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Audio Mixing Bootcamp
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Adding reverb to the vocals


From:

Audio Mixing Bootcamp

with Bobby Owsinski

Video: Adding reverb to the vocals

Since the lead vocal is usually the focal point of a song, reverb setting is critical because of how it can make the vocal sound. Pick the right one and it'll add the extra professional sounding sheen that all hit records have. Pick the wrong one and it'll sound washed out and lost in the track. In this video, I'll show you how to get the best reverb sound for your vocal. Many times the lead vocal has a lot more reverb on it than it seems, but it's disguised by the way it's tailored in that it uses a high-pass filter and a low-pass filter and maybe even some additional reverb so it fits better in the mix.
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  1. 1m 16s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
  2. 8m 20s
    1. Determining the listening position
      2m 27s
    2. Fixing acoustic problems
      2m 5s
    3. Setting up your monitors
      3m 48s
  3. 20m 17s
    1. Setting up your session
      5m 52s
    2. Setting up your subgroups
      7m 50s
    3. Setting up your effects
      6m 35s
  4. 8m 45s
    1. Developing the groove
      3m 46s
    2. Emphasizing the most important elements
      3m 44s
    3. Knowing what to avoid
      1m 15s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. Learning the principles of building a mix
      1m 1s
    2. Assigning the drums to a subgroup
      3m 55s
    3. Building the mix from the kick
      10m 8s
    4. Building the mix from the snare
      8m 46s
    5. Building the mix from the toms
      5m 25s
    6. Building the mix from the overhead mics
      3m 53s
    7. Checking the drum phase
      4m 44s
    8. Balancing direct and miked bass channels
      3m 36s
    9. Building the mix from the bass
      3m 26s
    10. Building the mix from the vocals
      4m 19s
    11. Balancing the rhythm section
      2m 44s
    12. Balancing the rest of the instruments with the rhythm section
      5m 22s
    13. Making a mix without building it
      4m 20s
    14. Balancing the harmony vocals
      2m 35s
  6. 23m 2s
    1. Looking at the three main panning areas
      9m 23s
    2. Panning the drums
      6m 9s
    3. Avoiding pseudo-stereo
      7m 30s
  7. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding compressor parameters
      3m 42s
    2. Setting up the compressor
      14m 44s
    3. Compressing the drums
      7m 53s
    4. Compressing the room mics
      4m 9s
    5. Compressing the bass
      5m 24s
    6. Using the New York compression trick
      4m 23s
    7. Compressing the clean electric guitars
      4m 40s
    8. Compressing the distorted electric guitars
      4m 48s
    9. Compressing the acoustic guitars
      8m 7s
    10. Compressing the piano
      6m 35s
    11. Compressing the electric keyboards
      4m 32s
    12. Compressing the vocals
      4m 34s
    13. Compressing the horns
      3m 55s
  8. 25m 36s
    1. Learning noise gate basics
      9m 23s
    2. Using the noise gate on guitars
      3m 57s
    3. Using the noise gate on drums
      7m 38s
    4. Learning de-esser basics
      2m 15s
    5. Using the de-esser on vocals
      2m 23s
  9. 36m 4s
    1. Understanding equalizer parameters
      10m 16s
    2. Learning subtractive equalization
      8m 57s
    3. Learning frequency juggling
      8m 28s
    4. Using the magic high-pass filter
      7m 39s
    5. Learning the principles of equalization
      44s
  10. 49m 46s
    1. Equalizing the kick
      6m 7s
    2. Equalizing the snare
      2m 57s
    3. Equalizing the rack toms
      5m 4s
    4. Equalizing the floor tom
      4m 32s
    5. Equalizing the hi-hat
      4m 56s
    6. Equalizing the cymbal or the overhead mics
      6m 49s
    7. Equalizing the room mics
      5m 13s
    8. Equalizing the bass
      3m 59s
    9. Editing the bass rhythm
      4m 21s
    10. Equalizing the rhythm section
      5m 48s
  11. 47m 58s
    1. Equalizing the electric guitar
      8m 15s
    2. Equalizing the acoustic guitar
      4m 55s
    3. Equalizing the hand percussion
      3m 28s
    4. Equalizing the lead vocals
      6m 5s
    5. Equalizing the background vocals
      4m 14s
    6. Equalizing the piano
      4m 46s
    7. Equalizing the organ
      6m 49s
    8. Equalizing the strings
      6m 4s
    9. Equalizing the horns
      3m 22s
  12. 30m 47s
    1. Learning the principles of reverb
      1m 59s
    2. Understanding reverb parameters
      6m 49s
    3. Timing the reverb to the track
      6m 6s
    4. Equalizing the reverb
      2m 51s
    5. Using the two-reverb quick setup
      5m 35s
    6. Using the three-reverb setup
      7m 27s
  13. 59m 8s
    1. Adding reverb to the drums
      7m 56s
    2. Adding reverb to the vocals
      11m 59s
    3. Adding reverb to the guitars
      5m 17s
    4. Adding reverb to the piano
      4m 19s
    5. Adding reverb to the organ
      3m 43s
    6. Adding reverb to the strings
      5m 36s
    7. Adding reverb to the horns
      2m 57s
    8. Adding reverb to the percussion
      4m 46s
    9. Using reverb to layer the mix
      12m 35s
  14. 46m 8s
    1. Learning delay principles
      1m 40s
    2. Understanding delay parameters
      6m 54s
    3. Timing the delay to the track
      1m 28s
    4. Using delay timing variations
      2m 51s
    5. Equalizing the delay
      4m 23s
    6. Understanding the Haas effect
      2m 51s
    7. Using the three-delay setup
      7m 23s
    8. Adding delay to the vocals
      8m 43s
    9. Using delay to layer the mix
      9m 55s
  15. 21m 35s
    1. Understanding the types of modulation
      2m 43s
    2. Understanding modulation parameters
      4m 13s
    3. Modulating the guitars
      4m 7s
    4. Modulating the keyboards
      3m 17s
    5. Modulating the vocals
      4m 17s
    6. Modulating the strings
      2m 58s
  16. 12m 22s
    1. Mixing with subgroups
      5m 5s
    2. Using mix buss compression
      4m 21s
    3. Understanding the evils of hypercompression
      2m 56s
  17. 39s
    1. Goodbye
      39s

