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Reverb. My biggest hurdle in mixing. Reverb & Delay Plugins
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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Thread Starter
Reverb. My biggest hurdle in mixing.

Hey!

I’ve been producing electronic music for about 6 years now seriously and I still don’t have a grip over reverb. And that’s the only thing I don’t seem to get around.

Balancing, compression, delay etc. I’ve figured well enough to use creatively. Reverb is still kinda abstract to me. I use it. Yes But I’m sure not as well as well I could use it. It’s like, ok I’ve put a verb on or sent to the aux. now it’s sounding grander, more distance, bigger etc. but that’s that. Obv I’ve done up a lot of reading on reverbs so I know what the parameters are.

I don’t want to know how each parameter works or how it will affect a sound. I want to understand how and when do I use it to my advantage? Something like a perspective on how to add reverb to a song. On how many and which type of elements so that it sounds cohesive? how to select which tracks should be on different reverbs? Should the different reverbs be completely different in terms of rooms and parameters or not? How should I decide if on a signal I should want to add the reverb as aux or directly use it as an insert? (Coz inserts always reduce the dry signal so more depth than aux) (I think that)

I know it’s a lot of Q’s but that’s what on my brains. Basically just your decisions on reverb and why? If you have any great articles or videos on reverb please link them. Thank you slutz. ♥️

SC: Nowl | Free Listening on SoundCloud
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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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; 1 week ago at 01:50 AM.. Reason: Typo
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
The best advice I can give on reverbs is to dial back whatever you think sounds good. It’s usually too much. Also eq’ing verb helps a lot. It can also be cool to have reverbs come in on choruses to open things up, and make everything sound a little bigger. Experimenting is your friend. Some of my fave plug-in verbs are The Valhalla offerings. The Vintage verb usually beats out my uad offerings.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Addict
Some good detailed responses so far.
The most important thing is figuring out when to use reverb and then the how will kind of work itself out with some practice and personal preference. Here are some examples of when you might want to reach for a reverb:
When an element sounds too upfront but just reducing its volume doesn't make it better.
When an element sounds too thin but eq isn't really helping.
When an element is too static but using a delay would be too obvious/heavy handed (snare is a good example of this if used tastefully).
When you want a few elements to jel together in a way that they are not. Using the same reverb can put them in the same "space" (but be careful or it'll just get muddy if you go too far).
And last but not least, use reverb for aesthetic reasons when you just like the way it sounds (for example you may just like the way a spring reverb colors a particular element).
Reverb is like seasoning. You need it when things are bland but since it makes everything sound "better" in isolation, you have to be careful and not overuse it.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
I use 5 FX

1. Short reverb (500-800ms) inserted on clap/snare bus to soften transients
2. Med-long plate for vocals (1.8 - 3.5 sec) rolled off @ 200Hz & 5.5 kHz with a 60ms tape delay.
3. Long church-type setting for atmosphere (4.5 - 5 sec) rolled off @ 200Hz & 3.5 kHz with a 200ms pre-delay
4. 1/8 note delay on percussion.
5. 1/4 note delay on vocals.

Last edited by Voyage.One; 2 weeks ago at 09:13 AM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
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kennybro's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nick8801 View Post
Some of my fave plug-in verbs are The Valhalla offerings.
Yeah on the Valhalla stuff. As far as using it, it's purpose is to open up the back to front dimension in combo with balancing volume. Panning takes care of the left to right.

Roll off the lows and the highs. Real space ambience lacks deep lows and extended high end.

Don't overuse, unless you want to create an effect thing.

