What is Reverb: A Comprehensive Guide

What is Reverb: A Comprehensive Guide What is Reverb: A Comprehensive Guide

Reverb is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of music production and audio as a whole. Today, we're going to dive into the question; what is reverb?

The effect commonly gets played off as a simple addition to your tracks, but, in reality, it’s what provides the intriguing depth within a song, enveloping listeners.

The use of reverb isn’t as simple as it may seem, and it’s essential to understand what exactly reverb is. This article will guide you through 10 crucial steps to utilizing reverb and how it affects your production. We'll also talk more about various types of reverb and why you need them.

What is Reverb?

Reverb is the sound of many decaying reflections bouncing off of the initial sound. Reverb is modified in many different ways based on room size, wetness/dryness, and other variable factors. When you add digital reverb to a sound, a level of audible fatness and a different depth blend with the surrounding elements. This effect also helps your audio production sound more full. You can also modify or “shape” this effect to sound like many different types of reverb. A cave, tunnel, or concert hall allows you to create a reverb that reflects a specific space.

Why Do You Need Reverb?

In some cases, a song can sound dry, and although the vocals and instrumentation carry emotion, they may not fill enough space in the music. Testing out multiple reverb chambers can help you hone in on what sounds best for the sound as a whole. Of course, there's always the chance for room reverb to be modified to benefit the production, but many studio environments aren't built with the specific acoustics for room reverb. Adding reverb can be trickier than expected, as parameters like decay time, size, and distance should be tweaked to suit the tracks' specific needs. A setting that can be easily misunderstood, and is commonly set due to an impulse response to fill space, is a reverbs wet signal. Sure, having a high wet signal will fill that space, but it could also collide with other elements in the song. It never hurts to put on the studio headphones to make sure you can hear every audible detail, allowing you to create reverb with the best settings possible.

Why Exactly Does Reverb Do in Music?

Starting with the basics of reverb, which is a reflection of sounds off a surface, carrying trails of the sound source, creating effects that also reflect the space where the source audio was made. Furthermore, many different types of reverb carry a different sound, whether it be plate reverb, spring reverbs, hall reverb, convolution reverb, or even the room sound; all of them have a purpose in aiding the production. With digital reverb, no matter which style you choose, they can be modified and customized endlessly to suit the sound you're looking for. Choosing the best option is a mix of technical skills and a reliable ear for music. It's crucial to remember that each person interprets sound waves differently, which is why music can be so subjective in a discussion. So, listen to each audio element in the production to determine if you need to add or remove the reverb. Test if you can modify the original direct sound to suit your needs before immediately adding more reverb.

Verschiedene Halltypen und ihre Verwendung

Chamber Reverb‍

Reverb is made primarily for analog reverb recordings. It does an excellent job of filling out the frequency range without muddying up the production. You’ll find Chamber reverb helpful with classical music and even genres like pop music. Moreover, there are different types of chambers you can work with that will display a unique sound and reverb time, based on the size and material of the reverb chamber. Utilizing this type of reverb can be a good option for emulating reverberation in a particular space.  Take a listen to the audio example below to get a better grasp of this type of reverb.

Cathedral or Church Reverb‍

Like the title suggests, the Cathedral reverb is best utilized for choir ensembles, dramatic leads, or a vital organ. This style of reverb is excellent for making the audio sound more prominent and more dramatic. Due to the general size of most church architecture, the typical reverb tends to carry a lengthy decay. When using a digital church reverb or the initial sound, the louder early reflections take longer to dissipate. A quality reverb has a proper mix of indirect and direct sound, and churches offer this with their complex architecture and the types of furnishings inside them.

Gated Reverb

This type of reverb can be fun to use as it uses noise gating to cut the reverb decay trail, giving it a distinctive echo. Gated reverb sounds great over signature leads, bass, and vocals. This particular reverb was highly popularized in the 1980s. This type of digital reverb keeps the original sound clean while providing a powerful decay time. Moreover, adjusting the parameters and giving the reverb a higher or lower pre-delay time is an easy way to provide the reverberation with a drastic difference to the whole production. You can find an example of this style of reverb below.

