Reverb is an essential effect for mix and sound design. Accordingly, it seems there are an infinite number of reverb plugins at your disposal. Fabfilter have just added to the fray with their Pro-R plugin.
There are many different types of reverb. Fabfilter’s aim with Pro-R, is to create a reverb that sounds natural, has enough density, but still sits nicely in the mix. At the same time, it shouldn’t confuse with too many controls.
Pro-R is definitely concise on first glance. The majority of the GUI is taken up with a waveform analysis window, overlaid with two EQ bars, more on which later. When sound is played through the plugin, the waveform really beautifully displays the frequency range of the waveform, with a lovely visualisation of the reverb decay fading around the waveform.
There’s a row of 7 knobs above this window that affect the character of the reverb on the sound. Here they are listed:
This changes the overall timbre of the reverb. Light to dark.
This changes the reverb from a clean sound to a more modulated chorusy timbre. halfway the reverb has a gorgeous shimmer to it.
This helps position the sound source on the stage, from near to far. I love the way that the transients are affected in this knob. The closer you get, the more snappy the transients. By the time you’re far away, the initial attack is just a loose wash of sound. The positional effect on the instrument is immediately apparent in the soundstage.
This is perhaps the main element of Pro-R. By moving the space knob, you smoothly shift through 6 room models which affects the decay length and shape of the reverb, from a small room at 20ms, through to a large cathedral with 10second tail. The ability to sweep through the different algorithms for room models, without there being any glitching or clicking, is very impressive.
The decay rate that is set with the space knob can be adjusted up to half or double the original decay length. If you want the small room model, but with a longer decay than standard, this is your knob.
This knob goes from mono to stereo, plus an extra 20% more stereo!! This adds, by some fiendish trickery, some extra width to sound. Adding this extra stereo width can really bring life to the sound, alongside the obvious stereo width.
Standard. Boring. Essential. You can lock it if you want to browse the substantial preset bank, to keep the mix amount the same.
EQ’ing the reverb
There are two EQ bands that strap neatly over the analysis window; A decay rate EQ, and a post-EQ. The post EQ shapes the final sound coming out of the plugin. It’s based on the award-winning Pro-Q2. For more info on that, see our previous review
The decay rate EQ, however, is my favourite element of this plugin. It’s a much more detailed way to approach shaping the reverb than the more traditional Low and Hi Pass functions you’ll typically find. You can add up to 6 bands of shelves, notches and bells, which allows you to be extremely precise in shaping the sound of the reverb. As an example; If you want to keep the low mid weight of a snare drum dry, but help the high end fizz have some decay, while at the same time removing the reverb on that particular metallic ring? Done, with three clicks. You can be more precise about where the lows and highs are cut or boosted, and how sharply. You can notch out or boost narrow frequency ranges on the reverb. In terms of solving the most problematic issue with reverb; situating it in a mix – if you can’t solve it with this plugin, then it’s definitely you as the engineer that’s the problem!!
On the bottom of the window are several helpful utilities, including a pre-delay, which is TEMPO SYNCED!! That in and of itself is almost worth the purchase price. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a synced pre-delay. So useful in so many genres of music, to clean up the mix.
Here’s a great short video walking you through the main elements of the plugin:
The thing about Fabfilter that stands out, is the obviously immense amount of thought and preparation that has gone in to making bread and butter plugins just that little bit better. With the Pro-R, it’s no different. It’s packaged in a way that is ergonomically useful for everyday production. Yes, other reverbs might have more bells and whistles, but most of the time you want access to the most important elements of a plugin, and you rarely reach for anything else. I found that Fabfilter, with Pro-Q2 (see our Pro-Q2 review), had created an EQ with that perfect balance of necessity and simplicity; and it soon became my go-to EQ. I think it’ll be the same with this reverb. Standout job, as usual. Plus that fading waveform is gorgeous. Well done Fabfilter!
Pro-R costs $199, although if you have an account with them already, check it as they give personalised discounts depending on how many of their plugins you already have.
FYI: you can save some money buying the plugin here – if you do so, your purchase will also support our work (thank you!).
For more information on Fabfilter’s excellent Pro-R reverb plugin – here.
Composer/Producer, and keyboard player. He has written and recorded soundtracks for a wide variety of media and co-owns DOsounds.com with Jake Owen, a music production company that gives him an excuse to buy more analog gear.