ValhallaDSP Valhalla Plate by joe_04_04
- Plugin: Valhalla Plate
- Developer: Valhalla DSP
- Formats: 32/64 bit VST for OSX and Windows, 32/64 bit Audio Units for OSX, 32-bit RTAS for OSX and Windows, 64-bit AAX for OSX and Windows
- Price: 50 USD
- DRM: Activation Key
- Websites: ValhallaDSP
The Scope: The mastermind behind some of the best algorithmic reverb plugins is at it again. This time around, he brings us the classic plate type reverb - and it is phenomenal to say the least.
Sound Quality - 5/5: One doesn’t have to peruse the forums too long in order to obtain the general consensus on Valhalla reverbs: They are some of the best algorithmic reverbs on the planet. Each unit has something slightly different to offer, but all have some hidden secret on-goings under-the-hood that keep us coming back for more. Valhalla Plate inspires the same familiar sensations we received from Room and VintageVerb, but with the radically different sound and a more streamlined approach. Plate merely offers us yet another luscious reverb color for our mixing “palettes.” The algorithms all offer ultra smooth, ultra realistic, and ultra convincing sounds, which is absolutely mind-blowing when you take into account the price of this unit. As odd as it sounds, Valhalla Plate is the first reverb plugin I’ve used that actually sounds as if it is “alive,” in that it spreads and moves the audio about the space in such a way that it doesn’t feel or sound like a coldly-calculated decision, even though in reality, that is what it is. While wearing headphones, the first time I inserted the plugin on an auxiliary track and sent a vocal to it, I literally shuddered a bit and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Needless to say, this doesn’t happen often to me, regarding any piece of gear, so this sort of reaction is definitely one I will remember. A few of my favorite modes are “Chrome,” which is really bright and helps to move the reverb closer to the front of a denser mix, and “Brass,” which is unusually punchy for a reverb, but tends to work well with percussive elements. Brass mode also tends to stick out more noticeably because of this punchy characteristic, which is one of the reasons I’ve been picking it in my tests. The other reverb modes are equally just as awesome. There isn’t much else to say about Valhalla Plate other than it is sounds absolutely amazing in just about any configuration: low decay time/high decay time and any choice of reverb mode. They all sound absolutely wonderful. Words can’t entirely capture it. I foresee it making its way onto a ton of future tracks.
Ease of Use - 5/5: When it comes to ease of use, I think Sean really nailed the workflow on this plugin. Some users may disagree with the more streamlined approach, but I appreciate the simplicity of this reverb in comparison to some others that are more convoluted (no pun intended). Plate’s visuals offers the user total focus, with the biggest parameters being arguably the one’s most frequently visited (“Delay”) and the smaller ones being in less demand for a majority of tasks (“Mod” and “Depth”), though still important none-the-less. There are not enough parameters to get entirely lost and “geeky” with, resulting in less “tweak fatigue” and quicker results that sound great. The only thing I’m missing in the ease of use category is a few modifier key commands (option+click to reset a parameter, etc.) that I’m entirely used to that are present in a large majority of plugins in Pro Tools. These things are ultra handy to have, especially when a vast majority of developers adhere to them. This is not enough of an issue that would constitute a full point drop though, just nitpicky aspects, for Plate rightfully and entirely deserves a 5/5 in this category.
Features - 4/5: Plate has a rather slim set of features, but yet packs a huge range of combinations, making it super flexible. This happens to be my most favorite plugin design philosophy. It is far too easy for a developer to give you way too many controls, hoping you’ll love the options, only to find out the user doesn’t touch most of them. It is much harder to narrow them down to a handful of controls that are all super useful - Plate pulls this off superbly:
- Mix/Dry - for blending dry back in, if used as an insert
- PreDelay - Inserts a delay pre reverb, to help separate the source and the reverb
- Decay - Everything from super small rooms (great on drums and guitars) to huge, lush, cavernous spaces (cool for soundscapes on pads)
- Size - Affects the size of the reverb plate
- Width - Collapse your stereo image or bring it out further to the edges of the speakers
- EQ section - 2 bands of equalization (Low and HIgh) for the reverberated signal
- Modulation section - Modulates the bass frequencies of the reverberated signal based on Rate and Depth
- Mode - Changes between the 7 different reverb types
- Resizable GUI, from super small to huge, and everything in-between.
- Multiple options for how the knobs react (Circular Dragging, Up/Down Dragging, etc.) and options for them to be velocity-sensitive or linear.
- Relatively low CPU, though I doubt you will need more than a few instances going on in any one session (Tested on an Intel 2.4 GHz quad core i5)
The only feature I really feel is missing is host syncing on the pre-delay time. These sort of things can be entirely trivial, as you can dial them in by ear or bust out a calculator and do the math yourself, but they are nice to have implemented. ValhallaFreqEcho has this feature in its design, so I know that Valhalla is capable of implementing this. This was my only issue on the otherwise perfect feature set.
Bang for Buck - 5/5: Valhalla Plate is superb for its price range (and others outside its range). This goes for all of Valhalla’s reverbs. Gone are the days of paying $1000 to $2000 for hardware reverbs and gone are the days of paying $300 to $500 for a good reverb plugin. All of Valhalla’s reverbs, including Plate, offer the same insanely low price to high quality ratio. You simply cannot go wrong with buying any of them. Plate offers a bit more of a focused user experience, which I tend to enjoy more than an expansive feature set; in an odd way, I think this may have an even better value, as it is extremely easy to dial in. With a price tag of 50 USD, this is a no brainer and an instant purchase for anyone in need of a good, low-priced reverb.
Verdict: Even though I’ve already said it multiple times, I’ll say it again. This reverb is phenomenal. It is the only reverb to date that has caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand up and my jaw to drop. It just sounds that great. I will admit that I’m not the most informed individual on every aspect of reverbs, but the fact remains, it doesn’t take a reverb expert to acknowledge the massive amounts of work Sean has put into this unit. His contributions in this field have affected the audio community in a massive way, I think some individuals would feel lost without these products. I see Plate becoming a go-to for both newer mixers who need something affordable and for seasoned mixers who just can’t get enough of Valhalla’s sounds. I’m not sure how Sean will top this one, but to be fair, I said the same about Valhalla Room.