[The following is a guest post by my buddy and fellow audio educator Bjorgvin over at Audio-Issues.com]
I know Graham’s not a big fan of reverb (even though his mixes don’t suffer from it!) but I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks to use it.
I wanted to piggy-back on his video from Thursday and talk a little bit about the various easy ways you can use reverb in your next mixes.
1. The General Reverb
If you’re a How I Met Your Mother fan this is when you fan your hand in a military salute and say “General Reverb!” but I digress…
Possibly the easiest way to add depth and space to your mixes is to simply use one reverb for everything.
The trick is to find a reverb preset that works well for all of the instruments in the song and doesn’t detract from the mix you’re trying to create.
So if you’re mixing a simple rock group with two guitar, bass, drums and vocals you can use the general reverb to make them sound like they’re playing together in a room.
You just send different amounts of each instrument to the reverb depending on where you want to place them in the front-to-back field.
- Kick and bass left dry
- Rest of the drums pushed the furthest back
- Guitars pushed behind the vocal
- Send just enough of the vocal to add some depth without it falling behind the guitars
You simply treat the send levels as the amount you want to push the elements of your mix back.
Need it further away? Send some more to the reverb and lower the fader of the actual track. The dry/wet ratio will make it seem like the instrument is further back because there’s MORE reverb and less dry signal.
Then it’s just a matter of balancing from there.
2. Panned Reverbs
Panning reverbs is a great way to add depth while also enhancing the stereo width of an instrument.
Mono keyboard sounds and lead guitar licks are my favorite things to use this on.
- Pan your mono instrument track to one side of the stereo spectrum.
- Send it to a mono reverb and pan the reverb track to the other side.
- Add an EQ after the reverb to make the reverb’d instrument sound slightly different than the original track.
Voilá! Instant depth to your front-to-back field while also enhancing your stereo width.
3. Filtered Reverbs
EQ’ing your reverb in general should be something you always do.
It’s the best way to reduce clutter while still adding space.
My favorite way of doing it is using both high and low-pass filters and really only leaving the reverb in the middle of the frequency spectrum.
By getting rid of the lows you clear out any muddiness your reverb will create, and by filtering the highs you reduce obvious reverb tails, additional vocal sibilance and pesky percussion slaps.
It’s a simple tips but that’s the thing about simple. It’s usually pretty effective as well.
4. The ThreeVerb Solution
Here’s a fun reverb trick to try if you want to give yourself limitations without limiting yourself too much on space and depth.
The way it works is you simply set up three aux tracks:
One short – With a short reverb or even a slap back delay or echo of some sorts. This is the shortest space you’ll have to work with, excluding anything you leave dry of course.
One medium reverb – Now find a 1.2 second reverb, or around that depending on the song of course, to use as a medium reverb. Again, be careful to pick a reverb that works well with most of the instruments in the track.
One long reverb – For this reverb you find something that’s 2 seconds or longer to use as your long and big space. This can be a diffuse chamber reverb if you want to keep the reverb from being too lively in the background but it can also be a bright hall if you want to bring attention to the elements you fill with reverb.
Now all you do is send the instruments you like to each reverb send depending on what you’re looking for.
A combination of a few things would go to the medium reverb that would act as a general reverb, similar to how tip #1 works. Then use the short reverbs to add just a little bit of depth and space on tracks you don’t want to sound too “reverb-y”.
Finally, add the longest reverb to the things you want to really push to the back. If you had any pads or strings in a song that you wanted to wash out into the background the long reverb would be your friend for those purposes.
Mix & Match
So use those four different tips the next time you’re struggling to add some space to your mix. Of course, none of these tips are mutually exclusive so feel free to mix and match and use them all in a mix if the feeling strikes you.
In fact, next week will be reverb and delay week inside the Mixing With 5 Plug-ins community and I’ve opened up the course exclusively for Recording Revolution readers so you can jump on board with us.
So far we’ve tackled mixing with no plug-ins, mixing with EQ and this week we’ll be diving into mixing with compression so if you want to become a member of our community where we really tackle Parkinson’s law and create a great mix with ONLY five plug-ins here’s you chance.