This article will explore the best reverb plugins for vocal mixing in 2022.
Mixing vocals has always been a tough affair. Our ears are always sensitive to the human voice and will always gravitate towards it. The fact that vocals are often placed front and center of the mix confirms this.
If you wish to achieve a great vocal mix, you’ll need a great reverb plugin that focuses on vocal processing. Yes, some reverb plugins are better at processing vocals than others due to how their sound engines have been built, their parameters, and how they approach reverberation. So let’s dig right in!
Top 6 Reverb Plugins For Smooth Vocals 2022
1. BabyAudio Crystalline (Pro Choice)
Crystalline is an algorithmic reverb by BabyAudio.
Crystalline is inspired by iconic reverb units of the past, like the Lexicon hardware units, and packages that top-tier quality in software. There is only one reverb type that you can adjust and modify through the various controls Crystalline offers. I find it ideal for vocals because it feels like a plate reverb but much brighter, while the controls help add clarity and definition, which will help any vocal stand out.
Crystalline’s interface is slick and divided into five panels. The first one is reflections, a place to tweak the overall character of your reverb. The first parameter is size, which I’m sure you’ve seen in all reverb plugins. It comes with five different modes which determine the size of your space. The second parameter, sparkle, will add air to your reverb by boosting its high-end. This is one of the features that make Crystalline sound excellent on vocals. Use it right, and you’ll add a third dimension of clarity to your lead vocals. Finally, the width will determine how narrow or wide the reverb sound is.
- Clean up
The second panel is called clean-up. This is where you can sculpt your reverb tone through various EQ, Gate, and Imager processors. The damping parameter will use an EQ to tame the reverb’s top-end, making it darker and warmer. The sides parameter lets you set a frequency focal point. The frequencies below this focal point will remain in mono, so you can push the higher frequencies to the sides without compromising your reverb impact. Finally, Gate works like a Gate. It lets you set a threshold that determines when the reverb comes through.
The depth panel is where you can start adding interesting effects and processes to make your reverb tone more unique. First, you have a resolution parameter that controls the level of the algorithm inside Crystalline. On its higher setting, Pristine, it can be quite CPU intensive; therefore, you can opt for the Basic mode, which will save you some CPU usage. The second parameter here is modulation, a pitch effect that will add a unique character to your reverb. The final parameter is shimmer, a process that extends the reverb’s decay on the higher frequencies. This is excellent for crafting haunting reverbs that linger and feel angelic.
The shape panel includes tones and an EQ for sculpting the overall tone of the reverb. There is also a smoothing parameter that will make your wet signal less impactful for more subtle results. Finally, you get a transients parameter. This will help you either emphasize the attack of the reverb or the sustain. It’s great for adding punch to your drums by boosting the attack or adding more atmosphere to your vocals by boosting the sustain.
- Utility controls.
The central panel includes a gorgeous visual representation of the reverb. There are the usual wet and dry faders and a sync button to work in note values rather than ms. In addition, you get a start fader that works as a predelay knob and an end fader that determines the reverb’s decay. An incredibly useful function is the ducker which will duck the wet signal while the dry signal plays above a certain threshold. This is important in vocal processing because often, the wet signal drowns out the dry signal, resulting in a confusing mess where you can’t identify what the vocalist is singing about. The ducker will let your singer finish their phrase and then introduce more of the wet signal. Finally, creative parameters like the freeze and reverse buttons are excellent additions for sound designers or those seeking more experimental approaches in their reverbs.
Crystalline is available on Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.7 or higher in VST, VST3, AU, and AAX formats.
Crystalline is a clean, modern, and beautiful sounding reverb. The sparkle, shimmer, sides, and duck parameters make it excellent for vocal processing, while the interface is slick and easy to understand. There are also many presets designed by top-tier sound designers who can help you start using Crystalline right away, although I’d suggest you embrace its curious nature by tweaking each parameter yourself and finding out what works best for you.
