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Foundations of Audio: Reverb
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Using nonlinear reverb to help a track cut through


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Foundations of Audio: Reverb

with Alex U. Case

Video: Using nonlinear reverb to help a track cut through

Another humble tactic for the use of reverb is to simply help tracks be more audible. To do this, we often reach for a curious type of reverb program called Nonlinear reverb. Nonlinear reverb doesn't decay the silence. In fact, the Nonlinear reverb starts at silence, and it sort of undecays. It gets louder instead of quieter while it decays, and then it abruptly ends. On a snare, it sounds like this, first the dry track, then with Nonlinear reverb.
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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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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

Using nonlinear reverb to help a track cut through

Another humble tactic for the use of reverb is to simply help tracks be more audible. To do this, we often reach for a curious type of reverb program called Nonlinear reverb. Nonlinear reverb doesn't decay the silence. In fact, the Nonlinear reverb starts at silence, and it sort of undecays. It gets louder instead of quieter while it decays, and then it abruptly ends. On a snare, it sounds like this, first the dry track, then with Nonlinear reverb.

(music playing) No space can make that sound, but our studio Reverbs can, and while it sounds quite unusual on its own, it's actually quite a useful treatment for sounds which are short in duration. I'm thinking here of sounds like drumheads and hand percussion tracks such as shaker, tambourine, clave, bongos, and congas. Sounds that are short in duration can be frustrating to mix.

Trying to place these short transient sounds in the mix, we're always tempted to push the faders up, higher and higher just so we can hear the fine detail of that percussion part. But a Nonlinear reverb, which gives this extra burst of energy after each hit can make those hits easier to hear, which could mean that we get to pull the faders down and still enjoy the percussion part. Whenever I can get away with pulling a fader down, doing so without undermining that track, I go for it. Pulling faders down unclutters the mix, making everything else in the mix easier to hear and enjoy.

Check out this percussion groove. (music playing) Kick, snare, hi-hat, some tom fills and shakers, there's a lot going on. And I am particularly eager for this track with snare and shaker to cut through better. (music playing) Cut through isn't exactly the right phrase. I want this groove to have its own identity among the many elements that make up the loop.

I want to feel the rhythm and expressive dynamics in the performance, but I still want it to sit in the ensemble, contributing to the overall feel across all the tracks. Listen as I add a touch of Nonlinear reverb to the featured loop. (music playing) The result is a strategic blurring in time where each hit of the snare and gesture in the shaker track lasts a little bit longer, making it a little bit easier to hear.

A room or a hall type of reverb would wash out the track very much as if the snare and shaker were performed in a larger space. Nonlinear reverb has this contrived shape that gives it a good dose of reverberant energy, but by shaping the envelope of the energy into this crescendo, it separates the dry part of the signal so that things don't wash out. It's odd at first, but the Nonlinear reverb is a powerful effect. And if you feel like you can't get away with it, if it sounds too synthetic and too artificial, well, I sometimes agree.

One way to back off on this sort of startling sound is to add a bit of more traditional reverb to this Nonlinear reverb. Soften the end of the Nonlinear reverb with a bit of short plate reverb, for example. Here's the snare again, first dry, then with Nonlinear reverb only, and then with added plate reverb. (music playing) That takes the edge off of the overly abrupt ending without sacrificing the effect added to the track by a Nonlinear reverb.

There will be times when it's just not the right choice, it's too unnatural. So, we pursue a slightly different approach 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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