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Foundations of Audio: Reverb

Timbre and texture


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Foundations of Audio: Reverb

with Alex U. Case

Video: Timbre and texture

As we know from our earlier discussion about the frequency-dependent parameters in most reverb processors, reverb doesn't treat all frequencies the same. reverb devices have a frequency response that's not typically flat, and the frequency response varies by design from plug-in to plug-in and preset to preset. Shown here is a reverb where the low frequencies get a bit of a boost, they last a little bit longer while the high frequencies roll-off. This is typical of reverbs that are influenced by actual spaces.
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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 UPDATED
      7m 37s
    11. Get in the Mix: Gating reverb to emphasize any track in your production UPDATED
      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 UPDATED
      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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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
Subjects:
Audio + Music DAWs Mixing Music Production Audio Plug-Ins Audio Foundations Mastering
Software:
Logic Pro Pro Tools
Author:
Alex U. Case

Timbre and texture

As we know from our earlier discussion about the frequency-dependent parameters in most reverb processors, reverb doesn't treat all frequencies the same. reverb devices have a frequency response that's not typically flat, and the frequency response varies by design from plug-in to plug-in and preset to preset. Shown here is a reverb where the low frequencies get a bit of a boost, they last a little bit longer while the high frequencies roll-off. This is typical of reverbs that are influenced by actual spaces.

The extra low-frequency resonance is known to be flattering for romantic orchestral music in large concert halls. The high-frequency reverberation decays more quickly, influenced by the real world property of air absorption in concert halls, and so many digital reverbs wanting to emulate the sound of the great halls do a good job of reproducing these spectral features and reverb. But a Spring reverb, a reverb built on the mechanical system using metal springs, not surprisingly has a very different frequency response.

Shown here is the frequency behavior of a Spring reverb as decays over time. It's no longer the lows that last the longest. Your mileage will of course vary. No two spring sound alike. And a Plate reverb offers opportunities for an unusual frequency response as well. While orchestral halls are carefully designed, we know our reverb chambers are often found spaces like stairwells, garages, basements, and bathrooms.

As a result, chambers almost always possess strong spectral coloration. When reverbs with a non-flat frequency response are dropped into our mix, the frequency content of the reverb merges with the frequency content of the recorded track. And our sense of the tone and timbre of a track is now based on the timbre of the track plus the timbre of the reverb. Our listener's sense of how warm or how bright the track is their enjoyment of any specific mid range details on any recorded instrument is based on many factors.

There's the timbre of the instrument itself, of course, and the tone is further modified by our choice of microphone and where we place it, plus any equalizers that are being used, and this is important: the spectral qualities of any reverb we add to the track. Think of reverb as a further modifier of timbre beyond instrument selection, microphone selection, and equalizer settings. And while it's logical for us as recording engineers to think of reaching for an equalizer to change the timbre of an instrument, it's often the case that reverb is the more powerful way to change timber.

An equalizer is a relatively clumsy way to boost and cut different frequency ranges. If you want a brighter acoustic guitar, of course you can use an equalizer to boost the highs. But while an equalizer takes high-frequency information within the track and boosts in level, a reverb with extra high-frequency emphasis will take whatever high frequency is in your track and let it last longer. An equalizer adjusts the level in a given frequency range to make it easier or harder to hear, while a reverb structures or shrinks it in time, sustaining a little longer to make it easier to hear, or letting it decay more quickly to deemphasize it.

When the high frequencies on the guitar track are made to last longer by way of a bright reverb, the instrument sounds brighter. Using reverb to reshape the timbre of your tracks in your production is one of the most important advanced uses of reverb. Let's hear how it works in the next movie.

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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