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5 Quick Reverb Mixing Tricks

Transcript
Hello! Hope you’re doing marvelously well.

So I want to show you five quick reverb tips. These are reverb tips I use each and every day. So as ever, please subscribe, go to producelikeapro.com. You can sign up for the email list, get a whole bunch of free goodies, and of course, when you subscribe, hit the notification bell, and then you will be told when we have new videos coming up.

Okay, so we’re going to go to this new song by David of The Workday Release, and I’m going to go up and have a look at this kick drum here. So here’s the live kick drum.

[kick]

Sounds pretty cool. Quite natural sounding. But the drums on a whole need a bit more ambience to them.

[drums]

Sounds good. But I want to put a bit of reverb on the kick. Now, I don’t want this to be huge and washy, but first of all, I’m going to create — we’ll go stereo. Stereo auxiliary. Doesn’t really matter. It can actually be in mono. And make it solo safe. Let’s input it to buss 1 and 2. Why not?

We’ll obviously call this, “Kick verb.” Like so. Set that at zero. Okay, so I’ll select a reverb. I’m going to go with something really generic, because that will work perfectly.

I’m going to go medium room, which gives me — eh, 750 milliseconds. Okay, so. This — we’ll put output out here. Okay, so this…

[kick]

Feels pretty good.

Okay. It sounds good, but all I want is the sound of, “aaahhhh,” of the air around it.

[kick with reverb]

Turn it off.

See what it’s doing? It’s taking the low end of the kick and it’s making it sound massive. But, it’s going to get too big. It’s going to fight with my bass guitar.

So what do I do? I just go to an EQ, something generic. And I do this. I wipe off, let’s say, let’s go up to like 250. Something like that.

[drums]

Take the EQ off. Put it back on. So it’s doing everything I’m wanting to do. It’s giving me a little bit of air on the kick, but it’s not affecting the low end.

Now, in this context, it might not seem like that big of a deal, but when you start layering on, like, bass guitars, and low end of other instruments, like a bit on the electric guitars, whatever, the thing with the kick is if it extends too long, it’s like, “booooh,” it’s got this long low extension, it will fight other instruments.

This is a very, very normal thing. Abbey Road, they would EQ the low and the high end out of all of their rooms and their plates and everything, and it’s a great idea because it cleans up the low end in particular.

[rooms]

Cool. So trick number 1. Take out the low end on your reverb on your kick drum.

Okay. So next up is going to be a trick you may have seen of mine. Alright, so we’re going to take these stereo guitars here.

[guitars]

Okay. So what we’re going to do is take these stereo guitars. We’ve got one panned left and one panned right, and I’m going to create a multi-mono reverb. So why am I doing that? Why am I using a multi-mono? Well I’m going multi-mono because imagine if you’re in a room, and you might be standing on the left hand side of a room, so far over to the left, and I sing, “la!”

The reverb will still carry on on the right. So a multi-mono reverb, as opposed to a stereo reverb, will keep it on the left. If I go to the right, sing over on the right hand side… So you understand what I’m saying. So we’ll call this, “Guitar Verb.” We’ll bring it in — we’ll just use the next buss available, which of course will be three and four. And this is what we’re going to do.

So I’m going to take the right hand panned guitar, which is this one here, and I’m going to send it to the left hand side. See what I’m doing? And because it’s a multi-mono, it will stay only on the left.

So I’m going to select a multi-mono reverb here. Let’s go to something, ah, we’ll go medium room. Gives us a one — well, large room. There you go. Gives us a one second reverb.

[guitars with reverb]

So what are we doing? We’ve got a guitar on the right hand side, we’ve got its reverb on the left. Okay.

Now, let’s select buss 4 for the other guitar, and that guitar is panned left, and yes, you guessed it, its reverb goes right.

[guitars, with reverb]

Cool. So what we’re doing is we’re creating some really good space, because if you put reverb underneath itself, it tends to get muddy and messy. So this kind of makes things, honestly feel wider. The left goes further left, the right goes further right.

Okay, alright, so let’s do the snare drum. Now, this one is a simple one. This is an Andy Wallace trick. I remember reading this is the 90’s, and that’s where I got it from. I was reading an interview with Andy Wallace, and I did actually work with them on one album. But — so what does he do? He does this.

See, and this is an interesting idea. So we’re creating another auxiliary, obviously. We’re going to make it five and six. We’ll output it here. What does he do? If he’s using a snare sample against the snare — and you don’t have to use the snare sample itself turned up. The thing with this trick is to use the snare sample to trigger the reverb.

Why would he do that? Well, it’s as simple as this — there’s no bleed! There’s no hi-hat bleed, there’s no kick in there, it gets a nice, clean reverb.

