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Why do we use reverb?

From: Foundations of Audio: Reverb

Video: Why do we use reverb?

When we record we can choose to place our microphones, musicians, and their instruments in environments that have a unique sounding reverberation or in an environment with very little reverb at all. When you're working in a live room, which is how we describe rooms that have naturally occurring ambience and reverberation, you're going to want to capture the sound of the room using a separate microphone. Have a listen to the sound of a close-miked acoustic guitar in a live room with the sound of this room mike added to the mix. (music playing) The ambient room contributes to the sound by adding a bit of shimmer and glow, particularly to the more articulated notes in David's performance.

Why do we use reverb?

When we record we can choose to place our microphones, musicians, and their instruments in environments that have a unique sounding reverberation or in an environment with very little reverb at all. When you're working in a live room, which is how we describe rooms that have naturally occurring ambience and reverberation, you're going to want to capture the sound of the room using a separate microphone. Have a listen to the sound of a close-miked acoustic guitar in a live room with the sound of this room mike added to the mix. (music playing) The ambient room contributes to the sound by adding a bit of shimmer and glow, particularly to the more articulated notes in David's performance.

While recording the unique reverberant quality of our space can lead to amazing tracks, most of the time we record with little to no natural reverb, and add artificial reverb later as a separate effect. Here is the sound of the same guitar in a sound booth, acoustically designed to have very little reverb. (music playing) And now I'll add the reverb.

(music playing) There are a few reasons for recording our tracks with very little reverb. The first has to do with our desire for isolation among our tracks. Musicians need and like to record together in the same space to hear each other as they play, but there's some pressure on us as engineers to record tracks in isolation, so the sound from one instrument doesn't leak into another player's microphone.

We like to manipulate each track giving them their own distinct effects as we mix. Working in studios that are highly sound absorptive helps us reduce the so-called leakage. To further that goal we often push the microphones in closer to their targeted instrument. Another reason our tracks often have no reverb stems from this close microphone placement. Getting in close enables us to capture vivid timbres, and that larger than life quality that we've come to expect in sound recordings.

Lastly, we don't always know what type of reverb we'll want on the day we track it. We record it dry so that we can add the perfect reverb effect later when we have a better sense of the full arrangement and can make the reverb decisions in the context of the entire mix. All of these forces then conspire to make us record most of our tracks with little to no natural reverberation we add it in later. In pop music we typically gather sounds with a microphone up close and personal for maybe 6-8 inches away, to as close as--well as close as we can get without damaging the microphone or the instrument.

This isn't necessarily the case for classical and some jazz techniques in which we often place the microphones some distance away from the orchestra or band, simultaneously recording the sound of all the players, plus the sound of the room. Most of us will likely be doing multi-track production in the studio and not recording orchestras in concert halls, so recording with close mikes on individual tracks and adding reverb to them later will be our standard practice. reverb processing in the studio releases us from the constraints of real room acoustics and frees us to explore so many options, realistic, surrealistic, more beautiful, more bizarre, we explore all the options in this course.

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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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