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Hearing beyond the basic parameters

From: Foundations of Audio: Reverb

Video: Hearing beyond the basic parameters

While both Stratocasters and Les Pauls are electric guitars with 6 strings, 22 frets, pickups, and so on, an experienced guitarist, given a choice, still has an opinion about which one to play in a recording session. There are indescribable differences in tone and playability not captured by the simple factual descriptions of their features. The same is true for reverb processors, and we audio engineers need to develop an ear for the nuances that distinguish them.

Hearing beyond the basic parameters

While both Stratocasters and Les Pauls are electric guitars with 6 strings, 22 frets, pickups, and so on, an experienced guitarist, given a choice, still has an opinion about which one to play in a recording session. There are indescribable differences in tone and playability not captured by the simple factual descriptions of their features. The same is true for reverb processors, and we audio engineers need to develop an ear for the nuances that distinguish them.

The last few videos have surveyed the most essential parameters that we will specify as we tailor our reverbs to our production, but it's worth recalling the technologies used to create reverb. Remember, we walk through a list of acoustic reverse like room tracks and chambers, mechanical reverbs like springs and plates, and digital reverbs whose algorithms can create any sort of reverb from real to fictitious. These technologies remind us that parameters like Reverb Time, base multiply, pre-delay, et cetera, never completely define the sound of her reverb.

A plate with a two second Reverb Time never sounds the same as a hall with a two second Reverb Time. And it's our job is recording engineers to specify the full and most appropriate sound qualities in the reverb to suit our tracks, to satisfy our artists, and to satisfy ourselves. So let's make a comparison of a plate reverb to a large hall reverb where the parameters are the same, but the technology creating the reverb is different. I want to make the point that the type of program whether it's a chamber, a plate, or a hall defines many subtle attributes of the reverb which transcend any of the adjustable parameters we discussed like reverb Time, Pre-delay, Frequency, Multipliers, and so on.

Let's have a listen to a snare drum to hear the impact of choosing the type of reverb program. This snare drum gets treated to two different reverb types, a plate, and a medium room. Both set to a Reverb Time of one second. You'll hear the plate first, then the Room. (music playing) The Reverb Time should feel like they have the same decay time, but they have very little else in common.

To my ear the plate reverb adds a mid-frequency texture that emphasizes the buzz and rattle of the snare. The medium room on the other hand evokes for me an image of the snare drum in an actual room. It's more natural sounding and doesn't color the snare as much as the plate. Meantime, it's worth noting that the plate doesn't actually create much illusion of a real space. Its resonant qualities are more about tone than space. We'll explore this important concept in an upcoming movie. So we're beginning to see that a reverb time of one second has no universal meaning.

Our choice of reverb type is quite important. Let's try a similar experiment with this vocal. (music playing) Here we'll reach for a two second Reverb Time, one is a large warm hall, the other is a chamber. I will play them back to back for immediate comparison, the hall comes first, then the chamber.

(music playing) The hall program creates a convincing illusion of our singer in a large hall.

At 2 seconds it really sounds like a concert hall. Don't forget this is a simple close mic studio recording, but at a good sounding reverb like this, and you can transport the singer to another place. The chamber reverb on the other hand has a more unusual sound. I hear it is more of a pleasing decoration than a realistic simulation of space. Recall that a chamber is a much smaller space than a concert hall. As a result, it has strong resonances that probably wouldn't work for an orchestra, and there's no guarantee it will be flattering to your vocal track.

With chambers we tend audition them, and if their spectral pockets of resonance pair well with the track, we go for it. If it turns out that the frequencies emphasized by the chamber don't fall in the best places for the track, we try another chamber. So again we see that the sound of a reverb includes many other hard to describe sonic features not captured by the all-important reverb parameters. In the next chapter of this course we've created more than a dozen movies on reverb techniques so that you can navigate the decision-making and creative process of adding reverb to your multi-track projects.

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This video is part of

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Foundations of Audio: Reverb

39 video lessons · 8328 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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