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Reverb, short for reverberation, is a sonic effect that occurs when many random reflections of a sound blend together and reach the listener more than 10 milliseconds after the direct sound from a sound source. As an effect, Reverb gives character to direct dry sound by placing it in some sort of acoustical environment, like a church or a gymnasium or a tiled bathroom. Let's hear a few examples using the D-Verb plug-in on a percussion track. In the D-Verb plug-in, I'm going to just to mix control while we're listening back.
When the mix is set up 100%, that means that 100% of the track that's coming into the plug-in is being affected by the reverb. If we reduce this down to 0, that means that there is no reverb effect at all, and the track will be completely dry. So listen as I adjust the wet/dry mix and change between some of the presets on this plug-in. When I change the algorithm imagine being in the acoustical environments that the plug-in is simulating. (Music Playing) When a sound is made, we hear the direct sound waves' early reflections, and reverberation in that order.
Let me show you an example. The direct sound reaches our ears without bouncing off any surface. Early reflections reach our ears between 10 and 30 milliseconds later than the direct sound, after they've bounced off one or more surfaces. Because these reflections arrive so quickly they're perceived as part of the direct sound. Reverberation actually occurs when a sound reflects off of many surfaces and is mixed with other reflections, creating a denser blend of reflected sound.
These reflections begin to fade away, or decay, as they're observed into the material of the acoustical space. The longer a sound takes to decay the larger and more hard surfaced to the acoustical environment is perceived to be, and the farther from the sound source the listener is or seems to be. In Reverb plug-ins in Pro Tools we can control the parameters that determine what a reverb will sound like, through its progression from the first to the last reflection. Here's a list of common reverb effect parameters.
The wet/dry mix is the mix of the direct or the dry signal with the affected or wet signal. Pre Delay is the time delay before reverb is heard, that is, after the original sound was made and before the reflections are heard. Decay time is the time it takes for a sound to disappear, that is, the total effect time, including the length of the reverb tail. Diffusion is the space between reflections or repeats. Density is the initial buildup of short delay times, or reflections.
The room size is the size of the acoustical space, and the width is the amount of spread across the stereo field. You can make a reverb sound very narrow or extremely wide. Like delay, reverb is used in mixing to create a sense of depth. When applying reverb to tracks the wet/ dry mix parameter sets the overall amount of depth, or how far away a sound is from the listener. In addition to the decay time, the longer the pre-delay time, or the time before reverb, heard the larger the perceived size of the acoustical space.
Let's listen to an example. If I choose the Church setting here, this has a lot more pre-delay. As you can see here, it's got 39 milliseconds. So if I choose Hall, it actually has a pre-delay of 0. These rooms also have a pre-delay of 0. So let's take a listen between the Hall and the Church and see how we can hear the difference in the pre-delay. (Music Playing) With the Church setting we don't hear the reverb kick in until 39 milliseconds after the original sound was made, and this is a big determinant for simulating large acoustical spaces with reverb.
Now reverb effects can be used on pretty much any kind of sound source in your mix. However, here are a couple of tips for applying reverb. First, I don't recommend using reverb on bass instruments, because if you use reverb on a low frequency, it can tend to really make the mix muddy. If you do find that your reverb plug- in is making your mix a little muddy, you can use the high-filter cut or the low-pass filter on almost any kind of reverb plug-in to help sculpt the sound and tighten up your frequency range for the reverb output.
Second, reverb often sounds more impressive if it's used in stereo as opposed to mono. While mono reverbs have their place, stereo reverb effects create a much wider stereo image. Pro Tools comes with several reverb plug-ins, including D-Verb, AIR Reverb, Non Linear Reverb, and Spring Reverb. Let me show you these. Let's open up the AIR Reverb, and I'm going to bypass the D-Verb and activate the AIR Reverb. I've got this set up for the Gas Tank setting. (Music Playing) So that's what drums might sound like if we're listening to them in a gas tank.
Pretty cool reverb effect. Let's move on to the non-linear reverb, and here we're going to listen to a gated reverb sound. (Music Playing) What that's doing is cutting off the reverb tail. Now let's go over to the Spring reverb and I am going to be using this Big and Busy preset. (Music Playing) That's a pretty appropriate name for that preset, as there's a lot of reflections going on there and a big, long reverb tail.
So as you can tell, there are a lot of cool presets in these reverb plug-ins in Pro Tools. I recommend going in and tweaking all the parameters now that you know what they all do, because reverb effects are essential tools for mixing in all styles of music and post-production. Learn how to use the parameters and you'll be able to create the depth, atmosphere, and sonic character that you want for your mix.
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