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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.
If you stretch the pre-delay parameter of any reverb longer and longer in time, it makes it easier to hear the reverb itself. Let's return to that snare shaker track, and instead of adding nonlinear reverb as we did in the prior movie, I'll add a short plate sound and gradually increase the pre-delay from 0 up to 100 milliseconds and beyond. (music playing) Pushing the reverb 'til later in time away from the dry track itself makes sure that the track isn't obscured by the reverb.
It makes the reverb itself easier to hear. Before we tailor this into a more musical effect, it's worth noting if you want to increase the sense of reverberation on any track, you have a few choices to make. You can turn up the reverb, make it louder by raising the send to the reverb, or raising the faders associated with the returns from the reverb. Another approach is to increase the reverb time. By letting the duration of the resonance last longer, you add more reverb to the mix. But a third more subtle and often more productive way to give your listeners the sense of more reverb is to stretch pre-delay to a slightly longer time so that it better reveals the reverb itself.
A snare hit can make it hard to hear the reverb that follows. Increasing pre-delay pushes the reverb away in time from the distraction of the loud snare hit. We usually push it just a little bit, 20 to 40 milliseconds is generally enough. But pretty dramatic effects are found when you take it to 100 milliseconds or more. Working the pre-delay parameter lets you get your reverb heard without the mix crowding techniques of turning it up or cranking the Reverb Time. Pre-delay can be stretched to a musically useful rhythmically valid duration as well.
In production styles that embrace technology, like electronic, house, trance, and other kinds of dance floor music, you might stretch the pre-delay so that the reverb happens in a way that is rhythmically interesting. And popular styles of music, file this under special effect, it's not an everyday occurrence. For this type of effect, you tune the pre- delay time to a musically-relevant time, a 16th note or an 8th note are common. Adjust Pre-delay until the pulse of the reverb offers a bit of syncopation to the groove.
(music playing) So ultimately, even though reverb comes to us from actual physical spaces, we're free to take it in unnatural directions for the sake of our music.
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