2. Valhalla VintageVerb (Proven Classic)
VintageVerb is an algorithmic emulation reverb by Valhalla.
VintageVerb aims to bring to life the grit and dirt of vintage reverb hardware units from the 1970s and 1980s. The danger with emulation plugins is that they tend to sound fake or lifeless. This is not the case here since Valhalla created a very versatile plugin that can be used in many different ways, with a sound that can be dark and mysterious or bright and overwhelming.
Valhalla VintageVerb is very versatile, mostly due to the different modes it carries. There are numerous modes with different characteristics that will make for subtle reverb sounds or exaggerated and chaotic ones. Some of the modes are concert hall, plate, room, chamber, random space, chaotic hall, chaotic neutral, sanctuary, chorus space, and many more. In addition, each mode has different decay length capabilities, different room size and shape, and overall completely different characters, which make VintageVerb a sound designer’s dream.
The true brilliance of VintageVerb is inside the color menu. This is where the vintage emulation occurs since you can set the tone to the 1970s, 1980s, or now. The 1970s color has a lower resolution and a downsample character that helps capture the darker, filled with artifacts, the sound of that era. Similarly, the 1980s color has a noisy sonic profile but is significantly brighter and wider than the 1970s. Finally, if you choose the now color option, you’ll get a full stereo modern reverb with a clean sound and no artifacts. You can apply the color options to each of the different modes, which gives you unparalleled sonic flexibility.
In the damping section, you can sculpt the tone of the reverb. You get the high shelf and high-frequency controls which allow you to decrease the higher frequencies of the wet signal. You also get the bass frequency and bass multiplier knobs, which will help you set the decay time of your chosen low frequencies in relation to the main decay time. This means if you choose 2x on the bass multiplier, the decay on your low end will be double what the overall decay is. This is an interesting feature that can help you sculpt your bottom end with accuracy.
- Shape and character
VintageVerb includes many more controls which you can use to fine-tune your reverb sound. The shape controls help you set the size of the reverb space and the attack of it. The diffusion menu with its late and early reflections controls will help you bring sounds in the front of the mix or push them back. Finally, with its rate and depth controls, the modulation menu lets you add subtle or extreme pitch effects on your wet signal to either humanize it with subtle modulation or completely alienate it with extreme pitch modulation. All these can do wonders when applied to a vocal. For example, if you increase the early reflections and decrease the late reflections, you’ll create a reverb that feels like it’s nearby. Add this to a plate model with some predelay, and you have an excellent all-purpose vocal reverb.
There are high-cut and low-cut knobs for precise sculpting of your reverb signal. You also have access to a predelay knob which is crucial for vocal processing since it allows the singer to sing the words and then introduce the wet signal. Finally, a dry and wet knob is included for parallel processing, and a big decay knob sets the overall length of the reverb.
VintageVerb is available on Windows 7 – 10 and macOS 10.9 – 10.15 in VST2.4, VST3, AU, and AAX formats.
Valhalla VintageVerb is a proven classic choice for an all-purpose reverb. It can be tricky to balance since it tends to get bigger than life and overwhelming, but that can be a great fit for creating long textural vocal effects. You can also use it as a subtle vocal reverb through the plate model or add some real depth and haunting feel to your vocals through the various other modes. Overall, VintageVerb is a very versatile plugin that can compliment any production style.
3. FabFilter Pro-R
Pro-R is a musical reverb plugin designed by FabFilter.
FabFilter removed all technical terms and controls you’d usually find on high-end reverbs and added a simplified set of parameters to create a “musical” reverb that’s still catered to the professional producer. This is achieved by combining multiple functions in a single knob and from the FabFilter – trademark EQ graph, which provides constant feedback on your frequency/musical note relationship.
