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Using reverb effectively

From: Ableton Live 8 Essential Training

Video: Using reverb effectively

Reverb is a crucial part of creating a successful mix. Because re-creating in an acoustical environment is a complicated task, reverb plug-ins are often filled with hard-to-understand parameters. In this video, we will learn what those parameters actually represent and discuss some guidelines for using reverb devices effectively. Reverb is the effect that gives us a sense of spatial dimension to a recording. Where delay effects are fairly simple devices which create a few echoes or reflections at a time, a reverb simulates thousands of tightly spaced reflections that are perceived as a single entity.

Using reverb effectively

Reverb is a crucial part of creating a successful mix. Because re-creating in an acoustical environment is a complicated task, reverb plug-ins are often filled with hard-to-understand parameters. In this video, we will learn what those parameters actually represent and discuss some guidelines for using reverb devices effectively. Reverb is the effect that gives us a sense of spatial dimension to a recording. Where delay effects are fairly simple devices which create a few echoes or reflections at a time, a reverb simulates thousands of tightly spaced reflections that are perceived as a single entity.

So that add reverb to a Live set, we typically do that in a manner that allows us to share a reverb across several tracks. That means that we are going to actually put that reverb on a return track. So I've got a session set up here, and I have got my Live Device browser set up to the Reverb category. Now I am going to grab one of those presets and drop that over here on this Drum Verb return track. Then all I need to do to add reverb to these tracks is increase the send amount on the various tracks that I want to add reverb to.

So I have got two things set up here for you to see. Now I have got the drum track set up as one track, where I have got a loop that contains kick and a snare and a hi-hat and all the other drum parts on one particular clip. Oftentimes, that's a very difficult way to work and add reverb because when I add reverb, it's going to be the same amount to every individual element of the drums. Here the things I did here, was I set up a drum rack where each instrument is a different element of the drum set. And that's going to allow me to add differing amounts of reverbs to each particular instrument.

And setting up drum racks is something that we will discuss in a later video. So, for example, if I want more on the snare, I can turn the send up or down as necessary. And in this case, I don't have any setup on the kick track. So my individual mix here is on the sends, and then the total amount of reverb is controlled by the volume slider on the return track. So let's take a closer look at the actual plug-in. The first part of reverb that we hear is the early reflections, which contain a single reflection as sound bounces off one object and then bounces back to the listener.

And that amount of time before that early reflection's start is determined by the predelay amount that I have here. And you can roughly say 1 ms per foot helps us determine the distance that we are traveling to that object and then the distance we are traveling back: so about 20 feet in each direction. And as I play this and increase or decrease the predelay time, you should get a sense of the room being larger or smaller. Let's check that out. (Drums playing.) Yeah, and especially there at the high end, we are hearing the room sound extremely large there.

But as I dialed that smaller, we did hear that that dried up a little bit. And it sounded like it was a little bit tighter space. I can also determine the kind of shape and color of the early reflections using the Shape setting here. And small values are going to result in a little bit slower, more natural decay. And higher values are going to be a much shorter decay. The spin aspect here actually adds a little bit of randomness by de-tuning the early reflections and adding a very subtle amount of chorus effect to that.

Let's hear what sounds like. (Drums playing.) It's subtle, but it's definitely sounding a little bit richer. Now, in the middle of this particular plug-in, we've got some global settings. One of those has to do with the quality of the reverb and the amount of CPU resources that are being used. So I can either said that to economy, or Eco, Mid, or High. And depending upon how many reverbs you're using in a session will determine the setting that you'll choose there.

Now you can check your CPU resources by simply looking at this meter over here. And if you're up there, pushing 80%-90%, you are definitely going to want to consider switching your reverb into an economy mode. I can also have an impact on the size of the perceived room by using the size parameter. Let's check that out. (Drums playing.) And that's particularly noticeable when I move to a smaller room size.

And we get that very metallic ringing sound. It's almost like you're playing in a bedroom where you don't have any furniture and you are really hearing that ring that's in the room. So a more modest setting there, or medium setting, is going to end up in a more natural sound. (Drums playing.) The Stereo parameter that's available here actually sets the width of the stereo image that's being output from this plug-in. And if you go all the way up to 120, it's actually outputting a discrete left and discrete right image.

The second half of the plug-in here has a lot more to do with the global reverberation, or those reflections that happen after the early reflections. And again, those are those reflections that are so tightly packed that we hear those as one entity. So first of all, I can set a delay length or a decay time. And just in general, I'll tell you that when you're working with drums, oftentimes you are going to want to set a shorter decay time. In the neighborhood of about two seconds, give or take a little bit, is a good place to start. And then with other instruments in vocals, you may want to try something that is more approaching three seconds.

Let's hear what that sounds like. (Drums playing.) So you heard, as I dialed that shorter, that it really got dry quickly, and then as I went to a longer decay time, it got a little bit ridiculous. But right there, around about two seconds-- especially with the drums--you get a sense of ambience without having that kind of washed out sound.

At other times, you may want something that is much more aggressive, but that depends upon the context and the situation. In addition, I have something up here that's referred to as the diffusion network. And that has a lot to do with setting a sound of the reverb and the actual materials that are in the room. So if a room is made up of cement or glass or marble or metal, it's going to be highly reflective, and that's going to be particularly noticeable in the high frequencies. If a room has drapes or a lush carpet or people wearing clothes in it, there is going to be much more sound absorbed, and the reverb is going to be less active sounding.