A touch of pre-delay can clean things up a bit. I don't usually worry about the BPM. I listen to what it's doing to the sound in mix context. Mostly, I've lately been using just a small touch of verb on drum overheads to create the space, and a bit on background vocals to differentiate them from lead vocals. Nothing else lately. But I don't do electronic music much.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
I think one question to ask is, 'Why do you think ______ needs reverb?" After that start thinking of what you want the reverb to add to the mix. Then, reread @voodoo4u and @Local Man's posts and apply the advice.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Usually somewhere in these threads, someone says "reverb shmeverb, what you really need is delays."
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Usually somewhere in these threads, someone says "reverb shmeverb, what you really need is delays."
Isn't that guy you?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
Isn't that guy you?
Apologies. I was delayed.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
"reverb shmeverb,
I like to use a schmall room schemeverb on the schmare drum.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sagar4848 View Post
I don’t want to know how each parameter works or how it will affect a sound
too bad, IMO that's really really important for knowing how and when to use it. Tweaking the presets should be done with the reverb cranked past where you will 'really' end up. You want to hear what the flavor of it is.

Quote:
I want to understand how and when do I use it to my advantage?
reverb is good for blending things to make them sound together, but it can also be useful to make things stand out - if something has a unique reverb from the rest of the band, it may stand out. Perhaps unrealistically, but it will sound separated.

I usually use from 5-10 time-based effects in a mix. Rooms, plates and delays but sometimes also flanges and choruses. As others have said, a lot of it is front-to-back stuff. Longer times and larger amounts are generally "back" and smaller amounts and shorter times tend to be "front".

I tend to mix with overlapping reverbs so lets say I had 3 reverbs, large, medium and small, I might do something like;
drums - medium and large
vocals - small and medium
guitars small medium and large
keyboards - a bit of small and a lot of medium
horns - a lot of small and a bit of medium

these ^^ are not "recommendations" but just hypothetical examples for illustrative purposes only. Notice how most of the instruments in the example have some medium room. This is the 'shared space' the "band" is located inside of. Notice also how the bass and kick are not listed. As someone said above, low frequency stuff can get really muddy really fast. Unless the mix is really sparse, reverb on a kick or bass is just going to get lost in the sauce and turn to mush.

Real spaces can be very complex. I first realized this recording a classical group in a church. To simulate that room I would have needed probably at least 3 artificial reverbs. They were up on the altar and the curved domed apse right behind them was kind of like a small room. The big nave where the congregation sat was obviously a large room. There were also two 'wings' to the sides where the choirs were that were kind of like a medium room.

Quote:
Something like a perspective on how to add reverb to a song. On how many and which type of elements so that it sounds cohesive? how to select which tracks should be on different reverbs? Should the different reverbs be completely different in terms of rooms and parameters or not?
all of these questions are honestly "it depends" questions for me. I can't really help you with these.
Quote:
How should I decide if on a signal I should want to add the reverb as aux or directly use it as an insert?
Here I do have a firm opinion - I can't even remember the last time I used a reverb directly as an insert. Even if the track was the only instrument getting that reverb. Because: 1. you never know if you suddenly will get inspired to have that sound available for other instruments. 2. you want to just grab a send and not open the damn plug and fiddle with the damn percentage knob and then feel compelled to also tweak the damn fader. 3. Harder to automate. 4. The Aux Returns provide a really quick method of raising or lowering the overall amount of reverb in the mix; 5. some of these insert with a percentage deals, I am convinced they suck tone from the dry signal - I have no scientific basis for believing that, but I do feel that way.

Quote:
Basically just your decisions on reverb and why?
short answer -
• some combination of 'smearing the tracks together in the same imaginary space(s) for blending purposes;
• putting a "halo" around an instrument to put it into its own space in order to separate it from other similar sounds;
• creating front to back illusions;
• increasing the illusion of sustain or the illusion of power.

All that being said, after I audition my reverbs to make sure they are appropriate for the music, I usually dial them way back until sometimes people say "how come you don't have any reverb?". Then I will mute the reverb returns as a group and they will hear the mix truly dry and understand. I want people to 'think' my mix is dry, even though it is almost never is. One thing I learned early on was to hit stop during a loud passage and listen to what reverbs and delays continue on after. One of the things about reverb is that you can get used to it to the point that you forget you have it on there. Then you reflexively add more.

