Still best reverb overall, after all these years! Especially great for big sounding leads and pads. Also one of the most customisable reverbs with unique parameters like attack and spread, and the echo functions.
As a film composer in Los Angeles, one of the many tasks of my job is to create a realistic sounding electronic mock-up of the score for a director to audition. Two key ingredients are essential in successfully achieving this feat: the choice of the sample libraries used (the “source”) and the choice and use of the reverbs (the “space”).
The way in which I work involves running as much of the studio in as real-time fashion as possible, permitting me to make fast composing or mixing changes on the fly. As I have to provide a very elaborate full-on orchestral presentation, many computers have to be utilized to reproduce it, which also means many subtle layers of reverberation have to be added into the mix. Using hardware reverb boxes would be very cost-prohibitive and complicated to integrate, so a software solution was the only realistic option. Unfortunately, most software offerings weren't up to snuff in the quality department...until the introduction of the Arts Acoustic reverb (AAR) plug-in.
After listening to the mp3 demos posted on the Arts Acoustics website, then downloading and running the demo version of the plug-in within my sequencer, I was instantly hooked. My first impression was how “musical” it sounded, inspiring me to write a new piece of music just from playing a sampled piano through it. This reverb has no metal-edged artifacts that plague most other software reverbs, and it always finishes with an ultra-smooth tail--typical desirable characteristics of a high-end hardware box.
AAR includes many useful presets to get you started, yet it's fast and easy to dial-in a sound or “color” as well, due to its excellent control facilities and GUI. I’ve never worked with a reverb that always sounded so great no matter how much I intentionally abused its controls--AAR's sound always sounds musical. Quickly winning me over, I purchased AAR and didn't waste any time putting it into very heavy use on my projects.
One of the best features--specifically in my case--is the flexible usage clause of the AAR license agreement. You can run as many instances on as many different computers (doesn't matter which plug-in format or even which platform) as you want! My studio setup is configured to run 18 separate AAR reverbs spanned across 7 computers (and AAR is relatively CPU friendly for what it does). This setup is absolutely essential for me to be able to produce the sonic illusion of a real orchestra performing on a Hollywood soundstage.
Having had many email conversations directly with the Arts Acoustic Team, as well as participating on the Arts Acoustic KVR-hosted Forum, I can happily report excellent customer service and support. They have always answered my questions in a timely manner, before and also after the sale, a quality which I find is sometimes lacking with other companies.
I can't rave enough about AAR's smooth-as-silk sound, ease of use, unlimited simultaneous usage license, very affordable cost, and on top of all of that, superb, personalized customer service.
The Arts Acoustic Reverb has been the only reverb I've needed to help produce polished, smooth, professional film scores.
As many know I am a big fan of this plugin. I was surprised to find that no one had reviewed it. As the company just gave us a wonderful update I guess it is time.
Know that I have many reverb plugins in my folder. Some have very specific uses which I could not do without but there is no question on the quality, usability and versatility here. If I could only have one verb this would be it.
GUI: The GUI is quite usable and understandable. One is given a basic graph of what is going on under the hood which leads to very fast and competent parameter manipulation. Once you understand what affects what (as in any plugin) everything is laid out very nicely. The Float-Editing Window is also handy when finessing the sound. If I dont like a GUI I tend not to use a plugin very much. This one is easy and useful. My only complaint here is the color- no biggie, and I do like the fun meter scheme.
Sound: This is hands down the best native reverb in the marketplace today. As an algorithm designer for many years for one of the most sought after high end hardware lines available, I can say with conviction this is as close to high end hardware as I have heard and in many cases better. One can generate lots of different textures and one is able to pocket different sources while mixing. This will not bury things unless you wish to. It stands out above other reverbs when coloring a sound is desired. This is not a 'one-trick-pony'. It has been a much valued bit of kit in my arsenal. From Stick and guitar to vocals to drums to ambient textures it is my first choice in reverb. What I can not get from it I load in a convolution reverb where I use things like Spiritcanyon IR's or wavefiles to morph/mangle a source in a sound design manner. They just drastically lightened the CPU load and included 64 bit so I will be less inclined to load a lesser plugin in times where CPU was an issue (Ableton Live on a Mac).
Features: The design flexibility and interaction of this structure leads to VERY variable sonics. It is laid out in a very easy manner and one has full control and response from the parameters. By this I mean that altering say Diffusion leads to usable color change across the entire span of the control. The interaction of this parameter to others means one can fine tune or paint with broad strokes as needed. The available Time and Room parameters offer a lot of flexibility in tuning the space and getting instruments to sit properly. One is not limited to a specific color from this plugin (within the constraints of a reverberant field - it is a reverb by definition).
The echo and modulation sections are stellar and for me one of the reasons I tried the plugin in the first place. As an algorithm based effect this is a perfect match to a good convo verb. In contrast to convolution (a static effect ie no possible modulation) the ArtsAcoustic Reverb can swim. It can also be loud, which is as it should be, and missing from every other software reverb I have. And the spacial aspects of this plugin is fabulous.
Docs: The manual is well laid out and gives a lot of information not only on this product but in the realm of reverb in general. Worth reading even if you are an expert. No downside so not much else needs to be said.
Presets: The supplied presets are well thought out and will inspire as well as get you in the ballpark. But know that Reverb like EQ and Compression is never a freebee, you must tweak to get the most out of it. But tweaking is quite simple.
Support: I have had excellent support from AA. I had trouble with an update (my own fault) and had replies from them almost immediately and this was in the wee hours their time - I was floored. They got me up and running fast and I could not be happier with their assistance and willingness. "Thanks for your quick help, I actually did not expect to hear from you until tomorrow... No problem, we try the best we can. We're satisfied when the user is." We have all heard that sort of talk before but I can assure you in this case it is meant. Also they have one of the best UL's I have seen and know that several users found this very valuable. All this in an age of proliferating dongles and Pace. :)
Value For Money: No question this software is worth every cent they are asking. They have also taken the high road and not succumbed to many desires of 'group buys' which tend to lower the value of ones purchase, if for some insane reason you decided you wished to resell this software.
Stability: For myself I have had exactly zero stability issues. In Ableton it does take some time to draw the GUI first time up but no problems with audio issues, instantiating, loading/saving presets or parameter manipulation. Ditto in my other hosts and now with AU I wont need to wrap it which worked fine for me.
Complaints: None. This has filled a very important hole in my rig as I moved off hardware. Now I wish someone would offer me an equivalent quality VST/AU PitchShift package.
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