General Use of Reverb

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by ThirdBird, Oct 17, 2011.

  1. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    I know this will elicit some very vague responses, but here we go.

    On a typical rock/pop mix, how many reverbs are used?

    - For instance, does each instrument get its own reverb?
    - Is there a reverb bus that many instruments share?
    - Are vocals or drums separate?
    - When are plate reverbs generally used?

    Thanks for any insight!
  2. Red Mastering

    Red Mastering Active Member

    set 2 verbs on drum mix,
    short and longer, and mixed them accordingly
    kick - better minimum, but it depends - use your ears
    snare/rim/clap - much more on the short, a bit on long
    hihats - more on short, etc, etc
    you need to monitor all the time what you do (maybe use hp if you don't have an ideal acoustic conditions)
    vocals - you can add separate rev/delay, and also you can send it to drums 2 reverbs - for your liking
    avoid adding verb to low freq. instruments - kick, bass, low end synths, etc
    but again - listen and decide
    When I work, 80% rule of thumb would be 2 verbs as described above,
    for vocal, I prefer delay and a bit of verb, as contemporary productions tend to have very little to no verb (on vocs for example)
  3. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Mostly aux buses are used for shared reverbs. Sometimes a reverb will be inserted on an instrument or submix group, but that would be a special case.

    Sometimes. It depends on what is needed for a particular mix. I use separate reverbs for submix grouped tracks. That is, if I group the vocals I usually give them their own reverb and assign it to the same group.

    When they sound good.
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I agree with the gist previous comments. I use reverbs on aux buses with one, two, or (sometimes) three on separate buses (short, medium, long). The idea of reverb is to give a sense of distance or depth. So you can use a few reverbs (or the amount of one reverb) to move a source toward or away from the listener. You don't want too many reverbs because you want it to sound like there is a unified acoustic space. And of course they are CPU hogs, so it's economical to put them on buses.

    Exception to the rule - I'll put a spring reverb directly on a guitar track.
  5. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    What is the idea of using a plate as opposed to a room?
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    The original plate reverbs were an attempt to use a particular technology to simulate the sound of a room back in the days before digital simulations. They were big honkin pieces of metal with one transducer that created vibrations and one (or more?) transducers that picked up all of the reflected vibrations. They didn't sound exactly like a room, but a lot of people like that characteristic sound - particularly people who grew up listening to the records of the 50's and 60's. I like it, and the UAD EMT 140 plate emulation is my favorite reverb for country/pop/blues influenced music. So what you are asking is like asking "when should I use a Stratocaster as opposed to a Les Paul." A good question, but not one that someone can answer for you.

    The obvious place where you wouldn't use a plate is in a classical recording where you are trying to produce the most natural sound possible. Of course, they were used on classical back in the day when they were the best tools available. Now there are better tools for that job.
  7. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    The smartass answer is, "Use a plate when you don't have room for a whole room." Because a real plate is smaller than a real room. But if you're talking about digital simulations of plate and rooms use the one that sounds best to you in the context of your mix. As Bob says, a plate (or a spring for that matter) would sound odd on a classical recording, but that's just a matter of taste and fashion. If something sounds great then don't worry if it breaks a rule. You might start a trend.

    That said, preset names often hint at traditional uses. You see a lot of "Vocal Plate" presets.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I love questions like this. The use of reverb is a many splintered thing. For instance, reverb can "MASK" small incidences of distortion, when used Sparingly and when used short. It can turn a mono track into a stereo track when used extremely short. It can create time & space and directional information for the brain to process. It can create a brief memory ghost that helps to transcend a musical curve or continuity. I used to do plenty of operatic demos in the living room. To create the sense of staging performance value. However, in the 1980s, before good digital reverbs were released, only the best spring reverb AKG BX 20 or a Plate would suffice for this type of musical genre. So I invested in a plate. This thing was a monster to get into my basement and had to be acoustically isolated from outside noise sources since it was an electromechanical device. And for this application, plates generally " spoke" too quickly. This required some additional delay prior to the reverb. This delay was typically created by sending your reverb send signal to analog tape recorder. The tape recorder would be in record mode but monitoring the playback head. The playback head was approximately 1 inch beyond the record ahead creating an approximately 80-100 ms delay that would then be sent to the plate. This would create the proper timing of the sound traveling out into a hall before the sound would begin to slap against all of the pseudo-created walls of the auditorium. The later digital units utilize digital delay before the onset of the reverb algorithm to mimic the analog technique. And it helps create the sense of a more grandiose sound. So even in a living situation where acoustics are both undesirable and/or dead & nonexistent, the reverb could blend the highly living room sound into more actual stage like ambience with the combined reverb. So it never sounded like a living room recording or dead studio.