- Space knob
The space knob is at the center of this plugin and controls the room model of the reverb. Instead of just controlling the decay of the reverb, it switches between various reverb models as you increase its value. It’s hard to know exactly how many models are featured since they are unnamed, but the classics such as cathedral and room are definitely featured. The best part about this is the lack of clickiness or clanky sounds while switching from one model to another. The switch is seamless, which is why this plugin is insanely powerful and creative since you can automate the space knob and move between different styles of reverb without drawing too much attention to the switch.
- Decay rate and predelay
The decay rate is an interesting feature of Pro-R. As you set the space knob, you get a decay value corresponding to the reverb model set. If you wish to increase or decrease this decay value, you can through the decay rate knob. It will multiply or divide the set decay as you get to scale it with values from 50% to 200%. The predelay feature is the most straightforward and closest to how you usually see it on other plugins, written in ms. The best part about the predelay is that you can sync it to your host BPM. It feels natural and provides the opportunity to create rhythmic reverbs that work closely with the rest of the instruments in your track; another reason why Pro-R is musical.
- Decay Rate EQ
Inside Pro-R, you’ll find a version of FabFilter’s signature equalizer. The blue bands are included in the Decay Rate EQ, an EQ that controls the decay rate in relation to the frequency of the signal. This means you can increase the reverb decay of a certain frequency by simply boosting it through the EQ. You get six bands with high shelf, low shelf, notch, and parametric band options. This is another tool that helps you fine-tune your reverb sound and make it sound exactly as you want it to. The orange EQ bands are a post-reverb EQ that helps you process the finalized signal for some additional sculpting.
- Shape the sound
Inside Pro-R, you’ll find more knobs that help you shape your reverb even more. The brightness and character knobs help you shape its tone. If you turn the brightness knob all the way to the left, you get a darker and warmer tone, while if you turn it to the right, the reverb is much brighter and crispier. The character knob affects the reverb’s tail by modulating the reverb’s late and early reflections. I suggest you play with this to figure out your preferred setting since it can add depth to your reverb and chorus-like characteristics. Finally, the distance knob helps you push sounds to the back of the mix or bring them closer to the listener by modulating the early reflections and diffusion of the reverb.
FabFilter Pro-R is available on Windows XP-10 and macOS 10.10 or higher, 64-bit only, in VST2, VST3, and AU formats.
FabFilter delivers a clever and modern plugin that approaches reverb in a new way. The effect is very musical since the user can modify the reverb’s decay based on a note through its frequency, set the predelay in note values, and create complex spaces by modulating the space knob. The EQ graph is powerful and inspiring but also quite advanced, which is why I’d recommend Pro-R to the advanced and experienced producers.
4. Slate Digital VerbSuite Classics By LiquidSonics
VerbSuite Classics is a reverb plugin by Slate Digital in collaboration with LiquidSonics.
VerbSuite Classics is a plugin that’s inspired by hardware reverbs of the past but uses new technology to achieve a detailed reverb sound. This is where LiquidSonics comes in with its brand of multi-sampled Impulse Responses that provide detailed early reflections and reverb tails.
- Classic reverb sound
VerbSuite Classics is named after the classic reverb units it sampled and brought to us. A screen provides information on the reverb style and name, including a Unit feature that suggests the original model that inspired the preset. For example, if you see FG-480 next to the unit value, then you are probably dealing with the Lexicon 480, one of the greatest reverbs ever made due to its gorgeous sound modulation. Similarly, you get versions of the EMT 250, the AMS Neve RMX-16, and the Quantec Room Simulator. You get eight Fusion Impulse Response libraries based on eight iconic reverb hardware units. The sound can be dreamy if you are working with the Quantec Room Simulator or huge and 80s-appropriate if you select the AMS Neve RMX-16 model.
- Decay and shaping
The decay knob is the big one at the center of the plugin. It can help you scale the decay anywhere from 25% to 130% of its original value. This ensures that each reverb model stays accurate to the original with no unrealistically long decay values featured on the wrong reverb model. You can also use the attack knob to fade in the reverb sound and the predelay knob to offset it from the dry signal, something crucial when mixing reverb on vocals.
