Review – UltraReverb by Eventide
UltraReverb gives you equalization, compression, delay, a lo-fi effect, and at the heart of it all, a high quality reverb. We check it out in this review.
by Rob Mitchell, Sept 2016
Eventide is one of the most highly regarded producers of digital recording products. During the 1970s, they released their innovative H910 harmonizer, and in the 1980s they unleashed the powerful diatonic pitch-shifting H3000 effect processor. They also became famous for their high quality delays and lush reverbs. Over the years, many types of hardware units were manufactured by Eventide, and as home PCs became more powerful, they started to branch out into the software realm.
The UltraReverb is one of their software reverbs that actually could be called an all-in-one software effect processor. The reason is that it includes reverb, pre-EQ and post-EQ, delay, compressor, and a lo-fi effect. There are nine hardware-based reverb algorithms on board, and over 300 presets are included. I will go over the different sections of UltraReverb and we’ll check out how it works.
To get started with the installation, UltraReverb requires iLok authorization (but not a hardware dongle), so you’ll need to create a free account on their website in order to use it. Each license that is purchased has two activations available. If you’re installing on a PC, you’ll need Windows 7 or higher operating system, and for the Mac, you’ll need OS X 10.7 or higher operating system. For this review, I used a PC with Windows 8.1. Depending on which platform you’re on, you can choose between AU, AAX, AAX64, VST32, and VST64 versions for the install. After that has been selected, it then gives you the chance to select an installation directory.
When I had it loaded in my DAW, I proceeded to check out its main display. At the top-left is a drop-down menu for selecting presets where you can choose from many different categories. Some of these are Halls, Rooms, Chambers, and Plates. There are some others for more atmospheric types of sounds, delay presets, instrument presets, and they have included FX types as well. To the right of the standard Load/Save buttons there is a handy “Compare” button. This allows you to A/B a preset after you have started to tweak it, so you can decide if you like how it is progressing. Next to the Compare button is yet another handy item, the “Mix Lock” button. You can use this to lock the mix level in place as you browse through different presets. This is a nice feature, as the various presets usually have different mix levels. It can be helpful if you’re using the UltraReverb on an effects send, as you’d normally have it set to a 100% wet mix level. You just set it to 100%, click Mix Lock, and continue to browse through the other presets.
Below the menu bar is the section devoted to the reverb settings. From there, you’d able to select one of the nine algorithms it offers. Once you’ve decided on one of those, you can adjust the other parameters. These include basics such as room size and decay time, but Glide Rate is a nice added touch. How it works: If you change the “Room Size” setting using automation (or manually while audio is playing back) it will use the Glide Rate setting to determine how long it will take to get to the new setting for the Room Size. This can give it an interesting, spacey/unreal type of sound as it morphs from one size setting to the other. It works especially well when changing from a very small to a much larger room size. Modulation controls are also available, letting you adjust the amount and rate of modulation that is present in the reverb, giving it an amount of detuning. It is not overpowering, but when I was trying it out, it seemed to have more of an effect when using the “Room 2” algorithm. The “Lo-Fi” slider lets you add some grittiness to the sound, giving it something like a grungy amp/cabinet sound. It works using bit-reduction to achieve this effect.
Using the next set of controls you’re able to adjust the levels of Pre-Delay, Diffusion, Early Reflections, and Tail. Each of these also has an on/off button. You’d think that if you set the Pre-Delay to 0ms that it would get rid of any delay before the start of the reverb. That’s not always the case: If you have increased the Diffusion level, it can add some delay as well. This is just one reason why it is a good idea to be able to switch these on or off when needed.
To the right of the Reverb controls is the EQ section. There are many options here, as you’re able to switch between four different sets of equalization controls. They’ve included “Pre-EQ” and “Post-EQ” (before and after the delay and reverb), and you’re also able to adjust the Reverb and Delay EQ settings. The Reverb EQ has low and high shelving (but no bandwidth control), and the Delay EQ also has low and high shelving, but it also has a Mid-frequency that has its own bandwidth (Q) control. You can switch between these four different equalization settings by clicking the tabs along the right side of the display. Each of these four can also be switched on or off as needed.
In the Delay section, you can set it to be pre-reverb or post-reverb (or switch it off), and it has separate left/right delay, level, and feedback settings. The delay can be synced to the host by choosing “Session” in the dropdown menu, or you can set the BPM manually (using “Manual”).
To the right of the Delay section is the Compressor. The controls include Threshold, Ratio (ranging from 1:1 to 100:1), Gain, Attack, Release, and Knee. The compressor can be set to pre-reverb or post-reverb, or just switched off completely. The two displays show you the graphic representations of your settings for the input/output, and the amount of gain reduction. The “Key” dropdown menu gives you choices for the input that will control the depth of the compression. You can select from “Comp Input” (input to the compressor), “Plug-in Input” (uses the dry input to the plug-in), or “Sidechain Input” (from an external source). This is actually a very capable compressor that I wouldn’t mind having as a separate plugin.
The Snapshots feature in UltraReverb is a useful addition to the plugin, letting you configure up to 32 settings ahead of time. These work like presets, but they can be used from within the plugin display for quick changes. Each one is what they call a “scene”, and each can have completely different settings per scene/snapshot. These could be variations on a certain preset, so you could change the sound on-the-fly when needed, all without leaving the actual preset you started with. One way you can use these is to store different versions of a preset as you are working on it, sort of a scratchpad of ideas that you are able to save.
I really like how everything is contained in the one easy-to-use display, as it makes it simple to put together the sound you need in no time at all. UltraReverb is very easy to use, and has a highly intuitive design. Also, one item I neglected to mention earlier (it’s small, but useful) is that you can type in the amount for the control values. Even though the sliders do work very well, this addition is a welcome feature. Not all plugins have that capability, so I am glad they included it. The manual mentions that UltraReverb is “derived from the Orville and Eclipse”. I don’t have one of those expensive hardware reverbs to compare it to, but I will say it has an excellent sound which is at least as good (and sometimes exceeds) any of the others I have tried.
Eventide is a huge name in the audio effects world, and you really can’t go wrong with UltraReverb. It retails for $199 USD, and is also part of the “Anthology X” collection of Eventide plugins which retails for $1,195 USD. They have upgrade paths available for Anthology X if you already have some Eventide plugins. In addition, they have the “Eventide Ensemble” subscription, letting you pay monthly or yearly to get access to their top notch plugins. You can get additional information and check out the demo version on their website: