A complete guide to Reverb – Popular Reverb VSTs, Types, Mixing Tips

In this music production tutorial, I will share a secret method to use reverb that never fails. If you have any questions about this article or reverb in general, feel free to write in the comments.
This method works every single time, is easy to use, and gives the best possible reverb effect for your vocals, instruments, synths, and more.
Furthermore, this method works with any native or 3rd party Reverb plugins for DAW(FL Studio, Ableton, Logic Pro, etc). So without further delay, let’s jump right into the tutorial.

Reverb in Theory

I want to clean the fundamentals of the reverb first. What is reverb, is it the same as Echo, and Delay, why does it sound so pleasant, and why is it necessary; I will answer all that in this section.

What is Reverb Effect?

When the sound generated from a source reflects by various surrounding surfaces and reaches back to the receiver(Mic, Recorder, Ears, etc) within 0.1 seconds; it is known as reverb. The resulting process is known as Reverberation.
The term 0.1 second here is very crucial since it differentiates reverb from echo. The audio signal in reverb diffuses with the original source sound.
According to Wallace Clement Sabine, an American physicist who founded the field of architectural acoustics; the official period of reverberation is the time required by a sound to reduce to one-millionth of its original level(around -60dB).
These are the required conditions for generating a reverb effect-

  • Multiple Reflections from different Surfaces
  • Short Duration for receiving the reflected sound
  • Damping of sound
  • Diffusion of sound(combining all reflected and original sound in Unison as one prolonged output)

Differences among Reverb, Echo, and Delay

Reverb vs Echo vs Delay
A big question among music producers is the difference between Reverb, Echo, and Delay. If you are among them, then I have prepared this section for you. I will explain the difference between the three in the simplest way possible. Let us make a table for it shall we:
[table id=1 /]
I hope that the table has cleared some of the main differences between reverb, delay, and echo.

Why should you use a Reverb VST?

There are many benefits of using a reverb VST or Hardware unit in your project

  • Reverb makes the sound more interesting
  • It compensates for the empty stereo space
  • Reverb can simulate a real environment viz Hall, Drum rooms, Venue, etc.
  • By using a reverb effect along with a proper M-S processor, you can simulate the distance and position of a sound source in a digital environment.
  • Reverb can add a warm, bright, or dart color to the sound.
  • The reverb effect is a good way to compensate for the sustain and decay of a short sample.

Global vs Local Reverberation

This is a rare topic of discussion among the producers and is not important unless you are designing sounds for extreme precisions(like film and games).
Global Reverberation is the reverb effect in which the reflected signal comes from all directions. While Local Reverberation is the phenomenon where the reverb comes from the direction of the source. Most reverb VSTs produce global reverb.

Types of Reverb VST & Hardware units

Although the final goal of all reverb units is to create a reverberation effect, they use different approaches to do so. This section will look into some of the most used reverb types in the music industry.
These are the main reverb types

  1. Plate
  2. Spring
  3. Impulse Response/Convolution Reverb
  4. Algorithmic
  5. Physical Modeling

Let’s look at each of these reverb types in detail.

Plate Reverb

This is one of the classic electro-mechanical reverb types. It was first introduced by Elektromesstechnik in 1957 with the release of its famous EMT 140 Reverberation unit. In the beginning, 140 unit plate reverbs were mono, but later on, a stereo unit was released as well.
About Plate Reverb - Best Plate reverb VST
The Plate Reverb uses a transducer(energy converter) to generate vibrations in a metal sheet. These vibrations are then recorded and changed back into an audio signal using a contact mic.
Best Plate Reverb VSTs

  • T-Racks 5 Plate Reverb
  • Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates(Emulation of earlier EMT 140)
  • Soundtoya little plate

Spring Reverb

The spring reverb is similar to the plate reverb, the only difference is the use of Spring in place of a metal sheet. The spring reverb was first created by Bell Laboratory(Now known as Nokia Bell Labs after its acquisition in 2016).
About spring reverb - Best spring reverb VSTs
Just like the electro-mechanical plate, spring reverb also uses a transducer. This type of reverb was popular in 1960 and was used in many popular guitar amps and recordings. Spring reverb was first used by Hammond in their Organs.
Best Spring Reverb VSTs –

