Bright,
Springs Boingy,
Springs Warm,
Echo Space,
Vintage Amps,
and Vintage German DSP.

The libraries are affordably priced.

7.  Ableton Convolution Reverb Pro

Manufacturer: Ableton
More Info

Ableton Convolution Reverb Pro

Compatibility

Windows

7 SP1, 8 or 10+

Mac

Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

Ableton requirements

Live version 10.0 or higher
Max for Live version 6.1.9 or higher.

Features & Specifications

  • Convolution Reverb Pro is part of Ableton’s Max for Live Essentials add-on packs available for Ableton users. Ableton users are automatically entitled to Convolution Reverb Pro license if you have Max for Live entitlement
  • Fuel new creative ideas and sound design with the endless possibilities of Convolution Reverb Pro zero latency and a lush, natural sound. It also includes over 200 IR’s crafted by professional acousticians, featuring places and spaces from around the world. IR’s for rare instruments and effects, including the Stocktronics RX-4000, Uniton Swissecho 2000, Farfisa Spring Reverb, BOSS RX-100, are also included.
  • The plugin also has a utility for creating your reverb samples. The IR Measurement Tool allows for the creation of personal IRs.

6. SIR3 Convolution Reverb

Manufacturer: Sir Audio Tools
More Info

SIR3 convolution reverb vst plugin

Compatibility

Windows

32 and 64-bit
VST, VST3, AAX

Mac

32 and 64-bit
VST, VST3, AU, AAX

Import formats

Sir3, SIR, WAV, AIF, FLAC, OGG

Features & Specifications

First, an upgrade from Sir2 to Sir3 is available.

Should you upgrade?

Yes. If you use your Sir2 often in your productions.

Why should you consider buying or upgrading?

  •  The plugin was improved in every aspect. Flexible modulation allows for the transformation of certain parts (head or tail section) of the audio in the time domain. The envelope processing was also expanded.
  • SIR3 now comes with 33 excellent HDIR samples made by Pinguin Ingenieurbüro. The models are renown for their dynamic range and their natural fidelity.CPU consumption is minimal, and latency is non-existent. For a quick overview of this amazing reverb plugin, go to the Audio Tools SIR3 website, select the “manual” tab, and go to the overview page. There you will see a graphic of the UI showing all the major functionality.
  • Graphical portal windows showing:
    -Impulse and Envelopes
    -Reflections
    -Picture of the IR Environment Sample
    -Wet and Dry mix with faders
    -Equalizer with Spectrum background
    -Graphical IR routing showing the input to output routing.
    -IR Library Browser
    -Knobs are giving control of all the basic head and tail pre-delay, decay, damping, and all the rest.

5. MConvolutionMB

Manufacturer: MeldaProduction
More Info

 

MConvolutionMB Convolution Reverb

Compatibility

Windows

Vista, 7, 8, 10+, (32-bit or 64-bit)
VST, VST3, AAX compatible host (32-bit or 64-bit)

MAC

macOS (10.9+ 64-bit only)
VST, VST3, AU, AAX compatible host

Linux

Not supported, but it is apparently possible to run the plugins via Wine.

Features & Specifications

  • MConvolutionEZ is a freeware convolution reverb plugin by MeldaProduction. MConvolutionMB is the big brother and demonstrates the difference between freeware and industry depth needed to work in the music industry today.
  • MConvolutionMB integrated file manager lets you seamlessly choose between the internal IR library or your own WAV, FLAC, or MP3 files. The only limitation on the length of your IR sample is CPU. You will need to spend some time with this plugin. It will split your audio into six bands. Each band can have two IR reverbs applied with or without modulation.
  • The modulation effect can be automated by the audio dynamics.

4. Waves IRL, IR31, IR-360, IR-Live

Manufacturer: Waves
More Info 

Compatibility:

Windows

Windows 10+, 64-bit
Screen Resolution: Minimum: 1024×768. Recommended: 1280×1024 / 1600×1024

Mac

OS 10.12.6 upward
Screen Resolution: Minimum: 1024×768 Recommended: 1280×1024 / 1600×1024

*USB displays are not supported as the primary display.

Features & Specifications::

For the sake of the post, we’ve decided to put Waves plugins together. The Waves IR-1, IR-L, and IR-360 plugins includes high-quality IR samples of acoustical spaces and synthetic reverbs. Other than that, it allows the user to adjust many parameters of these reverbs. The Waves IR-1, IR-L, and IR-360 Convolution Reverb plug-ins have many shared features, and in this article, we will simply refer to them all as the IR-series. Short product-specific features are described under each product heading below.

The Waves IR-series are designed to fill the gap between synthetic digital reverberation and sampled convolution reverbs. They feature convolution-based reverb samples with total control of the parameters. A feature of The IR-series is that the parametric adjustments to the IR samples are calculated offline so that the CPU overhead is minimized. They are then blended with the audio. The result is that you have the natural, high-quality sound of sampled space acoustics with control to shape the sound to your needs.

The IR-series library offers a set of high-definition IR’s. Waves paid special attention and care to the IR recording part of the product development by means of a special recording setup and method. The approach delivers an exceptional signal-to-noise ratio, very low harmonic distortion, and wide frequency bandwidth (20Hz-32kHz). The resulting IRs offer optimal sonic depth and dimension. This methodology for taking acoustical IR measurements was developed by Waves in collaboration with Professor Angelo Farina of the University of Parma in Italy.

IR1

More Info

Impulse responses samples were recorded in world-famous buildings, concert halls, auditoriums, and studios. IR1 has the ability to manipulate the acoustic environment in a very real way that can take your recordings “out there’ literally. IR1 comes with over 100 spaces and places.

