Thread: Reverberation-ing

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  1. #1
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    Default Reverberation-ing

    The narrow focus of my post was this particular song, “Likes of Me by Hardy & the Hard knocks”.
    I notice there were 3 distinct types of reverb being used. On paper I think it would seem like they’d conflict or create confusion about the space the music is being performed in, but they don’t.
    There’s a slapback echo happening on the drums that made me think, okay this guy is playing at the bottom of a drained swimming pool. Then there’s no reverb on the heavy guitar, panned right. It sounds next to me, very present. And then the lead guitar on the left is definitely being recorded in the shitter. I can almost hear toilets flushing in the background. None of those create or represent a similar space, so why doesn’t it make the whole song sound disjointed?

    The broader intent was to start a conversation about what your intentions are when you chose a reverb. Do you mix different reverbs, if so, what are your goals there. I’ve thought of them as a way to try and establish some cohesion between things that might not have been recorded in the same spaces. With guitars I guess it can be as much of an effect or part of the guitar sound as the distortion or breakup you look for in your amp.

    But the real intent is, I’m lonely and wanted to talk.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    I initially set up at least four reverbs. An algorithmic piano hall, an impulse respons mid sized plate, an impulse respons Bill Putnam echo chamber no 2 (mostly for drum kit) and mostly a reverb of some kind on the snare as an insert.

    Halfway through the production (I track and mix side by side) I start paying attention to the effects in detail. I fine tune them by EQ and sometimes compression, weeding out the parts I don't want visible. I sort of "see" the mix as a 3d space with cut paper instruments with "tails" in between. Usually I end by cutting most of the effects off by 30% or something.
  3. #3
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    It totally depends for me.

    Sometimes I want everything to sound like it's in the same space, and sometimes I like things to sound like they're all zapping in from other dimensions.
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    The narrow focus of my post was this particular song, “Likes of Me by Hardy & the Hard knocks”.
    I notice there were 3 distinct types of reverb being used. On paper I think it would seem like they’d conflict or create confusion about the space the music is being performed in, but they don’t.
    There’s a slapback echo happening on the drums that made me think, okay this guy is playing at the bottom of a drained swimming pool. Then there’s no reverb on the heavy guitar, panned right. It sounds next to me, very present. And then the lead guitar on the left is definitely being recorded in the shitter. I can almost hear toilets flushing in the background. None of those create or represent a similar space, so why doesn’t it make the whole song sound disjointed?

    The broader intent was to start a conversation about what your intentions are when you chose a reverb. Do you mix different reverbs, if so, what are your goals there. I’ve thought of them as a way to try and establish some cohesion between things that might not have been recorded in the same spaces. With guitars I guess it can be as much of an effect or part of the guitar sound as the distortion or breakup you look for in your amp.

    But the real intent is, I’m lonely and wanted to talk.

    -r
    Well, I think part of it is that people have become used to certain effects sort of becoming part of the instrument in rock and roll production, rather than exactly creating an environment, unless they appear on more than one element - this is particularly true of reverb on guitar, thanks to decades of listening to guitar amps with built-in reverb, and slap echo, which isn't really a reverb effect at all the way it's commonly used.. On snare drum a slap echo actually becomes part of the drum performance, evoking a particular rockabilly-ish cliche, same thing on guitar, where it's also often used to fake double picking and make the player sound twice as fast as he really is.

    You often (generally) don't want slap or (much) reverb on a rhythm guitar, as it frequently screws up the rhythm.

    OTOH, certain types of reverb effects definitely evoke spaces - halls, chambers, etc, which are based on physical spaces, and sometimes plates. The issue ofr pre-delay also bears on whether a reverb is more evocative of a space, as real reverberant environments generally have some sort of pre-dalay as part of the sound, in fact the length of the pre-delay is a major auditory clue as to how large the room is. Reverb without pre-delay tends to sound more like a one-dimensional guitar effect, like a spring reverb.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    i generally try to stay away from reverbs where i can and instead focus on getting the source material working in a mix. every once in a while, ill use one reverb on a song and send multiple instruments (varying the send volume) to it to create a similar space for everything. that is, if you're going for a more realistic picture. if its more of an effect, then it really only matters what you're going for.

    everything is to taste. if it sounds better for your song to have a number of different effects/reverbs, then go with it. fuck around! if it works in a mix, it works.
  6. #6
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    If you think about it, having a mixture of reverbs is not totally unusual in real life. For example if you're in a building in a dead room, you may hear somebody calling from the stairwell or from the bathroom and while your environment would be that of damped small room, the voice you hear would be mixed with reverberation of the space the person is. Recently I hear very dramatic example of this when there were some renovations in my appartment, and one room was emptied and left with the bare walls, the voice coming from that room had very distinct reverberation and it was very clearly "separate" from the overall acoustic environment.
    It might be that our hearing has evolved to pick up these space ques to be able to navigate in poorly lit spaces (caves, obviously), so it is possible to pick out whether the source of sound is in the same space with you or it is in adjoined space and also to pick out the size and shape of this space.
    So I think blending reverbs is not unnatural.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    If you think about it, having a mixture of reverbs is not totally unusual in real life. For example if you're in a building in a dead room, you may hear somebody calling from the stairwell or from the bathroom and while your environment would be that of damped small room, the voice you hear would be mixed with reverberation of the space the person is. Recently I hear very dramatic example of this when there were some renovations in my appartment, and one room was emptied and left with the bare walls, the voice coming from that room had very distinct reverberation and it was very clearly "separate" from the overall acoustic environment.
    It might be that our hearing has evolved to pick up these space ques to be able to navigate in poorly lit spaces (caves, obviously), so it is possible to pick out whether the source of sound is in the same space with you or it is in adjoined space and also to pick out the size and shape of this space.
    So I think blending reverbs is not unnatural.
    Yeah, I was thinking about that. Didn't quite get as far out as caves and evolution, but I was thinking about if I'm in my front room I can hear pretty dead stuff from in there, I can hear my girlfriend singing in the bathroom with a slapback echo, and if someone shouts in the street I can hear that weird long-but-kinda-dead sound of a narrow street of 3 and 4 storey buildings (take ceilings out of the equation and reverb gets strange)...
  8. #8
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    A mix is not supposed to sound like something. It is an empty canvas to paint anything on. If it is not Lars von Triers Dogma audio recording we're discussing - use whatever to accomplish whatever.
  9. #9
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    A mix is not supposed to sound like something. It is an empty canvas to paint anything on. If it is not Lars von Triers Dogma audio recording we're discussing - use whatever to accomplish whatever.
    Uh...I'm here looking for hard and fast rules to work by. Not encouragement to experiment and be creative.


