Tag Archives: reverb

Reverb Settings

TC reverb
TC reverb

Reverb Settings:

reverb
Eventide reverb GUI

Following on from our Compresser settings piece, here’s a quick look around the terms associated with Reverb.

Reverberation  is a component part of the sounds we hear every day.
Its basically the sound thats left after the initial sound has disappeared.
Some people describe it as echo, but in fact, Reverb is a collection of echoes one after another that gradually die away in time. Many of us have been inside empty old rooms, or baronial castle halls and have heard the sound of reverb created naturally by walls, ceiling or roof. Indeed anyone who’s spent time in caves or catacombs will recgnise the eerie sound of a LONG reverb time.

Types:
When you come to use a reverb unit or effect within your DAW, you’re offered various types of reverb. e.g. Hall, Room or Plate. (A plate reverb is a device invented to simulate reverb and uses a metal plate and a spring).

Sizes:
Room sizes are the first step in creating a natural effect for your music.
If, for example, you’re asked to create the sound of a string quartet, it’s reasonable to assume that the players would gather in a room big enough at least for them to sit and play comfortably. However, we know from history that the heyday of string quartets was around the end of the 18th century,and we associate the sound of them with affluent houses with presumably larger rooms to allow a small audience, so……your choice might be influenced by these facts.
Conversely, a quiet softly spoken vocal, would benefit much less from a large roomy reverb and much more from an up close sound that made it seem as if the singer was singing into your ear. Again, these thoughts will influence your decisions.

Decay or Time: The decay is the length of time that the reverb lasts.
Obviously, the larger the room, the longer the decay time will be, but there are other factors to bear in mind, such as dampening within the room (i.e. an audience soon cuts back the natural reverb of a hall)

Dampening:
By judicious use of low and high frequency dampening, its possible to refine the reverb sound even more. The cave we talked about earlier, would have lots of natural low frequency rumbles whereas a normal room has very little. A room with curtains and a couch and carpets will absorb a lot of high frequencies and consequently sound a lot ‘warmer’. You can use the dampening settings to simulate these effects.

Predelay:  Predelay is the amount of time from the start of the sound to the start of the reverb (described in milliseconds). It can be used to better define the original sound before it becomes overrun by the reverb.

Density or Early Reflections: In actual fact, when the ear hears a sound with reverb, there is a moment between the actual sound and the wash of reverb which contains a lot of information. This is known as the early reflection, and a lot of reverb units give you control over it. Basically if you bang a drum near a wall in a large stone hall, you will hear a lot of early reflections before you hear the reverberation, and good use of this parameter can make things sound very realistic indeed.

Wet or Dry: This is simply the ratio between the amount of direct sound and reflected ‘reverb’ sound.

lexicon reverb
Lexicon Reverb GUI

Hints and Tips:

In general, ‘low’ sounds like bass or bass drums dont benefit from reverb, and indeed are probably better left clean where possible. The low frequencies ‘flood’ easier and will soon become boomy washes of unintelligble reverb. In the same vein, most vocal parts dont need too much reverb or the words are lost (this is where pre-delay can be useful..)

Reverb can be an incredibly creative tool, and as such is always the ‘go-to’ solution when a sound seems to be lacking a litte bit of ‘something’, however, you’ll find that the best producers and engineers take a lot of time and thought over which reverb’s and times to use within a mix.

Reverb. (Where will it all end?…)

Todays Digital domain allows musicians and producers a phenomenal selection of plug-ins and treatments. From physical modelling of original spring reverbs, through mathematical models of the Grand Canyon or Wembley stadium, there is a huge wealth of possibilities out there, and with those possibilities must come responsibility.

Too often people are tempted to use whatever the’ve got, wherever they can, without a thought about how this might sound in the final mix. So lets have a quick look at a couple of scenarios, which might help you think a little more about your reverb treatments…..

 

The Basic Idea.

 

From a Guitarists point of view, reverb was an effect that gave a a ‘Twang’ on a guitar, a very satisfactory ‘ring’. Listen to early guitar groups like the Shadows and indeed early Beatles to here how the spring reverb (literally a spring in a metal box) that was a feature on a lot of early amps, was used to give depth to what otherwise would have been quite a weedy tone by todays standards.. 60’s producers seemed terribly keen on this sound, and consequently it appears on albums featuring everything from vocal groups to sitars.

From a producers point of view however,, reverb is a much more useful tool in achieving a satisfcatory end result. A good reverb can make it sound as if all the instruments you use were recorded in the same spatial area, i.e. it makes the song sound more ‘believeable’ even if the component parts are samples and virtual instruments.

A good reverb can form the glue that holds some mixes together, although it should be said, its never a good idea to rely on your effects to do that for you.

Even where a track has its own reverb applied, either because it s a live sample or a guitarists ‘tone’, a nice reverb across the master buss can allow a track its own space to stand in.

 

Avoid.

 

One thing that does make me queasy though, is when I hear a mix with a different type of reverb applied to each instrument, and none bear any relation to the next.

There is probably an argument for using different reverbs creatively, but in that case, the overall ‘believability’ will always suffer.

There are some bands/records that can get away with the Guitar on a 5 second rev tail and the Vocals on a .2ms slap back, but not too many.

 

Also be aware of how a reverb can ‘swamp’ the timbre of things like voices or violins.

Many amateur singers like to sing or at least monitor themselves with plenty of reverb.

Its not that they think it makes them sound more in tune, it just smooths out any rasps or harmonic glitches, and consequently gives the illusion of sounding more complete and less stark.

 

Early Reflections:

 

There are some reverb manufacturers who include a function within their reverbs called ‘early reflection’.

There are some manufacturers who think this is a load of cobblers.

For those of you with the option to twiddle with early reflections, the idea is that after the initial sound reaches your ears, but before the onset of proper reverberation, there are tiny ‘slaps’ of sound that come back at you from walls, ceiling etc. and using these, the brain is able to ascertain information about where the sound is with reference to its initial source.

Other manufacturers such as Lexicon, maintain that reverb is a one stop process that can’t be broken down into stages like this. Lexicon prefer words like ‘Spread’ and ‘Shape’ to describe different parts of the process, and I think I tend to agree. However,, these controls are popular with some folks, so its horses for courses I guess.