In this tutorial, I will briefly talk about reverbs. We'll explore the main parameters, and at the end of the article, you'll find some good practical advice.
There are many types of reverbs that try to emulate the characteristics of different rooms and ambiances. In this tutorial, I will talk about digital emulations of reverbs (i.e. plugins), but the concepts apply to hardware reverbs too. Reverbs in nature are formed by the bouncing of a sound to a room’s walls (and/or obstacles) coming back to our ears.
REVERBS UNIT PARAMETERS
Depending on the plugin you are using you can find all or part of the following parameters.
Dry/Wet — We identify the dry sound as the original sound without any reverb. We recognize the wet sound as the reverb sound. These parameters are expressed in percentages and indicate how much of the wet sound we want to apply to the dry sound. Usually, we use sends to apply reverse so this parameter should be set to 100% wet.
Early Reflections — These are the first group of reflections that hit the wall and return to our ears. Usually, these are more audible.
Pre Delay — This is the time that elapses between the original dry sound and the first early reflection.
Use the pre-delay to give your instruments a bit of extra intelligibility.
Decay — This is the part of the reverb created by the sound that continues to bounce to the walls.
Room size — This indicates the dimension of the room. The bigger the room, the longer the decay.
Damping — This concerns the material of the wall’s room. In fact, the harder the material the walls are made of (e.g. stones), the brighter the reverb. The softer the material the walls are made of (e.g. wood), the darker the reverb. At a basic level, think of it like a sort of EQ.
Diffusion — This parameter is related to the reflections and how the are diffused in the room. Increase the diffusion to push the reflection closer together (this also helps in creating a denser reverb). Decrease the diffusion to separate the reflections.
REVERBS PRACTICAL ADVICE
Use sends to apply reverbs. This will help to save computer resources as you can use one reverb for multiple instruments.
Create contrasts between dry and wet instruments.
For a more natural reverb, darken the sound with an LPF.
Don't abuse reverbs. Most of the time, you want to barely hear it. An excess of wet sounds usually is synonymous with a poor mix.
To keep the mix tidy and add space, consider using stereo delays instead of reverbs.
Saturate/compress/EQ the return of the reverb if you want to customize it and give it some extra character.
A good amount of diffusion works well for percussive sounds. A lower amount of diffusion works better for pad sounds.
Usually, the pre-delay can vary between 20ms and 50ms, but you can always experiment by trying longer pre-delay times.