And that's because those high frequencies are being absorbed. So essentially what I have here with number 2 is a low-pass, or high-cut, filter that lets me roll off some of that higher frequency. Let's check that out. (Drums playing.) So you can hear that immediately kind of tighten up and dry up. And then in addition to that, we can again add a little bit of randomness with this Chorus setting, which is going to de-tune some of those global reverberation reflections.

And then lastly, again, I am going to set a dry/wet percentage with my reverb. Again, remember that when you put a time-based effect like a delay or a reverb on a return track, you want to set that Dry/Wet to 100%, because the dry sound is exactly coming out of the individual tracks and our reverb sound is coming out here. So you are going to control your reverb return with this volume slider and your individual dry amounts with these sliders. And if you need to add a little more reverb to an individual track, then you go to a send and increase or decrease that as necessary.

So now you know how to set up a reverb and adjust the device parameters. Try listening to some of your favorite recordings and analyze what the engineer did with the reverb setup. Then try to re-create that sound with one of your own songs.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Ableton Live 8 Essential Training
Ableton Live 8 Essential Training

69 video lessons · 16988 viewers

Rick Schmunk
Author

 
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  1. 1m 30s
    1. Welcome
      49s
    2. Using the exercise files
      41s
  2. 8m 43s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      4m 13s
    2. Choosing the right gear and setting up a system
      4m 30s
  3. 12m 59s
    1. Setting up audio preferences
      3m 54s
    2. Setting up MIDI preferences
      3m 31s
    3. Optimizing performance
      5m 34s
  4. 35m 42s
    1. Understanding Session view
      8m 7s
    2. Working with Live browsers
      5m 3s
    3. Working with Live clips
      7m 57s
    4. Understanding clip properties
      7m 52s
    5. Working with Live scenes
      6m 43s
  5. 28m 16s
    1. Building Live Sets and projects
      4m 25s
    2. Learning Live file management
      4m 2s
    3. Exporting content from Live
      7m 32s
    4. Importing and exporting Live Packs
      3m 17s
    5. Searching for and auditioning clips
      4m 58s
    6. Setting up frequently accessed folders
      4m 2s
  6. 23m 3s
    1. Preparing to record MIDI
      5m 51s
    2. Recording and overdubbing MIDI
      4m 32s
    3. Working with alternate MIDI entry methods
      6m 49s
    4. Using multi-output virtual instruments
      5m 51s
  7. 24m 26s
    1. The MIDI Editor
      4m 49s
    2. Quantizing MIDI data
      6m 6s
    3. Advanced MIDI editing
      6m 49s
    4. Setting up groove in editing
      6m 42s
  8. 9m 18s
    1. Preparing to record
      5m 0s
    2. Recording audio
      4m 18s
  9. 22m 37s
    1. Understanding Arrangement view
      3m 41s
    2. Recording in Arrangement view
      3m 51s
    3. Recording from Session view to Arrangement view
      5m 21s
    4. Reworking clips
      9m 44s
  10. 27m 57s
    1. Understanding Live's mixer
      12m 38s
    2. Using sends and returns
      3m 47s
    3. Building headphone cues
      3m 49s
    4. Grouping tracks
      7m 43s
  11. 43m 14s
    1. Working with effect devices
      4m 56s
    2. Understanding EQ and filters
      7m 14s
    3. Using compressors and dynamic processors
      7m 28s
    4. Building interesting effects with delay effect processing
      8m 18s
    5. Using reverb effectively
      8m 22s
    6. Setting up side chain effects easily
      6m 56s
  12. 15m 37s
    1. Creating rhythmic patterns with the Arpeggiator effect
      8m 38s
    2. Building background parts with the Chord and Scale effects
      6m 59s
  13. 25m 24s
    1. Building automation patterns
      8m 44s
    2. Editing existing automation information
      5m 3s
    3. Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
      4m 10s
    4. Understanding the power of clip envelopes
      7m 27s
  14. 20m 17s
    1. Understanding the basics of looping
      6m 54s
    2. Creating tracks that loop smoothly
      7m 50s
    3. Using warp features to quantize audio
      5m 33s
  15. 17m 47s
    1. Using the computer keyboard to control Live
      6m 39s
    2. Mapping device controls to the MIDI keyboard
      4m 36s
    3. Using Live's instant mapping feature
      6m 32s
  16. 10m 44s
    1. Exporting audio
      5m 37s
    2. Freezing tracks
      5m 7s
  17. 20m 45s
    1. Building with the Impulse virtual instrument
      11m 35s
    2. Working with the Simpler virtual instrument
      9m 10s
  18. 36m 22s
    1. Overview of Live racks
      10m 13s
    2. Combining instruments and effects into a single device
      8m 22s
    3. Adding effects with Drum Rack
      11m 28s
    4. Assigning rack parameters to macros
      6m 19s
  19. 13m 53s
    1. Setting up ReWire with Pro Tools
      7m 3s
    2. Setting up ReWire with Logic
      6m 50s
  20. 33m 43s
    1. Preparing audio clips with the Warp tool
      14m 31s
    2. Triggering clips using follow actions
      8m 9s
    3. Using Live as a sound source
      11m 3s
  21. 7m 21s
    1. Working with video files
      7m 21s
  22. 37s
    1. Further Recommendations
      37s

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