But perhaps a good way to learn how to use it would be to go for some really wet mixes where you can really hear it working. You can always dial it back to a more tasteful level later. You could do that by just dropping the Aux Returns.

Always consider the possibility that some of your "difficulty" may derive less from you not understanding reverb, and more from you not really liking reverb. Some people mix pretty dry simply because that's what they like and that's what they feel fits their music.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #13
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Apologies. I was delayed.


Well played, my friend.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
Always consider the possibility that some of your "difficulty" may derive less from you not understanding reverb, and more from you not really liking reverb.
This is a very good point. As I was reading the original post I was thinking something along those lines.
Anyway, drenching everything in reverb is a pretty common rookie mistake, so if you never had to go through that phase then consider yourself lucky.

Another piece of advice I would offer is to really study a few reference tracks for reverb usage. It may be surprising. Take a song/mix you love and know very well and focus on how reverb was used. You might think, wow they used a lot of reverb on that extra synth layer that's panned far right. Or, the reverb tail on the snare really fits the rhythm, I never noticed that. When you dig deep you'll notice lots of little things that support the arrangement in ways that you don't even notice when listening all at once, but may seem really pronounced when zooming in. It may help you better understand what kind of reverb you really like.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
Lives for gear
 

What it seems you are looking to find is 1 simple cohesive reverb algorithm that will glue all your tracks together making the song or track sound as though it was all created and recorded in one single space. For this you can try Plug In’s and whilst mathematically correct like a microphone or Preamp you’re not going to get the mojo or the certain X Factor outboard units give you! 2 or 3 units would see you happily done!

1. A high end Reverb with Algorithms to suit

2. An Effects unit to offer you a pallet of diverse sounds from Flanging, phasing, tunneling to reverse, backwards and flipped out effects.

3. A very proficient DDL or Digital Delay with at least 30 stereo to 40 seconds offering numerous taps. Here you’d possibly favour AES to S/PIDIF with Analog inputs and outputs and giving you yet again multiple synced delays to to surround sound type delays. Yes it can be done. So for simplicity’s sake we will call these:

Three units.
(As an example)

Lexicon 300
Lexicon PCM 91
Eventide H3000
Eventide DSP4000
Lexicon PCM 81 to
TC TC2290

(I’d steer clear from TC now, please don’t think the Lexicon PCM 81 or 91 are the same they’re not, if you want 360 degree effects and delays and Reverb here’s you cheapest and best option! And...you get sync plus Digital AES to S/PDIF too 6 Inputs and outputs etc At 24 bit.)

You’ve got 4 main Axis Planes you need to place material in. Here you’ll want to use very wide panning not 10-3 or minus 6dB panning.

Left & Right Front you’d consider
Axis 1
Front to Back you’d consider
Axis 2
Pseudo Surround here you’d keep Axis 1 and 2 you’d consider this a precious use Axis.
Axis 3/4

Now I’m trying to make this very 101 simple for you minus the salient points on what certain controls do. Quite often you’ll see 4 more FX units which do 2 and 3 very well. As...these can double up as Hass delays to width enhancers to low level phasers to delays to filtered units. It’s your creativity here that’s going to decide how the Reverb melds together. Many will and rightfully so say you can and do require 3-4 decent Reverb units too! Again in example.

1. Medium Plate
1. Medium Hall
1. Large Ambient Hall

1 Delay At 8ths to 16th to 32’s.
1 Delay for Hass and Flange to Phase to Reverse to spaciousness in width or enhancement.
1 Delay pre Vox emphasis delay for words that require more clarification in power that relates power to the lyrics.
1 Delay Simply as a spare subgroup send etc. instrument timing or pushing and pulling away from those dead on 16th notes.

A great rule here - Never sync delays straight on! Never! You’ll lose that human feel and character if you’re 50 ticks either side to 2 BPM either side you’ll feel more movement in the song, more so in programming and sequenced material hitting grid patterns to arpeggios etc. you want feel not metronomic calculators giving exact timings etc.


