ValhallaDSP ValhallaSupermassive by Sound-Guy
Valhalla Supermassive from Valhalla DSP
Valhalla DSP is well known for their very fairly priced, excellent audio processing tools and a couple weeks ago surprised us all with a freebie for COVID times. This is Valhalla Supermassive, which as Sean Costello, the creator of Valhalla plugins says, “is designed to blow your mind and your music to new levels of consciousness”. This processor is based around different configurations of feedback delay networks that can provide a very wide range of effects from conventional delays and reverberation to wild swirling atmospheres.
The Short Review
It’s a Valhalla, it’s free, get it!
As I’ve noted in other reviews, Valhalla’s (a.k.a., Sean Costello’s) ‘motto’ is “bigger and better sounds are more important (and fun) than exactly duplicating physical reality”. And Supermassive certainly can provide bigger, better non-realistic effects along with more “normal” delays/echos and reverbs.
Supermassive has eight algorithms that define the basic feedback configurations. Actually there are both feed-back paths and feed-forward paths which can produce all kinds of fascinating sound mangling. The algorithm names roughly follow astronomical features in the heavens such as Gemini, Capricorn, and Sagittarius, along with the somewhat frightening Great Annihilator. I won’t spend time going into details on these since you can find everything described nicely on the Valhalla site (https://valhalladsp.com/2020/05/07/v...ive-the-modes/). The algorithms are each different from one another, although some are closely related like Andromeda and Sagittarius. The various algorithms, along with varying settings such as Warp, Feedback and Density cover a wide range of delays, echos and reverberation. As with other Valhalla processors there are loads of presets and you can “roll your own” and save them in a user preset folder.
Supermassive includes a pile of presets and a folder to save your own.
Some results I got were surprising and unique – when I tried to replicate them on other delay and reverb processors I couldn’t come close. One surprise was using a preset (Sagittarius Ambiance Chorus) on a kick drum track – using zero Delay and zero Warp I found by varying Feedback, Density, and Modulation (Rate and Depth) I could “tune” the kick drum, adjust the relative “click” of the beater and add some room ambiance. Likewise I could vary tuning and obtain surprising spacial effects with the Hydra model using low Delay and Warp settings. The Great Annihilator with a short Delay created astounding effects by changing the Feedback level dynamically, especially above 70%. As with other Valhalla units, you can change these settings using automation as sounds are playing and get smooth, and often very surprising results.
I’ve been recording and mixing digital audio for 25 years and recall early reverbs with very crude algorithms and tails that would get “grainy” and break up as they faded down. Today reverbs can sound excellent and I always check out their tails right down to extinction by increasing gain as they fade away. As with all Valhalla units, I can raise the gain 60 dB or more as the tail fades below audibility and it is clean and smooth right on down. If ever you try this, don’t forget to pull the faders back down before playing more tracks!
I’ve supplied three audio examples, a piano track, vocal and a drum track. The piano sample uses a configuration I devised using the Great Annihilator mode – it starts with a dry signal and then I run the Mix up to 100%. I named this Cool Piano to Organ in my preset folder.
My Piano to Organ settings.
The vocal sample shows one of the more realistic presets, SpaceVerb 1999, again starting out dry and bringing up the Mix to about 50%. As it played I automated the Feedback level to vary the length of the tails. I also changed Supermassive’s EQ settings, dropping the high frequency to 4 kHz and raising the low to 400 Hz to focus the reverb in the mid-range.
The kick drum track (mono input, stereo output using the Sagittarius Ambiance Chorus preset) starts with the mix at zero, after about five beats the mix is raised to 50% and then the Feedback, Density, Mod Rate and Mod Depth are varied as the drum continues. Nice how much variation is available from a dry audio sample.
These examples barely scratch the surface, as they say. Supermassive is a really fine reverb/echo, even though it costs nothing!
All Valhalla plugins are extraordinary and each priced very reasonably at US$50 EXCEPT Supermassive (and the much less sophisticated Valhalla Freq Echo) at a very affordable US$0! Also zero Canadian dollars and zero Euros! I’d say you absolutely cannot beat this deal!
Do you need Supermassive? Why would you not? If you don’t already have some Valhalla reverbs or delays, here is a chance to find out what all the buzz is about. Many professional engineers use them on major albums, even engineers who can afford far more than US$50 for audio processors. Check Supermassive out and then try some of the others – I especially recommend Valhalla Delay (ValhallaDSP ValhallaDelay) and VintageVerb (ValhallaDSP VintageVerb). Test them all and buy what you can afford. You certainly won’t be disappointed with any Valhalla product.
I tested Valhalla Supermassive 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 are small, only about 8 MB. And CPU use is very low – I measured 0.1% to 0.14% cpu resource depending on the model and settings, and zero latency in all cases (measured using REAPER’s Performance Monitor).
Excellent sound quality, wide range of effects with some unique sound mangling possibilities.
As with all Valhalla products, controls can be varied while sound is processing which can lead to some great dynamic effects.
Continuously variable window size from 145×274 pixels to as large as you dare.
Very easy to use with mouse-over tool tips for every control.
Great value for money – in fact Supermassive has INFINITE value for the money!
Really nothing unless you want a separate PDF manual – but using the mouse-over tool tips I think you’ll find it easy to master, and a look at Sean’s documentation link will help if you want all the details.