The secrets of reverb and how to use reverb correctly
When you produce music, reverb or reverb is probably the most important effect you can use to improve the sound of your audio production. It is often wrongly dismissed as a mere "add-on" to a track. Because reverb is almost always the effect that gives a song its unmistakable sound, gives it more depth and grabs the listener.
What is Hall?
Reverberation is the sound of many decaying reflections bouncing back from the original sound. Reverberation changes with room size, humidity, and other variable factors.
By adding a digital reverb, the sound becomes more powerful and takes on a different depth that blends with the surrounding elements. This digital reverb effect also contributes to the overall audio production sounds fuller.
You can also edit the reverb so that it is perceived in different reverb versions and give it a specific space, e.g. B. with the sounds "cave", "tunnel" or "concert hall".
Why should I add reverb effects?
It can be that a song sounds dull, although singing and instruments have been interpreted and played with feeling. But it can also be that the sound is simply not full and sounds flat and one-dimensional.
If you try different reverberation rooms here, you can find out which reverberation is most advantageous for the sound of the song. In theory, you can always modify the reverb, but many studios don't have the equipment to create your own reverb.
Adding reverb after the fact can be more difficult than expected, as parameters such as decay time, size, and spacing must be adjusted to suit the specific needs of the track.
An often misunderstood parameter that is often adjusted based on an impulse response to fill the room is the wet signal of the reverb. Sure, a high wet signal fills the room, but it can also clash with and mask other components (e.g., delay) of the song.
It is highly advisable to work with headphones at these settings in order to hear everything clearly. Because only if you work in detail here can you create the best possible settings for the reverberation and thus get the most out of this creative effect.
For what purpose should I use reverb?
If you look at the basics of reverberation, it's a reflection of sound on a surface, leaving traces of the sound source and creating effects. These effects also reflect the room in which the audio source was recorded.
There are also many different types of reverb that sound different Plate Reverb, Spring Reverb, Room Reverb, Convolution Reverb, or Room Reverb just to name a few; each reverb can make a production sound different on its own.
When using digital reverb for your sound (ie guitar or vocals) it doesn't matter which style you choose, there is almost endless tweaking and tweaking to get your desired sound and maximum benefit.
Ultimately, however, your sound will sound best if you combine a good ear for music with technical know-how. It should not be forgotten that everyone hears differently and tastes are known to be different, which is why taste in music can be so subjective.
So there's no getting around listening to every audio element in the production to determine if you need to add or remove reverb.
Before you add more reverb or decide to use a delay, try to see if you can change the original sound and how big the benefit is.
The different reverb types and how to use them:
This natural reverb is primarily intended for analog recordings. It is ideal for filling the frequency range without distorting the production. This type of reverb is often used in classical, pop, or dance music. The chamber reverb often has a long reverb tail and can therefore be unsuitable for vocals with fast text passages, for example. However, for a nice pad synth, they have exactly the right use in the sound or on the track to be processed.
There are different types of chamber reverb sounds you can use that have unique sound and reverberation time depending on the size and material of the reverb chamber. This reverb is a good choice for mimicking or emulating the reverberation of a specific room.
If you choose this reverb, you probably have a choir, a very dramatic song or an organ piece in front of you. With this effect you can make the sound even more distinctive and dramatic. You surely know the reverberation and the long cooldown that a sound has in these walls. If you use a digital church reverb or the first note, it takes longer for the first loud reflections to die down. A good reverb has a good mix of indirect and direct sound, and churches offer this because of their complex architecture and decor.
This type of reverb can be very entertaining, as the noise gate cuts the decay curve of the reverb, giving it a distinctive echo. Gated reverb is great for lead, bass, and vocal sounds, and is commonly used on drums. A very popular song that uses this technique is “In the Air Tonight”. This particular reverb became very popular in the 80's. What makes it special is that it keeps the original sound clean while offering a strong sustain. Plus, it's easy to adjust the parameters and give the reverb a longer or shorter pre-delay to drastically change the reverberation for the entire production.
The typical reverberation in concert halls and live performances. Using reverb in productions can help give vocals and individual instruments an authentic live sound. Another example is the electric guitar, whose audible output sustains longer and more naturally with reverb or reverb.
A concert hall is built in such a way that the sound is distributed as evenly as possible. You can use this to blend the sound with the rest of the track.
Not all reverb plug-ins can use convolution reverb, but when you have the ability to do it in the form of a digital reverb, the sound is awesome.
Using a digital recording, he simulates the reverberation in this space and its various acoustic elements. This tool gives you a lot of flexibility, and that's exactly why Sounddesigner at TV and film productions enjoy working with this tool. You can also use the convolution reverb for pure audio productions that have a dry sound but should reproduce the spatial sound as naturally as possible. Convolution reverberation in audio productions is particularly useful for vocals, which should sound as realistic as possible.
This mechanical reverb is unique in its mode of operation. It is generated by a metal plate in a housing with a sound transducer in the middle. As with an electric guitar, there are also pickups in the housing, more precisely two. If an audio signal is sent through the sound transducer, it causes it to vibrate. The vibrations of the sheet metal create the characteristic plate reverberation.