Hall Reverb

You’ll find this style of reverb represented within concert halls and live performances. Utilizing hall reverb in productions can help add an authentic, live sound to vocals, individual instruments; it’s even suitable for drum kits. For example, the audible power emitted from an electric guitar would have a long natural decay from the effects of this reverb. Interestingly concert halls are generally built to carry sound as consistently as possible. This characteristic of hall reverb can be used in your productions to keep things tonally similar to the rest of your track. Have a listen to the audio below for an excellent example of hall reverb.

Convolution Reverb [ Wet / Dry ]‍

Not all reverb plug-ins can utilize convolution reverb, but it’s a fantastic option to have. It uses a digital recording and simulates the reverb within that space and its various acoustic elements. This can be a handy tool for sound designers when working on TV and film projects. It allows for a high level of customization. You can also use convolution reverb for audio productions that seem dry but need to sound as natural to the space as possible.

Plate Reverb

This style of mechanical reverb is truly unique in how it performs. Plate reverbs are emitted from a metal sheet housed in its case is suspended with a transducer placed in the middle. Just like an electric guitar, the housing also contains pickups, two to be exact. When an audio signal is sent through the transducer, this causes it to produce physical vibrations. As the metal sheet vibrates, it creates the signature plate reverb effect.

Federhall

Moving on from plate reverb, we have spring reverb. This option is relatively simple but can be a great addition to a lively track. It has a noticeable metallic sound to it that goes well with metal, rock, even blues. The sound is created by springs being stretched across a metal box. When the springs vibrate, sound passing through them and bouncing off the inside of the metal box creates an echo.

Es ist ratsam, mit dem Federhall vorsichtig zu sein, da er ziemlich empfindlich sein kann, besonders bei Songs, die bereits etwas hell in der Tonalität sind - ein perfekter Hall, um den Klang des Federhalls von Gitarrenverstärkern zu simulieren.

When and How to Use Reverb in your Music?

Deciding on the reverb style to use in your production can be a challenging and sometimes lengthy task. It's always best to shape the reverb to the tone and style of the song so that it blends and doesn't become obtrusive. Below, you can find a few critical tips for utilizing reverb.

When and how to use reverb:

  • Creating cohesion with each track
  • When a song needs more depth and profundity
  • Fill empty space
  • Use hardware or digital reverb

Creating Cohesion

Sometimes, using reverb to blend the whole track can provide a new wholeness to the production. In terms of a reverb plug-in, many artists will give each track its individual reverb. Although this method has its place, this can lead to colliding reverberations, especially if the parameters aren't all the same, thus taking away from the uniformity of the production.

Another method commonly used in music production and audio engineering is sending each track to the same reverb buss, putting them in the same space, rather than having multiple reverb plug-ins fighting for the same audio space.

Provide More Depth

In the early stages of a song, the vocals and instruments can sound somewhat two-dimensional or dry so-to-speak. An easy fix for that would be to apply some reverb, and you should spend time on the individual parameters to make sure the integrity of the sound isn't going to be compromised.

This is a task where a good pair of studio headphones would come in handy, allowing you to hear the fine details of each reverberation. Depending on which type of reverb you choose, this can make vocals sound full, airy, or even give them a live performance feel. Of course, there is such a thing as too much depth, and it can easily be overdone so, don't be afraid to remove reverb if your ears tell you to.

Fill an Empty Space

In music and the early stages of production, there may be times where the track has a few spots of just empty space. No instruments, no vocals, and if it goes on long enough, it can throw off the entire vibe of the song.

Of course, you also don't want to blatantly fill it with nonsense that doesn't fit the rest of the song so, this is where reverb comes in handy. You can use reverb and its dissipating tails of audio to help fill those brief voids. Once again, you want to make sure you control the audio reflection tails, as you only want them to fill that short open space.