    Agreed John. Heavy reverb on a guitar has kind of become part of the sound of a guitar rather than the sound of a guitar in some space. Not that it has to be, just that it's a common thing and that speaks to why a huge spring reverb is interpreted as part of the guitars sound, not a result of where the guitar is being played.

    The other comments about how a singular reverb or echo isn't necessarily a real life occurrence is interesting. Even inside the same room, sounds are coming at you from different distances and bouncing of different things. So setting everything to the exact same reverb in a mix might unwantedly create a feeling where every instrument is playing from a single point in that room. Not exactly realistic for every situation ... comparing a symphony to a singer with a guitar.

    Interesting thoughts. Appreciate you guys tickling my fancy.

    -r
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    FWIW, I generally use only one reverb 'type' on a mix and send things to it at different levels. The vocal send usually comes down in relation to everything else. If I use more than one, it's usually as a special effect and ends up being an insert on that particular channel.

    But I will then throw delays on things, using them 'as' reverbs depending on what I want. If a guitar or another instrument needs a tail I'll try to make it out of a delay before reaching for a reverb. There's something about delays that seem to get in and out of the way faster than reverbs, and I can be more aggressive with them.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    Sometimes a sound tickle a reverb the wrong way. And if you tweak the sound at the track the sound changes drastically - so at that point the sound is wrong but the reverb sounds right. Then it's time to add a duplicate of the reverb and send the sound to that instead while eq'ing the reverb instead of the track.
  12. #12
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    Would anyone care to get into the nuts and bolts of how they use reverb as an effect? A specific effect I hear and haven't dove into figuring out is when an echo or reverb will start on one side of the sound stage and finish on the other. Or where the echo is only heard on the opposite side of the instrument/vocal. The latter seems like you just pan the effect, the former seems like some automation maybe? I'm guessing there's an easier approach, I just don't know it.

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    The thing you describe could be achieved by putting an autopan after the delay. Use a mono delay on a stereo buss and throw an autopan after. Or automate it if you want it to be moving in a specific way.
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    This isn't directly related to any specific technique, but sometime sit down with a pair of phones and a good copy of "Purple Rain" and try to count all the different instances of delay based effects in that mix.

    Oh, and the only hard and fast rule about reverb is that there are no hard and fast rules.

    One of my favorite tricky reverb things is the one Tony Visconti (IIRC) used on David Bowie's "Heroes". It's all natural room reverb, but it's a very unique application. They were recording in one of the really big live rooms designed for orchestras and he got the idea that in addition to the main vocal mic he'd set up stereo pairs at intervals down the room, each pair on a gate. Bowie starts the song singing quite softly, and none of the room mics are active, as the gates are closed. As he builds the vocal the gates progressively open - first the closest pair, then the next comes in, then the next, for however many pairs were used. The result is that the song goes from a very intimate vocal to the huge, triumphant sound at the end.
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    Would anyone care to get into the nuts and bolts of how they use reverb as an effect? A specific effect I hear and haven't dove into figuring out is when an echo or reverb will start on one side of the sound stage and finish on the other. Or where the echo is only heard on the opposite side of the instrument/vocal. The latter seems like you just pan the effect, the former seems like some automation maybe? I'm guessing there's an easier approach, I just don't know it.

    -r
    Never look for a way out of automation. Automation is key to everything. Automate everything!
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    Never look for a way out of automation. Automation is key to everything. Automate everything!
    Noted. Thanks.

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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    Yeah - the very first rule is: the more boring a tool seems - the more you should use it until you know it inside out.
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    Never look for a way out of automation. Automation is key to everything. Automate everything!
    Sometimes, but manual control can give you more subtlety in some situations. Only problem is that you might end up needing six sets of hands on the console. Assuming you use a console, of course... If you don't use a console, automation is often the only way.
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    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    Everything is some mixture of awesome and suck. We simply want the awesome to be highlighted sufficiently that it distracts listeners from the suck.
    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    The appropriate role for science is the study of observed phenomena to gain an understanding. It is not dictating what people ought or ought not to be observing.
    Hey, if I'm Grumpy, where the hell is Snow White????
  19. #19
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    Sometimes, but manual control can give you more subtlety in some situations. Only problem is that you might end up needing six sets of hands on the console. Assuming you use a console, of course... If you don't use a console, automation is often the only way.
    Automation is having six hands.
  20. #20
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    Default Re: Reverberation-ing

    Sometimes, but manual control can give you more subtlety in some situations. Only problem is that you might end up needing six sets of hands on the console. Assuming you use a console, of course... If you don't use a console, automation is often the only way.
    I'm not talking about mouse-clicking vs. faders and knobs. You can use faders and knobs to write automation. It's not a purely live performance, but it's nice to be able to overdub and punch-in fader-riding and knob-twiddling, or even do some mouse-clicking for fine detail.

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