Now that we've talked about plate reverb, let's move on to spring reverb.
Although this reverb is very simple, it can make a song very lively. The sound is metallic and therefore fits very well Metal, blues and rock songs, i.e. songs in which the signal may sometimes sound a bit “rougher”.
The sound is produced by springs stretched over a metal case. When they vibrate, the sound travels through them and bounces off the inside of the metal box, creating an echo.
Spring reverb should be used sparingly, especially on songs that already sound very bright.
It's wise to be careful with spring reverbs, as they can be very delicate, especially on songs that are already bright in tone. Still, it's the perfect reverb for simulating the tone and vibration of guitar amp spring reverbs.
How do I profitably use reverb in my productions?
Deciding which reverb to use in your production can be a difficult task. It's best to match the reverb to the sound and style of the song so that it blends with the sound and doesn't overpower it.
Here are a few tips on when and how to use reverb:
- More depth and depth for your song
- Fill empty spaces
- Use hardware or digital reverb
- Tailor the reverb to each track individually
Fill in an empty space
When you start recording a song, there are often blank spots at the beginning. Blank spots in the song where there are no instruments, no vocals, and if that goes on long enough, it can kill the whole mood of the song. But that doesn't mean that you throw in some nonsense that doesn't fit the rest of the song at all.
Now you can use the reverb and its dissipating plumes to fill in those short gaps. But again you have to make sure that you control the sound tails and the damping, because they are only supposed to fill this short gap.
Provide more depth
When a song is created, voices and instruments can start out sounding a bit two-dimensional or dry. That can be changed quickly with a bit of reverb.
Take your time with the settings so you don't make too many compromises and the song doesn't end up sounding the way you imagined.
Be sure to use very good studio headphones for this work! With this you can hear every detail of the reverb and depending on which reverb setting you choose, the overall sound can now sound rich and light or even create a live performance atmosphere.
A lot helps a lot is not the motto here! Don't overdo it and turn the reverb back off when your musical ears scream "NO".
Sometimes the use of reverb can melt the entire track of a production into a new whole.
Many artists use reverb plug-ins to give each track its own unique reverberation. Although this is entirely possible, it can happen that the individual reverb sounds bite and mask each other, especially if the parameters are not all the same. This can cause the production to sound out of round.
Another method commonly used in music production and sound engineering is to send all tracks onto the same reverb bus so they sound like they come from the same environment, rather than having different reverb plug-ins in the audio environment fighting for their right to exist within the signal.
When is hardware or digital reverb used?
Hardware still brings an authentic sound and that's exactly what it should be used for. Even now that things have evolved digitally, hardware reverb still has its place in the studio.
Use hardware reverb if you have one organic, living want reverberation.
Digital reverb always comes in handy because it's so easy to set up. You can create any type of reverb exactly how you want it, and there are thousands of different reverb types to customize.
Choose what best suits your production and the musical style of the track.
Use any reverb
Listen carefully to the sound of the track and the reverb to make sure they go well together.
If you put any reverb over the voice without tuning it, the voice may get an unwanted metallic sound or sound a bit muddy because the reverb used has a heavy EQ for the low frequencies, for example.
No matter which reverb you choose, adjust all parameters so that they go well with the sound of your song.
What reverb parameters are there?
It's important to know how to set the parameters for the right type of reverb.
If you know the parameters and know how to use them correctly, you can beam your productions to a higher level.
The most important reverb parameters are presented here:
No mistakes can be made here as this is the first part of the reverberation that you hear. These "early reflections" stand alone in comparison to the rest of the reverb that is heard at the reverb tail. It's very important that everything is right here, because that's what the listener hears first.
The pre-delay or "pre-delay" is the time it takes for the reflections to occur after the first sound source is played.
This parameter can be used to set the time it takes for the reverberation to reach an even intensity. It can also be used to mitigate track collision problems by giving the original sound source more room before the reverberation kicks in.
The Decay parameter controls the time it takes for the reverb tracks to decay completely. When this parameter is set correctly, each space will be filled correctly without the reverb tails colliding.
This parameter determines the complexity of the reverb itself. With Diffusion you can adjust the density or the shape of the reverb. You can make it thinner or thicker.
mix or wet/dry
A very tricky parameter is the balance between wet and dry signal.
As you increase the dry signal, more of the original sound comes through, and as you increase the wet value, you get more reverb.
The trick is to find the perfect balance between the original sound and the reverb used.
The size of the reverberation refers to the length of the reverberation time. In short, when you increase the size of the reverberation, you essentially increase the reverberation space.
And here the circle closes
Now you have an overview of the most common reverb parameters, their pros and cons, and the different reverb types you can start using right away.
Note that reverb can be overdone in any production.
Make sure that you empathize with the song and create a great sound together with the rules for the reverb parameters.
How do I get reverb out again?
For some tracks, a natural reverb is enough. And that's when the question arises, how to properly remove reverb without destroying the integrity of the recording. There are different methods for this. One of them is masking the frequency that contains the reverberation.
