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Creating reverb mechanically using springs and plates

From: Foundations of Audio: Reverb

Video: Creating reverb mechanically using springs and plates

Acoustic reverb for studio recording comes in the form of carefully designed and cleverly captured room tracks and reverb Chambers. The next class of Reverbs are those that use some sort of mechanical system to create a useful resonance. Mechanical reverb today comes in two forms, springs and plates. Spring Reverbs are made of, well just that, springs, usually a network of interconnected springs. A spring vibrates in a fairly simple way. Give it a shake and the vibration zips back and forth from end to end along the length of the spring.

Creating reverb mechanically using springs and plates

Acoustic reverb for studio recording comes in the form of carefully designed and cleverly captured room tracks and reverb Chambers. The next class of Reverbs are those that use some sort of mechanical system to create a useful resonance. Mechanical reverb today comes in two forms, springs and plates. Spring Reverbs are made of, well just that, springs, usually a network of interconnected springs. A spring vibrates in a fairly simple way. Give it a shake and the vibration zips back and forth from end to end along the length of the spring.

Multi-spring Reverbs make a mechanical connection between springs to trigger several interactive resonances among those springs. Let your audio drive the springs into action, pick up the subsequent vibration, and you've now tapped into the mechanical resonance of the springs as a kind of analogy for acoustic reverb. The sustained vibration of the springs proves useful in audio as a specific flavor of reverberation. It never sounds exactly like a room, but it certainly has a unique and interesting quality.

Spring reverb, because it's light and portable and quite affordable is common in many old organs and guitar amps. Partly for the convenience, but also because of its characteristic sound, spring reverb remains an essential part of guitar tone. It's a defining element of surf music and guitar-based blues, but it is by no means limited to guitar alone. Let's hear a quick example. First, the electric guitar without spring reverb. (music playing) Now let's hear it with some of the amps spring reverb.

(music playing) As you'll see later in this course, spring reverb is a great way to modify the timbre of an instrument. While it may not evoke the sense of a concert hall or a nice sounding room, it does offer a quality of resonance that's desirable on many tracks. Plate Reverbs offer an increase in sonic complexity over spring Reverbs.

Where springs vibrate in a relatively simple one-dimensional way from end to end, a plate reverb, made up of a large plate of metal, will vibrate in a more two-dimensional way, down the length and across the width of the sheet of steel. An audio signal feeds a driver, which is connected directly to the plate, causing it to vibrate. Imagine a two-dimensional room, a room with length and width, but no height. As with springs, plate resonance doesn't actually sound that much like a real room.

Here's a snare head, first dry, then through a plate reverb. (music playing) With experience you'll learn to identify the strong upper mid frequency decay characteristics of good plates and how they sound quite different from springs, rooms, and halls.

Plate Reverbs haven't been made commercially in decades. The vintage units are highly sought after, expensive, and frankly, they're quite heavy. So it's quite common use convolution reverb to accurately get the sound of an actual plate into your mix. We cover convolution in a movie later in this chapter, but we use it here to add plate to the snare head. Listen carefully for the textured resonant decay as I gradually add plate to the snare drum while David plays time on a drum kit, where we've placed kick, snare, and a pair of overhead microphones. (music playing) The presence of reverb is unmistakable, but notice also that it doesn't sound anything like a concert hall or cathedral.

Like springs, plates are desired for the distinct sonic coloration that we used to modify the timbre of the instrument's synth. Springs and plates are mechanical systems that offer their own unique strongly flavored sort of resonance, and while their mechanical technology is hardly cutting edge--digital is the thing these days-- their sound is still relevant. They're so important to music recording still that digital Reverbs of today often have presets that emulate these mechanical Reverbs of the past.

You'll see that plates and springs are used often in the audio examples throughout this course. We study digital Reverbs next.

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This video is part of

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Foundations of Audio: Reverb

39 video lessons · 8390 viewers

Alex U. Case
Author

 
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  1. 9m 41s
    1. Welcome
      1m 58s
    2. What you need to know before watching this course
      2m 18s
    3. Songs you should listen to while watching this course
      2m 46s
    4. Using the exercise files
      55s
    5. Using the Get in the Mix session files
      1m 44s
  2. 6m 44s
    1. What is reverb?
      2m 35s
    2. Why do we use reverb?
      4m 9s
  3. 24m 33s
    1. Capturing reverb acoustically through room tracks
      5m 33s
    2. Creating reverb acoustically through a reverb chamber
      2m 51s
    3. Creating reverb mechanically using springs and plates
      5m 8s
    4. Creating reverb digitally via algorithms and convolution
      4m 51s
    5. Optimizing signal flow, effects loops, and CPU resources
      6m 10s
  4. 39m 10s
    1. The anatomy of reverberation
      3m 8s
    2. Mastering reverb time, predelay, and wet/dry mix parameters
      5m 36s
    3. Understanding the frequency dependence of reverberation
      4m 56s
    4. Tapping into advanced parameters such as diffusion, density, and more
      4m 37s
    5. Reference values from the best orchestra halls
      5m 40s
    6. Hearing beyond the basic parameters
      5m 31s
    7. Touring the interfaces for six reverb plugins
      9m 42s
  5. 1h 32m
    1. Choosing the right reverb for each of your tracks
      2m 17s
    2. Simulating space with reverb
      5m 42s
    3. Hearing space in the mix
      6m 33s
    4. Timbre and texture
      3m 36s
    5. Shaping tone and timbre with reverb
      5m 49s
    6. Creating contrasting sounds for your tracks
      4m 43s
    7. Using nonlinear reverb to help a track cut through
      4m 25s
    8. Emphasizing the reverb using predelay
      3m 24s
    9. Strategically blurring and obscuring tracks
      1m 46s
    10. Get in the Mix: Changing the scene by changing reverb
      7m 37s
    11. Get in the Mix: Gating reverb to emphasize any track in your production
      5m 52s
    12. Reversing reverb to highlight musical moments
      9m 36s
    13. Synthesizing new sounds through reverb
      6m 42s
    14. Get in the Mix: Supporting a track with regenerative reverb
      6m 31s
    15. Getting the most out of room tracks
      17m 39s
  6. 11m 32s
    1. Setting up your own reverb chamber: The architecture
      2m 2s
    2. Setting up your own reverb chamber: The audio
      4m 8s
    3. Using convolution correctly
      2m 32s
    4. Getting great impluse response
      2m 50s
  7. 1m 29s
    1. Next steps
      1m 29s

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