    In my recording truck, a plate is extremely impractical. So, one would generally think that one would need a fine digital reverb such as the Lexicon 224/480. But those too were extremely expensive. So I utilize up to 6 different lower-cost digital reverb is like the Lexicon PCM-60/PCM-70/LXP-1's/Yamaha SPX-90 II's & Alisis Quadra-Verb. Some get used together on the same sound source and some are used independently on auxiliary sends of the other instruments. I would use the Yamaha reverb one I wanted a darker reverb. I would use the Lexicon reverb and the Quadra-verb's one I wanted brighter reverbs. I also used equalizers to tailor the reverb sends. If trying to do this all ITB, it would require certain kinds of specific methods depending on my software package to accomplish the same things I did in analog. Not all multitrack software programs provide auxiliary buses. In those situations, I could create a specific sounding reverb track that I could print to a separate stereo pair. Then I could combine that stereo pair along with the original unaffected track. Trying to print reverb to analog tape tracks usually ended up creating some undesirable tape noise when the reverb tail would dissipate. This is not as big a factor in our digital world of 16 & 24 & 32 bit digital noise levels. And I love reverb since I grew up in some of the greatest orchestral & operatic performance venues. I note that operatic singer should sound like on this stage of the Kennedy Center, Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, Baltimore Lyric Theater, Chicago Lyric Theater and on and on. Eventually, however, I had to part with my precious 2 reverb plates. I often pondered the thought of equipping my truck with the EMT 240 much smaller gold foil plate reverb? Nothing to this day (except the unreasonably priced EMT 250 digital reverb) has ever really gotten close to the incredible density of the original EMT 140 plate. The mathematics to perfectly emulate those are still out of the reach of our current computer technologies. Of course, there are many now that come even closer and can mimic those EMT 140's even better. But even those in comparison to a real plate can be a jaw dropper when you actually hear the real deal. And with the original plate because it was electromechanical, you actually had to tune the tension of the metal plate. In addition to that there were minor inconsistencies in the cold rolled steel metallurgy. So, every EMT 140 plate sounded different from the next, some better than others. Digital algorithms all sound identical to each other. The more expensive the digital reverb, the more the possibility exists that randomness was also included. This is not true of the lesser expensive budget reverbs and so if one uses 2 identical digital reverbs set identically and you are combining both sets of outputs in the attempt to create a denser sounding reverb, it doesn't happen. It doesn't happen because both units create identical reverb and you get the same times two were the answer equals one with no increase in density. And any digital unit that includes a preset that is indicated as " reverse reverb" really isn't anything like true reverse reverb as it can only affect a sound after it is heard. It cannot create reverb before the sound source happens. You can only get that by running tracks backwards through a reverb and then running the track forwards. So there is no truth in advertising just the truth that it is an additional affect that can't happen before something happens. But they had to give it some kind of preset name which is basically bogus. So whatever something is labeled doesn't necessarily mean that it is true to the label. The plate preset on my Lexicons really don't sound like a plate as they included numerous recycling echoes the plate never did. And plates had a certain sizzle like sound that many people perceive as something undesirable. Whereas others, like myself, really miss that sizzle as there was a certain magic to that. So when one adds some high-frequency boost equalization to the algorithmic digital reverb, the algorithm will behave differently depending upon the amount of high-frequency pre-emphasis added. This can further help to stimulate/emulate/imitate some of that EMT 140 sizzle that I find to be an enchanting augmentation to certain situations. Others find it horrid and unacceptable. To each their own.

