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Reverb question - specifically early reflections Modulation Plugins
Old 12th December 2007
  #1
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Reverb question - specifically early reflections

I'm trying to learn/hear and understand reverb better. Are early reflections the reverb that happens right on top of the vocals that seems to smooth the edges of the vox but ends as quickly as the words end? Verses reverb that has a tail after the word ends?

If this is correct, what effect does a reverbs predelay have on early reflections?
Old 12th December 2007
  #2
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Early Reflections, in a real room, are literally the first reflected sounds that hit your ear. The direct sound hits your ear first, and then sound that has reflected off nearby walls. Even a simple square room will cause a complex array of early reflections.

In a reasonable size room, the sound keeps on bouncing around and reflection off each surface it hits, creating a longer diffused tail.

When digital reverbs were being invented - made possible with digital delay lines - some makers thought it was a good idea to model the early reflections seperate from the diffused tail. I believe Lexicon thought otherwise, and decided to treat them more like they really are in real life - a natural extension of delays. Both methods had merits and problems - I'm not a huge fan of early reflection models, and tend to turn them off or minimise them. Digital reverb struggles to sound good (compared to real reverb) and sometimes those clusters of delays just sound bad to me. If I want delays, I will choose my own delay times.

Predelay obviously affects how we percieve the reverb and has pschoacoustic clues that fool our brain into thinking the sound is in a bigger space.

When studios used real room chambers, they often used a tape delay to enhance the reverb sound. I view pre-delay as being a substitute for that. It also allows you to mess with the feel and timing/groove of the reverb. It also makes the reverb less cluttered, and you can even use less reverb and still notice it.

Some reverbs let you adjust the level of ER with the reverb tail, so you can hear the ER sound just by itself. To my ears, it's usually a phasey flamm effect that I don't like - but it can give a little character to a boring reverb.

In a real room, the ER's will be more dense than a digital reverb can do. Which is largely why recording real room ambiance is still very desirable. Although convolution of samples of real rooms is fairly good.
Old 12th December 2007
  #3
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the early reflections basically form part of the initial impulse in the room so you don't hear it as a separate sound. the ER carries encoded information about the type of space the instrument is playing in while the tail carries encoded information about how big the space is.

sometimes i create a nice ambience using just early reflections as they make a sound bigger and more spacious.

the pre delay is the time between the initial impulse and when the reverb actually starts. imagine you're in the middle of quite a big room and you clap your hands. a moment later you will hear an echo which is basically the time it takes for the sound to hit the walls and come back to you. now if you're at the back of the room when somebody claps from the middle of the room, you won't here a delay as you will actually hear the sound source and the reflections at about the same time. the pre delay parameter allows you to specify where the microphone is placed in relation to the sound source.

in mixing, reverb with no pre delay kind of merges with the original sound and can sound like it smeares the transient a bit so if you add a bit of pre delay you can retain the clarity in the attack of the sound
Old 12th December 2007
  #4
Gear nut
 

early reflections combined with predelay are very useful to create depth in your sound. your brain recognizes, amongst others, by the delay between direct sound and early reflections (=pre delay) how far away a source is.

so pick a early reflection preset in your reverb and play around with the predelay. aslong as you stay within the haas window, you won't hear two acoustical events but the source seems to be far away or closer.

...a very useful effect of early reflections.
Old 12th December 2007
  #5
JWL
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Early reflections are somewhat of an enigma.

In small rooms (which most of us have) they rarely add anything useful, in fact we spend a lot of time thinking about how to get rid of them.

That said, in a larger room, they definitely add a sense of ambience/reality to a recording if done well. Regardless, the engineer should definitely pay attention to what's happening with early reflections in a recording room (not to mention a mix room).

I remember a while ago when I was struggling to get a "pro" sound in my recordings, I finally made the plunge and built some DIY acoustic treatments. On play back, I just smiled. "Oh, THAT'S how they do it."

I also agree that early reflections are the hardest part for digital reverbs to get right, though they often do a surprisingly good job. Even if it's not 100% accurate, you can nearly always get it to sound good.

Another thing you can do in your recordings is play with comb filtering (ie, copy a track, delay one by a few (10-50) milliseconds, maybe flip it out of phase, and mix them together). Bringing this into the mix subtly can sound very interesting, as it sort of simulates what happens with early reflections.
Old 11th October 2012
  #6
so whats the best software simulator of rich early reflections? some IRs?
Old 11th October 2012
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ho-fi View Post
early reflections combined with predelay are very useful to create depth in your sound. your brain recognizes, amongst others, by the delay between direct sound and early reflections (=pre delay) how far away a source is.

so pick a early reflection preset in your reverb and play around with the predelay. aslong as you stay within the haas window, you won't hear two acoustical events but the source seems to be far away or closer.

...a very useful effect of early reflections.
A great way to create a sense of depth in a mix. Good informative post, thanks!
Old 12th October 2012
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tobto View Post
so whats the best software simulator of rich early reflections? some IRs?
A convolution engine loaded with an IR generated in a real acoustic space is as close as it gets to the real thing
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