Mixing with reverb 3

Does it need short reverb or long reverb? Should the mix be lush or dry? Then start to ask the more difficult questions – Should be ambience be deep or shallow? Should it be natural or unnatural?

Short / Long: Obviously, you’ll need to adjust the reverb time. That’s not all though – other parameters can be used to change the apparent length of the reverb. Adjusting the reverb size with the length can help keep the reverb sounding natural. Some algorithmic reverbs also have frequency multipliers can change the reverb time specifically for low frequencies. How you adjust these will depend on the mix.

A longer reverb time for low frequencies can be useful in warming up a thin mix. It can also make an orchestral concert hall sound more realistic. A shorter reverb time for low frequencies would be more useful in a mix that already has a busy low end.

Lush / Dry: A lush reverb treatment will require you to use more (wet) reverb than a dry treatment. High frequency cutoff and high frequency reverb time also affect apparent lushness. The more high frequncies in the reverb, the more noticeable it is. Some algorithmic reverbs can have their attack shape adjusted too – the parameter might be called something like “shape”, “build”, or “attack”. Slowing the attack of the reverb can also affect its apparent lushness. A reverb with a fast attack is often more “invisible” because the bulk of the reverb energy is actually masked by the source sound – this can make the reverb seem drier than it actually is. Pre-delay can also serve a similar purpose in making the reverb more noticeable, albeit in a less refined manner.

Deep / Shallow: This is where things start to get difficult. Often it’s not too difficult to decide if you want to mix ambience to be deep (far away) or shallow (close). It’s more difficult to hear this depth, and most difficult to control it. Depth of ambience is the distance between the source sound and the reverberation. For deeper ambience, hall reverbs are best.  To go deeper, use a larger reverb size. Lower diffusion settings make individuals echos more audible, which can help. For extreme depth, use some pre-delay. Make sure the reverb is appropriately quieter than the source sound (don’t get too wet!). Conversely, rooms and plates are better for shallow ambience. Use a smaller reverb size and higher diffusion. High frequency response can also help – use darker reverb for deep ambience and brighter reverb for shallow ambience.

Natural / Unnatural: Natural reverb best compliments acoustic instruments. It doesn’t have to sound exactly like a specific room or acoutic space, but it should sound like an acoustic space that might reasonably exist. Convolution is an ideal choice for creating the illusion of a specific acoustic space. Algorithmic reverbs, however, are better for creating a reverberation that is tailored to the mix. Hall or room reverb algorithms are best, and should be configured within sensible boundaries. Try some presets for ideas, and don’t stray too far.


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