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Audio Mixing Bootcamp
8h 53m Beginner Nov 11, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Bobby Owsinski reveals industry tips, tricks, and techniques for producing professionally mixed audio on any digital audio workstation. He offers recommendations for setting up an optimal listening environment, highlights the most efficient ways to set up and balance a mix, and shows how to build a powerful sound with compression. The course also explains how to master the intricacies of EQ; incorporate reverb, delay, and modulation effects; and generate the final mix.

Topics include:
  • Optimizing your listening environment
  • Setting up sessions, subgroups, and effects
  • Understanding which mixing elements to avoid
  • Understanding the principles of building a mix
  • Panning instruments
  • Setting up the compressor
  • Using noise gates and de-essers
  • Understanding the concept of frequency juggling
  • Using the magic high-pass filter
  • Timing reverb and delay to a track
  • Using reverb to layer the mix
  • Understanding the Haas effect
  • Modulating guitars, keyboards, and vocals
  • Mixing with subgroups
  • Tweaking the final mix
Subjects:
Audio + Music Mixing Music Production Audio Effects
Software:
Pro Tools
Author:
Bobby Owsinski

Adding reverb to the vocals

Since the lead vocal is usually the focal point of a song, reverb setting is critical because of how it can make the vocal sound. Pick the right one and it'll add the extra professional sounding sheen that all hit records have. Pick the wrong one and it'll sound washed out and lost in the track. In this video, I'll show you how to get the best reverb sound for your vocal. Many times the lead vocal has a lot more reverb on it than it seems, but it's disguised by the way it's tailored in that it uses a high-pass filter and a low-pass filter and maybe even some additional reverb so it fits better in the mix.

Other times it's really important that we hear the reverb and every effort is made to maintain or even equalizes its high-frequency response just so we can hear it and it sticks out. Bells that have a long period of space in between vocal lines will usually benefit from a longer reverb decay that's obvious in the mix. So let's have a listen to the lead vocal here and see what we can do in terms of some reverb. Let's listen to it just by itself. (Music playing) So now what we're going to do is we're going to assign this to our second reverb.

The first one is pretty much for the drums, so I'll go to the second one on Bus 13 and 14. Let's bring up the Reverb settings and have a look at it. This is set to a large plate, which has a Decay time of about 1.8 seconds. Let's listen. (Music playing) That sounds pretty good. Now 1.8 seconds is actually timed to the track. We timed it with our snare drum and if you don't know how to do that, go back and look at the movie on timing your reverb to the track.

So now the next thing we want to do is add some pre-delay. Now we know that this song is at a 104 beats per minute. And again, if we go back to the movie about timing our reverb to the track, we can figure out from the formula that it comes out to about 72 milliseconds for a 16th note Pre-Delay. So let's hit that tp 72 milliseconds. Let's have a listen now. (Music playing) Now with no Pre-Delay.

(Music playing) It sounds a lot better, doesn't it? The Pre-Delay adds some space in between the attack of the vocal and then the attack of the reverb. If the attacks are both on top of one another, they tend to blur together. In this way the Pre-Delay actually makes them both distinct, so it sounds a lot bigger and it keeps them out of each other's way. Let's listen in the track now. (Music playing) Now let me mute that and then I'll play with the reverb so we can hear both of them.

(Music playing) You can hear it adds an awful lot. Now what we might want to try to do is actually cut this in half. From 72 milliseconds, we'll cut it down to 36. Have a listen to what that sounds like. Let's solo it up. (Music playing) It sounds pretty good. It's less distinct and that might work better in the track. So let's listen.

