Review by Bill Stunt
Antares, best known, for the legendary Auto-Tune plugin suite, has added reverb to its growing roster of vocal-focused offerings. It’s a logical addition to the company’s suite of pitch correction, harmonizing, dynamics controlling, de-essing and sonic manipulations, all pitched (pun intended) to buff your vocal tracks. Vocal Reverb combines an algorithmic reverb with some clever AI features and more, all designed to craft ambiences ideally suited to vocal production.
Past Featured Reviews
- February 2024: JH Audio Pearl + Ruby
- February 2024: Antares Vocal Reverb by Auto-Tune
- January 2024: Ableton Push 3
- December 2023: KIT Plugins BB A5
- Focal Twin6 ST6
- Earthworks SR117 & SR3117
- November 2023: AEA TRP3 and RPQ3
- October 2023: AudioScape 260VU Compressor/Limiter
- September 2023: Sound Devices MixPre-6 II
- August 2023: Soundtoys SuperPlate
- July 2023: Strymon Zelzah Multidimensional Phaser
- June 2023: RME Fireface UFX III
Step Up to the Plate (and the Room and the Hall)
The ambience choices in Vocal Reverb are built on a trio of classic Plate, Room and Hall reverb types. Your selection is made below a central Visualizer display that offers a graphically dynamic representation of the current settings. The graphic becomes more or less “wavy” depending on the mod rate and depth settings, and changes color to match the style.
The vocal or instrument range you wish to affect is set automatically with a Learn function or manually from a drop-down list of suggestions. You can also use an Assist function. It performs a “Learn” routine and then guides you through a series of optional pop-ups for tailoring an appropriate reverb.
You will be asked to select the reverb algorithm/style, the size of the simulated space and the resulting tone.
A macro-style Size knob controls a combination of decay, diffusion and delay in the reverb mix.
There are three initial Tone options: bright, natural and dark. This is also a macro-style offering that predetermines the reverb damping and a post-reverb EQ. Both of these can be tweaked further later.
Continuing on our AI-assisted path, the next pop-up window lets you choose some additional automatic parameter settings. Here, you get two columns with two selections each—”Gritty” and “80s” in one, and “octave up” or an “octave down” in column two. You can combine one selection from each column or skip these altogether. Once satisfied with your selections, you confirm your choice by clicking “Apply.”
Tails You Win
Vocal Reverb has an interesting single-knob Auto EQ function. Using Auto-Tune technology, Auto EQ tracks the pitch of the incoming vocal and then dynamically reduces the corresponding fundamental frequency range in the reverb’s tail. The idea is for the two to blend coherently together in a musical way.
Further, reverb controls include pre-delay (time or BPM-synced) modulation with rate and depth controls, damping, width and mix.
Vocal Reverb has a dedicated delay section offering mono and ping-pong stereo options that can be set freehand or tempo synced to the project. This section also provides feedback, variable low-pass and mix controls.
The Antares vocal paradigm comes even more alive in the Advanced section. There are two control sets organized in Pre and Post-Verb groups.
The Pre-Verb group includes Pitch, Throat, Tube, Smooth and Reverse sliders. Pitch allows you to blend in a second voice, an octave up or an octave down, alongside the input signal. Throat adjusts the formant of the added octave. There’s a master mix knob for the two. This can be useful to thicken and fill out a vocal or be used as a noticeable effect.
The Tube slider introduces saturation artifacts to the input as you push it up. Smooth dynamically reduces sibilance with optional target frequencies of 5 or 7 kHz. Reverse chops the input into time-synced bits, then flips them. This includes a control to set the time increment.
On the Post-Verb side are controls for the Tone Shaper. This simple but effective EQ section includes variable high and low-pass filters with a tilt-style EQ in the middle, along with a graphic display. The pivot point of the tilt EQ is 750 Hz with a +/- 3dB boost or attenuation. As you boost the highs, the low-end is attenuated in equal amounts and vice-versa.
There is also a simple fixed-ratio, single-slider compressor and a gate with a threshold slider and release knob.
All three reverb algorithms have lovely depth and, in the case of Room and Hall, a sense of spatial realism. The Plate algorithm does an excellent job representing that familiar resonant metallic ping and splash.
The pre-delay, diffusion, and corresponding controls give you more than enough power to craft an optimal reverb to taste. The modulation effect is especially effective in simulating 80s-type algorithmic reverb units.
Most of the time, my ear gravitated toward the Plate style when searching for a vocal reverb. The implementation here is enhanced with the addition of the Delay module. I almost always add a delay in front of a plate as the early reflections are so close and dense that the ear can’t distinguish them. A bit of delay adds realism without masking the plate reverb’s apparent charms.
Help Me Out
The Assist function works well at guiding you through automatic parameter settings. It defaults to the Plate algorithm, which (as mentioned) makes sense for a vocal-centric plugin. But it’s easy to swap in the other algorithms to see if they are more practical for your mix.
Interestingly, the AI-Assist gravitates to longer decay times than I would typically choose, but I was pleasantly surprised at how often the suggested settings worked. Of course, it’s simple to reduce decay times and more to taste. The Auto-EQ adds a lovely smoothness to the tails, and despite or even because of its single-knob simplicity, it’s a standout feature.
The Pre and Post-Verb filters are basic but more than effective, and I really like the Tilt feature.
Getting Vocal About Vocal Verb
Antares Vocal Reverb by Auto-Tune offers an interesting new approach in a sea of plugin reverbs. With the company’s unique, vocal-centric features and added AI assistance, Vocal Reverb helps you answer the question, “Do I want to welcome another reverb into my plugin folder?” with an informed and emphatic, “Yes.” This seems like a good place to point out that Vocal Reverb isn’t necessarily just for vocals. If you want to find out for yourself, there is a 14-day free trial to the full Auto-Tune Unlimited is available to everyone, regardless of previous trials or subscriptions.
Price: FREE for Auto-Tune Unlimited subscribers at $24.99/mo or $174.99/year (equivalent to $14.58/mo if paid annually). Perpetual license: $129.00 – Includes one FREE year of Auto-Tune Producer.
More From: antarestech.com