On the Reverb side Plug In’s no matter how expensive will like AU to TDM to IOS apps lose value and worth over time. They might be fine now though they won’t be here in 20 years time no Sir! Here you can throw a stone and ask anyone just to see how many people hold outboard FX and Reverb units. Some boutique Plug in manufacturers will try to keep up.

Yet - When a totally new operating system is introduced you’ll be lucky if they stay. People buy hardware for a reason it’s an investment and it just works. Older doesn’t mean better or worse it means you own it and it’s going to last it can also be fixed. Simply what works for you...works. Plug in’s are great and I own plenty though...whilst handy I know will not stay with me! Not like 10-15 to 20 to 35 year old units will. They can be fixed.

All these Parts still (mostly) exist and or are being retooled due to demand. I’m not trying to convince you, I’m just discussing fact. Bricasti wont make a Plug In, Eventide will make only certain Algorithms why, I doubt they can code an H3500 fully into a plug in etc. Lexicon last Plug in system the 96 Reverb and FX system ended up not too well for many as upgrades happened. The Lexicon 96 Unit to its counterpart Plug was a let down. All by FireWire.

Your Speakers, Acoustic room and overall Mix Position are going to play a huge part here too! A few decent Mic’s and Preamps and Compressers to Equalisers can all be had in a simple 8 slot Lunchbox format. Your choice in Microphones is crucial here too.

You don’t need to spend 1 million just grab 3-5 decent Microphones say 2 x LDC and 3 really good Dynamics with a good ribbon microphone etc. I also would advise stripping Plug In’s to a bare minimum you’d be amazed at what just 6-8 to 12 max plug in’s can do as required to the packed on 6 plugs on each channel.

This will give you more room, space and less hassle high pass and low pass everything you possibly can. If you simply can’t afford expensive Nearfield $2-3K Speakers - Simply grab some Yamaha HS 8’s as thesecare great and true, their loud, proud and show mistakes. As always buy one good piece at a time and build slowly as in 4 years you’ll have a very decent rack of equipment at your disposal etc.

For all points on Reverb and FX discussion go back 3-8 years and see the Novella’s I myself have written regarding fixes, help and why? Plus Italo and Reverb Subculture threads to others. Read the Cult of Eventide thread. Read these and look at other names and then follow these peoples advice - as simply we wrote this pages exactly for you, so when required you’d find it. Lastly if your still not getting it read books by Craig Anderton to others visit websites and google you’ll end up with gold and diamonds to pith. All in PDF files to papers etc.

Anyway I hope this gives you a head start here.
Kind Regards
TheLastByte

Last edited by TheLastByte; 2 weeks ago at 12:46 PM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #16
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
One thing I learned early on was to hit stop during a loud passage and listen to what reverbs and delays continue on after.
Just underscoring this as it is such a good way to really hear what your verbs and delays are doing.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
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markodarko's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
I usually dial them way back until sometimes people say "how come you don't have any reverb?". Then I will mute the reverb returns as a group and they will hear the mix truly dry and understand.
This is the best advice for most genres, IMO. I was always "taught" (i.e., being annoying and asking too many questions when in recording studios) from mix engineers back-in-the-day that you shouldn't really ever "hear" reverb unless it's for a specific effect. From a holistic mix POV you should strive to make your mix sound dry, when it actually isn't. Obviously, there are plenty of musical examples that do the opposite and have a totally wet sound to the entire mix, but that is usually part of a genre or, as mentioned, for effect.

Ultimately though, the wetter your mix is, the less punch it will have - unless you side-chain duck the reverbs, of course, so that's something else to bear in mind. In any case, @joeq's advice about making your mix sound dry is a very good rule of thumb that will cover most bases.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #18
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
Just underscoring this as it is such a good way to really hear what your verbs and delays are doing.
Sure, but context is everything and that's kinda the opposite.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #19
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markodarko's Avatar
 

One question... Why do people write "verb" instead of "reverb"? Are those extra two letters really that taxing?

