Reverb is one of those things that even the most experienced of engineers are still trying to figure out.
It’s like the Higgs Boson of the audio industry. Engineers have used and analyzed it for years, but they haven’t quite cracked it yet.
Even if you’re not a seasoned engineer(or a quantum physicist) you can certainly learn to avoid a few stupid mistakes when it comes to using reverb in your mixes.
1. Not EQ’ing your Reverbs
EQ doesn’t only belong on your recorded tracks. EQ is also extremely useful for making your reverb fit better in your mix. Use EQ to avoid unnecessary low-end clutter or reduce the highs to make the reverb blend in better.
2. Not Tweaking the Presets
The funny thing about all those presets is that they have nothing to do with what you’re using them on. They’re a generic, best-fit sound that might work on something similar to what you have in mind. How’s that for ambiguous and vague?
However, presets create a good starting point. Reverbs have enough parameters so that you can easily tweak them to fit your session.
3. A need for the MOST EXPENSIVE REVERB!
The more expensive the reverb, the better it is right?
Sure, high quality reverbs usually sound great, but are they that much better than either your stock plug-ins or cheaper alternatives?
My favorite reverb is the Valhalla Room. I choose it over my UAD EMT140 Plate Reverb all the time because it’s more versatile.
Make do with what you have, and find the cheapest alternative possible if your stock reverbs absolutely suck.
4. You Use Too Much
I probably still do this sometimes. This is the classic beginner’s mistake. Too much reverb drowns out your mix and makes everything sound “floaty” (for a lack of a better term).
Scale back on the reverb. Use it to make your tracks stand out, but don’t make the reverb be the thing that stands out. Makes sense? You want the listen to the great sounding vocal. You want the reverb to be an inherent part of the vocal sound. You want the reverb to draw attention to the vocal, not itself.
5. Too Many Different Types
Too many different spaces in a mix sounds unnatural. If that’s what you’re going for, disregard what I’m saying. Otherwise, try to stick to a few spaces. Combining different instruments and tracks into the same reverb works well to glue your elements together.
Using only one universal reverb is not a good idea either. Everything will sound too similar and nothing will stick out. It’s a delicate balance of a few different reverbs used in moderation that is the key.
Want to Mix Better With Advanced Reverb Techniques?
Then you better check out the Mixing With Reverb course from The Pro Audio Files.
Image by: JD Hancock