  • Softube Spring
  • Eventide Spring
  • U-he Twangstrom

Impulse Response/Convolution

Convolution is the modern way to create real spaces and reverbs. Unlike algorithmic reverb that gives a definite output. Convolution reverb can emulate a realistic environment. 
About convolution reverb - Best convolution reverb VSTs
In order to do this convolvers uses the impulse response or IR function. IRF is a function that can process data based on a brief input. It can replicate algorithmically as well as in physical spaces.
The best thing about Convolution reverb is low CPU consumption and realistic spaces. It can also emulate the mic positions in real space.
Best Convolution Reverb VSTs

  • Waves IR1
  • East West Sounds Spaces 2
  • Fruity Convolver


Algorithmic reverbs as their name suggests use certain algorithms and mathematical models to simulate the reverb of a real environment. Equations like Sabine’s Reverberation Equation and Eyring Equation provide a good base for algorithmic reverberation.
About algorithmic reverb - Best algorithmic reverb VSTs
This is the most used reverb effect in modern music. The main reason behind this is the ability to control the various parameter of room and wet signal. Thanks to a series of control, it is possible to create custom reverbs using the algorithmic VSTs.
Best Algorithmic Reverb VSTs

  • Waves H-Reverb
  • T-Racks Hall Reverb
  • FlexVerb by SSL

Physical Modeling

This is a rather fresh addition to the list of reverb models. Physical Modelling reverb replicates some of the most iconic reverb spaces, studios, halls, and reverb units. Unlike convolution and algorithmic reverb, these are much more accurate in replicating the sound of a real space.
About Physical modeling reverb - Best Physical modeling revrb VSTs
Best Physical Modeling reverb VSTs

  • Waves Abbey Road Chambers
  • T Racks Sunset Sound Studio Reverb
  • Abbey Road Plates


How to use Reverb VST – The best method

In this section, you will learn about how to use the VST plugin to apply a good reverb effect. The method I am about to show you works for every plugin and always gives the best results. But before that, let’s look at the various parameters in a regular Reverb VST. I will use  Fruity Reverb 2, which is the native reverb of FL Studio by Image-line.

Perameters of a Reverb VST

These are the most used parameters in a reverb plugin-

  1. Pre delay – This parameter controls the time difference between the original dry signal and the first reverb reflection.
  2. Room Size – As the name suggests, this parameter controls the size of the reverb room; from small studios to large halls and cathedrals.
  3. Diffusion – Diffusion controls the density of the reverb signal. Low diffusion value results in a lightweight/open reverb. While high density results in decaying noises. You can also see it as the number of reflecting surfaces in a room.
  4. Modulation – Some reverb VSTs has the function of time modulation. This option modulates the reverb time, resulting in the detuning of the wet signal. It creates the metallic ringing effect of real spaces.
  5. Damp/High Damping – In realistic reverberation, the reflective surfaces absorb some sound frequencies. This effect is emulated via the Damp parameter in reverb. Almost all reverb VSTs have this function.
  6. Early Reflection – This option decides the level of the first reverb reflection. This option also decides the prominence between the reverb tail and the first reflection.
  7. Dry/Wet – Every reverb VST has it. This option decides the relative level of the dry and wet signal. Some VSTs like to put the Dry/Wet option in a single knob. While others make separate controls for them.

How to use a Reverb VST efficiently? Answered

Often music producers find it hard to find the ideal reverb setting for their audio. The main reason behind it is the inability to judge the generated room due to the Wet/Dry signal merge. The best way to find the ideal reverb setting is to focus on the room first and then mix it with the dry signal.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it.

Step 1. Decide the final goal of reverb

Before applying the reverb effect, you should first set a goal. Ask yourself these questions –

  • What kind of room do I want?
  • How long should the reverb tail be?
  • Do I need a Dark or Warm reverb?
  • Do I have to use sidechain compression on the wet signal?

Once you have a clear answer to these questions, we can move forward with the reverb effect.

Step 2 – Load Reverb as send effect; Send vs Insert, which is better?

When you are using reverb as a sound design tool or for a short reverbs(like for a snare drum, hi-hats, pluck, etc) the insert effect is a better choice. However, if the audio sample is long and plays a crucial part in the project(for example Vocal, Piano, Guitar, etc), you should use reverb as a send effect. Why? Because it will be easy to use sidechain compression to mix the original signal with the send effect.
Another advantage of using a send effect is that you can use the same effect setting for multiple channels. It saves time, and CPU. It is easy to mix(since the phase of the wet signal is almost the same). Send effect creates one room for all instruments and audio channels.
How to use reverb as send effect
To use reverb as send effect. Simply Route the main audio channel to another channel, load the reverb effect, and turn down the dry level to zero. I also use fruity send on my main channel and turn down the dry option so that I can only listen to the reverb.
At this point, you can only listen to the reverb effect.

