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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 the sound source. As an effect, Reverb gives character to a direct dry sound, by placing it in some sort of acoustical environment, like a church, a gymnasium or a tiled bathroom. Let's hear a few examples using the D-Verb plug-in on a Percussion track. I'm going to open up this D- Verb plug-in and while we are listening back, I'm going to adjust the Mix. When the Mix is set at 100% that means 100% of the track coming into this plug- in is being affected by the Reverb.
If we reduce that down to zero, 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 presets on this plug-in. (Music playing.) When a sound is made, we hear the direct sound waves, early reflections and reverberation, in that order. The direct sound reaches our ears without bouncing off of any surface. Early reflections reach our ears between 10 milliseconds and 30 milliseconds later than the direct sound, after they have bounced off of one or more surfaces. Because these reflections arrive so quickly, they are 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 are absorbed into the material of the acoustical space. The longer a sound takes to decay, the larger and more hard surface the acoustic environment is perceived to be and the farther from the sound source the listener is or seems to be. On Reverb effects units, we can control the parameters that determine what a Reverb will sound like, throughout its progression from the first to the last reflection.
Here is a list of common Reverb effect parameters. As I mentioned previously, the Wet/dry Mix is the mix of the direct dry signal with the effected wet signal. Pre-delay is the time delay before Reverb is actually heard. Decay time is the time that it takes for a sound to disappear and is basically a measure of the total effect time. Diffusion is the space between the reflections or repeats. Density is the initial buildup of short delay times or reflections. Room size refers to the size of the actual acoustical space.
Width is the amount of spread across the stereo field. You can make a Reverb sound very narrow or extremely wide. And you should also note that Reverb plug-ins may have additional parameters or alternate parameter names than are shown here. Like Delay effects, Reverb is used in mixing to create a sense of Depth. When applying to tracks, the Wet/dry parameters sets the overall amount of Depth, how far away a sound is from the listener. In addition to the decay time, the longer Pre-delay time, the time before Reverb is actually heard, the larger the perceived size of the acoustical space. Reverb effects can be used on pretty much any kind of sound source in your mix.
However, I would steer you away from using it on base instruments, because if you use Reverb on a low frequency, it can tend to really make the mix muddy. Also Reverb often sounds more impressive if it's used in Stereo as opposed to Mono. If you do find that your Reverb plug-in is making your mix a little bit 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.
Trends in the music industry tend to influence the amount of Reverb that gets used on popular music. If you are trying to make your mixes sound like what's on the radio or in your favorite song, do some serious listening to the amount and types of Reverb that Mix engineers used in the recording. Now let's listen to some presets in a few of the stock Reverb plug-ins in Pro Tools. I'm going to close D-Verb here and Bypass it and then open up the AIR Reverb plug-in. We are going to listen to a few presets on the Drum tracks again. I'm going start with the Drum Room preset. (Music playing.) There are a lot of parameters in this Reverb plug-in and you can see, as I have changed between those presets, a lot of the parameters change pretty significantly to create those different sounds.
Let's move on to the Non-Linear Reverb. I'm going to Bypass this and open up the Non-Linear Reverb. This plug-in can be used to emulate classic 80s era Gated-Reverb effects. Let's check out some of the presets. (Music playing.) Let's move on to the Spring Reverb. Of these three AIR Reverb plug-ins, I think the Spring Reverb is my favorite. It simulates classic Analog Spring Reverbs that you might in vintage guitars amps and studio gear. Let's take a listen.
(Music playing.) If you want to hear what a Reverb really sounds like you can actually play a little bit and then stop the track to hear the decay and that will give you a sense of what the Reverb is really doing to your overall sound.
Reverb is an essential mixing effect in all styles of music and postproduction. Learn how to use the Reverb parameters and you will be able to create the atmosphere and sonic character that you want for your mix.
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