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This installment of Foundations of Audio explains one of the most essential ingredients in audio mixing, reverb—the time it takes for sound to bounce, echo, and decay during a live performance or recording. Reverb gives a natural richness to your recordings, which is possible to reproduce. Producer and audio engineer Alex U. Case covers the acoustic, mechanical, and digital means for creating reverb, and charts the parameters (room size, density, etc.) you'll need to know to take advantage of the original recording space and enhance it in post. He then shows how to simulate reverb digitally with effects, adding timbre, texture, and contrast, and improve the sound of your mixes with a sense of space and depth.
These techniques can be practiced with the free Get in the Mix sessions, currently available for Pro Tools and Logic Pro.
Mixes get crowded. It's really difficult to fit 50 or more tracks into a recording and have them make sense coming out of only a couple of loudspeakers. Well, Reverb is an essential tool for overcoming that challenge. We use contrasting reverbs track by track to make it easier for the listener to enjoy different elements of a multitrack mix. Listen to this tune in which the lead vocal, the background vocals, the snare, and the guitars are each treated to a different kind of reverb.
(music playing) Of particular interest are the vocals, and the potential conflict between the lead vocal and the background vocals.
This tune includes the typical challenge that there are several background singers, but just the single lead vocalist, so the background vocals risk drowning out the lead vocal. This problem is compounded by the fact that some of the background vocal tracks are overdubs sung by lead singer himself. With such similar tone, it can be hard to distinguish the lead vocal part from the multitrack background tracks. Reverb offers a great solution. We create contrast between the lead vocal and the backgrounds by treating them to two different reverbs.
The lead vocal has this Medium Room Reverb. (music playing) Meantime, the background vocals have this large bright hall.
(music playing) Placing the lead vocal in a different space gives it enough distinction to get heard.
The Reverb on the snare is a Plate program. (music playing) The Reverb on the electric guitars includes Spring Reverb. (music playing) The main reason for choosing those Reverbs for snare and guitar, as discussed earlier in this course, has to do with reshaping their tone and their timbre.
But an additional goal I have in mind when allocating so many different Reverbs across the tracks is creating contrast, in order to give the competing tracks in this tune at least slightly different Reverb signatures. It's easier for listeners to pick out each individual performer's contribution to the tune by applying track-specific Reverb effects.
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