Now that you've decided what Reverb to use, which instruments get soaked?
- [Voiceover] Another question that I get a lot about reverb is should the whole mix go through the same reverb, or should there be separate ambient sounds for each group of instruments? And obviously everything depends on the program material and what you're feeling emotionally and creatively from the track, but I want to go through a few of the philosophies and set some examples here of how I kind of make those decisions. Practically speaking, I do have the option of setting the same reverb for every instrument group via my discrete send-and-return scheme, but like I did with the drums, let's do this with vocals, and I'll show you my first go-to reverb choices when I'm just experimenting and bouncing around.
So let's play the music with no reverb returns switched on and check it out one at a time. ("Freedom" by Allen Stone) Now here's an EMT 140 plate. That's this guy right here. So to be fair, I'll start over. Now this, we're going to hear this AMS reverb now. ("Freedom" by Allen Stone) So that obviously gives you a tougher, more in-the-room kind of feeling.
Here's this lovely Capitol Chamber Four from the Altiverb. ("Freedom" by Allen Stone) Long and swimming. Nice. And then here's a Lexicon Vintage Plate, this guy right here. ("Freedom" by Allen Stone) Let's compare that to my other favorite of this group for this song, this guy.
("Freedom" by Allen Stone) So I kind of like that. I don't know if you did as well, but I kind of like that. I might make it a little bit longer. ("Freedom" by Allen Stone) Another comparison. So you can hear all the subtle differences and some not so subtle that go into choosing the right kind of attitude with the vocal ambience that I'm going to choose for this track.
So let's stick with this Lexicon for now, although it's really a toss-up, I think, between that and this AMS reverb. So once I've made that kind of important decision, I want to figure out what I'm going to do with the rest of the instruments, so if I close these out, and let's think about the other part of this song. Let's go to the chorus and see what else pokes out at us. ("Freedom" by Allen Stone) Okay, so what pokes out to me there is how the horns sound and how the guitars sound, and what the vocal has to do with those instruments is very important to me.
Now here's the example of what's on the guitar. ("Freedom" by Allen Stone) Here's another guitar from that section. Now the interesting thing here is they're all ambience-driven, and they all have their ambience printed, so in a way, I'm married to those ambiences, and I take advantage of that by letting it set the tone for the whole track on top of that. The horns, which were, I think, the next thing that really caught my attention in the ambience spectrum sound like this soloed.
("Freedom" by Allen Stone) And if I scroll down... Well, first of all, let's go back here. If I look at this, this track was printed. They printed a spring reverb, which I decided to use at a very low level. Now for the horns, I picked our friend, the Lexicon Vintage Plate.
So in a way, by choosing the vintage plate when I was choosing vocal reverbs, I could have matched nicely the sound of the vocals and the horns, which would have been a good thing, and it looks like that's what I did do, (laughs) so in the end, I did choose to do that. And let's listen to them all together again. ("Freedom" by Allen Stone) So that does give the track a nice feeling of everybody's in the same room playing together, and that's a very valuable approach to take in many mixes and one that I like to take a lot myself, but it's not always that way.
I also want to talk about the amount of reverb you use and how do I figure that out? Well, one rule of thumb, and it's a rule like all rules, made to be broken, is the level send to the devices themselves, and you can see here this is the send to the Altiverb. That particular impulse response is very hot, so it requires a lot less send to have the same return levels. The point I wanted to make is my general rule of thumb is minus 10 is the send I would send out to a reverb or echo device.
If I go beyond minus 10 up into this range, it will sound swampy. I guarantee it. And that's with the fader returning at zero on the return side. Sending at minus 10 will give you a very good starting place to judge. See, all my reverb returns are at zero, and that formula of a minus 10 send, I'll go back and show you again, and a zero dB return yields you a very good rule of thumb starting place for ambience like reverb and echo.
So what we've done here is we've shown you how to audition reverbs, how to pick one with the most attitude and the most congenial sound for a track. I'd like to show you a little bit more about playing with the length of the reverb that I did, but that's always a crucial aspect, too. Once you get the sound you like, play with the reverb time, the amount of decay of the reverb tail to get the right attitude and the right amount of pre-delay to judge how much color you're going to add to the dry signal that you're sending to it.
If you move the reverb pre-delay back in time, you'll get more of the direct sound and less of the coloration. How about we let the music take us out from here from the bridge? ("Freedom" by Allen Stone)
- Choosing the right reverb
- Adding digital delay
- Tuning your mix
- Phase shifting and flanging
- Increasing drum power and presence
- Driving home the groove with acoustic guitars
- Adding sheer volume to your mix
- Affecting the effects
- Making the chorus "pop"
- Knowing when your mix is done