Waves’ H-Reverb has a few tricks up its sleeve that most ’verbs can only dream of. Dynamic (ducked) and non-linear reverbs—rarely seen in plug-in form—join input and output echoes, amplitude and frequency modulation, overdrive, compression and de-essing to make H-Reverb the exciting new kid on the processing block. Most important, the effects sound excellent.
H-Reverb’s engine combines synthetic and convolution-based reverbs (using IRs, or impulse responses) to produce a hybrid algorithmic-FIR (Finite Impulse Response) processor. A large presets library of halls, rooms, plates and nonlinear ’verbs—in mono, stereo, mono-to-stereo and surround (5.0 and 5.1) configurations—provides great starting points for further editing. Two versions of the plug-in—H-Reverb and Long H-Reverb—respectively provide up to six and 12 seconds of reverberation time; Long H-Reverb consumes roughly 30-percent more CPU resources than its shorter cousin. While the GUI provides a bounty of controls geared toward advanced users, it can be collapsed to show only the most fundamental controls, which I’ll describe next.
Pre-delay time can be set manually—entering a value between 0 and 500 ms—or by synching to your host’s tempo and choosing any of 19 note-length values. The Build Up knob sets how long it will take for the ensuing reverb to attain its peak level, and the Reverb Time sets how long it takes for the reverb tail to decay 120 dB.
When you select one of the 10 available Early Reflections, the GUI shows an illustration of the reflections’ spacing and relative gain. The Size control modifies the ERs’ density and also affects the slope of the reverberation buildup; its default value (“1”) evenly distributes the ERs, while higher values create progressively wider gaps and the slower build-up typical of large spaces. Size values under 1 condense and overlap the ERs to create the illusion of a small space.
Once you’re happy with the ERs and reverb, you can adjust the mix of the two by adjusting their relative gain using the ER/Tail Balance knob. Other basic controls adjust the dry-to-wet-signal balance and the plug-in’s output level. Activate the Reverse button to invert the reverb’s envelope so that it builds backward over time.
Expanding H-Reverb’s GUI provides access to its advanced controls (some of which are unfortunately described rather vaguely in the operation manual). In the Decay Envelope control section, two knobs are your vehicles to creating nonlinear (including gated) reverbs: The X-Time control’s value sets the transition point between two consecutive tails with different decay slopes, while the X-Gain knob sets the gain at the transition point. Another knob adjusts the density of both tails’ decay, ranging from sparse and discrete echoes to a smooth sound.
In the Input Echoes control section, you can select among seven echo combinations—using up to six taps and feedback—and feed the echoes to the plug-in’s output (producing discrete echoes), into the reverb generator or both. Separate controls adjust the levels of the discrete and diffuse (reverberated) echoes. You can also make the reverb repeat, using controls in the Output Echoes section of the GUI: Three controls respectively adjust the gain, timbre and spacing of four delayed replicas of the reverb.
The Dynamics control section has three modes to select among: Duck, Comp(-ress) and DeEss. Duck mode attenuates the wet signal (reverb) whenever the dry signal is present. Comp mode compresses the wet signal to make it less linear. DeEss mode tames high-frequency sibilance in the wet signal only. Threshold and Recovery (release-time) controls are provided for Duck and Comp modes, while knobs for Threshold and Range (setting maximal gain reduction in decibels) regulate de-essing. The Dynamics, Input Echoes and Output Echoes processing blocks can each be independently bypassed.
You can also apply different EQ to the ERs and reverb. High-shelving filters for the ERs simulate reflective or absorbent materials in your virtual space. The EQ for the reverb is 4-band and includes high and low shelving and two parametric bell-curve filters, along with a bypass switch for each band.
The Time Filter section has three modes: Damping, Envelope and LFO. Damping adjusts the decay time for low and high frequency bands (each separately) relative to that for the midrange band, using ratio controls. (Ratios higher than 1.0 increase the relative decay time beyond that set by the Reverb Time control, while ratios below decrease it.) You can edit the high and low cutoff frequencies to shape the width of each band.
The Envelope and LFO modes each produce highpass or lowpass filter sweeps and share many common controls. In these two modes, you can set the filter type (HPF or LPF), lower and upper frequency limits for the sweep, direction of the sweep (high limit to low limit, or vice versa), Q (filter slope and resonance) and mix of filtered and non-filtered reverb. To determine the sweep speed, Envelope mode provides attack- and release-time controls, each calibrated in percentage terms in relation to the current reverb time. LFO mode, on the other hand, sets the sweep speed using a Rate control that can either be adjusted manually (in Hz) or synched to the host’s tempo (selecting from any of 17 note-length values, such as an eighth-note).
You can also apply amplitude modulation to the reverb’s input—depth and rate controls are provided—and frequency modulation (flanging or detuning) at the reverb’s output (using a wet/dry mix control dedicated to the FM processing). The reverb’s input can also be overdriven and clipped to make the wet signal harmonically richer. H-Reverb can be quantized to 8 or 12 bits to simulate vintage digital reverbs. Surround configurations of the plug-in let you adjust the EQ and relative level of rear-channel outputs and apply reverb to the Center channel.
In the Control Room
On vocals for a torch song, I could create unusual reverse reverb effects by dialing in long reverb and build-up times. Dialing in high amounts of widely spaced, dark-colored output echoes increased the effect’s depth and complexity, and applying an LPF and high-frequency damping to the reverb tail kept it from overwhelming the dry signal. This sounded fantastic once the effect kicked in enough to hear it, but it left the start of vocal phrases sounding too dry. The solution was to create a different patch on a second aux, using 0 ms pre-delay and the fastest possible buildup along with relatively fast X-Time and very low X-Gain settings. This gave me a fast build on a subtle reverb that got out of the way quickly without going completely dead. The combined effect sounded absolutely gorgeous and sat perfectly in the mix.
Each of H-Reverb’s 10 available ER patterns created an excellent ADT effect when I set the ER/Tail Balance knob fully counter-clockwise to completely eliminate the reverb tail. I could make the doubling sound tighter or looser by adjusting the reverb size, and richer by goosing the Drive control. Creating gated reverb for trap drums was also a snap: I simply jacked up the X-Gain control to increase the first tail’s sustain and increased the X-Time to dramatically shorten the second tail’s decay.
I created some nice dynamic vocal effects in Duck mode but often found myself wishing there was a wide-ranging ratio or range control included in the control set; I frequently wanted to set the ducker’s fixed attenuation depth deeper, to dry up vocal passages more. To aid setup, I also wished there were an LED that would light whenever signal passed the threshold. The only other thing missing was an input-level control, important when busing multiple tracks via sends to the same plug-in instance. But overall, H-Reverb is very easy to use. Most important, the sound quality is excellent. H-Reverb is a great—and unique—product.
Michael Cooper is a recording, mix, mastering and post-production engineer and a contributing editor for Mix magazine.
PROS: Sounds terrific. Unique. Highly versatile. Key parameters sync to host tempo.
CONS: No input-level control. Duck mode lacks attenuation-depth control. Operation manual needs more detail describing advanced controls.