Inside VerbSuite Classics, you’ll find a simple EQ to help you sculpt the final wet sound. It includes a high bell at 12kHz, a low shelf at 460Hz, and a mid-bell at 3kHz. These bands are here to help you roll off unwanted low frequencies, decrease the clarity around 3kHz so that your dry vocal signal can shine through, and adjust the air of the reverb for either shiny bright top end or darker and gloomier reverb sounds.
The plugin includes a powerful preset menu split into six categories: strings, drums, guitar, keys, misc, and vocals. The vocals menu is a great place to start if you’re a beginner and need to understand how vocals are traditionally mixed through reverb since you get presets ideal for doubles or backing vocals, natural vocal rooms, long and spacious rooms set through the AMS Neve RMX-16, or subtle room tones set on the Lexicon 480. If you study the presets, you’ll understand the difference between the various reverb models, and in the future, design your own vocal presets.
Slate VerbSuite Classics is available on Windows or macOS in VST2, VST3, AU, and AAX formats.
VerbSuite Classics is a versatile reverb tool to use on vocals. Since it uses multi-sampled Impulse Responses from the original hardware devices it models, the user can have access to accurate depictions of classic reverb presets used on vocals. This can be a great tool in the hands of a beginner mixing engineer who seeks to understand how vocal mixing works through reverb or in the hands of an experienced one who needs access to classic reverb models packaged in a single plugin.
5. Eventide SP2016 Reverb
SP2016 is a reverb plugin by Eventide.
Eventide assembled its finest reverb modules and software of the past in SP2016, which emulates the stereo room, room, and plate algorithms from the original SP2016 hardware and the Modern algorithm from the 2016 Reverb. It’s a celebration of Eventide’s reverb contributions of the past couple of decades.
- Pre delay and decay
SP2016 has few parameters to tweak, but they all alter the sound significantly and are well designed to provide deep control over the reverb tone. For example, the predelay can be set up to 999ms to add separation between the dry and wet signals but also create rhythmic effects. In small decay values, it can act as a slap delay to add interest to your vocals. Speaking of reverb decay, the decay fader has a range of 200ms to an astonishing 100s. It makes SP2016 the ideal plugin for both subtle reverb sounds with moderate tail lengths but also for huge reverb effects that create ghostly tones and atmospheres.
- Position and diffusion
The position fader modifies the balance of early and late reflections. This is crucial in creating a balanced space with depth since it can create reverb sounds that feel as if they’re coming from the back of a room or the front of it. It dramatically affects the presence of the reverb tail to achieve this successfully. The diffusion fader affects the density of the reverb tail in a subtle way. This is done by altering the sound absorption of the iconic surface it creates to achieve realistic reverb sounds.
There is also an EQ included in SP2016 to help you craft a clear reverb tone. With two faders, you can set the low frequency and its gain amount to either boost or decrease it. Similarly, two more faders help you roll off or boost your higher frequencies. It is a non-surgical EQ aimed at rudimental frequency shaping, which suits the plugin’s style.
- Excellent sound, great presets
If you’ve worked with Eventide products before, you know the sound quality is top-notch. The algorithms modeled after the original hardware are very accurate, and the modern algorithm provides a clean and crisp reverb that suits today’s genres. If that’s not enough, Eventide brought on some amazing artists and sound engineers to create presets for SP2016. People like Dave Pensado, Sasha, George Massenberg, and Richard Devine all contributed presets to create an even better mixing experience when working with SP2016.
Eventide SP2016 is available on Windows 8 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher in VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU formats, 64-bit only.
SP2016 is another knockout product by Eventide. It aims to bring together all the different reverb algorithms and styles from past Eventide products, and it has succeeded. The sound is excellent, the interface simple and clean, and the preset list filled with useful starting points for producers and engineers of all experience levels. Despite this, the sound quality and price tag make it ideal for experienced and professional producers who need a top-notch tool to add to their arsenal.
