I've had the opportunity to review several plug-ins from FabFilter. In every case, I've come away amazed at how effective FabFilter's plug-ins are at making the incredibly complex incredibly simple. Pro-R is no exception. In fact, it's an excellent example of just how good FabFilter is at making plug-ins that are easy to use, powerful and flexible, and beautiful.
In the most simple sense, a reverb plug-in's purpose is to simulate 3-dimensional space. Panning left and right is an effective way to simulate position along a left/right axis, but if you really want your listener to experience "being there", you need to use reverb effectively. That means more than just messing with settings like "room size" and "decay". Reverb in the real world just isn't that simple. Room size, objects in the room, hardness of walls and objects, angles of the walls and ceiling, and more all combine to produce reverb. Naturally, developers of reverb plug-ins know this, but most of them apply "defaults" for you and don't really give you the kind of flexibility to master reverb in your mixes.
So just what is it that makes Pro-R different? I tried to break it down in my mind into just a couple of things, and I have to say that it's a hard thing to do. There are so many things to appreciate about Pro-R's approach. First of all, the interface provides a powerful level of control without being control heavy. FabFilter achieves this balance by implementing a lot of powerful processing into single knobs. For example, the Brightness knob can be adjusted from Dark to Bright. You can easily hear the effect of adjusting Brightness, especially in higher frequencies. By lowering brightness, you are increasing the simulated absorption of high-frequencies, and since high-frequencies are naturally aborbed more easily than lower frequencies, you end up with a more realistic-sounding reverb. The beauty is that you don't have to know any of that, and you don't have to deal with high-pass filter settings like you do with many other reverb plug-ins.
"Don't be fooled into thinking that FabFilter added an EQ and spectrum analyzer just to make you oooh and aaah; these features pack some serious power."
You might be worried that this kind of approach limits your ability to control the plug-in's effect on your mix. It doesn't. Instead, FabFilter has rethought how some of these common controls should work in order to provide you with more flexibility and power, and they do it in an intuitive and visual way. For example, in a typical reverb plug-in, you'll usually have a Decay control that allows you to control how many milliseconds it takes for the level of the reverb tail to decay. In Pro-R, the decay rate is affected by the Space knob, but you can also use the Decay Rate knob to adjust the decay rate for the room space you've dialed in. The indicator in the middle of the Space knob will always show you the effective decay rate in milliseconds, but the adjustment is far more intuive than a simple millisecond slider. This kind of approach is evident across all of Pro-R's functionality, and it truly does free you to work with reverb in a much more artistic sense.
Like FabFilter's other plug-ins, Pro-R is certainly beautiful. Even maximized on my 42-inch monitor, the interface is clear and detailed. Don't be fooled, though, into thinking that FabFilter added an EQ and spectrum analyzer just to make you oooh and aaah; these features pack some serious power. The blue curve allows you to finely adjust the decay rate EQ across up to six curves. Each curve can be configured as a bell, high/low shelf, or notch curve. You can click and drag to change the frequency, decay rate, and the Q. If you want more precise settings, double-clicking on the node allows you to directly enter values for each setting. (By the way, you can control post-EQ using the same techniques.)
If you aren't sure what a control does, simply hover over it and Pro-R will display a pop-up that describes that control and how it will impact your sound. These pop-ups aren't just a couple of meaningless words that don't really help. They display helpful and detailed information directly out of Pro-R's comprehensive user guide, and they're an excellent way to get familiar with the plug-in if you're new to it. Once you learn where everything is, you can turn off the pop-ups.
You can tweak your mix with Pro-R as far as you want to. It certainly has the power and flexibility to offer you complete control over your reverb. However, you may find that one of the literally dozens of presets meets your needs. These presets are a actually a great way to learn about how Pro-R works, and in many cases, they'll end up being a starting point for what you are really looking for.
If you want a versatile and powerful reverb plug-in that won't break the bank, Pro-R definitely needs to be on your short list. Try it out for 30-days free and I think you'll agree that it's one of the best (if not the best) reverb plug-ins out there. If you decide to buy, you can save yourself some major cash by purchasing one of FabFilters numerous plug-in bundles.
We give Pro-R a strong recommendation. It sounds wonderful, and it has the power and flexibility to meet the needs of the most demanding audio engineer.