Reverb for classical music

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by larsfarm, Feb 13, 2006.

  1. larsfarm

    larsfarm Active Member

    I've come to a point where I'm prepared to start investigating using artificial reverb. I record to a Mackie SDR 24/96, and mix in a Powerbook using Tracktion. This has worked well. I haven't done very much processing other than mixing.

    Do you use reverb?

    What are usable reverbs for acoustic music like choir, chamber music etc?

    I visited a large scale recording session with a well known record company recording a 50 piece orchestra. They used a Lexicon 480 in the control room and comparing what I heard in the hall with what I heard through their monitors and headphones it's clearly not a realistic room simulation, but still not unpleasant. Obviously way out of my reach. Would cheaper mean even less realistic reverb or just different? I also figured that if they can use reverb, then I can at least start investigating what it would mean for me...

    I have played with Space Designer, a convolution reverb in Soundtrack PRO. Some of the impulse responses sound reasonable, but I haven't mastered Space Designer yet in a way that will make me happy with the result.

    I'll also try to look at TC Powercore Compact and Altiverb. Can't find any audible demo of the Powercore and the Altiverb demo isn't very happy with Tracktion on my Powerbook. Possibly too CPU-demanding. Opinions (for this type of music)?

    best regards
  2. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Use it all the time, but only in very small amounts. No boxes sound any good, none, and life is too short to be faffing about with all those meaningless setup params.

    Convolution reverb is the only way. I use SIR, which is VERY well written to use minimal CPU, I can swap between my impulses in real time when mastering and finely judge the required wet/dry ratio.

    I tend to record on the slightly dry side wherever I am and use reverb to make the recording perfect. :) As I said, only very small amounts are used. If we are in a really great room or a cathedral then none is used.
  3. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Not sure I'd agree with Mr. Spearritt with his assessment of reverbs... I too prefer convolution verbs, however, I find that there are times when digital (synthetic) verbs are needed.

    IMO, reverbs are one of those places where you can never have enough sounds... Unless you're only working in one hall, there are just too many variables. I have 2 convolution verbs here, a Lexicon 300, and 2 TC verbs... And I still wish I had more.

    Also, some rooms need multiple reverb sounds to make the mix work...

  4. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

    I've choosen Altiverb from the several convoverbs I tried. The good thing is that all of them are availble for demo without cost.
  5. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I ususally agree with David but in this case I do not. There are some really good reverbs out there but the trick is knowing when and how much to use them. I have a TC electronics M-3000 and M-2000 and use them sparingly on different material. I would like to get an M-4000 at some time or maybe even a M-6000. I also think Lexicon has some really good sounding reverbs and I even have a Roland reverb that I use in certain situations. The problem with most reverb is that it is overused. A light touch applied sparingly is the best course of action. Sorry David....
  6. Plush

    Plush Guest

    We can endorse convolution reverbs for sure--especially Altiverb and Space Designer. However, I would not want to be without a hardware box as well.
    Beware though--convolution when overused makes the whole music presentation sound synthetic.

    Here, we're partial to tc electronics instead of Lexicon.
    The tc electronics 4000 stereo reverb is very good indeed. Even the 2000 and 3000 are useable and can be very realistic.

    Those new to reverb need to realize that sometimes reverb is used as a
    "blending" tool instead of an outright "echo box." Reverb can add cohesiveness to the sound and this is one of its main benefits.

    In the tc electronics boxes, be sure to tweak the pre-sets to your own desired
    taste---AND to suit the program material.
  7. larsfarm

    larsfarm Active Member

    The reverbs you mention are out of my reach. Except perhaps the 2000. I can't easily try a TC Powercore. If I could, I would. I am interested in one though. Does anyone know how the Powercore reverbs compare?

    best regards
  8. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    I'm usually on the side of SIR/Convolution reverbs, but getting away from that topic for a minute, I'd suggest a few things regarding the actual implemation of whichever reverb you choose:

    With orchestral, jazz and most acoustic music, it's often best to be careful when assigning certain things (and not others) to the reverb sends. Hopefully, you're using some kind of multichannel DAW in a post-production setting. Using live reverb on-the-fly is a very risky thing indeed, and I've never been happy with my choices on the gig vs. what I can do in the studio afterwards.

    For example, you may have more than one reverb send going; one might be a general overall wash/ambience like a medium hall setting, with perhaps 2.5 seconds decay time, while another might be a plate setting or something shorter and brighter, perhaps for a vocalist or soloist. In addition to a main stereo pair, you may also have touch-up mics going; basses, harp, percussion, chorus, or whatever.