    Have you ever tried utilizing a grand piano as a reverb? It's tricky. The idea here is that you have to put 2 microphones on the grand piano. The sustain pedal must be locked down. Certain speakers must be selected and then aimed directly at the piano. Of course, the microphones on the piano will pick up that speak or feed all too well. This will require you to print that track. Then you go back and release the sustain pedal on the piano. You do the process again and print those 2 microphones to yet another stereo track. The trick here is that the microphones & the speaker along with the piano can not be moved or touched. Everything must remain exactly set up as the first pass. When you then combine the 2 stereo tracks of the piano reverb, you will invert the phase of the second pass. This will cancel out any sound that came directly from the speaker into the microphones and leaving behind only the piano strings that were sustained and so, grand piano reverb. This is what phase manipulation 101 is all about. My math is bad. Maybe that's phase manipulation 102?

    I was good at loony engineering 101
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Great stories Remy! I looove the idea of using the grand as a reverb. I'm definitely going to try that!

    I think you are wrong about the mathematics of modeling the plate. The models have been there for a long time. I know for certain that COMSOL could do very good post production modeling of a plate. Don't know if those computations can be reduced to a chip and marketed for a few hundred bucks, but as the saying goes..."We have the technology"...just might cost $6,000,000.

    Have you heard the UAD emulations? I've never used a real EMT 140, so I don't know how it compares to the real thing. But it's the best sounding digital plate I've tried. Same with the Lexicon 224. It might not thrill someone who has the real thing in their studio, but it makes me think of the '80's.

    Oh, and there's this spot behind the basement stairs about a foot wide that we use to store junk. Would be perfect for a plate. I think of it now and then...but the UAD cost a few hundred bucks and is inside my computer.

    Update: And why did this thread inspire me to start listening to the Righteous Brothers? (Are they any recordings with reasonable audio?) Oh Phil, you bat s h i t crazy, stone killer genius.
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    In a digital mix, reverbs can really use up your processing power rather quickly. Unless they come with their own processing like a UAD card. Maybe this is why we're hearing 'dryer' mixes on the vocals these days and much more elaborate effects on guitars and electronic instruments........

    I will usually build an aux bus for alike drums, gits, keys, vocals, etc... I will also build aux's just for a reverb return to the 2-bus or even a compressor return to the 2-bus. That way I can use a certain amount for each piece of a particular device. But I have no problems still putting individual processing as inserts where they need to be even on a ganged set of instruments.

    It helps the cause when you use different styles of devices in this manner. Often I wind up with an 1176 style compressor on the inside kick mic while at the same time having an aux with a Fairchild on the whole kit and sending some of the kick mic to this also. This works well with keeping the mix forward and keeping it from trying to collapse on itself.

    Yeah....Them Righteous Bros. had some great voices and what great clarity in the recordings!! Thats probably a real chamber. I knew a guy who built one under his studio. Nothing sounded like that although the 10' Gotham Plate I used live at a venue years ago was certainly close. That thing had a steering wheel on top to move the plates and change the dwell.
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    LOL steering wheel on top. Yup, that was a manual unit. That controlled the large damping, acoustically absorbent, ceiling tile like reverb time adjustment absorber. I had one with the motor and one without the motor. It looked more like a space alien with an aluminum helmet projecting out of the large wooden crate. The only thing I have left is the little metal faceplate that held the + & - buttons with the meter. And because of the noise that the remote control motor made, you couldn't change reverb times while in use. I mean you could but you would be hearing that motor for sure. These were beautiful beasts. Amazingly, EMT used to dispose of 40% of all of the cold rolled steel plates they had made due to metallurgical imperfections. After the EMT patent expired in the early 1980s, other companies started coming out with clones. A notable one was Studio Technologies out of Chicago. They started making their plates out of stainless steel. Talk about bright. So I lied actually. We had an EMT and a Studio Technologies. The EMT's pickups were ceramic like a cheap phonograph cartridge in the 1950s whereas the Studio Technologies utilizes pickups more similar to Frap/BarkusBarry guitar pickups. Both units utilizes a substantial amount of pre-emphasis/high-frequency boost on the driver side. Depending upon the content, you could swamp & overdrive the amplifier because of that preemphasis curve. EMT knew this so they built it in a funky 2:1 compressor circuit you could switch in, behind its electronics panel. This wasn't a switch available on the reverb time remote control which would have been convenient. But hey, from a gizmo designed in 1958 (originally tube powered & Mono) they were magical. The Moody Blues made a career out of them. Yeah, I've thought about getting one of those UAD Cards? These days I want a laptop version, so maybe I'll swap & trade some of my Neve consoles stuff off for one? Hey guys, remember when all of the top 40 DJs on the Major Market stations had EMT 140's on the disc jockey microphone? Did you ever try running DBX noise reduction in and out of your EMT plate? Anybody still using a Cooper time delay unit? Yes children you can make your own with PVC piping from your local hardware store. You want 3 inch diameter so you can screw a RadioShack speaker you're going to blow out into one end. And your cheapest condenser microphone sealed into the opposite end. And if that 10 foot piece of PVC is too long for you, don't forget to buy those PVC elbows so you can make your time delay look like your intestines. Then shove it in to a black box so they can't see the rest of your homes left over drainage pipes....

