Not all of us have time for that. Sometimes (though not all the time!) presets will do just fine, or at the very least, they serve as an effective starting point onto making better sounds.
Ableton Reverb just doesn’t have enough presets. As such, some consider it to be Ableton’s Achilles’ heel, which I think is unfounded — it can achieve just as much as expensive, third-party reverbs can, if you know how to tweak the parameters to get the sound you want.
Plate reverbs are a type of reverb that foregoes emulating the reverberation of a real acoustic space for a more shimmery, effervescent sound, like spring reverbs sometimes found in guitar amplifiers. There are good writeups on the history of plate reverb on Wikipedia, if you’re interested. Often used for vocals and drums, they are great for adding depth and width to a mix if used correctly. Ableton Reverb does not have plate reverb presets, whereas virtually every third-party reverb does, so, I’ve made some plate reverb presets for Ableton Reverb to help you out with crafting a nice plate sound.
Unfortunately Ableton doesn’t allow you to add presets to the Core Library, so these presets have to go in your User Library. To put them there, go into your Use Library (under the Places header in the browser), click the Presets folder, then Audio Effects, Reverb, and drag and drop the Plate folder from Finder or Explorer (Mac or Windows) into this folder.
I made these presets mostly by listening very intently to a handful of third-party reverb plugins that I have, using bursts of white noise and some piano samples, as well as some basic intuition in terms of what characteristics I like in plate reverbs. While it’d be wrong to say that Ableton Reverb doesn’t sound different to other reverbs, it uses far less CPU than any other reverb, making it a great “workhorse” reverb unit. Even when the “Quality” is set to High, Ableton Reverb is very laptop-friendly.
There’s a wealth of ways to manipulate the reverberation qualities with Ableton Reverb that I won’t go into here, but if you’re looking for quick ways to dramatically alter a reverb, I’d first start with “Decay Time,” “Input Processing” and “Diffusion Network.” Hopefully these plate presets will encourage you to do some tweaking of your own and make the reverb plugin a more exciting tool to work with. Enjoy!
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