(Music playing) It sounds really good. Now you can see that the Pre-Delay is really important and it's something that if we time it to the track, it especially works very well. We're going to go one more step and we're going to add an EQ in front of the reverb in the signal chain. So let's bring up our friendly 4-Band EQ. But now what we're going to do is we're going to dip right in the presence range of where the vocal is.

Now what this will do is it will keep those frequencies out of the way of the vocal and it will actually open up a lot of space. Let's solo up the track, have a listen. (Music playing) Now let's listen in the track. (Music playing) Now usually at somewhere between 2 and 5K, it's in the presence region of the vocal.

And if we attenuate those frequencies just a little bit, and again, there's no set amount to do this, this is pretty much by ear, but you'll find that the reverb will fit a lot better. We can go another step here though. Let's add our high-pass filter and we'll cut this off at about 200. Now again, 100 to 200, even 500, works really well. The famous Abbey Road reverbs use 600. So actually, let's go to 600 just so we can hear what it's like.

I can do this easily. I can just type it in, 600. Let's have a listen now. (Music playing) Now you can hear how thick it is when the EQ is bypassed and how it fits into the track and sounds so much more natural when EQ is in. (Music playing) Let's listen in the track.

(Music playing) Let's go back and listen with the EQ bypassed and then I'll put the EQ in as we're listening. (Music playing) This is why many hit records have a lot more reverb than you think. The reverb is actually tailored frequency-wise so it fits better in the track and this is a real secret.

Another thing that we might do is put another high-pass filter in. We can't do it on this particular EQ because we have limited resources, but if we could, we would also roll off the top end to about 10K and that would help as well. So all those things help to make it fit better in the track. If we look at background vocals, we'll have a slightly different approach. Let's have a quick listen. (Music playing) I'm going to go to a different place in the song for the background vocals.

I'm going to hit Command+5 and it brings up our Memory Locations. I'm going to hit this particular chorus here. Let's get rid of the Memory Locations again and have a listen to the background vocals against the lead vocal. (Music playing) Now background vocals sometimes are just put into a space and pushed back farther in the mix on the lead vocal.

But sometimes they're made bigger than life thanks to a really short reverb and that's somewhere less than about half a second or so. If the background vocals are singing harmony with the lead vocals, sometimes they need to have the same reverb as the lead vocal. But most of the time, you want to have them distinguished differently, so a different reverb actually works better. Let's solo these up and have a quick listen. (Music playing) Now what I'm going to do is add another reverb just for the background vocals.

So let's add one more. We're going to add an Aux Input and we're going to drag it over with our other reverbs. Here we go! Let's add another D-Verb. I'm using the D-Verb because I think it's the smoothest sounding reverb of the ones that are included in the Pro Tools software. So the first thing we're going to do is let's say we'll put this in a room. I'll put it in a Large room. And since we know that 1.8 seconds work good on the other reverb, let's make it 1.8 over here.

And 72 milliseconds might work really good, and again we're timing it to the track and we want the reverb to sound somewhat different. Let's see what happens. So again this is a brand-new aux track. We're going to call this Rev BG for background vocals and we're going to put this input on a different bus. We can see here the ones in yellow are already used. So 19 and 20 isn't used. That'll be our input to the new reverb.

We'll come up here and we'll add a send and 19 and 20 is what we need. Let's have a listen now. (Music playing) Now one thing we have to do is come over here and solo it. Also, we want to hear it. (Music playing) Now there is a trick that we can do over here. We can put it into something called Solo Safe. And the way we do that is Command and then hit the Solo button, and now what happens is no matter what other solo is engaged on any other channel, this solo will always be on on the reverb background channel that has a Solo Safe on it.

And that's usually what we do with effects channels. We put them in Solo Safe so we don't have to worry about always soloing one channel and having to go back to solo the reverb channel just to hear what it sounds like. It's a quick shortcut. (Music playing) Now that might work. Now take notice there is a lot more reverb but we're putting it in a different space than the other vocal and then also the other instruments. Let's listen what it sounds like in the track.

(Music playing) One more time, let me mute it and then I'll unmute it just so you can hear the difference. (Music playing) So you can hear the background vocals are in a different space and there is a fair amount of reverb on there, so they are pushed back more in the mix.

Now if I wanted to tailor the reverb like I did on the lead vocal, what I would do is add an EQ and then I would notch it in the presence frequencies, 2-5K, and then add high- and low-pass filter, and once again that would make it blend a little bit better in the track. But that's how you do it. So that's how we add reverb to a vocal. Many times a lead vocal has a lot more reverb on it than it seems, but it's disguised by the way its bandwidth is tailored by a high-pass filter and a low-pass filter and maybe an EQ. Other times it's important to hear the vocal and every effort is made to maintain or even equalize its high-frequency response.

Background vocals sometimes are just put in the space, pushed back in the mix from the lead vocal, or even made it bigger than life, thanks to a very, very short, like a 0.5-second, reverb. Remember you're usually trying to put the vocals in the space, not push them back in the mix, which is the opposite of what you're trying to do with the background vocals.

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