Foundations of Audio: Reverb
Illustration by John Hersey

Foundations of Audio: Reverb

with Alex U. Case

Video: Get in the Mix: Gating reverb to emphasize any track in your production

Gated reverb might be one of the least intuitive uses of reverb. If you haven't already, plan to watch Foundations of Audio, Compression and This gated reverb sound creates a completely new snare sound.
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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
    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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Watch the Online Video Course Foundations of Audio: Reverb
3h 5m Appropriate for all Dec 14, 2012 Updated Jan 24, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • What is reverb?
  • Understanding how acoustic reverb works in rooms
  • Working with the signal flow, effects loops, and available CPU resources
  • Understanding core parameters, like reverb time and pre-delay
  • Simulating space
  • Creating nonlinear reverb
  • Building pre-delay effects
  • Using reverse reverb
  • Using convolution correctly
Audio + Music
Logic Pro Pro Tools Waves
Alex U. Case

Get in the Mix: Gating reverb to emphasize any track in your production

Gated reverb might be one of the least intuitive uses of reverb. Whether it was deliberately invented or sort of accidentally discovered, we'll never know. But whatever its origins, gated reverb is an essential part of music production today. So let's make sure we know how to do it on the all-important snare drum. The signal flow isn't trivial. We run the output of the reverb through a compressor and then a gate to abruptly truncate that compressed reverb so it doesn't last so long. It takes the mess out of our mix.

The output of the reverb after compression is itself a long, slowly decaying signal and it would be difficult for the gate to know when to open and close. So we use the key input to open the gate. The close mic on the snare drum feeds this key input by way of a bus, instructing the gate when to open and when to close. But the signal running through the gate, the signal that is in fact being gated is not the snare drum, it's the reverb signal. So compressed reverb passes through the gate, but the gate is open and closed based on the snare drum signal itself.

If you haven't already, plan to watch Foundations of Audio, Compression and Dynamic Processing, for more context on compressors, gates, and their side chains. This gated reverb sound creates a completely new snare sound. I think of this sort of reverb move as a sound synthesis gesture, not really reverberation. I think we can layer in some gated reverb in this tune. It's got the alt rock thing going, but there's a little bit of 80s influence here. The eighties gave us over the top gated snare. We'll build up to that, and then reign it in for a more contemporary sound.

The drums are an ideal candidate here, because it is largely a strong back beat, plus the occasional very deliberate fill. We can augment this sort of performance with gated reverb pretty easily. Brushes, ghost notes, flams, drags and other more complex parts are too dynamic for us to chase with this sort of effect. Here's the groove. When the sun goes out in June. I'll be standing next to you. So let it shine.

Just let it shine for you. Now we add plate reverb to the snare. The plate reverb is in turn compressed. That compressed reverberation, of course, would have trouble fitting into any mix. This motivates the next essential step, the noise gate. We run the output of the reverb through a gate to cut off that reverb, so it doesn't last so long, taking the mess out of our mix. But the gate will never open at the right time unless we key it open by feeding the close microphone signal on the snare into the side chain of the gate.

The resulting sound is now a completely modified sort of snare sound. I think of this sort of reverb move as a sound synthesis move, not really reverberation. There are a lot of directions to go when you're synthesizing a completely new sound. And this is just using compression and reverb. I wouldn't hesitate to instantiate an amplifier simulator to add some distortion. And I should point out that any reverb will do. We used Plate Program here, but there's no reason not to try Spring, Chamber, or any other reverb you have access to.

You can push this sound to pretty radical extremes. Snare drum invites this sort of behavior. Snare drum is a broadband, mid-rangy, messy sort of signal that responds well to this kind of aggressive signal processing. But the same approach can be used on any percussive sound. Tom fills, kick drum, hand percussion are common tracks for this effect. But it's got to fit the style of the music. For acoustic jazz trying to evoke realism, gated reverb would be a sin, but for highly processed dance music, this is required entry into the club.

The effect doesn't have to always be this obvious. It can also be mixed in at a more subliminal level, with a more natural character. Have you ever encountered a snare drum track whose tone is difficult to hear? It just won't cut through no matter how hard you push it with level, EQ, and compression. Gated reverb might just rescue that snare. Tucked into the mix with a more natural sound, the snare is made easier to hear because the gated reverb adds spectral character, some stereo width, and a longer decay time.

It makes the snare a little bit more interesting to listen to.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Foundations of Audio: Reverb .

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Q: This course was updated on 4/16/2013. What changed
A: We added a bonus chapter, "Advanced Reverb Techniques," with new movies on setting up your own reverb chamber, using convolution to simulate a space, and getting great impulse responses.
Q: This course was updated on 01/24/2014. What changed?
 A: The Get in the Mix videos have been updated to the most recent version of Pro Tools. Also, the course now includes free Get in the Mix sessions for two more DAWs: Logic Pro X and Pro Tools 11.
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