Music Production: Reverb
Posted on 12/03/2016
Reverb is extremely useful in music production, it can be used creatively and can be a great way to gel all the different instruments together.
When people start off creating music everyone tends to do the same thing…. add lots of reverb onto everything so that it sounds big. This is not the case and you will more than likely be left with one big mess with each instrument being muffled by the reverb. I’ve laid out 5 top tips to help you use reverb more effectively.
5. Using Reverb To Gel
You’ve just finished recording your new song, everything is sounding perfect except that each instrument is standing out individually and not collectively. Often the instruments can sound quite dry. This is where a touch of reverb can really help to gel all of the parts together. Try putting a slight room reverb on the master output channel to try and bring the instruments together as a collective. I find it is best to cut out some of the bass frequencies from the reverb here as it can make them sound quite muddy and let the higher frequencies blend together.
4. Guitar Solo God
What better way to sound incredible on a guitar than to boost it full of reverb! Nothing beats that epic face-melting guitar solo that is screaming away at you. Using a long ambient reverb here will do the job nicely, be careful not to put the reverb mix too high as you can lose some of the tone of the guitar. You want to compliment the playing, not overpower it. If you are a jazz guitarist, using a slight pre delay on the reverb can give it some character.
3. Vocal Effects
There are lots of different reverb effects to be used on vocals. If you think of a choir singing in a church, the reason it sounds so amazing is partly down to the acoustics of the building, the sound reverberates around the high walls blending each voice together perfectly. In the studio you can recreate that to some degree by using a big ambient reverb with a long tail.
One of the more interesting vocal techniques that I keep hearing is where they use pre delay as a creative effect giving the vocals an ambient / quirky sound. In the song below they use pre delay on a reverb with quite a long tail and sit the reverb high in the mix of the vocals.
Another common technique on vocals is to use a vocal plate such as the one found in George Michaels song “Jesus To A Child”,
2. Snare Drum
Adding reverb onto a snare can really bring out the best of the instrument but it has to be done correctly depending on the song, if you have a soft, intimate acoustic track then it’s no good having a snare reverb that has a 10 second tail! A slight room reverb with a short tail will do just fine and, as well as polishing the high frequencies you will find that it can boost the mids too giving it a little bit more character. Ballads are notorious for their snare reverbs with super long tails and huge ambient sound.
1. Pre Fade For Orchestral
This is honestly one of the best tips I’ve ever come across when it comes to reverb, I write a lot of orchestral music using various orchestral VST’s and I was struggling to make the samples sound the best that they could, until I read this tip…. Load up an FX channel with a reverb on it, then on each instrument channel add a send linking to that FX channel but switch the fader to pre fader (there is often a button above the send for this). What this does is it sends the reverb through first before the channels dynamics, this way the reverb stays exactly the same level in the mix when the instrument is playing loudly and softly. So when the instrument is playing softly you should hear more of the reverb creating a nice ambient sound but when it plays loudly you hear more of the body of the instrument coming through rather than the reverb. This can add a great depth to the dynamics of your tracks. If you put the reverb on post fader then the reverb increases in volume with the dynamics of the instrument, taking away some of the depth.
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