Friday, August 14, 2009

Review: D16 Group Toraverb

Product: Toraverb Space Modulated Reverb
D16 Group

AU/VST reverb plug-in


VST for Windows XP/2000 or later, VST & AU for OSX 10.4.3 or later.

35 Euro

Available at

Back in the days before convolution reverbs allowed musicians access to 'sampled' reverberant spaces, algorithmic reverbs were king. These types of reverbs ran the gamut from cheap-sounding budget models to slick, beautiful sounding high end models that are still revered today (and frequently sampled in the aforementioned convolution reverbs!). These reverbs generally worked by using multiple decaying delay lines to emulate the way sounds reverberate in a natural space. While the realism of these reverbs varies wildly depending on the model, they were especially valued for their flexibility and propensity for special effects types sound. Since convolution appeared on the scene, you didn't hear quite as much about algorithmic reverbs, but recently it seems interest in these types of effects has picked up with several developers putting out their own unique takes on these classic effects. Poland's D16 Group is the latest to offer such an effect as the latest addition to their excellent SilverLine Collection (available individually as well). So let's have a look!


Installation is pretty much your run-of-the-mill installation procedure. You download the files, click on the installer and it takes care of the rest. Copy protection comes in the form of a downloadable key file, which you can install anywhere on your computer you like. When you run the plug-in for the first time, it will ask you to point out the location of the key file, and you’re good to go.


Toraverb's interface is consistent with the previous SilverLine plug-ins, so I'm not going to spend too much time talking about the basics. A very simple, easy-to-use preset browser allows you to call up presets, copy, paste, and store settings, while an OPTIONS button gives you access to straightforward MIDI learn controls, as well as 4 different quality settings (each with increasing CPU demands). Aside from that, the same photo-realistic silver face and logically marked knobs as their other plug-ins are present and ready for tweaking.


As with most of D16's plug-ins, Toraverb takes a less conventional approach to doing its thing. Namely, the reverb is divided into separate sections for early and late reflections, each with its own settings and dedicated single band EQs. The advantage of having separate stages for both early and late reflections is that it allows you to simulate the way reverb in natural spaces works more closely than more simplistic reverbs. More excitingly, it also allows you to do some more off-the-wall stuff (no pun intended) that sounds like nothing you'd hear in natural world.

The first set of controls in Toraverb are for the early reflections. From top to bottom, you'll find settings for the SIZE (the size of the simulated space for early reflections only), DIFFUSION (emulates the way sound scatters off various types of surfaces), and ATTENUATION (essentially a damping feature that emulates the way various materials can deaden reflections). Immediately to the right of this is the EARLY EQ section which features standard center FREQUENCY, GAIN/ATTENUATION, and BANDWIDTH settings for a single band, allowing you to shape the frequency content of the signal before it hits the LATE REFLECTIONS section. This can be especially useful for scooping out low frequencies in sounds that don't need them, or for taming excessive highs or mids as needed.

The LATE REFLECTIONS section features the same settings plus a couple extra: a FEEDBACK parameter for setting the overall length of the reverb (a DECAY TIME readout below gives that time in seconds), and a BASS CUT setting that simulates what frequencies are absorbed by a surface versus those that are reflected. As with the EARLY REFLECTIONS, the LATE REFLECTIONS have their own dedicated 1-band EQ to allow further tonal sculpting of the reverb.

These two subsections are followed by some global settings that effect both early and late reflections together. These include the X-FADER which lets you set the balance between early and late reflections, a PREDELAY setting that determines the delay between the dry signal and the reverb, a WET GAIN setting for adding gain to the reverb signal, and a WET/DRY knob for controlling the balance between the dry signal and the reverb. One more knob deserves a little more explanation as it's one you may not have seen on a reverb before: MODULATION. Remember when I said that reverb was basically created by using a bunch of delay lines? Ordinarily, the times of those delay lines are consistent. This can still produce a very fine sounding reverb, but it's not exactly the way things work in the real world. The MODULATION setting 'disturbs' the delay line settings to something a bit more imperfect and realistic. Conservative settings result in a reverb that is subtly more 'alive' sounding, while higher settings result in an almost vibrato type effect on the reverb that sounds absolutely outstanding, if totally unrealistic. Those of you making soundtrack or ambient music will love this setting. It just turns everything into a creamy goodness.


D16's plug-ins are known for their attention to sound quality and Toraverb doesn't disappoint in that respect. That said, this probably isn't going to be your go to reverb for every purpose. Nor do I think it was intended to. Toraverb definitely has a distinct character to it that really makes sounds stand out. It can be dark and subtle, too, but I don't think that's its strength. In messing around with it, I found it most effective on a single element in the mix that I wanted to feature rather than using it as a send effect for multiple elements. I also felt that it sounded better when it was being used for longer reverbs like halls vesus small room and ambience types. The short settings for some reason sounded more metallic and bright. It was really easy to get bombastic 80's type drum reverbs at shorter settings, but more subtle and realistic ones were a bit harder to dial in, at least for me. Where Toraverb really shines are in its beautiful, lush, long reverbs. They positively wash over you and sound really 'widescreen'. If you do soundtrack music, you ought to add this to your shopping list because it's absolutely fantastic for those types of sounds. Medium settings on sounds like guitar and piano sound quite good too.

CPU use depends entirely on the quality level you set it to. Even on the lowest quality setting, it sounds pretty damn good. But on my G5 dual 2gHz, I was only able to get up to the second-highest quality setting which ate up an entire core. Trying to set it to the highest setting was too much and the signal broke up into an unusable mess. Note that I am using Logic 8, which handles using multiple processors a little clumsily. I understand Logic 9 corrects this, and thus might correct this problem. It's something to be aware of nonetheless.

I have one little complaint I want to mention before wrapping things up - the presets. Most of these sounded overly-bright to me. In fact, at first I thought this was just the sound of the reverb, but when I started tweaking things a bit, I realized that most of the presets are biased towards the BRIGHT settings on the ATTENUATION knobs. While this can certainly add to the "attention-getting" quality I mentioned earlier, I don't think it shows off the breadth of the reverb as well as it could. So some more varied and subtle presets would be nice.


So does D16 bring something new to the table here? I think so. There are many other algorithmic reverbs out there in plug-in form, but none that I've heard that have such a distinctive sound. One problem with so many "ultra-modern", "high-end" reverb plug-ins is that they've become so focused on trying to sound as real as possible, that they've forgotten how great some of the older 'unreal' reverbs can sound, namely when they are set for completely over-the-top settings that would never be heard in the real world. Like these reverbs, I almost see Toraverb as a 'sound design' reverb. I wouldn't necessarily use it for items where I just need some subtle space, but when I want the reverb to add to the 'wow factor' of the sound, Toraverb is going to be my first stop from now on. [9/10]


mangadrive said...

Wait..what...NO IR LOADING? HUH..


I saw D16 and immediately thought "CPU HOG". Luckily though its always worth the quality. I'll give this one a whirl next week. Thanks for another straight up review.

Anonymous said...

The AD EOS is a similar concept but without the CPU hogging...

Ryan said...

Runs at about 45% of a single core on my MBP 2.33GHz at the highest setting.

Tom said...

Ryan, what's your host? Like I said, I suspect what I experienced may have been a Logic problem...

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