Are there good alternatives for the free Reverb plugins found on Windows?

My daughter is recording herself using Ardour and I help out where I can. She’s been in touch with other artists and with some audio engineers, trying to learn the craft on the go.
Although recording in Ardour works great and she has become really proficient, her main complaint is that for mixing her tracks, the reverb options are very limited. There seems to be nothing comparable to the many great options (even free) offered on Windows.

I think this may not be a matter of the plugins being bad, but more that they need a bit more work to get them to sound right. But for beginners this is not very easy to do.

Does anybody have any tips to add some nice reverb to guitar and voice tracks without sounding like you’ve got your head stuck in a bucket? (Her words :wink:

Is this on Linux? Or Mac? I assume not Windows…


What do you use now? For a start, try Mverb or one of the Dragonfly Reverbs. They are available for Linux, MacOS and Windows.

On Linux, most Windows plugins work fine with yabridge. (mostly except for those with extensive DRM). This might be difficult to set up, in that case you might want to try AVLinux where it is already set up.


What style of reverb? For natural room reverbs a convolution based reverb can be good, but you need the impulse response(s) matching the size and type of room you want.

I would second the recommendation for Dragonfly. The original project was split apart into three or four separate user interfaces to emphasize a particular range of settings, which makes things a little simpler for someone less experienced, you don’t have to worry about starting from nothing with the full range of parameters available, you pick whether you want a plate, room size, or hall size reverb and load the appropriate plugin (which is really the same engine in all the plugins, just different ranges of parameters suggested).

The dragonfly plugins implement different algorithms, rather than just presenting different ranges of settings. The names are mostly suggestions - start with the name that best matches the effect that you want, but feel free to try the others. Somebody once told me that they like to dial up the size of Dragonfly Room to make a hall effect instead of using Dragonfly Hall, for example.

Thanks for setting me straight, I did not realize that the different plugins were actually different algorithms. I’m going to have to try out the different versions and listen more carefully, maybe try out some really big rooms or really small halls to see how they compare.
Have to hit the workbench first, one of my mini-monitors broke, and my headphones broke. :face_with_thermometer: :loud_sound:

Sorry yes, not Windows obviously. We’re using Linux.

I’ve played around with the Dragonfly reverb but it is not easy to have it sound natural on simple vocals and guitar without some post-processing. Maybe that is the difference with some of the plug-ins under Windows: their presets seem to do the right thing out of the box.

@ccaudle the convolution based reverb seems very promising, but I’ve struggled with setting it up in a way that made it sound ‘nice’ for lack of a better word. Our purpose is to have a natural, deep tone with a suggestion of an intimate setting without sounding flat.

I don’t know how good these work on vocals, but it is worth a try :
Surge XT Effects. You have to install the SurgeXT Synth to install the Surge XT Effects plug-in. It is free. Here is the downoad link :

Also, are you adding the effects to the vocal track itself, or a send to an audio buss with the reverb? If you send to a bus, you can also EQ and compress just the reverb.

Maybe you already did this , but just in case :
On Dragonfly room, you can adjust the High-Cut knob, it may make it sound more natural. Also, put ‘Spin’ and ‘Wander’ at 0.00, as these are modulating the reverb. Be sure to adjust the overall decay to what you are trying to achieve. Also adjust the levels as well. 100% Dry if plugin is on the track, and adjust others. If you are on a buss, use 0% dry, and 100% wet if, and the other levels maybe start with the default and drop until you achieve your sound.

Another suggestion would be to use some sort of light HAAS effect as well, but be careful with that one.

Just a note to avoid confusion, I assume that is supposed to be 100% wet if you mean on a separate reverb bus.

The Dragonfly Early Reflections plugin would be useful for that.

I think I will put on my list of things to check using both early reflection busses as well as a reverb bus. It seems that it should be possible to simulate a bit of depth layering by sending different tracks to different early reflections settings, and have all of the early reflection busses feed the reverb bus. So you get the same overall late reverb for everything, but the early reflections are different, like the different instruments are placed in different areas of the stage (for natural effects, or could be more extreme settings for artistic effects), but all in the same room.

I have edited my post to make it more clear. Thank you!

This sounds like something good to try!

I can offer some nice and easy to use convolution reverb: x42 Zero Config|Latency Convolver – Get it with the “Samplicity M7 Reverb Collection” IRs (which come from the excellent “Bricasti m7” Reverb Unit) from the plugin page. Restart Ardour to pick up the plugin and IR presets.

In Ardour, add a Stereo Reverb bus and an Aux-send from the Vocal Track to the Bus, this allows to control the amount of reverb. Load the “x42 - Preset Convolver Stereo” Plugin to the bus:

For vocals, “Room” Reverbs are often the way to go, and it’s easy to try a few different ones (just open the plugin GUI and double click while playing the vox in a loop).

In general it is preferable to “place the whole performance in the same space”. So add sends from all tracks to the same reverb bus with the reverb plugin.

In practice however I tend to use two Reverb busses. One for drums, and one for everything else (guitar, vox, keys, maybe a bit of bass). For the former I regularly use “M7 - Ambiences - Percussion Air” and the latter “M7 - Chambers - Vocal Chamber”.


Thanks for all the great suggestions! @ccaudle I’ll definitely will try out the early reflections/late reverb. It sounds like it might be a bit of work to get right but if it works the result should be really nice.

The only experience with ‘early reflections’ I’ve had was with the Invada plugin (seemingly the development has been discontinued?) and it never really worked for me. That could also be due to my inexperience of course. I’ll try the Dragonfly one (did not know about that).

And @x42 I’ll definitely check out the convolution reverb you mention. It seems sensible to have multiple instruments share the same reverb, although another method I’ve seen is where the dry signal is panned one way (say, left) and the reverb the other way (right), maybe to produce something like the aforementioned HAAS effect. I have not tried that so I don’t know if it would work.

Among the commercial providers, Eos 2, Fog Convolver 2, and TAL-Reverb-4 come to mind. Valhalla Super Massive also works very well with yabridge.

Well, you can still do that. The source track has a panner, and the aux-send to the reverb bus has a separate panner. By default they are linked, but you can edit the the send pan separately after unlinking the control. Double-click on the send to edit its paner.


Hard left/right separation of source and reverb is unusual. I recall a Bowie song where it’s used as effect. But one usually only does this for echo/delay.

Here are some more free reverbs on Linux that haven’t been mentioned yet (or tried by me).

I mostly stick with Harrison XT plugins for effects processing, which are pre-installed with Ardour (if you choose) and Mixbus/Mixbus32C. I like their sound and GUIs, so I bought the bundle, but you can use them with Ardour’s controls if you right-click on them and select “Edit with generic controls…” However, you don’t get the advantage of the presets that come with the licensed copies, and some of them are a bit harder to visualize what you are doing without the GUIs.

Room Reverb
I am using Harrison Mixbus 32C latest version and AvLinux MXE latest version.

This plugin LV2 version causes the channel meter to rise to the pin and some strange feedback phenomenon. The VST3 version works correctly.

I sent a bug report to the developer…

This is incredible. Treasure. And it doesn’t take too much dsp resources. Goes directly to the mix in progress

Why haven’t I noticed this before, even though I think I got all your plugins a while ago. Like all the others, X42 is among the best plugins out there.


Whoaw, thank you Robin, great plugin. I will use this reverb from now on.

This very informative! I need to try these ideas.
For some reason my preset convolver stereo doesn’t see the sound libraries. Theyre all in my home>Music forlder at the moment. Is that ok?
IR seems to find the libraries, is there a way to make preset convolver stereo search?
Many thanks