FabFilter Pro-R by Diogo C
*DRM: Unique Serial Number
*Price: $199 MSRP
*Demo: Fully-functional for 30 days
The scope: If there’s a developer that basically everyone wanted to see developing a reverb, that developer was FabFilter. It has finally happened and here we have the Pro-R, which follows their line of innovative plug-ins and brings some interesting concepts to the conversation. Pro-R is an algorithmic (no convolution here) plug-in that can create basically any kind of reverb, from short ambiences with only 0.10s of decay to huge halls with up to 20 seconds of decay. The idea here is to present spaces of all varieties and this is determined by the controller at the center of the interface. This “Space” parameter is a blend of different room models and their respective decay times, with some clickable icons to indicate the room but this knob can be set to anything in between, doing so without any clicks or artifacts for very smooth transitions - which not only facilitates the use but also enables interesting automation possibilities. Once that is set there are controls on the left side to take care of the sound’s “brightness” from bright to dark, “character” from clean to chorus and “distance” from close to far. On the right part there the decay rate to increaser or decrease the decay time from 50% to 200%, stereo width (mono at 0% to super wide at 120%) and mix (dry/wet) controls. All controls are very intuitive and kind of self-explaining so it shouldn't be a problem getting used to them. The lower part of the interface houses the powerful “decay rate EQ”, which can increase or decrease the decay of a certain frequency region through an EQ-like curve with up to 6 bands that can be set to parametric or high/low shelves with over Q control. This is a very powerful feature that really sets Pro-R apart from other plug-ins, with an unprecedented level of control of the space's decay and its frequency distribution without throwing many complicated parameters around, keeping it very elegant and extremely ease to tweak. Below that there’s an actual 6-band equalizer to shape the output and it borrows from the immensely flexible Pro-Q, with parametric, shelves and filter options for very precise adjustments. To wrap it up the bottom of the interface brings some welcome utilities such as pre-delay (with tempo sync option), input/output gain, bypass switch, MIDI learn and the frequency analyzer function with pre+post or reverb+post visualization options.
Sound quality: Fantastic sounding plug-in as we come to expect from FabFilter! Pro-R stays mostly on the transparent, modern-sounding side of the fence rather than on the “vibey” side, even though it’s capable of some pretty unnatural things as well. In case you’re after a more vintage sound you’ll likely have to bring other plug-ins to the party such as saturators and bit-crushers in order to achieve such colors, but ultimately the “core” of basically any reverb sound is there for us to play with it. Pro-R’s enormous versatility is probably its most remarkable aspect and it can will pretty much any territory (or any “space” to be precise) in very satisfactory manner.
Ease of use: Once again FabFilter delivers a plug-in that’s easy and incredibly intuitive to use, thanks to its clever design and also because of the outstanding interface which is a FabFilter trademark. All the controls are labelled very intuitively in regards to what they do and are way less cryptic than the parameters you’ll commonly on other reverbs out there. It also helps that there aren’t many parameters to fool around with, but those that are available are actually very meaningful and having limited controls ultimately is a good thing that favors a quicker workflow. Overall it’s kind of hard to think of any reverb plug-in that feels as easy as this one. In terms of resource consumption Pro-R does well and having a bunch of instances loaded on a project shouldn’t be a problem for more recent computers. It’s also zero-latency, which is always a great thing, and the graphics are powered by the GPU, which is also a nice thing. It also supports basically all natively-processed formats, even stretching back to discontinued formats such as RTAS and operational systems like Windows XP and Snow Leopard, making it compatible with pretty much any system.
Features: As with other FabFilter plug-ins Pro-R is quite packed with features and besides all the sonic goodness it comes with some handful utilities such as full MIDI support with MIDI learn, different interface sizes including an awesome full screen mode, the amplitude options on the graph display, quick A/B settings, input/output gain controls and mix lock. If in one hand it brings innovative concepts to the table, on the other hand it lacks some of the classic and instantly recognizable reverb parameters such as controls over room size and early/late balance. In that regard, Pro-R is a reverb that detaches itself from tradition in favor of its own approach, and ultimately that’s what is so great about it as it approaches reverberation in terms of “space” rather than relying on the old “plate-hall-room-chamber” concepts. In case you’re a bit lost with the controls there over a hundred presets and they do a good job on showcasing what the plug-in can do, even though the preset menu itself is a bit basic and lacks a search function or a keyword/tagging system, so that could definitely be improved. Also worth noting that there’s a very good user manual (HTML file) and a neat tooltip help system that helps to make the most out of Pro-R.
Bang for buck: Fairly priced at $199 (MSRP), Pro-R is an upper shelf plug-in but it’s not far from the market’s average price. There are many reverbs out there, some more expensive and others more affordable, and you probably have a handful of them to say least least, but few will match Pro-R’s versatility and rival its ease of use. It can be both a “bread and butter” kind of reverb or a “creative” tool, and given its quality and efficiency it’s a very good candidate for a go-to reverb that delivers excellent results in basically any situation. Also worth mentioning that owners of other FabFilter plug-ins are entitled to progressive discounts according to how many FabFilter plug-ins they have, which is a nice touch that rewards loyal users.
Recommended for: Mixing engineers, sound designers and producers looking to diversify their reverb cool with a really great sounding plug-in that is very fun and easy to use.