Reverb: Tips and Tricks for Perfecting Your Sound

Reverb is a versatile tool that can be used for simulating room acoustics, creating a sense of space, and softening the sound of a track. While it is relatively easy to use, there are some basic rules to follow in order to perfect the results. One important consideration when using reverb is the algorithm used for the decay. Many reverbs will create a metallic sound with longer decay times or make snare drums sound choppy. Valhalla is excellent for avoiding this effect, but requires using additional functions beyond the basic features. If a reverb plug-in is crackling, it doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. Waves TrueVerb, for example, is a great reverb even if a metallic sound can be heard with longer decay times.

The decay time determines the length of the reverb. The predelay sets the delay time before the reverb sound starts. In almost all cases, it is better to achieve the desired effect with delayed reverb rather than immediate reverb. High cut removes high frequencies. Depth adjusts the ratio of early reflections and later reflections. How should these features be used?

Reverb settings depend on the type of sound. If the sound has large transients, it is better to use delay/predelay to delay the start of the reverb, so that the transient is not washed away. If the sound has strong bass, it is best to use a low cut filter to remove the low frequencies of the reverb. If there is no such function in the Reverb plug-in, it can be performed on the track itself or using software that can do it. Avoid selecting a too-long decay time for fast-paced songs because it may cause the music to be washed out or cause dissonance. If it is necessary to do so, use a low cut filter to cut the low and mid frequencies to reduce dissonance.

For bass reverberation, use an extra short decay time. Few people use reverb on bass tracks because many believe it is unnecessary. The human brain finds it harder to perceive low frequencies in space, so bass reverb is considered unnecessary. However, the brain can still perceive it, just not as specifically as other frequency ranges. Another problem with bass reverberation is that the left and right signals may cause phase cancellation when listening to the song in mono compatibility. This is a problem with most reverb solutions. However, reverb is less problematic than other solutions. By using a low cut filter to remove frequencies around 20-40 Hz, but keeping the higher ones, it is possible to avoid phase cancellation with natural-sounding bass sounds. This applies to well-played bass guitars. If the bass sound is artificial and mostly sinusoidal, the reverb may still cause problems.

Using a low cut filter is a useful function when using reverb. It is almost mandatory to use this when adding reverb to a lower pitched singer's voice.

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The reverb should not be too loud in the final product! It should be felt rather than clearly heard in complex music. Beginners should follow this principle. Of course, during testing or when fine-tuning other functions, the reverb can be louder, but the sound of the reverb should never be so loud that it is clearly noticeable. Only deviate from this concept if the reverb is used not just for softening but for sound design.

Convolution reverbs provide a more natural-sounding reverb effect. They can use an impulse response audio file. In the pop music environment, this function is not useful, but it comes in handy for film mixing. For example, on a film set in a cathedral, a very short percussive sound is produced, which is recorded with a microphone. The percussive sound will reverberate in the cathedral. If we feed this recorded sound into the convolution reverb software, the software detects the parameters of the recorded percussive sound. How long was the decay, how stereo was the reverb, how loud was the sound compared to the percussive sound, etc. Then the reverb adjusts itself according to the detected parameters. This way, in post-production, we can imitate the distinctive reverb of the cathedral. Reverb can also be used as a special sound effect. For example, in a vocal track, where the singer starts singing after a pause, cut the first syllable that is uttered. Mute the rest and reverse the cut first syllable. Add reverb to the syllable. Render it out with the decay. Then reverse the rendered track. This way, the reverb emerges out of nowhere before the singer starts singing.