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Shaping tone and timbre with reverb

From: Foundations of Audio: Reverb

Video: Shaping tone and timbre with reverb

The acoustic guitar is a great instrument for demonstrating the timbral effect of reverb. Listen out to David as he plays his acoustic guitar tracked without effects. (music playing) This guitar tone is beautiful as is and could be further reshaped with compression and EQ and Delay, but we'll take it two different directions here using reverb.

Shaping tone and timbre with reverb

The acoustic guitar is a great instrument for demonstrating the timbral effect of reverb. Listen out to David as he plays his acoustic guitar tracked without effects. (music playing) This guitar tone is beautiful as is and could be further reshaped with compression and EQ and Delay, but we'll take it two different directions here using reverb.

One production approach will make it sound fuller, deeper, warmer. It's just an acoustic guitar whose lowest frequency note is around 80 hertz. But now, let's send it to a medium room whose low-frequency Reverb Time lasts longer than its high frequency reverb times. (music playing) Notice that with the reverb on, the acoustic guitar sounds fuller and warmer, and this is achieved not with EQ, but simply by using a reverb whose frequency parameters are set so that the low-frequency reverb times last longer than the mid and high frequency reverb times.

Orchestra sound full and lush by playing in those big halls with low-frequency reverb extension. Why can't we borrow the concept for any track in our production? Another approach to take with the same acoustic guitar track would be to reach for a plate reverb with its strong dense mid-frequency character, and let that reshape the timbre of the acoustic guitar into a more present sort of sound. While an equalizer boost in the upper mids would make the acoustic guitar more present, I fear that it will be too edgy, it will have too much bite.

But sending it to a short plate reverb instead of reaching for EQ makes the acoustic guitar sound more present in a more gentle way. The clumsy mid-frequency boost of an EQ is replaced by the mid-frequency resonance of the reverb. Let's hear it. Listen to the acoustic guitar as I turn the plate reverb on and off. (music playing) So, a warm room and a present plate coax the guitar tone in different directions.

I should note that if you want the effect to just be timbral without the added sense of space that often comes along with reverb effects, the goal would be to more directly integrate the reverb with the track, making it hard for the casual listener to hear the sound of the reverb processor separate from the acoustic guitar. We connect the sound of the track to the decay of the reverb by having little to no pre-delay and by dialing in a quite short Reverb Time. That's why I set the pre-delay to 0 and shorten the Reverb Time to something close to half a second for my plate reverb.

My goal here is to make sure that the presence in the reverb tail adds to the listener's sense of presence within the acoustic guitar tone. The medium room example, on the other hand, gave the sense of space and warmth. This way of thinking, where the timbre of the reverb influences the timbre of our tracks, is a very common mix move. In this full mix of the tune Shine by the band Midatlantic, I'm using a reverb with low frequency resonance to make the tom sound fuller, and a plate reverb with mid-frequency presence to make the snare drum edgier, giving it more buzz, and a spring reverb on the electric guitars to give them a different mid-frequency flavor.

(music playing) Whenever you're motivated to reach for an equalizer, you should first consider if a reverb might be the more interesting and effective solution.

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This video is part of

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Foundations of Audio: Reverb

39 video lessons · 8419 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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