Breverb Digital Reverb Plug-In

I may as well just get this out of the way right now, I really really love convolution reverbs! Since I often work with unplugged artists like opera singers and folk/rock performers, the ability to put an instrument or a vocalist in a truly real sounding space has to rank as one of the biggest advances in audio technology during the last decade. That said, sometimes a “real” sounding reverb just isn’t the sound that I’m after.

Up until now, hardware-based processors were a fairly big improvement over most of the algorithmic reverb plug-ins I’ve heard, but Over Loud’s Breverb reverb plug-in ($399) seeks to turn that equation on its ear with an algorithmic based processor that is designed to emulate high-end hardware reverb processors of the past. Like many of the hardware units that Breverb draws its inspiration from, there are only four basic algorithms: Hall, Room, Plate, and Inverse. There’s probably something to be said for this approach of relative simplicity, especially if you’re the sort that might scroll through endless presets in search of “the one.” Navigating Breverb’s interface is easy and intuitive. Only the profoundly dense will need to refer to the manual for most basic operations.

Even though there are are only four algorithms, there are well over 100 presets which range from the de rigeur reverb type effects to those that could more accurately be described as enhancers, such as a presets that are set up for thickening up vocals, guitars, or snare drums for example.

I ran the PC VST version 1.1.2 of Breverb on a Dual Xenon workstation under Magix Sequoia 10 and Steinberg Nuendo 4. Breverb is available for Apple Audio Units, VST and RTAS hosts running on PCs, PPCs or Intel-based Macs. One thing that Breverb has going for it is an extremely small footprint when it comes to processor usage. Even users with relatively modest machines will be able to instantiate many instances of Breverb before noticing a real hit in processor usage. All versions of Breverb are copy protected via iLok authorization.

I really didn’t appreciate the irritating orange color of the window that appears underneath the LARC-like ( the LARC was Lexicon’s dedicated controller for their high-end hardware reverbs) interface. At least in version 1.1.2 of Breverb, there’s no way to change the color. The one other thing that I found kind of annoying is that the dry signal slider always defaults back to zero when you change presets. Not that it’s a big deal, but it would be nice to be able to change presets without having to reset that slider each time when you’re using Breverb as an insert effect. Of course, if you’re using Breverb as an effects send you’ll only want the wet return, so this behavior ceases to be a problem.

One thing that I really appreciated about the interface was the ability to customize any (or all) of the 6 virtual sliders that compromise the bottom (or side, you can move the location of the slider pod) of the interface to allow you to access any of 41 available functions.

During the time that I spent with Breverb, I had the chance to compare it to other (hardware and software) reverbs. The results were pretty much what I expected. Breverb more than held its own when compared to the standard reverb plug-ins that accompany most DAW software. The Breverb reverbs were markedly deeper and denser, and overall were more believable. In addition there were many more parameters available for customization.

Breverb also fared quite well when I compared it to a venerable Zoom 9200 rackmount digital reverb. This (somewhat elusive) reverb was one of the better sounding reverbs of the early 1990s, and Breverb’s Room algorithm was quite a bit more “real” sounding. When I compared Breverb to a colleague’s Lexicon PCM-91, I did notice that the Lexicon unit had a more alive sound compared to Breverb. Then again, a PCM-91 still costs two kilobuck!

Although I don’t currently have a plate reverb in my studio, I’ve owned and used plate reverbs extensively in the past, and Breverb’s plate algorithm is one of the best plug-in versions that I’ve heard, sounding deep and resonant.

It wasn’t until I returned back to my standard reverb (Audio Ease’s excellent convolution reverb Altiverb 6) that I really felt as though I was missing something. While it’s seemingly not fair to compare a convolution reverb with one based on an algorithmic approach, as artists and producers what we ultimately seek are tools with which to best realize our visions. If I only had one reverb with which to work, it would have to be a convolution reverb. Happily, I don’t have to make that choice, and at the present time Reverberant is one of the best sounding algorithmic reverb plug-ins that I’ve heard.

Breverb does get pretty close to the sound of vintage hardware reverbs whilst allowing a good bit of customization to the sound with an intuitive interface. If the music that you produce is in need of this kind of sound, Breverb is certainly worth considering. By the time you read this, version 1.2 of Breverb may very well be available, which promises additional features and presets. Prospective purchasers (who already have an iLok) should take note that Overloud offers a fully functional 14-day demo of Breverb on their website.

Over Loud