When to Use Hardware or Digital Reverb

Hardware will always bring an authentic sound to the production, and that's precisely what it should be used for. Even today, with how things have evolved digitally, reverb hardware still has its place in the studio. Using hardware will be a good choice if you're looking for a more organic, lively reverberation.

With digital reverb, these are always handy due to the level of customization they offer. You can shape each style of reverb exactly how you want while having access to thousands of various reverberations. It comes down to the needs of the audio production and what sounds best to you with the style of music at hand.

Mistakes to Avoid While Using Reverb

Low-Quality EQ

Proper EQ of reverb is not only crucial but one of the most overlooked parameters of the effect. Without you having to adjust any settings, reverb will naturally add varying levels of depth and sonics to the track. It's important to shape the reverb EQ to suit the needs of the production; otherwise, the tonalities could be sporadic due to uncontrolled reverberations.

Reverb Tails Colliding

Managing colliding reverb tails is another case where studio headphones would be pretty helpful. The tails of each reverb are unique, and of course, with a reverb plug-in, they can be modified to a great extent. Even if you had the EQ of the reverb under control, if it collides with the next vocal or instrument, it could clutter up the pleasant sonics of the song's structure.

Applying Any Reverb Blindly

You must spend time listening to the sonics of your track and the sonics of the reverb itself and make sure they cooperate. If you blindly put any random reverb on your vocals without tuning it up, it could provide an unwanted metallic sound to your voice, or maybe it's a little muddy because the reverb you applied has a heavy low-end EQ. No matter which type of reverb you choose, consistently adjust the parameters to align with the song's tone direction.

Die Parameter des Reverbs

It’s essential to understand how to apply the correct type of reverb to your track correctly. Knowing the parameters and how to use them correctly can easily take your audio production to the next level. Below, we’ll talk about a few of the critical parameters in more detail.

Vorverzögerung

Die Vorverzögerung ist die Zeit, die benötigt wird, um die Reflexionen auszulösen, nachdem die erste Klangquelle abgespielt wurde.

Angriff

When adjusting the attack parameter, you can set how long it takes for the reverb to obtain its level of steady-state intensity. This parameter is also suitable for mitigating issues with colliding track elements, giving more space for the original sound source before the reverb kicks in.

Verfall

The decay parameter controls the amount of time it takes for the trailing reverberations to die off completely. Ensuring that this setting is where it needs to be will have each space filled correctly without colliding trails of reverberations.

Diffusion

Dieser Parameter bestimmt die Komplexität des Reverbs selbst. Mit Diffusion können Sie die Dichte oder Form des Halls einstellen, den Sie so manipulieren können, dass er dünner oder fetter klingt.

Mischen

One of the most critical parameters, the mix, is how you control the balance between your wet and dry signals. When you increase your dry signal, more of the original audio shines through, and with higher wet values, you’ll get more reverb. This is where you should be finding your perfect balance between the original sound and the power of the reverb you’re using.

Größe

Die Größe des Reverbs bezieht sich darauf, wie lang die Hallreflexionen sind. Zur Veranschaulichung: Wenn Sie die Reverb-Größe erhöhen, vergrößern Sie im Wesentlichen den Raum, in dem der Nachhall stattfindet.

Frühe Überlegungen

Diese sollten klar verstanden werden, da dies der erste Teil des Reverbs ist, den Sie hören. Die frühen Reflexionen stehen im Vergleich zum Rest des Halls, den Sie an der Hallfahne hören, alleine da. Stellen Sie also sicher, dass diese richtig getroffen werden, da der Hörer sie zuerst wahrnimmt.

what is reverb

10 Schritte zur Verwendung von Reverb

Sie wollen nicht einfach einen Hall auf eine Spur legen und das war's. Er benötigt eine Feinabstimmung, damit er mit dem ursprünglichen Klang Ihrer Produktion harmoniert. Natürlich ist Musik eine subjektive Kunst, und Sie sollten den Hall wählen, der Ihnen am besten gefällt. Dennoch gibt es ein paar wichtige Hinweise, die Sie unabhängig vom gewählten Halltyp beachten sollten.

