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Setting up your own reverb chamber: The audio

From: Foundations of Audio: Reverb

Video: Setting up your own reverb chamber: The audio

Let's speak now of the audio equipment within the chamber. We've got loudspeakers and microphones. Loudspeakers are the sound source in the chamber, and microphones are the sound receivers. You might think that we need super tweaky high-end loudspeakers and microphones. While that would be great, history teaches us we can get away with using more average quality gear. For the speakers, dynamic range is more important than frequency response. That is to say, it's less important that the loudspeaker be accurate and flat from low to mid to high frequencies, and it's more important that the loudspeaker be capable of high sound pressure levels.

Setting up your own reverb chamber: The audio

Let's speak now of the audio equipment within the chamber. We've got loudspeakers and microphones. Loudspeakers are the sound source in the chamber, and microphones are the sound receivers. You might think that we need super tweaky high-end loudspeakers and microphones. While that would be great, history teaches us we can get away with using more average quality gear. For the speakers, dynamic range is more important than frequency response. That is to say, it's less important that the loudspeaker be accurate and flat from low to mid to high frequencies, and it's more important that the loudspeaker be capable of high sound pressure levels.

We choose loudness over accuracy. We need to energize the room fully, so sound reinforcement loud speakers are probably more useful than consumer hi-fi speakers. In fact, if you happen to have extra stage monitors or small loudspeakers on sticks used for small sound reinforcement situations, those could be ideal for setting up a chamber. A nice thing about live sound loudspeakers is that they are often horn-loaded drivers making them quite directional on how they radiate sound.

Having a directional radiation pattern makes it productive for you to re-aim the loudspeaker within the chamber and find a different sort of reverberant sound. So, any loudspeaker radiation pattern will work, but a directional horn-loaded loudspeaker makes it possible for you to tune the chamber by reorienting the speaker. There is an analogous situation with microphones. You can certainly use very high-fidelity, very flat omnidirectional microphones.

But directional microphones are useful because they also reward the engineer who is willing to experiment with placement. While any the microphone is fair game for a reverb chamber, the most popular ones these days are cardioid condensers, and more specifically ,small diaphragm cardioid condensers, like the Neumann KM 184s, AKG 451s, Shure KSM 137s, and Audio Technica 4041s. In terms of the placement of microphone and loud speakers you'll have to do some experimentation, but here are some rules.

First, you want to avoid a direct on-axis line-of-sight connection between the loudspeakers and the microphone. You don't want the loudspeaker to have a way to fire directly into the microphones; you want some sort of obstruction. Put a sound-reflective barrier in between or place them around the corner from each other if it's an L-shaped room. Otherwise, you can point the loudspeakers and microphones into different corners so that they face away from each other. The reason for this is that there's the risk of a direct acoustic connection between the loudspeaker and the microphones, which will give you not reverb, but essentially a direct sound with delay, which will cause comb filtering, plus the coloration to the sound introduced by your loudspeaker and your microphones.

When you're placing your speakers, orient them so that they energize the room. That is, think of the loudspeakers as a way to acoustically drive the space and position them so that you get the most scattering of sound as quickly as possible. Aiming the loudspeakers straight at a flat wall will energize that wall and the wall opposite, but aiming the loudspeaker in a corner will cause the sound to bounce around with more complexity, energizing more of the surfaces in the room sooner. Similarly, place the microphones in an orientation that you think captures the full complexity of the reflections and reverberation in the room without getting too much of the sound from the speaker directly.

It's going to take some experimentation. Of course, anything goes. All that matters is what sounds best. But as you explore the possibilities and capabilities of your chamber, stay oriented to the essential goal of having reverb returns from the chamber that are themselves 100% wet. That means they'll have as little direct sound from the loudspeaker to the microphone as possible.

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This video is part of

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Foundations of Audio: Reverb

39 video lessons · 8412 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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