Make vocal reverb sound good in mono

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by pcrecord, Apr 16, 2014.

  1. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Hi Guys,

    We spoke about the importance of checking a mix in mono recently in another thread and it made me think.
    We all have our little recipe. I'm interested to read about how others do make sure the reverb on vocals don't partly disapear in mono.

    Do you use a mono reverb + a stereo reverb ? Any panning or doubling technics or just put the level higher ?
     
    bigtree likes this.
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    A great question.

    Yes, there are times when I will actually go for a mono verb instead of a stereo verb.

    It does, of course, depend on the song and what it calls for... and as you know, every song is different.

    But, there are times that I want the verb to be mono. For example, I might use a mono verb on a guitar track and then pan the effect return to the opposite side of the dry guitar.... I've also done the same thing with vocals.
    It gives it a pseudo "retro" sound that can be cool.

    I can't lie, most of the time I do use stereo effects, but there are certainly times where I will use mono, too.
     
  3. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Donny : When using stereo reverbs, do you do anything special to it so when you put the mix in mono, it still sound good?
     
  4. bouldersound

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

    I've panned stereo reverb in somewhat from hard left and right to reduce the changes caused by summing. Also, some reverbs are more mono friendly than others. Unfortunately I can't recall specifics at the moment.
     
  5. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    ive used mono verbs on things like donie described, but ive never had an issue a mono compatibility. and i routtinely check in mono. now that im thinking of it, if a recordinng is being heard thru a mono source (besdes a PA, or similar) its probably a pretty compromised situation anyway, which probably would not reproduce the reverb very well (w its likely limited bandtwith) and probably just mud up the sound anyway. i wouldnt worry about it.
     
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Yes. I pay very close attention to the EQ on the processed end - like damping, and the frequency range - particularly on the top end - of the return. I've so often heard verbs - even on "pro" recordings that sound very "fizzy" on the top end, and it's distracting - at least to me.

    I don't recall ever having an issue where the verb has created phase issues while in mono - and as Boulder mentioned, there are some reverbs that maintain fidelity in mono...

    There are also some reverbs that simply don't sound good to begin with, no matter what you do to them.

    I've never heard anything as wonderful as the Bricasti's that Chris has, but, they ain't cheap, and you are paying for the luxury of having what is possibly the best verb there is. ;)
     
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    there were a lot of great mono records with great sounding verbs ... check Drifters records out. the better verbs will sum to mono better than a cheaper one. i can't speak to plugs as i refuse to use them anymore. i'm stuck on my Lexi 60,70 & 80 ...and my E/T HD3000/SE. eat dust plugs!
     
  8. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Interesting Kurt. But I'm more about what people do today to avoid losing some reverb when their music is played in mono. You say some are better than the others, why ? Because they better reproduce reflections or because they use less de-phasing to introduce stereo effect ? I'm gonna do some tests on my own when I get time. ;)
     
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'd say it probably a combination of both, that and the quality of the verb to begin with. You'll get a much nicer sound with something like a real Lexi or Rev 7 (or f you can afford it, a Bricasti) than you ever will with a plug.

    That being said, with the exception of Kurt (who despises them all LOL) and Chris (who has Bricasti's so he's very spoiled, LOL) there are many of us who are still forced to use them.

    My current go-to plug for verb these days is Voxengo's Pristine Space. I find it the most natural. (IMHO opinion of course, I'm sure there are others who don't feel as I do about it).

    I know for a fact that like it more than I do the Lexicon plugs I have tried in the past. Of course, I haven't tried them all; I think their most popular plug, at least for awhile, was probably Pantheon, because it came stock with later versions of Sonar PE.
    Truthfully, I was never all that knocked out by Pantheon... I thought that it fell short of what you'd come to expect from a company that specializes in Reverbs and Delays. ;)

    d.
     
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Excellent thread. Good trick Donny. Kurt, exactly as usual.

    Yup, put your mix in stereo and it instantly sounds dead. Its okay for vocals and bass but what happened to the keyboards eh?

    Mono verb in every aspect is top priority for me. I mean, I check verb in mono, create mono aux verbs and blend that with sides. I check my mixes in mono to see how the verbs are always translating to the side and middle ( both ways). If the verb I am using creates phase, I don't use it and try my best to (take the room out of the mix) I am given..
    I use M/S processing. its an awesome way to take the verb out of the room and start over with something that sounds better.

    Reverb is where the "money is" in a mix.. It defines our sound, our studio and is the difference between home and pro sound.

    From a mixing POV, reverb simulation is equally as important as it is to hire an acoustic engineer to build a million dollar studio, acoustically correct. Since I don't have that kind of money, and location, you soon see why people choose a Bricasti over the alternative.

    I check verb in mono with cymbals. If they have any sound of swirl I know it will only get worse in the mixdown or online mix.
     
