Valhalla Shimmer: How to Create Lush Soundscapes (Cinematic Reverb Plugin Review)


Thales Matos


Want to know how to create lush soundscapes with Valhalla Shimmer? Read this article to find out different ways to get creative with this Cinematic Reverb plugin. 

Watch the video above for the several examples mentioned in this post.

Valhalla Shimmer Overview

Valhalla Shimmer is a pitch shifting modulated reverb with delay features. I use it to create huge shimmery spaces in my songs.

It's easy to use and only costs $50 — totally worth it. The initial preset already sounds fantastic.

Valhalla Shimmer cinematic reverb plugin initial preset

With the right settings, it can sound like a subtle and smooth Reverb. But with just a couple of tweaks, it allows you to get really creative with the sound design.

How Valhalla Shimmer works

Let's start by understanding the controls.

The Mix knob

The first one is pretty simple: a mix knob, which controls how much effect is going to be added to the dry signal.

You can make all kinds of pads with this, and even automate this parameter for tension buildups and preparing for a transition in your song. 

4 Reverb Modes in Valhalla Shimmer

It has 4 reverb modes: Mono, Small Stereo, Medium Stereo and Big Stereo.

Valhalla Shimmer reverb modes

When you change this setting, you're picking different kinds of decay: from a small room decay to a very large space. Listen to the audio comparisons (video above).

We'll talk about the Shift knob later

Even though it's the most important feature, it will make more sense once you understand the other controls.

The Feedback knob

To my ears, the feedback knob acts like a delay control. 

I feel like it feeds the sounds back into the reverb over and over again, depending on how high you set this up.

If you leave it at 0, it simply works as a reverb. But once you start adding feedback, it gets more and more chaotic — to the point where it's out of control.

Depending on what kind of music you're making, you can go crazy here. But for my style, I usually keep this under 50%.

The Diffusion knob

Imagine that the diffusion knob is like the attack time before the reverb is added to the signal, but backwards.

So it comes at almost 90% by default, and that means immediate reflections.

But as you go lower — like 60% — it almost sounds like a reverse reverb effect, which is a huge time saver because electronic music producers use that all the time.

And if you go even lower — close to 0% — it sounds like a delay instead of a reverb. Or a delay with a little bit of reverb.

The size knob

The size knob allows you to fine tune the size of the room. You can make anything sound gorgeous at 0%.

Of course what makes this plugin so special are the larger sizes for massive cinematic effects.

Low cut and High cut knobs in Valhalla Shimmer

The next knobs, low cut and high cut, mean exactly what you're thinking. 

You can remove unwanted frequencies from the wet signal. In this case, we're cutting frequencies below 860 Hertz and above 12 kilohertz.

Valhalla Shimmer low cut and high cut

Modulation Rate and Modulation Depth

The modulation rate and modulation depth knobs are where things get really interesting.

We can emphasize the modulation that this plugin is applying to the signal. It's more noticeable on a small size setting. 

The mod rate knob affects the speed of the chorus effect.

And the mod depth knob affects the detuning of the chorus effect. It adds a lot of movement to the reflections.

I really like it at around 30% mod depth. it sounds fantastic. 

But the higher you go, the more expressive it gets.

In my experience, if you want to get a good sound with a lot of chorus depth, it works best with a slow rate and a larger size.

But there are no rules here: I encourage you to experiment with everything. You'd be surprised at the sounds you can come up with.

The Shift knob

It's finally time for us to talk about the Shift knob. This is where the magic actually happens.

First of all, it only affects your sound if the Feedback knob is higher than zero.

It changes the pitch of the reflections. So you can come up with very interesting textures by using it an octave down or up.

This is the classic shimmer effect, especially if you use longer feedback.

But you can also come up with horror movie textures by shifting just one semitone, or just a couple, and stacking dissonances.

And you can even have a slow detune effect as the decay happens by setting it really close to zero. This sounds cool with a higher feedback.

The Color Mode switch

You can make this effect sound darker by changing the color mode switch.

Valhalla Shimmer color mode bright or dark

It sounds more controlled and it resembles more of a large space where the bright frequencies don't travel much.

The Pitch Mode switch

The pitch mode is the last control. It affects how the plugin responds to the pitch values you set with the pitch knob.

If you select dual, it will actually shift the feedback up and down in pitch by the amount selected, in parallel.

That means you'll get the pitch shifting effect in both directions at the same time.

You can also select Single Reverse, and Dual Reverse. They will reverse the reflections before the pitch shifting.

Valhalla Shimmer pitch mode single dual reverse bypass

It sounds smoother that way, but the difference is really subtle.

And you can bypass the whole pitch shifting thing and make this plugin act more like a standard reverb.

I think both ways are excellent for creating different kinds of effect. There's a time and situation for each of them.

Getting creative with Valhalla Shimmer

This plugin is not only amazing for creating these pads and lush textures from pianos, bells and synthesizers but also vocals and even drum hits.

One really cool way to use it is to extend the decay of crash cymbals. And I don't mean it in a discreet way. 

I'm talking about how electronic and pop music producers have been using cymbals with very long decay in high energy sections of their songs.

long crash cymbal effect sound design

My favorite settings for that long crash cymbal effect.

I call this effect the long crash — it's featured in almost every song I make.

And by just messing with the knobs a little bit, I turned this crash cymbal into something that sounds very different, almost like an ocean wave (I guess).

ocean wave effect sound design

There's no limit to how creative you can get with this plugin.

Now it's your turn

I hope you enjoy Valhalla Shimmer as much as I do. Maybe I'll even get to listen to the stunning sounds you design with it.

As always, if you have any question, let me know in the comment section below.

If you're interested in pop music production, visit my website for more resources.


Thales Matos

August 9, 2022


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