There’s something magical about SNES music. Part of it was the faux reverb effect that many soundtracks used. And with a plugin like SNESVerb, you can recreate the magic of 16-bit era music using the same effect.
This review will go over the basics of SNESVerb from Impact Soundworks and whether you should pick it up or not.
What Is SNESVerb?
SNESVerb is a VST plugin that recreates the ping-ponging echo effect used in many SNES video games. Along with its reverb and delay settings, it also offers some lo-fi processing effects.
The plugin is available as a standalone product. Or you can get it for free when you purchase Super Audio Cart.
Listen To It In Action
How the Original SNES’ Reverb Works
The SNES and other early game consoles couldn’t produce a “true” reverb effect. So game designers and composers had to get creative.
The workaround on SNES was using a short delay line to mimic reverberation. This became a signature trait of SNES music.
How Does the SNESVerb Plugin Work?
Essentially, SNESVerb is a powerful delay plugin. You can control the delay time, amount, and stereo width. Basically, it does almost anything you’d expect from a delay plugin.
On top of that, it comes with extra features like a downsampler, pre- and post-filter cutoffs, wet/dry controls, and a settings randomizer.
SNESVerb Features & Settings
SNESVerb has a pretty straightforward design. Here’s a quick rundown of how each of the settings work.
GUI Inspired By the SNES Controller
The super charming GUI is lifted straight from a SNES controller, right down to the font and color palette. Even the SNESVerb logo pays homage to the original console.
Delay Time, Width, and Feedback Controls
Like any delay plugin, you can control how much and how fast the delay works. You can also adjust the stereo width for a more engulfing sound.
Downsampler with Pre and Post LP Filters
SNESVerb also doubles as a downsampler. So you can add a little distortion to any audio source without needed additional plugins.
Partner it with the pre- and post-processing low pass filters, and you can tame the extreme frequencies the downsampler produces. You could do the same thing with an external EQ, but it’s really handy to have it built into the plugin.
Four Input Modes
You can determine what signal goes into SNESVerb by clicking a direction on the D-Pad.
- Stereo: The entire stereo signal goes into SNESVerb, and everything is processed
- Mono Sum: The audio signal gets summed into a mono input before getting processed.
- Left & Right: Only the left or right signals are processed.
Randomizer & Bypass Buttons
If you want to experiment or need new ideas, clicking the Randomizer will change all the delay, downsampler, and filter settings (all the light purple dials).
And finally, you can check what your signal sounds like without the plugin by clicking the bypass button.
Alternatives to SNESVerb
While SNESVerb is great, you could theoretically get the same effect by using various plugins:
- Your DAW’s default delay plugin can easily replicate the delay settings.
- Free bitcrushers like TAL-Bitcrusher and PCM2612 could downsample and distort your audio as well.
- External EQ plugins can do the job of low-pass filters.
But for a true one-to-one alternative to SNESVerb, you can check out Chipcrusher by Plogue. It’s a powerful bitcrusher that also includes settings for SNES-style delay.
I’ll also give a shout-out to PS1 Reverb by Shirobon. It’s a collection of impulse responses sampled from an original PlayStation console. Load them into a convolution reverb plugin and mimic the PS1’s digital reverb.
Is SNESVerb Worth It?
Your mileage may vary. As a standalone plugin, I think it’s a fantastic FX plugin for make 16-bit inspired music. I also love what it does for other synths and acoustic instruments.
But the real question is: Do you want Super Audio Cart? (Read our review if you’re not sure about it.)
If you have no interest in Super Audio Cart, but like making 16-bit music, then yes. Pick up SNESVerb. It’s a unique plugin that’s worth the $20.
But even if you have the slightest interest in getting Super Audio Cart, wait until you buy that and get SNESVerb for free.
Super Audio Cart includes sounds from 15 classic game consoles and computers spanning several decades. It's the most comprehensive library of retro game samples ever assembled.
Learn More About Making 16-Bit Music
We’ve put together additional resources for writing 16-bit music: