Pro Audio Files

Tips for Creating a Reverse Reverb Effect

Transcript
Hey folks! Matthew Weiss here — weiss-sound.com, theproaudiofiles.com. If you’re wondering why I look so darn cool, let me tell you, it is not a stylistic choice. I just came from an eye exam, and I’m staring at a bright computer, so if you want to make fun of me, feel free to do it in the comments section below. I’ll take that hit.

But we’re not talking about my cool-ass sunglasses, we’re going to be talking about reverse reverb. If you have never heard the phrase “reverb reverb,” it is exactly what it sounds like. It is the tail of a reverb that has been printed and then flipped in reverse, and it creates this really cool rising, transitional sound that has a very distinct thing going on. We hear it in Pop music pretty often. It’s usually that [imitates reverse reverb] that goes right into the first vocal, or right into the first synth, something like that. Really cool transitional thing.

I wanted to demonstrate it on something a little bit less predictable. I’m going to do it on a snare drum, and I’m going to do it on every snare drum, and it’s going to work out pretty well.

So what I’m going to do here is mute the print of it, because I’ve already printed it, and just play through this little drum part.

[mix]

So I tracked these drums here at my studio, it was courtesy of The Merlot Embargo. I love this band. You know, check them out for sure. We’re working on some new music.

We’ve got a nice little 12/8 going on here. 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, right? But there’s a lot of space though in between those big hits, as is very common in a 12/8. So it’s nice to find cool little ways to fill those spaces out.

So what I decided to do was create a reverse reverb. I’m going to play how that sounds, and then I’m going to break down how I did it.

[mix, with reverse reverbs]

Kind of cool, right? It gives it a whole other sense of movement. And of course, I have it very loud right now, because I wanted you to hear it very clearly, but it kind of works this loud. We could also turn it down, and we could make it just sort of be like a feel thing.

[song, quieter reverse reverb]

I love that. I love the way that you don’t even really hear the reverse reverb, but just having it there pulls you right into that snare. That’s super cool. And we could automate it, of course. We could make it so the very first one here is up pretty loud, and maybe the last one here is up pretty loud, and the ones in the middle are nice and quiet.

[music]

Right? So we feel it, and then sometimes we hear it.

So that’s a good way to do it too. Of course, your creativity is king, and that’s one of the things that I love about reverse reverb. Okay, but how do we make it? How do we make this happen? Well, it’s not that hard. What I’ve done here is I’ve taken a print of the close mics here on the snare, so…

[snare close mic]

And I bust it down, and I called this track, “Reverse reverb,” and it sounds like this.

[reverse reverb track, no processing]

And what I’ve done is to get rid of the bleed, I’ve used this Sound Radix drum leveler. You could use a gate. There’s no reason why you couldn’t. I just love the Sound Radix drum leveler. If you’ve got a little spare change, I definitely suggest buying this plugin. They’re an amazing company, near as an amazing dude, and their products are absolutely brilliant.

So I’ll show you what I did for that.

[snare, adjusting Drum Leveler]

Such a good gate. Super transparent, and I’m using it to also even out the dynamic between the snares, which helps to make the reverse reverb effect a little bit more consistent, even when the drummer is changing his dynamic.

So a couple of birds with one stone. You know how I feel about two birds with one stone. Kill those birds. That’s morbid.

Okay, so the other thing that I’m doing here is I’m using a little plugin, just to make the signal stereo. Instead of it being a mono snare return, which is what it originally was, I’m doing a mono to stereo, using the Mod Delay. It’s in bypass, it’s not doing anything, it’s just making it two channels instead of one.

Then what I’m doing is I’m going to Audio Suite, which is our destructive plugins. So this is going to create a committed effect. And I’ve opened up one of my favorite reverbs here, the Lexicon PCM Vintage Plate. That’s the reverb that I’m going to use on this.

So here we go. So if we notice and look closely here in this window, aside from making our little adjustments where I took the pre-delay to zero and I made it a little bit more diffused, I also adjusted the reverb time so it would be approximately one eighth note, because that’s what I want. I want it to drop over one eighth note. We could certainly do longer. We could make it, you know, much, much, much longer, and I’ll do that in a moment, actually, but what’s really cool here, if you happen to have something later than Pro Tools 10 I believe, there’s this Reverse function, and it’s on Time Effects.