So again, we’ll go to our good old fashioned favorite reverb here. We’ll just go medium room — eh, large room. Why not. We’ll go to large room, and we’ll take this snare here, this snare sample here…

[snare sample]

Cool ringing snare. So let’s go and get our buss 5 and 6 that we’ve already selected, and here we’ve got…

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[snare with reverb]

That’s kind of nice. So snare verb is what we’ll call it. Now what’s interesting is I can make this pre-fade. What does that mean? That means no matter what I do on the actual snare channel itself, it will still send to the reverb. So I can now go…

So lo and behold, I’ve muted the snare, but it’s still sending, because it’s pre-fade, to the reverb. So now…

[drums]

So what we’ve got there is a great trick. We’ve got a snare sample triggering the reverb. Don’t be afraid to use more than one reverb. Simple as that. I’ll always use at least two reverbs, sometimes three or four on the vocal.

What? Let’s go create two stereo auxiliaries. Dum, de dum, dum dum. Put that stereo generic ones. 9 and 10. They can both have the same inputs, believe it or not, because I can automate the output. So okay. Now what we’re going to do is we’ll just pick — let us pick same generic cheap reverb. We’re going to have a long plate — so a large plate. We’ll go, I don’t know, 2.5 seconds. 2.6 seconds. Okay. Pull this down here. This one, we’ll do a Room 1 small. 500 milliseconds.

Okay. So let’s have a listen to the vocal.

[vocal with reverb]

Too much reverb. Let’s get rid of the long one. Yeah, that’s nice. So there it is there. Let’s see what the long one sounds like. Let’s go to the chorus.

So the two reverbs are going together. So all I’ll do is literally use different variations. So let’s turn down the long one, pretty low, and bring the long one back up in the chorus.

It’s kind of nice when they both work together on the chorus.

[mix]

And then maybe in the second verse, I’ll have a longer plate reverb up a little bit louder. Not as loud as a chorus, but louder than the first verse and let it grow. As the song gets more dense, I bring in more reverbs.

There’s one vocal reverb trick. Use multiple reverbs. Let’s try one more for shnits and shniggles.

So we’ve go these. Now we’ve got these two reverbs going, but let’s just say we want to do something really beautiful and spacious. Okay. So let’s create another auxiliary stereo. Believe it or not, I’m going to pull down the same reverb and use that again. I’m going to come in on the same input. How dare he!

So I’m still using the same buss, because I can use the return volume, the actual volume after the plugin to do all of my automation. I personally find it really confusing to try and do a lot of automation in sends. It’s also visually difficult, because you have to go into all of these submenus down here and go, “Well, let’s send down here, and go here, and draw it in there.”

You can do that. Most of the time, I find it much easier to do what I want to do on the reverb itself.

Okay, so I’m going to take this reverb down. I am going to use a large — oh, church! 8 seconds. Crazy. Okay. So I’ll go to the last chorus here. We’ll mute the other two reverbs for a second, and you’re going to hear how insane this is.

[vocals with church verb]

That’s crazy. Crazy talk you say.

Okay, but what about this? Let’s take a generic compressor. Let’s go and find… Dum, de dum, dum dum dum dum. Ah. I like this compressor. Simple and easy to use. Let’s go to the key input. Yes, the key input, and let’s choose 9, which is also sending to the reverb.

So I’m sending 9 and 10 to the reverb. I’m now using a compressor after the reverb using the same send. You’re like, “What is he doing?” Well, I’m sidechaining the reverb.

So now…

[reverb]

So it’s great. So I get this really long reverb, but I’m compressing it after the reverb with the vocal itself. So when he doesn’t sing, the reverb comes up. Listen to this.

[vocals with reverb sidechained]

We can speed up the release time just a little bit more so it comes up quicker.

[vocals]

That’s a beautiful illustration over there.

See how beautiful that is at the end? That’s just great. Let’s go reverb-tastic.

[mix]

Fantastic. What’s great about sidechaining the reverb is the reverb is ducking — it’s being pushed down while he’s singing. It’s not disappearing, but it’s down considerably in volume. I mean, we’re getting what…

[mix]

9dB there. 9 decibels of reduction. So the reverb is 9dB quieter, and as soon as he stops singing, it comes back up, and you get this, “Hah” around it.

So there you go! Five quick and easy tricks that I use every single day in every single song.

You can adopt them in all different ways. I mean, people put reverb on bass. If you’ve ever read the Jeff Emery book, he talks about putting a little bit of reverb on Paul McCartney’s bass. In a lot of MoTown songs, they’d put a little bit of verb on the bass, but when you would do that like Jeff would’ve done in Abbey Road, he would’ve rolled off the low end.

So you get the sound of the bass, but you don’t ruin the like, low end, and it doesn’t become a big mud.

So these are really great tricks. That sidechaining, just getting into sidechaining it itself, you can do that on delays as well, we’ll talk about that another time.

So hopefully, these little five quick tricks will really help you out. So please, subscribe to Produce Like a Pro. You can of course hit that bell and you’ll get notified when we have a new video, and of course go to producelikeapro.com, sign up for the email list, get a whole bunch of free goodies, and thank you ever so much for watching, and we’ll see you again very soon.

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Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at producelikeapro.com.

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