6. Soundtoys Little Plate
Little Plate is a plate reverb plugin by Soundtoys.
Soundtoys is a beloved audio plugin company that delivers unique and instantly recognizable plugins. Little plate is a plate reverb that was inspired by five unique EMT 140 plate reverbs. Soundtoys gathered inspiration from them and created Little Plate as an easy-to-use and instantly inspiring plate reverb catered to all music producers and engineers.
As I already mentioned, Soundtoys was inspired by the iconic EMT 140. One area they decided to push to new boundaries is decay. The maximum decay found on the EMT 140 is five seconds, while on the Little Plate, you can push for 32 seconds or infinity. If you set the decay to infinity mode, the reverb tail never ends. This is very useful for those of us who are into sound design since you can create a long tail and resample it, process it in different ways, and resample it again to create haunting atmospheres and textures. As for classic vocal usage, I’d stick to the 1-2 second realm for dreamy vocals or the 0.5 seconds mode for classic subtle vocal plate reverb.
- Mod and EQ
Mod is a switch inside Little Plate that introduces hints of modulation on the reverb tail. It can thicken up your reverb and add a dreamy and vibey quality to it that’s instantly associated with Soundtoys’ brand of sound. The EQ included is very simple and functions as a low cut. You can set it anywhere from 20Hz to 1kHz. It does a great job at cleaning up the low end or removing muddiness in the low-mid frequencies.
- Simple to use
The best part about Little Plate is how simple it is to use and how inspiring it can be simultaneously. First, it comes with only four controls, and that’s all you need to create great-sounding reverb tones. Finally, the preset menu is filled with inspiring presets, just like any Soundtoys plugin.
Soundtoys Little Plate is available on Windows 7 or higher and macOS 1010 or higher in VST2, AAX, and AU formats.
Little Plate is one of the easiest to use reverb plugins that don’t sacrifice creativity and sound quality for the sake of utility. The decay knob can inspire countless new sounds, and the infinity mode is great for creative effects, atmospheres, and sound design excellence.
Free Reverb Plugins For Vocals
1. Deelay by Integraudio & Sixth Sample (Great For Effects)
Deelay is Integraudio’s new free reverb in collaboration with Sixth Sample.
Technically Deelay is a delay plugin, but the reverbs it can create are so versatile and broad that it deserves a shout-out on this list. After all, delay and reverb are both time-based effects, and Deelay can blur the lines beautifully.
The diffusion knob is the easiest way to access the plugin’s reverb possibilities since it helps you smear the echoes to blend them together and create reverb-like effects. You get diffusion quality and size knobs to help you get more definitions out of your reverb. If you decrease the diffusion quality, you achieve more chopped, unique-sounding reverbs, which are very inspiring.
The plugin comes with five different modes: normal, pure reversed, reverse forward, chaos, and reversed chaos. The reverse forward and pure reversed modes help you create intricate echoes that are either reversed or mirror a reversed signal. This can create gorgeous reverbs when set up the right way. Additionally, try the chaos or reversed chaos modes if you need to get some experimental sounds. They alter the pitch of the echoes to create obscure effects, perfect for unblocking your creativity when feeling lost.
Deelay comes with its own distortion effect on-board. Once you set your desired reverb sound, you can choose between eleven types of distortion to process it. For example, add grit with the clip mode, warmth through the tube mode, or transform the sound into something completely new through the rectify or pixelate modes. The possibilities are endless when you consider all the different distortion modes and what they do.