It lets you capture the sonic characteristics of your favorite rooms and hardware, and shape the reverbs with precision. Everybody wants to play the big rooms. With the IR1, you’re there.

IR360

More Info

IR 360 is IR1, with 5.1 surround.

All major motion pictures with 5.1 Surround sound requires spatial simulation that makes for a believable experience. Only the accuracy and complete control of convolution reverb audio manipulation will do it. That is why top sound engineers use Waves IR360. This fantastic audio processor delivers the impact of surround sound using the cutting-edge science of IR convolution technology.

IR-L

More Info

The IR-L is essentially an IR-1 with fewer controls and adjustment options
Do you need to recreate the authentic sound of actual acoustic spaces? Then there is no alternative to the realism and flexibility of the IR-L.

IR-Live

More Info

Waves IR-Live is a convolution reverb designed for the dynamic environment of live performances where the sound engineer needs quick and quick results with easy access to mission-critical controls. IR-Live includes presets by leading Front-of-House engineers, providing the go-to reverb sounds they’ve developed over their years of professional experience. Fully compatible with the Waves IR1 impulse response library, IR-Live brings the world’s most fabulous venues and hardware straight to you, all with real-time, low-latency performance.

3. Fog Convolver

Manufacturer: AudioThing
More Info

Compatibility:

Windows

XP SP2, 7, 8, 10+
32 and 64 bit
VST2 or AAX
Requires 170 MB

Mac

OS X 10.7 – macOS 10.13
VST2, AU, or AAX
32-bit and 64-bit host
Requires 190 MB

Features & Specifications

  • Convolver is a convolution reverb processor built on an impulse response engine and library with 254 presets and 254 IRs
  • True Stereo Mode
  • Lightweight real-time Convolution Engine
  • Impulse Response Export (drag to DAW, export to WAV)
  • Preset Browser with customizable categories and tags
  • Add reverberation, create custom sound design, and apply an acoustic impulse sample captured from audio equipment.
  • The factory bank features Impulse responses made from spaces, analog and digital equipment, speakers, organic sources, and more.

Potential buyers just need to be aware that it doesn’t offer (or claim to provide) the usual convolution staple of high-end reverb, for that, you’ll need to import your own IRs.

2. Reverberate 2

Manufacturer: Liquid Sonics
More Info

LiquidSonics Reverberate 2 Convolution Reverb

Compatibility

Windows

Windows XP or higher

Mac

Mac 10.7 or higher
VST 2.4, AU, AAX
32-bit or 64-bit DAWs
500 MB disk space
Fusion-IRs require up to 20 GB

Features & Specifications

  • Quite a technical UI with two IR processors
  • A feature in Reverberate 2 that sets it apart from all others is the Fusion option. Generally, we get a realistic audio acoustic snapshot, but they are ‘frozen in time’ samples.  In real spaces, moving air, audiences, and other factors introduce constant variation in characteristics.  Algorithmic reverbs can introduce modulation to mimic these variations.  But modulating the characteristics of an IR is very processor-intensive working in real-time. Liquidsonics addresses this issue with an IR format that contains multiple IR snapshots in a single IR file.
  • Introducing Fusion-IR – Fusion-IR sample process captures the evolving character of time-varying reverbs using multiple true-stereo reverb streams.

1. Altiverb

Manufacturer: Audio Ease
More Info

Audio Ease Altiverb 7 XL Convolution Reverb

Compatibility

There are two versions of Altiverb:

Altiverb Regular

Stereo input and output
96 kHz sampling rates
Windows – AAX Native, VST.
Mac OS X – AAX Native, AU, MAS, VST, RTAS.

Altiverb XL

Stereo and 5.1 surround input and output
Up to 384 kHz sampling rates
TDM plug-in for Pro Tools HD 10, 9, 8
Windows – AAX Native, VST,RTAS.
Mac OS X – AAX Native, AU, MAS, VST, RTAS,TDM.

Features & Specifications

  • Quality IR samples of real spaces from Sydney Opera House to the cockpit of a Jumbo Jet. Altiverb 7 is more CPU efficient than some Convolution Reverb Plug-ins receive regular new IR sample updates at no extra cost.
  • The IR library is arranged into categories, and there is a visual representation of the space you are working with. The categories are:
  • Music Space – famous concert halls, auditoriums, and studios
  • Experimental – e.g., hand clap as a chord
  • Stage Positioning – speakers and mic’s positions
  • Gates and Delays – synced to the project tempo
  • Brightness and Chaos – synthetic reverb and modulation on top of IR.

Altiverb Verdict

If you intend to use a convolution reverb as a primary tool in your workflow, Altiverb it’s well worth the investment. Altiverb with the regular updates gives the most extensive selection of IR’s and effects. This plugin delivers much cheaper, conventional reverbs, producing long reverb tails in huge spaces and sounds very realistic. It has warmth, excellent transparency, and separation, and the reverb tail flow out of the original recording does not give the impression of being superimposed or stuck in the end.

Drum kit and percussion tracks sound tremendous played through some of the shorter IRs. It is the way the original recording blends with the applied acoustic IR that makes the final result so realistic. Choral arrangements placed in various churches are transformed into the real thing.

After using Altiverb, you will struggle to go back to using conventional digital reverb tools.

Conclusion

The free options such as Convology XT and MConvolutionEZ are great when starting with convolution reverb effects. You will likely need to move onto larger IR libraries and more control as you become more proficient and your deliverables more demanding. Low budget and occasional use convolution reverb option, Waves’ IR1 could definitely suffice. Reverberate 2 offers some unique features and more in-depth control than many other plugins in that price range.

MusicGearo

MusicGearo is a blog site created by passionate music producers for the music lover who wants to build a home studio or purchase various music performance or production gear.It also addresses those who already own home studios but need to learn how to get the most out of the gear they already own.

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