  11. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Usually I use 2 reverbs, one stereo and one mono.
    One trick I want to try is to put a stereo reverb on a stereo bus and send it to the masterbus + send one side of the reverb bus to a mono bus that goes to the master bus as well... I guess having the same signal to one side and in the center may bring problems but if I eq it differently or delay it a bit ... I don't know. As they say; need to fail to learn !! ;)
     
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hey pcrecord, I posted before I saw yours

    How do you set up your reverbs?
    I usually create one mono and one stereo aux so there is only two instances of reverbs on my entire session and so the reverbs aren't all different reflections. Then adjust space to taste per individual channels.

    I send those OTB but in your case, to the master bus.

    I also do this for delay.
     
  13. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Well that's what I usually do, 2 reverbs 2 aux :mono and stereo. (well sometime 3 a very short one for drums) By this thread, I looking for alternatives ;) You know we are doing things, over and over. For a couple of months I researched a lot on technics, to confirm some of mine but to add new ones as well.
    I'll take time to test a few things tonight.. I'll let you know what I found.
     
  14. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Hey guys! I had time to fool around with a mix. I usually use Valhallaroom and ValhallaVintageVerb and get relative good results.
    Of course some presets do not hold well in mono(not that I ever use presets). I found many of the vintage version are not so bad. I found that what bothers me often when going in mono is the reverb Hi mid range which sometime start to sound metalic in mono. One trick I found was to take 2 mono reverbs, same decay and pre-delay but sounding different, one pan hard left and the other hard right. This hold very well in mono because the 2 verbs sound different so the don't phase cancel themself. It give a very wide sound but you can play with the degree of panning.

    Any other experiences or technics to preserve reverb quality in mono ?
     
  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Most reverbs allow you to dampen frequencies, at least on the low and high ends. If you wanted to fully control the EQ of the verb, you could print the verb to it's own track, at which point you would have greater control of the sound of the wet signal.
     
  16. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Donny, I think I'm gonna use the HI and Low pass a little less and craft an eq on the verb aux instead. More control that's what I need !! ;)
     
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    It sounds like you are doing things similar to me. HPF on what instrumentation? For Pop Vox, I use a lot of HPF so there is room for bass freq. It all depends on the mix for me though. If the verb is on a master Aux (stereo or mono) , this works the same as printing it? Works great as the main volume for everything in it. I do all the tweaks on the separate channels so by the time it hits the Audio Verb, its just a mater of fine adjustments, eq and a master volume for it as well. I also might add a delay send on the verb master too. So the delay follows/ tails out with some verb on the sides.
     
  18. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    The reason I use damping on the high end of the reverb is that the sound can get "fizzy" when passing frequencies above 4k, I've even heard it on "pro" recordings. and it's distracting to me. If we were all as lucky as Chris, and had Bricasti's, I don't believe that we'd be talking about this. I had a Yamaha Rev 7 for years, and I never had this problem, or at least not to this degree that I get with plug-in verbs.

    About 4 years ago, I started printing the effect return to its own track, (in Sonar) where I could sculpt any frequency I wanted to with a parametric... this included those mid frequencies that most general reverb VST's won't give you control over, or at least won't let you do so without also attenuating the higher frequencies above the mids or hi-mids.

    As far as using HPF's in rock, pop and country, I tend to follow the George Martin/Ken Townsend school of thought - which is to put a HPF on pretty much everything except kick, bass, or lower register piano, synth or B3. The corner frequency always differs, but generally starts around 120 hz, and can even go as high as 400hz - depending of course, on the instrument. There are times that I will set the roll-off CF as low as 60hz.

    FWIW
     
  19. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Wait, wait wait... there are some other factors here regarding reverb and good mono that has not been discussed.

    When you collapse your stereo reverb to Mono, it should actually become more dense. And with things like EMT 140 ST's, AKG BX-20's, et al., that in fact was true.

    Now when you're talking about digital reverbs? You're talking apples and algorithms. In fact I had a nasty problem with a couple of low-end Lexicon's. Now this shocked me to my core! Especially since I felt like some kind of idiot, when it happened.

    On the average, affordable, low-end pro, run-of-the-mill, digital effects, all sorts of Cost-cutting, liberties have been taken. And it's not necessarily the equipment but the algorithms. Combined with the capabilities of the equipment & what DSP is utilized?

    For instance, many of us have, in the past, combined multiple reverbs, as mentioned, of the electro-mechanical varieties. The reverbs they produce have a nearly infinite mathematical density that no algorithm and no CPU we have can reproduce. Though the finer digital units at no small cost, can come mighty close these days such as the lovely one that Chris is just bonkers over. And I can't blame him. But that was 7000+ dollars right? It wasn't $400. And it wasn't free software.

    So here is what I experienced with my Lexicon, LXP-1's. Of which I have a pair side-by-side. It's a cheap reverb. I want to make it sound better. So... get two. Got that. Use a pair in parallel. And I'll get a nicer, denser reverb. Right? It's a single send to both LXP-1's, single mono input. And mix output set to 100% wet. No input source feed through. And voilĂ ! Whoops? Whoa! Nope? WTF with this?? In fact... I got mono! MONO! ?!?!? Aargh! How is that possible? Here's what happened. Here's the scenario.