You’ll see it right there, and when I click it, it actually does the reversing for you. So it analyzes where your audio begins and ends, and then it reverses the signal and moves it into place automatically. If you don’t have that, the way you have to do this is you have to bus out each snare hit, then chop and flip each individual one, and then you can slide them all into place by shifting them back an eighth note.

That’s a little bit more tedious, and I think most DAWs — Ableton I know you can do this, Pro Tools you can do this — I’m pretty sure the DAWs are catching up on this reverse function.

Okay, but let’s for fun here — I’m going to highlight this track — I’m going to make this a quarter note in length. So our reverb time is about 1.6. Of course, I can’t actually see if that says 1.6, because I’m wearing sunglasses, but I’m going to assume that it does, and I’m going to hit reverse.

There we go. And now, I have printed my quarter note length. That’s a little shy of a quarter note, actually. That’s probably about a quarter. Let’s see.

[reverse reverb]

Yeah, that’s about a quarter. You just can’t see it on the graphic display. There we go. That’s not exact, but now I have this quarter note here. So let’s hear that with the record.

[mix]

Well, I’ve changed my mind. I want that to be a little bit longer actually. Let’s make it the full shebang here. Let’s go up to 3 seconds and hit reverse.

[song]

It’s cool. It creates our own little sub-rhythm that exists between the notes. Now, I mean, I’m just messing around with things, showing you some possibilities. I do like what I did first with the eighth note.

[music]

To me, that sounds really cool. Especially because we might end up adding a tambourine or something, there might already be some kind of inside groove there, but we can use this effect a number of ways. We don’t have to just be using it as a rhythmic device.

In fact, more commonly, what we’ll see is it’s being used as a transitional device, so if I scroll all the way up to my acoustic guitar here…

[acoustic]

What I can do is make a little copy of this channel. Just hit duplicate. We’re going to mute the original one. Now, I’m just going to select the very first note. Right? This guy right here. Now select this, hit Control+E, delete that.

[acoustic, single note]

And let’s do a little fade.

Not that exciting, but now let’s modify it. Let’s put on reverb. Now let’s just stick with this Vintage Plate, because it’s so nice sounding.

[acoustic with plate]

Alright. Make it way more diffused. Yeah. Turn this down… Let’s pump this reverb time way up.

[long reverb on acoustic]

That’s a little endless. Let’s go to like, six seconds.

[six second reverb]

Perfect. Now what I’m going to do is I’m going to hit commit, and here we are. We have our reverb printed.

Now I’m going to go to Grid, I’m going to delete everything before it. It looks like we’re ending about here. Delete everything afterwards. Get rid of this, go to our Audio Suite, go over to Reverse, and now we are going to reverse it.

Put the thing down, flip it, and reverse it. Now I’m just going to move it over here. So now what we get is this.

[reverse reverb]

And if we play it…

[mix]

Makes for a nice little transition. Now of course, the creativity doesn’t have to stop there. It’s a very round sound, so maybe we want to make it a little less bulky in the low end and a little less stingy in the top. I think that sounds pretty reasonable.

[reverse reverb, filtering]

Cool. We can turn it up a little bit more. Maybe chop it out so that it comes in about maybe one bar ahead?

[music]

Now what a nice little transition we’ve got going. So those are reverse reverbs. Just some ideas on how you can use them. You hear them a lot in Pop music on vocals, things like that. You can use them for rhythmic purposes. The sky is the limit with the creativity, and I really encourage you to experiment with this technique.

Now, if you are new to this channel, please hit that subscribe button, and of course, if you dig this video, hit that like button. If you’ve got some cool techniques that you’ve been doing with reverse reverb, or even if you just want to ask a few questions, drop a few things in the comments section, along with how much you think it’s silly that I’m wearing sunglasses right now. I promise I won’t be offended, because I feel silly, and I’ll catch you guys next time.

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Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is a Grammy nominated and Spellemann Award winning audio engineer from Philadelphia. Matthew has mixed songs for Snoop, Sonny Digital, Gorilla Zoe, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development, 9th Wonder, !llmind & more. Get in touch: Weiss-Sound.com.

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