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Old 5th July 2018
Lives for gear
voodoo4u's Avatar

Using reverb effectively in a mix is an art. There is no manual that I know of that can tell you what to do in every situation. There are some general guidelines for what I've found to be helpful that I could share.

1. Reverb rarely works on low frequency sustained instruments. It tends to muddy up a mix. This also goes for full spectrum instruments. If you feel the need to add rev to something low or full spectrum, a high pass filter can be your friend.

2. Reverb time (decay) can often be related to tempo. The faster the piece, the faster the reverb decay generally. No hard and fast rule. Here's a simple example: Reverb on snare, tempo = 120 snare on 2+4 would be 1 second between hits. I would normally try to keep the rev under 1000ms. Over that, the rev tends to cause the snare to get too mushy. In some cases I would keep it under 500ms to keep it from mushing up the kik. This is why, in the 80's gated snare became so popular. It allowed the snare to stay punchy and get out of the way.

3. Predelay can be your friend. Predelay can help give definition to an instrument, yet still add depth to the sound by giving the psychoacoustic effect of giving you the impression that you're standing beside the player in a large hall. Sound travels at 1130 ft/sec roughly so if you want to give the effect that your 5 ft from the player and you're in a concert hall that boundary wall is 100 ft away, you might set your predelay to 200ms to emulate sound travelling to the boundary wall and back (200 ft). Just a general guide.

4. Good concert halls are rarely bright so some times it helps to EQ your digital reverb to be a little softer. Concert halls reverb can actually come back with a roll off as low as 3k so if your goal is to have the rev sound more natural, consider a low pass filter.

5. The denser a mix becomes, the more difficult it becomes to get clarity with longer reverbs. Consider keeping the reverb time down to add clarity and dimension. Sometimes 100 or 200ms is enough. Percussive instruments can really benefit from tight reverbs in a dense mix.

6. Keep recording history in mind when considering reverb. If you're trying to achieve a sound reminiscent of the 50's think Capital records reverb chambers. 60's saw more spring revs and plates. 80's saw digital revs and gates.

7. Often reverb alone is not enough. A trick from the 80's (at least that's when I learned it) is rather than adding delay to a source, I would add the delay to the reverb. This is particularly effective on voice and guitar when you want atmosphere.

8. Another trick I'll often use is to have a very quick reverb to simulate room tone and add a longer rev for effect.

These are just some general suggestions. I could go on, but it really becomes more of a situational approach. What are you trying to achieve by adding rev? Are you looking for natural or heavily effected? Modern or traditional? So many approaches.

Last edited by voodoo4u; 12th July 2018 at 01:50 AM.. Reason: Typo