    Those were the days.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  12. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I keep telling you to try the UAD. They do a Cooper garden hose emulation as well, but of course they make the hose variable length so you can pick your delay time. Again, never used the real thing, but the emulation is cool. (However, I use their Echoplex more often than the Cooper.)
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Really? A Cooper time delay emulation? LOL! I would have never thought? Well, with some of the lack of gray matter I have or don't the previous sentence is entirely possible. I haven't looked fully into them since I haven't been in the market to actually purchase one yet. Do you suppose they'll come up with a new preset called a " Mini Cooper"? I mean how much shorter can you get that delay before it sounds like a head azimuth problem?

    My head is Phercocked
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  14. chavernac

    chavernac Active Member

    Tough one!
    And you will probably not like the answer.

    Ask yourself this: What do you want it to sound like?
    Do you want all the instruments to belong in the space? Do you want all the instruments to be forward in the mix?
    There is no DOs or DONTS.

    Now, if you really need an answer:
    This is true that moste pros use several reverbs that all have different uses.
    Short ones, to give a "vibe" and a space. Mainly early reflections.
    Plates to create depth and a backwall sense. It feels like you created a wall at the end of the forum.
    Hall can give you a sense of height.

    Try to focus more on what you feel. Bypass the reverb. How do you feel? Turn it on? how do you feel? Was it necessary.

    Also, beginners tend to overdo it... and it muddies up the mix. Try to keep that in mind.
  15. Red Mastering

    Red Mastering Active Member

    I remember to use a first version of amplitube -
    quite often on drums, vocals, and many other tracks - oddly enough for it's mixture of verbs, delays, and other f/x
    and it sounded really good,
    it was my little secret how o get a great sounding vocals with this dark/verb attitude
    as other folks said -always use ears and experiment - that's all about audio and music,
    don't be afraid to experiment and get your own opinion
  16. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I have a whole notebook (somewhere????) full of the idiot trials and errors of "Experiments in Sound and Recording Techniques". My studio partner at the time was unemployed as was I and we had nothing but time as most of our projects didnt come in till later in the day. So it was "lets roll some tape and see what we can come up with". I was always fond of the 'running the track out into the big room and hooking it up to something' thing. The 'PA speaker in one corner and the mic in the other on wheels with lots of spare gobos and different materials to fill in the space between' scenario always produced interesting results.

    Now with the emulations and the room sims it seems we were onto something at that time.

    I still remember when my partner scored a really large piece of sonotube at a secondhand building materials sale. I think it was at least a 24" dia. and about 6' long. A lot of experiments went into that thing as well as the sawing and measuring and whatnot. Can you say, "Drum Tunnel?"

    Mad Scientist stuff is fun as long as no one loses an eye!
  17. Red Mastering

    Red Mastering Active Member


    great post Dave!

    I absolutely agree, there's something about making music or working with audio....
    organic..touching things, plugging amps and mics into odd things,
    remember Joe Meek - this guy invented a half of today's sound engineering,
    just sitting in his rented apartment and experimenting,
    he recorded vocals in the bathroom:), possibly first on the planet to do so,
    and it worked!
  18. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Too bad he didn't record the sound of him shooting his landlady to death? I mean maybe he just spent too much time playing around with audio and didn't hear the light? We still all pay the rent. That and the electric bill also. Telephone? Does one actually need a telephone in this business? You bet even though we don't generally record them.

    ...Your call is important to us so please don't hang up. We just think it's not important enough to have enough employees to do the job properly...
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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