    I took the outputs, left and right of one, LXP-1. Utilizing only the single left output indicated as a single mono, Left & Right, combined output. Cool. I repeated the same thing with the second Lexicon to the right channel. And I got MONO REVERB. It made no sense? So... I took one out of service. I then worked with a single, stereo reverb from a single LXP-1. I was being a smartass because I did not test this beforehand. I went based upon my experience using electromechanical types.

    Upon my return to the United States (this was in New Zealand when this happened), I pick up the phone and call Lexicon, to find out, WHAT UP? This is what I was told...These algorithms provide for an finite, predictable and repeatable reverb. And he said of course, you would get mono. I said to him " I thought there was some randomness built into the clock? Like a real reverb?" To which he responded, yes, there is, in our high-end units. The low-end units have no randomness. So you would get mono. Holy crap!

    So unlike the electromechanical devices, which have a virtual infinite nonrepeatable density, these digital thingies that are affordable, like inexpensive software, aren't all that. Though they are a good fake. A lovely emulation that at least is still enjoyable to listen to.

    On another piece of equipment that really wasn't a stereo device, yet, it has stereo outputs. What was done here in this particular digital gizmo, which was just an analog, bucket brigade, delay by Delta Labs. The output on this device was a pseudo-stereo, comb filter output. The comb filtering makes certain frequencies dance around more predominantly between the two channels since they are offset from each other. Making for pseudo-stereo. And not a bad job at that, for what it's doing. Combined to mono... Whoops? it disappears entirely. So if you just want the delay, you don't take both outputs. You take only one output. Then when ya go to mono, it's still there, thank you very much.

    Of course all the affirmation of the above is with out board, 20th century gear. I'm not talking software. Though I suspect the same holds true? Ya get what ya pay for, right Chris? (I only bug him because he has the reverb we all want. I'm envious.)

    Digital effects are only as good as the algorithms and capabilities of the processor or DSP in this particular instance for real-time. And only the serious folk will purchase the good stuff. When and if I can afford it? I'm definitely going to go for one of those fast sounding Italian reverbs. I think what Chris has IS a Maserati? No... Lamborghini. I'll take either one. No... BOTH! I think Chris has 4? Is it four? I'll settle on just one. I've also got & going to keep the crappy ones because they sound like the crappy ones, that everybody knows the sound of and still likes. I also can't imagine having 4 of the same anything? 2 or three maybe? Well sure I can imagine LOL. It just makes me want to drink.

    Yes one more of those fine Italian cocktails please.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  20. JayTerrance

    JayTerrance Active Member

    The way I think of mono vs stereo verbs is that for mono I think of depth; for stereo I think of space/width.

    As an example to the OP's question of how do you make sure a reverb doesn't disappear in mono: I'll use a snare as a simple example with some made-up details. I first think of placing mono verb behind/near the dry snare for depth. So let's say I eq'd some of the 900 area out of my dry snare with a moderate Q. The next thing I do is aggressively hp & lp a 2nd copy of the dry snare track (or another snare sample, or even a woodblock sample) so that just the area around 900 is being sent to my mono Reverb. This 2nd dry track is only used for the reverb send. I print that mono verb and place it with the proper timing behind my dry snare. That gives me some nice depth without taking up much "real estate"...and the 2 tracks fit together very nicely..frequency-wise.

    Next is space/width. I'll listen for any frequency areas that are interesting (other than the 900 area I used previously) in the dry snare track and eq them very aggressively so that I'm only sending to the stereo reverb maybe a very defined high freq area that I found interesting. Let's say it is the area from 2.5 to 6k. I print that reverb in stereo and place it with the proper timing into my mix...maybe with some additional light Eq-ing So now I have a stereo verb that has some mid and some side info but in a frequency range that does not conflict with my mono verb.

    Now I can adjust the volumes on my 2 verbs (1 stereo and 1 mono) so that they sound great in stereo and don't disappear in mono. And when collapsing to mono, the frequency areas compliment each other. All of this while listening for any phase. If I hear some phase that I'm not liking I will adjust the timing (predelay,etc) of how I fit the verb tracks into the mix. A little nudge here or there of the track is sometimes necessary, but usually not because of the aggressive eq-ing. And the aggressive eq-ing of very narrow frequency ranges prior to the reverb keeps things sounding more intricate and detailed...imo anyway.

    So in a nutshell in my mind anyway, "mono verb is depth" with very defined freq ranges. Stereo verb is "width & the sensation of space". For some unexplained reason too...naturally recorded room Mic tracks always seem to just fit better for mono verbs. Stereo verbs sound very good from hardware and something like a Bricasti is hard to beat for stereo reverb.

    Even though I've explained this extremely simplistic, It's a method that helps me with control of reverb whether the mix is being played in stereo or mono.
     
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