ValhallaDSP VintageVerb by Sound-Guy
Valhalla VintageVerb 2.0.2 from Valhalla DSP
Valhalla DSP is a developer of excellent audio processing tools as already noted in several earlier Gearslutz reviews. I just checked out the latest Valhalla VintageVerb, version 2.0.2, which replaces version 1.7.1 (Sean’s version numbers are always a refreshing surprise!). It is a minor update but includes one new reverb mode (Chaotic Neutral) and is the first VintageVerb available as a VST3 plug-in.
As I’ve noted in other reviews, Valhalla (a.k.a., Sean Costello) makes plug-ins that create a wide range of reverb and delay effects with some pitch shifting, modulation and other sometimes wild effects thrown in. His ‘motto’ is “bigger and better sounds are more important (and fun) than exactly duplicating physical reality”. In this case, however, the intent was to simulate the tones and ‘defects’ of early digital reverbs.
Is it New or is it Vintage?
The VintageVerb is a tribute to the classic (and expensive) hardware digital reverbs of the 1970s and 1980s. These were algorithmic devices rather than sample-based convolution units like many current reverb plug-ins, and had adjustments for decay time and predelay, damping control of high and low frequencies, and often EQ and modulation controls. VintageVerb has all these and more, including a “COLOR” control that provides the tonality of the 70’s, 80’s and a “modern” sound with clean modulation. In the 70’s, bandwidth and sample rates were limited – no one was sampling audio at 192 kHz! – and this color mode limits audio bandwidth of the reverberation to under 10 kHz and can also produce some rather “odd” artifacts that are part of the era (not mistakes in Sean’s coding!). In the 80’s sample rates and bandwidth of professional audio equipment had been increased but reverberation was still “artificial” sounding with some noise and artifacts, which this color mode creates. The modern color mode of VintageVerb creates reverb tails that are clean and transparent, without the ‘classic’ artifacts.
The 70’s era brings early digital reverbs to life with their limited bandwidth and sometimes odd artifacts.
The 80’s era brought wider bandwidth and cleaner reverb sound with a new set of artifacts.
The NOW mode provides modern full bandwidth and clean reverberation.
With all three ‘colors’ there are 18 algorithms available including various halls, chambers, rooms, plates, chorusing, and the new Chaotic Neutral mode. This new algorithm combines chaotic modulation effects with a clean algorithm architecture so that the reverb tone is like the input rather than darker or brighter. As I found with all the Valhalla units, the sound quality is excellent.
One thing you will notice about each of the Valhalla plug-ins is that there is no user manual, per se. However, I didn’t miss this much as I dove into this review since the controls are clearly identified and “self documenting”. If you mouse over any control, a tool tip will show up at the bottom left of the plugin. And Sean has a blog with links from each plug-in page of the Valhalla site with detailed descriptions of every control of every module in case you want more details.
I tested Valhalla VintageVerb using my trusty PC Audio Labs Rok Box with Intel Core i7-4770K CPU @ 3.5 GHz, 16 MB RAM running 64 bit Windows 7. RAM requirements were astonishingly small, only about 4 MB! And CPU use is also low – under half a percent with zero latency (measured using REAPER’s Performance Monitor and confirmed as best as possible with Windows Task Manager).
All the Valhalla tools are extraordinary and each priced very reasonably at US$50. VintageVerb for $50 is pretty much a steal for the capability and sound quality. Considering that a real EMT 250 carried a price tag of about $20,000 in 1976 (over $90,000 in 2019 dollars) and even the Lexicon 224 in 1978 with four algorithms was almost $8,000 (over $30,000 in 2019 dollars), fifty bucks for a reverb unit that can emulate these classics and others seems very reasonable. Valhalla did not attempt to exactly replicate the controls and sounds of specific units, but has captured the tones, noise, and artifacts of some of the great classic hardware, along with a modern, very clean reverb mode.
Do you need VintageVerb? If you don’t already have it, you should try the demo for yourself. While you’re at it, run the demos of each Valhalla to find what works for you. Buy what you want as you can. You certainly won’t be disappointed with any Valhalla product.
Excellent sound quality and extraordinary range of effects in each plug-in.
As with all Valhalla products, controls can be varied while sound is processing which can lead to some good dynamic effects.
Very easy to use with mouse-over tool tips for every control.
Great value for money
Really nothing unless you want a separate PDF manual – but I think you’ll find each plug-in easy to master, and a look at Sean’s documentation link for each unit will help if you want all the details.