Such is the power of the great Reverb. However, many of you are free to destroy your mix by using it indiscriminately.
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Time to go back to the basics, right?
In this article, I will show you how to use basic reverb in the most common, safest way, and applicable to many different usage contexts. Of course, each context is different, so “adjusting” accordingly requires accumulated experience from dozens or even hundreds of mixes.
Well, enough “scare” each other. Read and practice the tips below for good, you will always stay in the “safe zone”. Of course, I don’t forbid you to be creative.
Set Reverb – Send or Insert?
I can confirm, at least 80% of use cases reverb is set to Effect Send instead of Insert. If you do not know about Send and Insert, I would like to briefly explain how Reverb works on these two settings as follows:
With the Send setting, Reverb acts on the sound but are not change the original signal. In essence, it makes a copy of the original signal and then processes on that copy. With the Insert setting, the Reverb acts and changes. live original signal
Setting up the Reverb on the Send . line
Why do people often set up Send with Reverb?
Very simple! First, Reverb is a time-based effect. It needs an original signal source for processing.
If you use 2 reverbs for the same instrument, do you want to create a reverb for a pre-existing reverb sound source? All your parameters and time calculations will be… out of order after passing Reverb No. 2 in this case. Not to mention you still want to use more Delay? If all these devices were set to the same Insert for 1 instrument, it would be a disaster!
In the following example, the vocal track uses 2 parallel Reverbs. The first half is set to Send, the second half is set to Insert, and the Reverb level is aligned. Notice the… blur in the second half (Insert) because the 2nd reverb creates space for 1… another space created by the 1st reverb.
Second, the sound effects set to Send can affect many different sound sources at the same time! For example, Vocal and Lead Guitar can both use the same Reverb. That means you will save a lot of system resources (CPU, RAM…)!
In the article about the most core role of Reverb, I said that Reverb is used to connect and bring single sound sources into a common space. With this #2 benefit of the Send setting, you’ll be able to do that easily without having to ‘stick’ 30-50 reverbs (with the same configuration) for so many individual tracks!
MIX’s advice: When using Reverb as a Send Effect, you should leave 100% Wet (including only the part of the signal generated by Reverb) and adjust the required amount of Reverb via the Send Level parameter on the instrument track to avoid affecting the volume. of this track.
Use only when absolutely necessary
Reverb effect is very… deceiving. It makes you instantly feel that the sound is more alive, “shimmer” and “seems” more real. But that’s no reason to use Reverb on all instruments!
Consider carefully whether using the Reverb is really better or just ruining the sound of the instrument? Same music, in the same song, even on the same instrument, sometimes we should use it, sometimes we don’t.
In the following example with a Metal song, having Reverb only makes the Rhythm Guitar blurry, cloudy and… “cheesy”, losing the necessary power.
Select Room Mode and set accordingly
What space do you want to recreate for the mix? In the theater, in the living room, or in the toilet? Choose a Room Mode (or Reverb Mode) that has the right acoustics for that space.
Usually, Reverb devices will have a series of Room Modes available such as Hall, Room, Studio, Plate … with a lot of Presets for you to choose from. Take a preset that most closely matches your needs and adjust the reverb parameters to better suit the instrument and the mix intent.
Tips for MIX: Do not think that Reverb Hall or Concert mode will make the voice sound “louder”, “immeasurable”. Room or Plate modes are more than enough to create space large enough for many common mixes without causing as many “side effects” as Hall.
Hall Mode might be ok with vocals, but it usually sounds like… c*t with radio voiceovers
Hall mode sounds fine with the vocals of a light song, but sounds disgusting with a voiceover on the radio.
How to align reverb intensity for an instrument
If the reverb is too loud, instead of helping the instrument blend into the mix or liven it up, you’re just dulling the mix, blurring/transforming the instrument sound and making it appear to be coming from nowhere some seclusion!
If it’s too low, you’ll barely hear the instrument’s reverb when multiple other sound sources play along.
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So what is just right? It sounds so hazy!
In the majority of cases, Moderate is determined by: adjusting the strength of the reverb signal so that when reverb is turned off, it is known to be missing and when reverb is turned on, it is not or clearly discernible.
Turn reverb on/off continuously during the adjustment process until you reach that “climax” point.
Listen to the following example with the Reverb setting to too little, medium, and too much on Snare Drum. At too little/too much reverb settings, Snare looks like it was made of 1… another dimension that doesn’t fit the Drums.
Align reverb in context of mix
To be able to accurately decide the appropriate intensity of the Reverb, it is necessary to base it on the context of the mix. When there are other sound sources playing along, the correlation in sound intensity, the timbre of the instrument you are reverbing will change. Other instruments will mask or obscure part of the reverb you’ve just made because not only are they… louder, but also related to the frequency groups that coincide with your reverb.
Therefore, it is very wrong to sweat blood boiling eyes based on the intensity of reverb when soloing that instrument! Depending on the number of instruments playing with, depending on the creative intent of the song, depending on whether it is an intro or a verse or a chorus, adjust the reverb intensity to suit different situations using the function. Automation.
Snare Reverb is enough when listening to solo but too little when listening to the drums:
This is a very necessary operation to control the “side effects” of Reverb in addition to adjusting important parameters such as Decay, Pre-Delay and Room Size.
The benefit of using an EQ on a Reverb is that it removes unwanted parts of the sound created by the Reverb. In most cases, applying the Lowpass and Highpass filter on the Reverb will make the sound less opaque, clear, smoother, more natural.
EQ for better control of Reverb’s “side effects”
Most Reverb devices have a built-in simple EQ (sometimes even a fully functional EQ like the WizooVerbW2) with the 2 filters above. Of course, no one is forcing you to just mess around with these two filters. If the Reverb device does not support a deep EQ, you can insert an additional EQ into the Reverb track to further refine until you get the desired result.
Usually, filtering all reverb sounds below 200 Hz and above 12 kHz is my first action after setting up the Reverb. Sometimes, you can apply Highpass Filter up to 500 Hz and Lowpass Filter down to 3 kHz to match the sound source, the context of the mix.
Tips for MIX: Filtering out the high frequencies helps the Reverb blend more, change the instrument tone less, and “hide” the Reverb better. Filtering out low frequencies makes the Reverb less opaque, the bass of the instrument sounds more solid while the space the Reverb creates is still guaranteed.
Listen to the following example with the first half without EQ Reverb and the second half with EQ applied on Reverb. When the highs and lows are cut off, the piano sound becomes clearer but still lively.
Don’t be afraid to try new uses
The instructions on how to use reverb in this article are only at a basic level for those who are new to Reverb. Readers can safely apply the instructions above for their upcoming mixes. While it won’t necessarily yield great results right away as this requires experience, at the very least, the guidelines I have outlined will help you follow the safe path.
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Reverb’s applications are numerous, and along with them are creative ways to use them – sometimes known by… accidents. Starting with the instructions in this article, go further and boldly experiment to get the most out of what you have.