1. Wählen Sie Ihren Reverb-Typ

In den meisten Fällen verfügt das Reverb-Plug-In, das Sie verwenden, über Presets. Es ist immer gut, ein solide klingendes Preset zu finden und dann die Parameter von dort aus zu optimieren. Es ist wichtig, dass Sie einen Hall wählen, der zum Klang Ihrer Produktion passt. Denken Sie immer daran, dass sich Hall hervorragend zum Füllen von trockenen Räumen eignet. Suchen Sie also nach Bereichen in Ihrer Spur, die vielleicht etwas zu trocken sind, und überlegen Sie, welcher Hall am besten geeignet wäre, diesen Raum zu füllen.

2. Stellen Sie Ihre Vorverzögerung ein

Die richtige Einstellung für das Pre-Delay zu finden, ist entscheidend. Wenn dieser Parameter nicht richtig eingestellt ist, kann dies dazu führen, dass Ihre gesamte Produktion nicht mehr tempomäßig klingt. Wenn Sie ein mittleres Pre-Delay wählen, wird der Hall leicht verzögert. Dies ist wichtig zu beachten, da es dem Originalklang mehr Zeit gibt, durchzuscheinen, bevor der Hall einsetzt. Es sorgt für ein gutes Gleichgewicht zwischen den beiden.

3. Stellen Sie Ihren Diffusionsgrad ein

Wenn Sie versuchen, Ihren Diffusionspegel zu bestimmen, ist es wichtig, den EQ im Song zu beachten. Wenn Sie bereits einen anderen Nachhall oder einen feuchten Klang in der Produktion haben, sollten Sie den Diffusor etwas weniger stark einstellen. Dies wäre ein flacher klingender Hall, der gut geeignet ist, um den Track nicht zu überlagern oder mit anderen Hallsignalen zu kollidieren. Ein höherer Diffusionspegel würde einhüllender und insgesamt fetter klingen.

reverb usage

4. Stellen Sie Ihre Abklingparameter ein

Given decay determines how long it takes before your reverb ends, you must correlate this parameter with the reverb size. When size controls the amount of room in the reverb, decay plays a vital role in ensuring that room size comes to a fitting end. If your room size is comparable to a church, then you’d want the decay to drag out a little bit, as reverb within a church tends to last longer than just a second or two.

When it comes to longer reverbs, they tend to bleed over into other notes and frequencies, which can clutter up your production as a whole. So, longer reverbs should be kept a bit quieter than short reverbs, as they tend to leave more open natural spaces between notes and frequencies.

5. Entscheiden Sie sich für Ihre Mix-Pegel

Finding the right balance between the initial sound and the amount of reverb you want to hear is one of the most vital parameters to get right. To find the perfect mix, you should pay very close attention to the track’s current dry/wet mix. Your mix should be your guide for where to set your reverb mix levels. Trust your ears!

6. Platzierung der Reflexionsstufe

Die Ohren des Zuhörers nehmen alle Reflexionen auf, und wie ich bereits erwähnt habe, können Reflexionen nicht nur einen Track verunreinigen, sondern auch das Tempo des Tracks beeinträchtigen. Es ist am besten, Reflexionen wie ein Echo zu behandeln, da sie in vielen Fällen auch so klingen.

Wenn Sie eine stärkere Reflexion wünschen, erhöhen Sie die Lautstärke der Reflexionen und lassen Sie sie früher einsetzen. Unabhängig von dieser Note ist es wichtig, sich darauf zu konzentrieren, wie die Reflexionen mit anderen Noten und dem Tempo des Tracks verschmelzen. Sie möchten, dass die Reflexionen so klingen, als würden sie sich miteinander unterhalten und nicht übereinander reden.

