Compression and reverb

It might be helpful to look at this as a choice between “reverbing the compression” (sound->compressor->reverb) or “compressing the reverb” (sound->reverb->compressor). Reverb is usually an additive process – it adds a component (the reverberation) to the existing sound. If you add the reverb last (after compression), you’ll be able to produce a conventional, natural sound. That’s because the signal being sent to the reverb has the same (or similar) dynamic response to the final sound we’ll hear in the mix. Also, the added reverb itself isn’t being significantly processed, which means it will sound close to what the reverb designer intended. 

By doing it the other way – “compressing the reverb”, you are directly altering the dynamic rseponse of the reverb itself. This is not a common process, but may be useful for achieving special effects or unnatural ambiences. For example, smooth deep compression on a long reverb tail may lengthen the reverb tail or make it sound “deeper”. More aggressive comrpession can create a very unnatural pumping effect that emphasises the reverb without washing out the original sound. 

-Kim.

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