Mixing Reverb with Live Audio

Discussion in 'Mixing & Editing' started by jbell, Mar 30, 2007.

  1. jbell

    jbell Guest


    I'm mixing a bunch of tunes that will support a live performance (a play). Most likely the performance will be in some sort of hall with tons of reverberant decay. I've never done anything like this before and I'm worried about making inaudable (or too wet) tracks.

    My question is: should I mix all the tracks with little or no reverb? The only problem is that some of the instruments are sampled and need reverb to sound good. I've also tracked some live instruments like violin. Solo violin is usually very harsh so there's always plenty on reverb on there in my mixes...but should I forgo? What if the room is smaller than I imagine with lower ceilings...I don't want it to sound too dry...

    Instruments: piano (sampled), strings (sampled), english horn, solo violin, classical guitar, timp(sampled), cymbals.

    Any mixing suggestions for live stage playback?

  2. Spase

    Spase Active Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    I guess if you can't test it in the space it will be used, maybe go for slightly dry and hope for the best. If you can add reverb at the performance, that could be another option as well. If its just background "ambience" kind of stuff, its probably not a big problem either way - though I know we always want things to sound as good as possible.
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Distinguished Moderator Resource Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    Assuming this is incidental music (accompanying entries/exits or playing at low level during dialogue) then I would leave it fairly dry. It's surprising how little of it the audience will actually be conscious of hearing if they are concentrating on the action. I've written music for theatre and had it recorded. I had to tell myself not to be downhearted about everyone I asked who had been to the play remembering nothing at all about the incidental music they heard.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    Having to approach this project, both for PA and simultaneous recording, I'd imagine that the very dry sampled instruments could benefit greatly from some DSP/reverbs and pre-delays, etc.. The reverbs settings could be concurrent with the surrounding acoustics or you can create a different "visual image" by providing those rather dry instruments with a slightly longer reverb decay than the venue possesses. Putting a little on the lead vocalist can add sweetness as well. But the bottom line is, you want to create a sonic image that is pleasant for everybody. And that's why you experiment. If it sounds artificial, it ain't happening. If it sounds enhanced, that's the ticket!

    How much are your tickets?
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  5. jbell

    jbell Guest

    Not sure how much the tickets are... I guess that's up to the producer to decide! ;)

    Thanks for all the suggestions...

    And yes, the music is mostly underscore, but there are a few times when the music takes the spotlight. There is an accompanying slide show that is projected on stage. And sometimes its just the music and slides..almost movie-like.

    I can make it sound great here in my studio with convolution reverb etc.., but I'm afraid this same sound will be awful in an auditorium. I'm going to go on the dryer side and add reverb from the board if it needs it. Assuming there's a board with some effects... Sadly, I'm not in charge of that -- but a good point to bring up...
  6. jbell

    jbell Guest

    this sounds interesting... not sure what you mean though. Let's say the venue is a high school gymnasium....wouldn't "actual" decay from the PA reflections in the room interfere with a longer decay sound in my recording?
  7. BrettFTH

    BrettFTH Active Member

    Jul 10, 2006

    Hope I'm not sticking my nose into anything like a bee's nest but I believe RemyRad was implying that you close miced your sound source, most likely in an attempt to get as most isolation as possible; isolation from other instruments or reverberations.

    The amount of wet/dry signal, decay time, (and frequency colorations and all of the other variables that make up different reverb plugins) those settings should be based on the type of music or sound you want to achieve. Different styles of music each have a stereotypical type of reverb and can even vary from tune to tune on an album; I mean hell! what rock power ballad would be complete without the gated reverb on the snare!? Just remember, there is the saying... too much of a good thing is a bad thing, and too much reverb is a bad thing. It can make your mix sound distant and washy, or up close and personal. I always try to make everything sound like it could actually coexist in reality in an area. Waves has a nice plug-in reverb tru-verb, and Rverb (renassaince reverb, sorry for my poor spelling at the moment btw) but ya back on track, the rverb and truverb plugins have presets that are in two distinct categories, a reverb that generally would go on an aux track and then a send from an audio track would determine how wet or dry a signal is, and then different style reverb that can be used on a bus, such as the master fader, and it will sound like you placed the band in a room together (thats the "desired" effect of it). I tend to use the later setting when I'm doing full live recordings where isolation may not be at its best and sometimes having multiple kinds of reverb on a tune can really mess with the groove and feel, and just make things messy. Best of luck. MODERATION IS THE KEY!

    sorry for rant

  8. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Moderator

    Feb 23, 2005
    I just noticed this post, and have to ask:
    JBell from Boston, notes recording solo violin....are you Joshua Bell?
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    I wasn't exactly referring to a high school gymnasium nor a cavernous church but something more along the lines of a more "padded" acoustic cabaret/nightclub environment where you are battling more of a short decay than a long decay. In that respect, in a larger more cavernous sounding room, I would most likely utilize a short "space/plate/room algorithm" in an attempt to make the otherwise dry instrument/sample "bloom", with more sonic energy and resonance a little more, before entering the PA system. This is in an attempt to create more of a "sonic image" or character for an instrument or vocal.

    I'm an electronic character. Please deposit another $.25
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  10. backinthelab

    backinthelab Guest

    Why record with verb when you can add it during mixdown? It doesn't make much sense to me to risk overdoing it. Personally, on all my live recordings (bands, not theater) there is PLENTY, sometimes too much, reverb captured in the ambient mics. Throw up an XY pair back in the theater/gym/etc and you can mix them in to get the actual reverb of the room.


Share This Page