7. Hochfrequenz-Dämpfung

This pertains to reducing the high frequencies going into the reverb itself. Too many high frequencies, and your reverb can sound very metallic. To help reduce this, start removing the high-end, starting around 4k-8kHz.

8. Gated Reverb

Wie bereits erwähnt, bestimmt dies den Pegel, bei dem die Hallfahne abgeschnitten wird. Dieser Effekt war in den 80er Jahren sehr beliebt, wird aber auch heute noch häufig in moderner Musik eingesetzt.

9. Tiefe der Modulation

Einige Reverb-Plug-Ins ermöglichen die Modulation des Reverb-Effekts selbst. Dadurch können Sie die Eigenschaften des Reverbs manipulieren. Die Verwendung dieses Parameters trägt im Allgemeinen dazu bei, dass Ihr Reverb lebendiger und weniger stagnierend klingt.

10. Dämpfung

Die Dämpfung eignet sich hervorragend für Halls mit zu scharfen Klängen, in der Regel aufgrund lästiger hoher Frequenzen. Dies wirkt sich auf den Gesamtklang des Halls aus, sorgt aber auch für einen wärmeren Klang, der Ihren Hall besser mit dem Rest des Klangs in der Spur verschmelzen lässt. Dämpfung wird im Allgemeinen am besten als "entgegengesetztes" Werkzeug eingesetzt. Mehr Dämpfung, um die Helligkeit des Songs zu verringern oder wenig Dämpfung, um ihm etwas mehr "Luft" zu geben.

Der Kreis schließt sich

Mit all den hier besprochenen Details über die Hallparameter, die Do's und Don'ts und die verschiedenen Halltypen können Sie Ihre nächste Produktion mit dem Wissen beginnen, wie Sie den Hall genau anwenden.

Denken Sie daran, dass Hall in jeder Produktion leicht übertrieben werden kann. Stellen Sie sicher, dass Sie Ihre Ohren in Verbindung mit den Regeln für die Reverb-Parameter benutzen, und Sie werden jedes Mal eine perfekte Atmosphäre haben.

How to Remove Reverb from an Audio

Oftentimes, it's common for a recording to pick up natural reverb. Although this may be wanted in some cases, other cases may have you wondering how to properly remove the reverb without compromising the integrity of the recording. There are multiple methods to do this, and one would be to EQ out the frequency that the reverb holds.

In some instances, if the reverb is heavy on the high or low-end of the EQ, you could simply cut out that frequency, and the reverberation would be greatly reduced. It may not be 100% gone, but it will make a noticeable difference.

If that's not really doing enough for you, there are always the many audio engineering plug-ins that are built to do just that. For example, a plug-in called the ERA 4 Reverb Remover does a fantastic job at reducing reverb. Remember, over-doing the parameters on these types of plugins can quickly obstruct the quality of your recording, so make sure to use them in good taste.

Reverb Plugins and Hardware

As previously stated in the article, reverb hardware and digital plug-ins both have their place in music, and it comes down to which properties are needed for the production at hand. Hardware will provide a more authentic sound, while digital or algorithmic reverbs will give nearly endless customization. Most of the digital reverbs found in DAW's today mimic or emulate the effects of real-world reverb hardware. Another one of the advantages of algorithmic reverbs is how many artificial reverberations can be created, opening a vast world of sonic possibilities.

Furthermore, convolution reverb allows you to take your audio recordings and have them emulate the sound of a particular space. Considering the parameters that plug-ins for reverb provide, there's an endless number of spaces you can emulate and customize. Although we've talked quite a bit of reverb in a studio environment, reverb hardware can go a long way with a live performance, one being a quality spring reverb.

A Brief History of Reverb

Before the fancy and customizable algorithmic reverbs, or even the unique sounds of reverb hardware, musicians worked with natural reverb. Organic reverb from natural elements is pretty much inescapable, and humans harnessed this sound while engineering ways to refine it over time. One example would be the specific architecture of concert halls being able to harness and control acoustics in a particular way.