Step 3 – Designing the Room

The next step is to decide the Room size. Here we will set different parameters while analyzing the wet signal to create the room. We will also choose the reflection surface type.
How to use reverb - Set the reverb room size
Decide the size of the room using the Room size option. The small size is perfect for drum rooms, bathrooms, etc. For piano and vocals, a large room is good. Another parameter you need to set is the predelay, it creates a sense of room size. It is useful when creating a large venue. For this example, we will keep it to 0.

Step 4 – Setting the room property(Bright, Warm, Dark Reverb)

Now that you have selected your room size, it’s time to decide the type of reverb. To be precise, the character of the reverb. These are the 4 main parameters that decide the character of the reverb.
Setting up the room property

  1. Diffusion – A fancy term for “number of reflective surfaces” This option will decide how many walls are there in your reverb room. For drums and other percussive sounds, a low diffusion is good. For creating large halls and venues, a moderate to high diffusion level is preferred. Diffusion is basically the density of reflected signals.
  2. Early Reflection(ER) – If we classify the reverb signal in broad terms, it can be broken into two parts; First/Early reflection and reverb tail. The First reflected sound is most prominent in the reverb and decides the color of the reverb. The early reflection can set the balance between the reverb tail and the first reflection. It becomes prominent for small room sizes.
  3. Damping/Damp/Hign Damping – This option will decide the property of the reflective surface. It decides the amount of high-frequency content in the wet signal. Higher damping will create bright and warm reverb while low damping will make the reverb dark. Set it by ear.
  4. Filter – Another essential option that decides the property of reverb. This parameter can filter out the unwanted muddiness of the reverb as well as create a focus area of the sound. A focus on lower mids will make the reverb dark while mids and higher mids will make it bright, and brighter respectively.
  5. Time modulation(Extra) – This is an option present in many advanced reverb plugins, it can create a metallic shimmer effect in reverb. It is useful for creating lofi or metallic reverb sounds.

The wet signal sounds like this.


Step 5 – Making reverb tail

Now that the body of our reverb signal is complete, let us move towards the reverb tail. Creating the reverb tail is very simple. Just use the decay time knob to set the length of the reverb tail.
How to use Reverb guide - Setting up reverb tail.
Although this is the easiest setting in reverb, it is also where most producers make mistakes. You should not overuse the reverb time decay since it can make your mix muddy and mask other instruments. If you have to use longer time decay, use it with a low damp value.
This is the sound after step 5


Step 6 – Mix the wet reverb signal with Dry

You finally have your reverb with room and reflective walls of your choice. Now all you have to do is mix the wet with the dry signal. You can get rid of the Fruity send we added in the 2nd step. This is the final reverb sound after mixing dry and wet signals.

You can see how the reverb in this example is not overbearing. You can feel it but not distinguish it from the dry signal.

How to mix Reverb with the dry signal? Sidechaining the reverb.

As mentioned in the last section, sometimes you will have o use longer reverb tails or high-density reverbs. These types of reverb can muddy your mixdown. In this section, I will share some tips and tricks you can use to mix and get clean reverb.
To mix the reverb with the dry signal we will use an Equalizer and a Sidechain compressor.
The Equalizer will be to shape the tone and character of the reverb while removing the muddiness of the sound at the same time. While the compressor will be used to sidechain the Wet signal.
After applying the effect this is the before and after sound.

Before Mixing

After Mixing

Final Takeaways

In case you have forgotten about something let’s look at a quick summary of this article. First, we talked about the theory of reverb where you learned about the reverb effect, the difference between reverb, echo, and delay, and global and local reverberation.
In the next section, you learned about various types of delays like Spring, Plate, Algorithmic, convolution, & Physical modeling.
After that, you learned about various parameters of reverb and how to use them to get the best reverb settings for your audio. You also learned about mixing the reverb in the last section.
I hope that this guide helps you in learning about reverbs in-depth. If you have any questions, drop them in the comment section.

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