by Nick Messitte, iZotope Contributor August 20, 2019
Some of the reverbs we’ll be working with today
Your drums sound narrow, dry, and small. You need them to sound bigger, so you send them to a concert-hall reverb. That’ll do the trick, right? Probably not. Now all you have are small, narrow drums surrounded by a lot of incongruous reverb.
Following last month’s introduction to reverb , we take you through the tips and tricks of some of the world’s best producers — many of whom are thinking about the reverb sound they want long before they get to the mix.
Part 2 – no need to keep the entire work hidden…
If you’ve ever spent hours mixing only to be confronted with a wall of mud, you might need to think harder about how to use reverb and delay in your mixes – and some simple tricks can yield dramatic results.
Mike Senior has been providing useful information and ideas for a long time. I own copies of his books. I now add some links to his online resources.
SOS contributor Mike Senior replies: Well, the names of presets are only useful if they give you an idea of what to expect sonically, and that’s a bit hit-and-miss in my experience. I’m most sceptical about preset names with instrument suggestions in them, particularly if that’s unqualified by any further information. Reverb use depends so much on the stylistic expectations and the nature of the recordings themselves (particularly what kind of spill, if any, is baked into the recordings), so a simple ‘Snare’ preset would rarely be of interest to me in practice. On the other hand, ‘Epic Snare Boosh’, ‘Tight Snare Ambience’, or ‘Icy Rimshot Tail’ might well entice my mouse click under appropriate circumstances. It’s also quite common for a preset that’s ostensibly named for one use to work very well for something completely different, or to provide a great base for editing into another form. So, in short, take those kinds of preset names with a huge pinch of salt!
The purpose of reverb is to create a sense of ambiance, foster a feeling of depth, or take listeners to new locales. But today we depart from these more prosaic usages to focus on something a little more creative—namely, how to use reverb as a tool for sound design.
The vocal is often (nearly always) the most important element in a track. The presence that you hear in a professional vocal helps the listener understand the lyrics and connect with the song. This human element is accessible to the listener and should be clear to hear.
Barring distortion, few effects are as essential to mixing guitars as reverb and delay. From reggae strokes to stadium rock epicness and blissful tape echo soundscapes, we’ve relied heavily on ambience processors to shape some of the most distinctive guitar sounds in contemporary music.
This week’s tip is inspired by the center stage sound, but taken further. The heart of the effect is the Expander, but unlike last week’s Expander-based Dynamic Brightener tip, the Expander is in Duck mode, and fed by a sidechain. Here’s the Console setup.
In this article, we’ll cover six ways to use reverb in a sound design and arranging context. We’ll cover how reverb can be used as an insert effect when creating a sound, how to give return reverbs more character, and how to use reverb as a standalone transitional effect or groove element.
Convolution is one of the more sophisticated processes regularly used in audio production. Its ability to accurately impart the characteristic timbres of spaces and objects on other signals is useful in both sound design and standard processing applications. With a wide range of realistic and otherworldly sonic possibilities, convolution can be a fantastic addition to any producer’s toolkit.
In this article, we’ll discuss what digital reverb, both algorithmic and convolution, technically does to an audio signal to achieve the effect of reverb. With this information in mind, we’ll also cover some considerations for handling reverb in your own projects.
Because the reverb must be captured in the recording process, studios invested in custom-built recording rooms to achieve the sound that they were after. Famous spaces like the main recording room in Columbia Records’ 30th Street Studio, renowned for their reverberant signatures, were utilized as the reverb source for some of the most famous projects in music (the legendary 1959 Kind of Blue album from Miles Davis was recorded at 30th Street).
I truly loved this room. Got to sit in (listening) to recording session with brass and a few strings. Good to have had a pro for a teacher/mentor – Don Butterfield. He believed in the experience of playing live with multiple players. Intonation? Always of paramount importance.
The Grove Dictionary of Music calls Butterfield’s playing style, “uncommonly florid, a skill that made him of value as a jazz musician… He was one of the first modern jazz players who, rather than simply marking out the bass line, rediscovered the possibility of bringing to the instrument a facility akin to that of a trumpeter.”
If you want to hear some very interesting music try Clark Terry’s album “Top and Bottom Brass”. Outstanding.
Reverb can be tricky to deal with in a mix. The space that it adds can be very helpful, but sloppy reverb sounds can often become smeared over the mix, reducing clarity. Achieving the proper balance when mixing reverb will give a sense of space without becoming distracting in the mix.
In this article, we’ll cover some methods for mixing reverb. We’ll discuss EQing, ducking, timing, and retriggering reverb.
I try to make sure I post to the blog when I add a section to the iZotope Tools binder. I file the article, and when possible, all of the sound samples and videos. Videos go in the videos folder with bookmarks attached to the article. Sound samples are stored in the article (which becomes an outline element).
I’m not really sure when it’s best to use mono reverb effects — and how to pan the reverb when doing so — and when to use stereo reverb. Can you de-confuse my mind a little?
Mike Senior provides excellent advice as usual.