The creation of hardware and algorithmic reverb came about for multiple reasons. One of those reasons was customization and modification. When recording with the reverb from the room, there are a few elements of the reverberation that can't be adjusted after the fact. Algorithmic reverbs easily fixed this issue.

The Future of Reverb

As mentioned in the section above, humans have been working on grasping the power of reverb for a very long time. Considering our evolutionary nature, we're only going to continue to try and improve the quality of hardware and algorithmic reverbs. Moreover, the specific architecture of concert halls will continue to evolve, yet they will always be built with the bare necessities to properly control reverb for live performances. You can expect reverb to be used in new ways as time goes on. With the help of technology, this will only propel the prominence of reverb in audio productions, as well as the creation of new sounds.

Reverb FAQs

Should you put reverb on everything?

No, not every instrument needs to have added reverb. Having too many reverberations can overlap each other and clutter up the production. For example, an instrument that's recorded and contains room reverb may not need additional reverb on top of it.

Should you add reverb in mastering?

In most cases, you want to focus on adding your reverb to individual instruments and not your master channel. This would cause you to hear reverb across every separate track in your song. Working out the reverb parameters for each track allows them to blend with the mix perfectly.

How do you get perfect reverb every time?

To an extent, this is a subjective question as each song has specific needs based on the rest of the vocal and instrumental elements. Whether it's artificial reverb or natural room reverb, you need to make sure it fits with the other audio productions' sonics. You don't want your different types of reverb to clash with the rest of the song but, more so, complement each element.

Is using reverb cheating?

Not at all; with technology providing a vast array of digital reverb options, you can customize them in a million different ways. In turn, this will only spark new creative ideas moving forward. Sometimes, specific instruments can sound somewhat dry compared to the rest of the track, and it wouldn't hurt to try out a few different reverb chambers.

Is too much reverb bad?

Too much reverb can be a bad thing for the overall integrity of the production. Usually, this can be easily controlled by adjusting the wet reverb signal. Then again, if you have the same reverb on each separate track, the production would be too cluttered to fix by solely adjusting the wet reverb signal.

How much reverb is enough?

Remember, in the context that reverberation is being used to fill a dry, empty space in the song, you want to add just enough to fill that space. It can be pretty easy to mess up your entire mix if you don't control the reverb tails on each track.

Should you add reverb to vocals?

Yes, applying reverb to vocals is important to provide more sustain with a fuller sound. In some recording studios, reverb works naturally off of reflective surfaces and can even provide an echo chamber in larger rooms. Digital reverb provides much more customization and allows you to work in a complex space that can help you dial in a particular reverb style.

What type of reverb is best for vocals?

Plate reverb is suggested for vocals due to its smooth sound as well as bright tonality. Using this type of reverb can enhance the presence of vocals by making them sound more powerful. You'll want to be careful, as plate reverb can also come with an unpleasant metallic sound if not used correctly.

What do you call a room with no reverb?

Regarding this question, you'll hear the words "sound-proof" thrown around a lot. In some ways, that's correct, but the proper terminology for this would be called an anechoic chamber. An-echoic represents that the room is non-reflective. These rooms are typically designed and built specifically for sound absorption.

Is reverb considered auto-tune?

No, these are two different things entirely as reverb is just that, reverberations of a sound. While auto-tune, as it states in the name, is used to tune vocals and instruments to the rest of the production, ensuring everything is in key and uniform. Additionally, it's good to know that there are varying levels of auto-tune, and sometimes isn't detectable at all in the final release.

What is the difference between echo and reverb?

Echoes are a single reflection off of a surface in the distance. This surface must be more than 50 feet away for the human ear to pick up the echo. Reverb is multiple reflections off of a nearby surface while soundwaves stack and collide with each other.

Is delay the same as reverb?

No, delay in audio processing is taking an input signal and then playing back again after a particular amount of time. Of course, how the delay sounds can be adjusted in many different ways through the parameters of your DAW, but this effect is not the same as reverberations reflecting off of nearby surfaces.

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