    Not all of these mics/channels should be routed to the reverb at the same levels - mush can be the result. eg: I wouldn't send much - if ANY - bass mic signal to the reverb send, but some of it WOULD get there naturally via the main stereo pair, etc. Same with plate or live/ambient reverbs for the vocals and solo instruments. You wouldn't want the whole stereo mix going in to that, only the special tracks, and sparingly at that.

    And of course, it's a fine line between good, subtle reverb and too much of a good thing. I always get what I THINK is a good mix, and then try it again at a little less setting. Sometimes I come back a few hrs or a day later and double-check what I THOUGHT was a good reverb mix and find out I had gotten a case of tunnel vision, er...hearing.

    One other tip: always take some time and solo your reverb returns to REALLY hear what you're adding to the mix. Many times, there's way too much low end in those "preset" reverb settings, and then you're only adding to the mush. It may feel counter-intuitive to roll off some of the low end in your reverb setting(s), but you may find it helps add ambience and sparkle, but doesn't muck up the mix.
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Wow - it seems like everyone's weighing in on this one!

    I too want to bash David's - just kidding.

    Actually, I can see where he's coming from - many reverb boxes are crap. However, especially recently, some of the reverb boxes (particularly the TC 3000 and the TC4000) are simply amazing. I've even gotten good results with the Lexicon MPX550 (a stupidly cheap reverb processor).

    The trick is to know HOW to tweak it. I have never found a "Preset" that I liked. All too often, they sound very mechanical and WAY to present in the high frequency tail.

    I find the opposite of Joe, that often, I haven't put enough reverb on some things. Quite often is the case that, through my very revealing monitors in my acoustically quiet room, I can hear a lot of tail. Then you put it on a regular system (even a good one at that) and much of the tail is lost to background noise - even minimal background noise.

    So far, I've had the pleasure of working with many of the standards and my preferences always lean towards the higher end TC stuff. I haven't tried their powercore yet, but if it is even on par with their 2000, you'll get great results.

    Very rarely do I find a recording which I've done where I didn't pepper it with some artificial verb.

    Oh, btw - the most common reverb I use now is actually the IR verb included with Sequoia - it's quite tweakable and very good. I used to use a TC plug in prior to the powercore and was quite pleased with it.

    Also, I've used the TC2000/TC3000 and Lexicon MPX550 in my studio with varying levels of success. Any will do well, the 3000 is amazing, the 2000 is great and the 550 is usable.

    All are tweakable.

  10. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    I knew from the blunt nature of my post that there would be opposition to my statement about boxes. We have the M2000 and the M3000, but very rarely use them, except for showing a client, on site, superficially, what a bit of reverb might do in mastering. We never track using reverb. I have heard the M5000, and some of the Lexicons.

    I find the TC boxes are too unrealistic/electronic sounding, and laborious to setup and tweak. All those parameters to fiddle with, bores me to death and I am usually asleep after trolling through those dinky little menus for something that sounds even remotely close to a real hall. I think we only ever use Hall2000 on the M2000 and I am not sure which of the hall templates we start with when using the M3000.

    I have some outstanding real hall impulses and this is what is essential for a good convolution reverb. I do not find it ever synthetic, this depends on the quality of the impulses. I certainly find the TC boxes synthetic, the tails are just not realistic.

    The thing I also like about convolution reverb, apart from the sound, is that there is so little to tweak, wet/dry and perhaps some predelay if at all, and that's it, apart from choosing which world class concert hall you are going to use. As SIR can now lengthen or shorten the impulse time, you can use a big hall for a small hall recording by shortening its impulse. This is fantastic when you want a certain tonality but only have it in a big hall impulse.
  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Oh HEAVENS no... :shock:
    That would be dreadful.
  12. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    We have actually once. :oops: Added some reverb to a close vocal mic in a big schools choral gig, since we were recording live to stereo with ensemble mics. The VOX was far too dry on its own and there was no multitrack.
  13. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Oh, well that's a little different.

    We did a recording of the soundtrack to Lord of the Rings where the young boy "castrati" sings a "haunting" passage. For the live show, we used the MPX550 and recorded directly out of the Lexicon's outputs - hence with reverb for the recording.

    There - I said it. Now I can never run for public office... :oops:

  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Thank you David!!!

    I have been very pleased up to this point with the results that I can get with Sequoia's built in reverb processor. However, I've been dissatisfied with the fact that it takes me a LONG time to dial in the exact settings that I want.

    I've seen SIR referenced by others here on the board but never really gave it any consideration until I saw that you use it. I've since downloaded it and so many IR's that my laptop is hurting...


    It has got to be one of the most intuitive reverb programs ever. And you're right - it is not very processor iintensive - I'm quite impressed.

    David - I'm indebted to you!


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