- Fine-tune your sound
Deelay includes multiple knobs and parameters to help you craft a unique reverb with intention and detail. For example, the spread knob helps you achieve mono or full stereo reverbs, while the duck knob “ducks” the wet signal out of the way if the dry signal is playing above a certain threshold. This is excellent for vocal use since you can get the performer’s impact before the reverb comes in to fill in the gaps. There is also a powerful tape knob that adds tape-like wow and flutter effects to modulate the pitch of the echoes. Finally, low and high-cut knobs are included to help you roll off unwanted frequencies on either side of the frequency spectrum.
Deelay is available on Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10 or higher, 64-bit only, in VST3 and AU formats.
Deelay is a fascinating free plugin that can blur the lines between delay and reverb. It has huge tweakability potential and a lot of different parameters that can help you create unique time effects. The distortion is a nice touch, and the ducking knob is great for vocal use. It’s completely free so give it a try.
2. Valhalla Super Massive (Best Free Vocal Reverb)
Super Massive is a free reverb plugin by Valhalla.
Valhalla is probably the king of reverb plugins, and Super Massive feels like a genuine gift of gratitude to their faithful users. As the name suggests, it specializes in long and massive reverb tones and features the familiar Valhalla interface. It’s not a subtle plugin, but it can add drama and depth to vocals of modern genres.
Super Massive has 12 different modes to choose from, including Gemini, Hydra, Centaurus, Andromeda, Lyra, Capricorn, and many more. They all have different core characteristics, like attack times, decay times, chorus, and density. They all are designed expertly and can serve different purposes. For example, Gemini is the subtlest and most conventional of all the modes. Therefore it’s great to use on vocals that need a more traditional mixing approach. However, you can still mangle it and create intricate reverbs by messing with the warp knob. In contrast, Large Magellanic Cloud is a wacky mode that serves super long reverbs with long initial delays, great for atmospheric sounds.
- Feedback and density
As I mentioned earlier, the density is already modified internally and varies from mode to mode. However, you can still adjust the density knob to further emphasize a mode’s dense or loose reverb style. In addition, the feedback is an excellent knob to scale back on the long decay times or multiply them if you feel they’re not long enough.
- Mod and EQ
The mod menu has two knobs, rate and depth. It helps you add character to your reverbs by modulating the pitch and creating thicker reverb sounds. The depth is the amount of the mod effect, and the rate controls the speed at which it takes place. Finally, an EQ with low cut and high cut knobs is included to roll off unwanted frequencies.
- Guaranteed quality
When you work with a plugin from Valhalla, you know it’s going to be a wild ride and a memorable experience. Super Massive is no exception. The sound engines behind each mode are carefully constructed and can cover a wide range of sounds at the highest quality. My favorite part about Valhalla plugins, which are included in Super Massive, is the bottom bar explaining what each parameter does and how it affects the sound. It also provides useful information regarding the reverb mode you select and how to use it to the best of its abilities.
Super Massive is available on Windows 7 – 10 and macOS 10.9 – 10.15 in VST2.4, VST3, AU, and AAX formats.
Supermassive is a generous gift from Valhalla. The 12 reverb modes are carefully constructed and sound exceptional. The feedback and density knobs can help you craft unique spaces, while the mod and EQ parameters help you finalize the effect. The only fallback of Super Massive is how massive it sounds, something that might be unsuitable for certain sounds or occasions. However, its sound quality and free nature make it an awesome reverb plugin.
Vocals are very hard to mix, mainly because they are usually front and center in your mix and attract the most attention. In order to get them right, you need to construct a space that compliments their best qualities and helps them blend with the rest of the instrumentation in a seamless way.
This list is meant as a guide to the best vocal reverbs. There are options for producers of all experience levels and budget sizes. Use it to find the reverb that best suits you and your style of music to achieve amazing vocal mixes.
Alvinos Zavlis is an artist/producer from Cyprus based in Bristol, UK. With three albums under his belt and plenty of singles, his catalogue covers a wide range of sounds, from hip hop and trip hop to IDM and experimental electronic styles, all fused together to create unique blends of sounds. He works as a freelance mixing and mastering engineer in Bristol for artists of all styles.