We hear and feel the reverb in our everyday life. For ex. when you sing in a bathroom or talk in a big empty room, we listen to the reverb all the time and somehow the reverb sounds amazing, it has the power to make bathroom singer sound like a pro when they sing while bath.
In this article, we will be using and talking about software reverbs(vst plugins), you will learn everything you need to know about this audio effect in very easy language and you will able to use it in your mixes right away.
What is Reverb
Reverb or Reverberation is nothing but the reflection or the echo of the source audio which is produced when the audio is bounced back from things surrounded around us like, walls, surfaces, rooms, etc. For example, when we clap or talk inside large empty rooms or sing while taking shower.
It is one of the most common effects used in music production and its job is to bring life to the audio mixes. The amount of this effect can help audio mixes sound professional but overusing it can hurt your mixes.
Example of Dry and Processed Sound
There are various types of reverbs to use and they affect the sound differently. Let’s see what are these types of reverbs.
Types of Reverbs
Mainly there are five types of reverb:
As the name implies this type emulates the reverberation of halls, very common in modern music production. Hall reverbs are huge in natures as these are the simulation of halls, the hall has different sizes like small halls, theater halls, concert halls, scoring halls, i.e. large, medium and small halls. And the time they last are ranges from 1.6 seconds to 8 seconds.
Rooms are the most common, we experience every single day, like the bathrooms, living rooms, etc. Room reverbs are shortest among the types of reverbs, the length ranges from 0.3 Seconds to 1.1 Seconds.
The reverberation we hear from the rooms depends on the physical characteristics of the room like shapes and sizes and so on. Too much room reverb adds muddiness and boxiness to the sounds or mixes.
A plate is an artificial reverb, plates(sometimes also known as echo plate) was first introduced by EMT, in 50’s became popular in 70’s. It was used on most of the records produced in 70’s through 90’s and it still has its place in today’s music production.
To get the reverb from the plate engineer had to place the metal plate inside a room then send the targeted signal( vocals, guitars, etc.) and used the transducer to receive a signal from the plate. In simple words, the vibration of the plate that occurred through incoming signal is known as plate reverb. You will find varieties of plates from small to large.
Chambers are smaller in size in comparison to halls, they usually lack the early reflections but have sweet and rich textured and sometimes huge reverberation. Chamber reverbs are one of the first reverbs ever used in music productions.
As you know most chambers are in rectangular in shape and the reverb they produce depends on the height of the walls, distance between the surrounded walls and type of material used to construct the chambers. You can find cement chambers, wooden chambers, and even tiled chambers.
Spring reverbs are another artificial reverb(man-made) just like plates. Spring reverbs were originally introduced in 1930’s by Laurens Hammond, became popular through 50’s to 70’s and still are.
Nowadays, you can hear spring reverbs mostly in guitar amplifiers like Boss Fender ’63 Spring Reverb and so on. It also uses the transducer to capture the reverb just like the plate reverbs. Sounds good on guitars but you can experiment with other sounds.
Reverb Controls and Parameters
Now you know main types of reverb, it is time to know different controls available on reverb plugins. Once you know what these controls and parameters do, you will be able to use reverb plugins with ease.
Let’s start with the most common parameters then additional parameters which are available in most of the reverb plugins.
Size: It is self-explanatory, you can set the size of any type explained above using this parameter. Larger size emulates the halls and smaller size emulates plates and so on. Set the size according to the type of reverb you want to use. Some plugins might have Reverb Type instead of Size.
Pre-Delay: Most people struggle with the pre-delays in their plugins, just put this in your mind that pre-delay simply tells reverb to hold on for a certain amount of time (usually in milliseconds) to pass the original sound before the reverb affects the sound or it is the difference between the original sound and revered sound.
Damping: Damping sometimes called as High Damping usually is the parameter available in percentage in most plugins. Its work is to absorb high frequencies from the reverb. For example, if the damp is set to 10% it will absorb less high frequencies as compared to the 80% or 90%.
Reverb Time/Decay: The time the sound takes to get inaudible can be controlled using this parameter. Not all plugins have this control, but if your plugin has it then be creative to use it.
Filters/Lowpass and HighPass: This parameter can be useful for eliminating the excess low of high frequencies. simple trick here is to cut some high frequencies to get the natural sound.
Mix or Dry/Wet: This parameter is used to set the amount of reverbed effect you want to use into your applications. Use it to blend the dry(original sound) and wet(effected sound) as your taste, nothing fancy here.
Width: As the name implies, it is used to add width in your reverbed sounds and is usually represented in percentage(%).
Early Reflections: It is a first bounce back you hear off the nearest wall in the room. If early reflections set to a short time then it produces small room reverberation and if it is set to a long time it produces large rooms.
Density: The use of this parameter is to set amount of echo/reflections that can be heard as opposed to original reverb. If the amount the density is set to high then you will hear more echoes/reflections than the original reverb, like large halls, have a low density of the reverb and small rooms have the higher density.
Diffusion: This parameter spreads the sound evenly and reduces glare, in this case, reverbed sound, in simple words diffusion simulates things or items in the room like tables, sofa, bookshelf, etc. I hope you get the point.
Use an automation to get subtle variations from the reverb(just to sound little bit realistic). Using long reverb settings in fast tempo songs will nothing but messes your mixes. And finally, you must know that there is no right or wrong way to use this effect while mixing but overusing can break your mix and your mix will not sound like professional mixes.