In some cases, when the reverberation is heavily on the high or low frequencies of the EQ, you can simply cut out that frequency and the reverberation will be greatly reduced. It may not go away 100%, but it will make an audible difference.
If that's not enough, there are many plugins that do just that. The ERA 4 Reverb Remover plug-in or the SPL DeVerb, as the name suggests, is very good for this purpose. Keep in mind that too many parameters with these plug-ins will quickly degrade the quality of the Recording can affect.
Reverb plug-ins and hardware reverb
As mentioned earlier in this article, both hardware reverbs and digital plug-ins have their place, and it depends on what features are needed for the specific production. Hardware delivers a more authentic sound, while digital or algorithmic reverbs offer almost endless variations and gimmicks. Most digital reverbs found in DAWs today mimic or emulate the effects of real reverb units. Another advantage of algorithmic reverbs is that many artificial reverb effects can be created, opening up a huge portfolio of sounds.
In addition, convolution reverb can be used to shape audio recordings to imitate the sound of a specific room. Given the parameters that reverb plug-ins offer, there is an infinite number of rooms that can be adjusted. While we've talked a lot about reverb in a studio environment, reverb hardware can also make a huge difference in a live performance.
A brief history of the reverb
Before there were sophisticated and customizable algorithmic reverbs, and even the unique tones of reverb hardware, musicians worked with natural reverb. Organic reverberation from natural elements has always existed, and man has taken advantage of this sound and refined it through technical processes over time. An example of this is the special architecture of concert halls, which makes it possible to use and control the acoustics in a special way.
The development of hardware reverb and algorithmic reverb had several reasons. One of those reasons was that it's a lot easier to make changes because when you're recording with room reverberation, there are some elements of the reverberation that can't be adjusted afterwards. With algorithmic reverb, this problem no longer exists.
The future of reverb
Because of our evolutionary nature, we will continue to work on improving the quality of both hardware and algorithmic reverbs. In addition, the specific architecture of concert halls will evolve, but they will always be equipped with the essentials to properly control reverb for live performance. Expect Hall to be used in other ways over time. With the help of technology, the use of reverb in audio production and in the creation of new sounds will continue to increase.
The most common questions about using reverb
Should you add reverb to everything?
Please do not! Not every instrument needs additional reverb. Too much reverb can overlap and confuse the production. For example, an instrument that has already been recorded with room reverberation does not need additional reverberation.
Should I add reverb when mastering?
It's better to add reverb to each instrument rather than to the master channel. This would result in the reverb being heard on every single track. If the reverb parameters are set for each individual track, you can integrate them perfectly into the mix.
How do I manage to always create the perfect reverb?
Difficult question, because every song has specific requirements due to its vocal and instrumental elements. Whether artificial reverberation or natural room reverberation, you have to make sure that it fits the sound of the other audio productions.
You don't want the different reverb types to clash with the rest of the song, you want the individual elements to complement each other.
Am I cheating if I use reverb?
Not at all. The technology offers a huge array of digital reverb options that can be tweaked in a million ways. That will only generate new creative ideas. Sometimes certain instruments sound a bit dry compared to the rest of the track, and it doesn't hurt to try a few different reverbs.
Is that true with the reverb – a lot helps a lot?
Too much reverb can negatively impact the overall integrity of the production. This is usually easily controlled by adjusting the wet reverb signal. However, using the same reverb on every track makes the production too cluttered to correct by adjusting the wet reverb signal alone.
How much reverb is enough?
Remember that reverb is there to fill a dry, empty spot in the song, and you only want to add enough to fill that spot. It's easy to dump your entire mix if you don't control the reverb tails of each track.
Do my vocals need reverb?
In any case! Vocal reverb is important for getting more sustain and a fuller sound. In some recording studios, reverb occurs naturally through reflective surfaces and can even form an echo chamber in larger rooms. Digital reverb offers many more options to choose the right reverb style and layer it over the voice.
And which reverb is best for vocals?
Plate reverb is recommended for vocals because it sounds soft and bright. It can increase the presence of the voice by making it sound stronger.
A disadvantage, however, is that plate reverb sounds metallic quickly.
What do you call a room without reverberation?
Here one often hears “soundproof”. That's true in a way, but the correct term would be “anechoic chamber”. Low echo means that the room does not reflect. These rooms are usually specifically designed and built to absorb sound.
Is a reverb a kind of autotune?
No, they are two completely different things, because reverberation is the reverberation of a sound. Whereas Autotune, as the name suggests, serves to bring the vocals and instruments in line with the rest of the production, making sure everything sounds in the right pitch and consistent. It's important to realize that there are different levels of auto-tune, and sometimes it ends up being inaudible.
What is the difference between echo and reverb?
An echo is a single reflection from a distant surface. This surface must be more than 15 meters away for the human ear to perceive the echo. A reverberation is a multiple reflection from a nearby surface where the sound waves accumulate and collide with each other.
Is delay the same as reverb?
No, it's not. A delay in audio processing means that an input signal is recorded and played back after a certain time. Of course, how the delay sounds can be adjusted in many different ways via the parameters of your DAW, but the effect is not the same as reverb bouncing off nearby surfaces.
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