There was already a lot to love about Valhalla DSP's Supermassive reverb plugin, not least the fact that it's free. However, it's now reached version 3, which adds two more 'Zodiac' modes to its already impressive roster.
Released in 2020, Supermassive was originally designed as some kind of home for stray reverbs, including eight reverb/delay algorithms "that didn’t fit into the standard categories". Since then, the plugin has exploded, with more modes added on each update. That count now stands at 20 with the addition of the latest Leo and Virgo modes.
These take their place next to other astrological sign-named modes like the Aquarius and Pisces echoverbs, and more general Scorpio and Libra reverbs. And just in case you're thinking what we were - that there are 20 modes and only 12 signs of the Zodiac - we can tell you that Valhalla has labelled other modes in the 20 with names of galaxies. Simply because it can.
And while Leo (the lion) and Virgo (the virgin) are next to each other in the astrological year (late July and late August, astrological fact fans), according to Valhalla, they are chalk and cheese. Which is to say that they are very different from one another – not the astrological signs of chalk and cheese.
Valhalla says Virgo is the "smallest and sparsest" of all the modes now in Supermassive. It acts like a stereo delay with a fast attack until you crank the Density control up, and then it turns into a grainy delay/reverb. It is "great for pointillistic echoes, spring-ish reverb sounds, and other sparse effect," Valhalla says.
Leo, on the other hand, is the polar opposite. It is the "most super massive-est" of all the modes in Supermassive – so that must be pretty big then, considering what's already on offer. It features a very slow attack, and a potentially very long decay which is controlled by the Density and Feedback parameters. With high and low EQ filters, the reverb decay can be "bass heavy or whisper light, or just perfectly balanced".
Where Virgo has space between its delayed sounds, Leo is that wall of reverb you turn to for huge synth sounds or to make your music sound like it's being played in St Paul's cathedral. (Which all of our music does, to be fair.)
Commenting on the freebieness of this most massive-est of reverbs, Sean Costello, the Valhalla 'algorithmic reverb plugin wizard' says: "I’ve loved working on Supermassive over the past few years. Since Supermassive is a free plugin, I don’t feel the pressure to make things perfect that I do with the paid plugins.
"With less pressure, I’m able to experiment with new things, and try out ideas that might be too weird otherwise. All that being said, the last few rounds of Supermassive research have resulted in algorithms that refine some of the original concepts, and just make them better."
We love that. And you can get Supermassive – for free – from Valhalla's website.