Fabfilter needs little introduction as a manufacturer of superb plugins. They’ve taken the bread-and-butter plugins of the mix world and enhanced them with their unique ergonomics, resulting in top-class plugins in terms of sound quality and usability. They’ve recently updated their innovative Pro-R reverb plugin to the second version, Pro-R 2. Let’s delve into our FabFilter Pro-R 2 review…
Firstly, if you’re unaware of Fabfilter, then you need to become un-unaware immediately! Their plugins are affordable, and I suspect that once you demo them, you won’t want to let them go!
I reviewed the original Pro-R reverb when it was released in 2016. If you want to learn more about the basics of this plugin, I recommend starting with our original Fabfilter Pro-R review. One feature that impressed me then, and remains in this version, is the ability to shape the decay of the reverb in different frequency ranges. For example, you can apply a curve to make the bass frequencies fade out more slowly than the higher frequencies.
Fabfilter Pro-R 2 Review: My Top 5 Standout Features
The Pro-R 2 update brings significant improvements. While there are no major overhauls, there are plenty of tweaks and additional algorithms that enhance its usefulness. Instead of providing an exhaustive description of every element in the update (I recommend downloading and demoing it for a more in-depth experience), I will highlight my top 5 standout features in this review.
1) The Algorithm
The original Pro-R featured a single algorithm that varied timbrally based on the reverb length, and it performed admirably. Despite its versatility, I often found myself reaching for different reverbs for vintage hardware emulations or distinct tonalities. However, with the new update, I anticipate doing this less frequently. The update introduces two additional algorithms, Vintage and Plate, which don’t emulate specific units but incorporate the general timbral elements of these types of reverbs. The Plate algorithm produces a more metallic and shimmery sound, while the Vintage one has a more digital and slightly crunchy tone. The update also includes ‘character’ and ‘thickness’ knobs, which add modulation, chorus, and saturation to the tone.
During my review of Fabfilter Pro-R 2, I found the Duck and Gate sections particularly useful. These sections shape the reverb’s attack and release in response to the incoming signal, subtly or dramatically moving the reverb out of the way of the original signal. This helps the reverb sit more effectively in the mix, which I found especially useful in thicker layered mixes where I wanted the original signal to be less obscured by the reverb. However, I would have appreciated more granular control, particularly on the duck control. It’s a single knob that ‘intelligently’ applies the ducking effect, but I found its intelligence to be somewhat lacking depending on the use case.
3) Add your IRs!
This is the crazy cool addition to the reverb. While it may not be the most practical tool for everyday mixing, it far surpasses the other update elements in terms of creative possibilities. The Fabfilter Pro-R 2 is an algorithmic reverb, but now you can add IRs, and the plugin will analyze and create an algorithm that matches the IR. Importing the responses through the preset browser is straightforward. Of course, this is an interpretation and not an actual convolution reverb, so it won’t be as “accurate” in interpreting the space as a convolution reverb (such as Altiverb or Space Designer) would be. However, that’s not the point. This feature allows you to push the boundaries of what the Fabfilter Pro-R 2 can do.
4) File management improvement
I know; yawn. But Fabfilter has, for years, maintained a superb balance between flexibility and quick, concise, workhorse-style ergonomics. They’ve improved their preset management to enable quicker access to the presets you start with and have implemented a searchable user-editable tag system to narrow down presets more quickly. This can speed up the workflow, from styles to instrument appropriateness, and I’m here for that.
5) Dolby Atmos support
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become wiser to the adage of having less stuff while using what I have to a deeper level. I try to minimize the use of my plugins to a handful, especially when mixing. So I need the plugins that I’m going to use often to have all the elements I need in them. Surround capabilities are one of those things. I haven’t had the chance to use this aspect of Pro-R 2 yet, as I’ve recently moved countries and am still setting up my studio. However, I’ve been mixing increasingly in surround, especially for Apple Spatial, so this feature will be crucial if I’m to use the plugin regularly. This is excellent news!
With Pro-R 2, FabFilter has impressively updated their superb reverb plugin. The addition of the new algorithms, in particular, makes it a more comprehensive tool for integration into your workflow. I highly recommend it!
Find out more information on the Fabfilter Pro-R 2 here.
It costs $169, but you can get great deals on bundles and discounts if you already own any of their other plugins (i.e. if you own the original Fabfilter Pro-R, upgrading to the new version will only cost you approx. $/€ 90).
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