An Easy Way to Choose the Right Reverb
With all the options of reverb modes, plug-ins and outboard processors it’s hard to know what you should choose for your next track.
What should you think about when choosing the right space for you song? Even though you have a favorite sounding reverb it might not work for that alternative FolkTronica act that you just recorded.
Think about the tempo of the song
If you are working with a fast tempo song that needs to come across clearly and well defined, mucking it up with long reverbs will just make the mix sound cluttered.
Think about the tempo of the song and select your reverbs accordingly. A slower song can use longer reverbs, and faster songs might need really short reverbs. Or you could even just use delays instead.
Think about the wetness of the song
Do you want your overall mix to be dry, or do you want lush reverbs filling up the space?
Are some of the pre-recorded tracks already rich with heavy reverbs and space, or was it all recorded extremely dry?
Think about how wet you want your mix to be and choose your reverb according to that.
Think about the lushness of the arrangement
Is the arrangement going to be really dry and in-your-face or is everything going to be drowned in space?
You might need to keep some elements dry even though you are going for an extremely wet mix, but the more reverb you are putting on your instruments the more you need to anchor it down with at least a few dry instruments.
Also, be wary of adding too much reverb since it can be a sign of a very amateurish production.
Think about the rhythm of the vocal track
Is the singer singing long sustained notes, scat singing or rapping? These are some of the factors you might want to consider when you are choosing your vocal reverb.
The rhythm of the vocal can dictate if the reverb you’ve chosen actually works. If you’re going for “My Heart Will Go On” Celine Dion long sustained singing then a large and long reverb might work exceptionally.
But if your singer is Scatman John then a long reverb might just get in the way.
Think about the room
Think about the instrumentation and see if you can’t place them all together in the same room. Some instruments sound great together when they’re “placed” in the same room or reverb device.
Say you have a great sounding impulse response from an old recording studio. Use the reverb of that room to glue the instruments together.
EQ Your Reverb
Take a while to think about the characteristics of the mix at hand and then choose the reverb you think is right.
Even after you’ve done so, there’s one thing beginners tend to overlook.
And that’s EQ’ing their reverbs.
Using an EQ to shape the sound of your reverb is incredibly important. EQ is one of the most valuable tools a mixing engineer has, which is why I’ve created a free EQ course called Crush it With EQ. It’ll give you over 70 fast and easy tips you can use to improve separation and balance in your mixes.
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