Reverb simply put, is the reflection of sound and it’s persistence after the sound is produced. While the direct sound emitted reaches the listener’s ears in a straight line, several reflections follow. With time, the sound ceases as it gets absorbed by reflective surfaces. It is the series of gradually receding reflections that is collectively known as reverb.
WHY USE REVERB ?
Let’s face it, the typical home studio does not have great acoustics, and most engineers would resort to close miking. While this is perfectly fine, it does result in initial mixes that lack in depth and ambiance. Enter the reverb effect ! Reverbs can help recreate that lush ambiance and vibe that could bring your track to life, amongst other applications. Let’s take a look :
Gelling Instruments Together
Reverb is particularly useful for getting the instruments together in the mix. After tracking, you might find your instruments having a distinctive appearance but not sitting well together. A reverb, which can hardly be felt can help add that glue to your tracks. This reverb effect is known as Ambiance reverb.
Try creating an ambiance reverb in a DAW ( Best Free DAWs of 2017 ) by firstly creating an auxiliary send on each track. Next, put a very short reverb ( less than 0.7 seconds time ) on it. Remember to place the dry/wet ratio to 100% wet. Try listening to your mix with the reverb and without it, and adjust the levels of the send. Be wary of too much reverb on your bass instruments, as it could result in a mix that lacks clarity in the low end.
Increase the distinction of instruments
Although, this is the opposite of what we have just advocated, different reverbs on different instruments can be useful sometimes.
For example, try sending your electric guitar to a spring reverb and your vocals to a hall reverb. This can create an unnatural reverb effect, but the result would be increased separation between the too.
Reverbs are the main tool that we have for creating depth. During mixdown, reverbs can help in placing your instruments in a front to back fashion, establish hierarchy and resolve masking. Be wary of adding too much reverb though, as they could easily clutter your mix.
Filling the Stereo Panorama With Stereo Reverbs
Stereo reverbs can help in crafting a full stereo panorama. This is particularly useful when the instrumentation is very minimal.
For example, a singer songwriter track with just vocals and one acoustic guitar. You could add a slight stereo reverb on the vocals, and a little more on the acoustic to fill our the stereo panorama whilst adding depth.
A Few Pointers
Reverbs, like any other effect can have undesirable impact on your mixes if not used within measure. Here are a few pointers to watch out for :
- Definition – Reverbs tend to smear sounds and make them focused and distant.
- Masking – Watch out for masking while using long tail reverbs. Try using shorter reverb times or volume automation.