Despite the embarassment of riches that is available effect plug-ins, sometimes an effect is special enough that, on its own, it becomes a favorite. If you feel like there’s a gap in your reverb collection, Audio Damage’s new Reverence could become one of those plug-ins.

Classic vintage digital reverbs were capable of unique, rich plate simulations unlike any other kind of reverb. (Yes, digital hardware is now old enough to be called vintage.) You’ve probably already used a preset that attempts to recreate this sound, but if you’re using the typical reverb bundled in your DAW, the results are often downright awful. Many convolution reverbs include lush sampled plates, some of them even recorded from impulse files of digital gear, but a convolution interface is rarely the best way to control these effects and this technique is tremendously CPU costly. There’s hardware like the Lexicon MPX series, but most of us want plug-ins.

Reverence is the new plug-in from Audio Damage built specifically as an emulation of digital ‘verbs of yore. (The front panel recalls the Lexicon 200.) I’ve been throwing it into mixes since a pre-release version came out last week. While I’ve generally trimmed down the number of plug-ins I use, this one has fast become essential.

The focus on doing one thing and doing it well pays off here:

  1. Clear front panel and simple controls: In this case, emulating hardware makes everything easy to see and follow conceptually. Reverence’s controls are pretty much limited to what you’ll need.
  2. Light on CPU: Audio Damage claims this uses an “optimized algorithm” and sure enough, even on the long reverbs the CPU meter doesn’t tick. (My test machine this week is an Athlon64 x2 3800+ PC running Reverence as a VST in Ableton Live 5.2.) If you’re looking for a live performance reverb, this could be a good choice, especially compared to using plate and digital impulses in a convolution reverb like Apple Space Designer.
  3. MIDI learn: Like Audio Damage’s other controls, VST MIDI mapping capabilities are included. The controls also mapped perfectly to my Novation ReMOTE SL, which always benefits from having a few, simple controls to manipulate. You wouldn’t want to use the size control onstage, but you could get effects by adjusting the output mix, input mute, and reverb stop controls.

Most importantly, this plug-in sounds terrific. Plates rock. You can hear some more creative examples of Reverence working on synths and vocals in the examples from Audio Damage. I’ll second that, but subtle effects on vocals, synths, keyboards, and drums are also in order. Here are two typical examples.

First, using the piano plate preset, applied to the Steinway D from Native Instruments’ Akoustik Piano. Dry, the piano already has some resonance, captured in NI’s samples:

Dry piano

But wet, the plate adds a lot of sparkle, particularly at the high end:

Wet piano

Switching to acoustic drums, first a backbeat loop included with Live 5.2 with reverb turned off:

Dry drums

You could add some typical reverb, but I find this often sounds flat. A plate can add some badly-needed punch, using the Big Eighties! preset on a send:

Wet drums

The presets are neatly organized into send effects (like the drum plates) and insert effects (like the piano), as pictured.

Audio Damage already has a near-cult following for their plug-ins, and developer Chris Randall’s loud-mouthed blog Analog Industries, where they have been some interesting discussions of this plug-in, and plug-in development in general. Word must be spreading, or this must be filling a niche others don’t have, because it’s already AD’s best-selling plug-in ever.

I will echo the calls for a “reverb” pack. I’ve long been a fan of one plug-in that Audio Damage reports hasn’t been terribly popular, the excellent, dark Deverb plug.

In the mean-time, though, Reverence is a must-have. The combination of light CPU usage with great sound at US$39 is just about perfect. Now we’re just left to wonder what gear Audio Damage has their eyes on next.

Compatibility: Mac VST/AU (Universal); Windows VST
Cost: US$39
Official product page [Audio Damage]