Old 2 weeks ago
  #20
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markodarko's Avatar
 

One question... Why do people write "verb" instead of "reverb"? Are those extra two letters really that taxing?

Old 2 weeks ago
  #21
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by markodarko View Post
One question... Why do people write "verb" instead of "reverb"? Are those extra two letters really that taxing?

RE: verb. Okay, "reverb." No prob. Which is short for "proberation."
Old 2 weeks ago
  #22
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voodoo4u's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by markodarko View Post
One question... Why do people write "verb" instead of "reverb"? Are those extra two letters really that taxing?

It's an old habit picked up from writing on the plastic channel strip of a console with a grease pencil where there's not a lot of room, so I'd end up with kik, snr, T1, T2, rev etc.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #23
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by markodarko View Post
One question... Why do people write "verb" instead of "reverb"? Are those extra two letters really that taxing?

It's the extra syllable that's the problem, not the letters...

Old 2 weeks ago
  #24
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monkeyxx's Avatar
One trick I have used is to not use reverb at all for a while. I don't think I've opened a reverb plugin in 2 months now. I'm using more room sounds and stuff like that.

I just didn't like it when I was opening reverbs as a default habit.

I like it when reverb strikes you as an obvious and well intentioned effect. To that effect, some songs want to be super wet. Some tracks want specific "spice" reverbs panned hard left or right, only on specific instruments, etc. I really like springs, plates, room impulses, etc.

I try not to use it as a blending tool too often. I found that Altiverb was really good for that, since it simulates real spaces.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #25
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Lotta good info here!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
One trick I have used is to not use reverb at all for a while. I don't think I've opened a reverb plugin in 2 months now. I'm using more room sounds and stuff like that.

I just didn't like it when I was opening reverbs as a default habit.

I like it when reverb strikes you as an obvious and well intentioned effect. To that effect, some songs want to be super wet. Some tracks want specific "spice" reverbs panned hard left or right, only on specific instruments, etc. I really like springs, plates, room impulses, etc.

I try not to use it as a blending tool too often. I found that Altiverb was really good for that, since it simulates real spaces.
I'll add to that. Unless a band comes in with some specific notions for the mixes, I typically flesh them out without FX. See how far and where that can take us first.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #27
Gear Nut
 

Reverb is very useful to glue the mix.
I also had a period I was kind of bored with reverbs but it was just because I was using it too much and with too long trails and if you use it this way you actually wash up your sound and lose definition.
I found a solution with Eventide Studio Reverb which, used properly, it really stays in the background, I mean you dont realize its working until you switch it off and you feel there's something missing in the depth of your track.
I found this is my best way to use a reverb.
Also I found its a good habit to solo the reverb when the mix is done and treat the reverb as a sound you can eq, compress or whatever .
Old 2 weeks ago
  #28
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Sure, but context is everything and that's kinda the opposite.
Definitely agree about context but sometimes it's good to really hear what the verb is up to, particularly for someone who is just trying to figure out what it is that they are listening for in context.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #29
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by markodarko View Post
One question... Why do people write "verb" instead of "reverb"? Are those extra two letters really that taxing?
no worse than when people abbreviate "July" as "Jul."
Old 2 weeks ago
  #30
Gear Head
 

Some things that have worked well for me, maybe someone else will find them useful:

1. Don't be afraid of mono reverb, on a vocal in the center of a mix it can be magic. Listen to the reverb tail on a Beatles vocal (obviously it's a glorious chamber, but still, it's mono and it's pretty dirty!).

2. Look up the "Abbey Road Reverb" trick, which is essentially applying hi-pass & low-pass filtering on the signal you are sending to the reverb, really creates a lot of space & cleans things up.

3. Track with reverb...I don't know if this works in computer land, but when I record to tape I love to print reverb on the way in, it moves and stays with the instrument it's printed on and puts things in individual spaces (allowing them to be the only thing modulating the reverb) rather than an overall "gluing" of things through one reverb at the same time.

4. Try calling it "echo". It will confuse everyone, but it sounds really neat!
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