Eventide Blackhole Reverb Plug-in by Diogo C
- Plugin: Blackhole
- Developer: Eventide
- Formats: VST, AU and AAX plug-ins for Mac and Windows.
- Price: $199 MSRP ($19 for Anthology-X owners)
- Demo: Fully functional for 30 days
- DRM: iLok2 (USB dongle not required)
- Website: https://www.eventideaudio.com/produc...verb/blackhole
The scope: Blackhole isn’t your vanilla reverb. It breaks away from the plate-room-hall-chamber paradigm and brings a single algorithm geared towards making reverbs as big as the cosmos. First displayed on the DSP4000 and H8000, the Blackhole algorithm became quite famous on Eventide’s Space pedal, where it made guitar solos more epic and cosmic than ever. The plugin borrows some inspiration from the pedal, like the “hot switch” button which can load a second setting on the fly and the general layout of the controls are reminiscent of a guitar pedal, however, Eventide hasn’t missed the opportunity to take advantage of what the plugin format can offer and included some clever controls, such as the horizontal ribbon controller, which not only looks great (it really does!) but also works very well morphing parameters: the user can freely set a working range for each of the controls and the ribbon controller will slide from minimum to maximum positions. Coupled with the “hot switch” the ribbon controller offers a lot of variations under the same preset and can add a lot of movement if automated.
The center of this blackhole are the Size and Gravity controls. Size does what you expect - turn it up for bigger or turn it down for smaller spaces. It does “small stuff” very well, being capable of pulling some cool chambers, plate-ish and slap back sounds (with size at negative values), which is sort of surprising. Nevertheless, it really shines when you turn it up and let it flood the spectrum with its luscious and never ending reverberation. Once the size is set, Gravity controls the way the tail spreads out and it can do both traditional linear decays (right side of the knob) and reverse reverbs (knob set to the left). Adding further movement there are modulation controls over the tail and Blackhole also offer tonal controls over high and low frequencies through a set of filters with resonance control that can get some wild results. Blackhole can also be synced to the DAW’s tempo, allowing for musical settings on the pre-delay parameter. Wrapping everything there are input and output trim controls and a set of meters with overload indication.
Sound Quality: Blackhole’s specialty is definitely creating ethereal atmospheres that soaks up the entire background with its harmonic and rich reverberations. It blends very well and makes some instruments sounds like they have a gorgeous pad running along with them - a trick which works remarkably well on guitars. It is also very good to make vocals sound cosmic as if they were gifted with another dimension of depth, making for some very good immersion. It should be a very useful tool for sound design, not only for making larger-than-life drones and ambiances but also for banging impacts and whooshes with very long decays. Above all, this is a plugin that favors the creative side much more than the realistic side of things - there’s certainly a sci-fi quality to it and it will be of more use to some than others. This is an amazing sounding plugin that greatly favors long, spacious and almost-eternal tails, yet it is also capable of pulling off some shorter reverberations tricks. It should also be said that although it definitely favors long reverb, Blackhole is not a one-trick pony and it can deliver some interesting short ambiences and also go into the not-so-reverb-ish territory thanks to its resonant filters and tempo-synced pre-delay, allowing for good modulation options. The overall impression that Blackhole leaves is that for a reverb plugin that is geared towards big and long reverberation, it does a lot more than I initially thought it could thanks to its very clever feature set. The filters add some good flexibility and the size parameter has a good sonic range, but nevertheless it does certain things better than others and this is definitely a more “focused” plugin without any aspirations to be “universal”.
Features: Besides the usual parameters one might expect on a reverb plugin, Blackhole brings some interesting variations to the theme with the Gravity controls and furthers its depths with the ribbon controller and the hot switch button, allowing for some serious morphing within a single patch. I also enjoyed the “kill” button, handy for instant killing of wild tails, very usable as a gate effect and also a last resort/panic button for when things go out of control as feedback loops can occur if you push things too far. There’s a couple of features that I miss though: first is a programmable LFO to modulate any parameter, that would open up a lot of possibilities and further extend the event horizon here. Second feature I miss is MIDI control to serve a wider range of controllers, which would particularly useful on Pro Tools where plugin control possibilities are more strict. Nevertheless, Blackhole is a solid yet concise plugin with a great sounding algorithms that really does well where it matters.
Ease of use: With a very clean and well-arranged interface, big knobs and no sub-menus, Blackhole is simply a joy to use. This is a very fun and mostly uncomplicated plugin that will “get you there” quite quickly. Nonetheless, it can take some time until it’s parameters and combinations are fully mastered - the gravity and size parameters being the most sensitive and deserving of your attention. Other notable aspects worth mention are the good documentation and the fact that eventide has made the preset menu uniform across its plugin line which is also a good thing, and to further our browsing ease there’s “mix lock” that leaves the dry/wet proportion with a fixed value as you go through the presets. Last but not least, Eventide’s support is nothing short of amazing, with constant patching and excellent communication, both on Gearslutz and at their own user forum. Last but not least, Blackhole’s performance is very smooth, adding just 8 samples of latency (at 48 kHz) with a modest CPU footprint and it runs on basically all modern-day platforms.
Bang for buck: Eventide’s expertise is second to none when it comes to algorithmic effects and that is displayed once again on this plugin. Blackhole is one fine reverb, obviously tailored towards huge soundscapes and long reverberant tails but also capable of pulling off a hefty amount of tricks, all with very quality under a clever layout. Having said that, the regular asking price does seems to be a bit on the salty side, which can partially explained by the effervescent competition that blossomed in the past few years, which has shaken things considerably. Eventide has made some good adjustments on its strategies for the plugin arena and given their latest initiatives there’s some good chance that an opportunity opens up and Blackhole lands on our plugin folders for a more affordable price.
Recommended for electronic musicians, mixing engineers and sound designers working with projects that asks for otherworldly spaces, guitar players looking for some extra epic moments and anyone who’s up for some deep and thoughtful reverb experimentations.
Alternatives: There aren’t any real alternatives to Blackhole, at least there no direct alternatives as Blackhole is quite unique and distinct in terms of character. The opinion that Valhalla’s DSP excellent Shimmer plug-in is a viable replacement (or an emulation, which I’ve heard some say) for Blackhole is a bit misleading - they’re both great plugs on their own, yet Shimmer’s attack is too slow and it’s timings are less flexible than Blackhole, which in return lacks the pitch-shifting and stereo imaging capabilities offered by Shimmer. They’re likely to overlap each on other on some applications like “huge cathedral halls” but it’s nowhere near the situation where one rules out the other. One other possible alternative is to use Impulse Responses that were made to sound big and long, perhaps even captured from Eventide’s Space pedal or from the DSP4000 and H8000 hardware units, but that inevitably comes with all the inherent limitations of the static IR technology and inevitably way less fun than the Blackhole plugin.