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5 Reverb Mistakes that make You Look Like an Idiot


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?

Wrong.

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


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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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  • Great post man! One question though. At first thought it seems to me that using the same verb for everything makes the most sense. Why would you want a different sounding space for multiple tracks/instruments? Obviously im wrong but wouldnt you want all the elements of a mix to come from the same space, only with different amounts of verb?

    Sean

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      No, it makes sense and often is a really good idea to get a “same room” feel for a band. But sometimes using a different reverb, if only for one thing, can make that stand out and make the listener pay attention. Think of it like accents, everything else in the background with the same verb gelling together while the vocal has something a tad different to make it stand out(doesn’t necesarily have to be reverb, could be delay etc…) And varying the amount of reverb is also key, and really should have been on that list…. guess I’m the idiot 🙂

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Great post man! One question though. At first thought it seems to me that using the same verb for everything makes the most sense. Why would you want a different sounding space for multiple tracks/instruments? Obviously im wrong but wouldnt you want all the elements of a mix to come from the same space, only with different amounts of verb?

    Sean

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      No, it makes sense and often is a really good idea to get a “same room” feel for a band. But sometimes using a different reverb, if only for one thing, can make that stand out and make the listener pay attention. Think of it like accents, everything else in the background with the same verb gelling together while the vocal has something a tad different to make it stand out(doesn’t necesarily have to be reverb, could be delay etc…) And varying the amount of reverb is also key, and really should have been on that list…. guess I’m the idiot 🙂

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Thank God my days of mixing are behind me and I just focus on the studio installation. It sounds like the reverb options in the likes of Pro Tools and Logic are infinite. Time to go back to analogue and work with limitations?

    I’ll tweet this out my friend. Have a great day.
    Mike

  • Thank God my days of mixing are behind me and I just focus on the studio installation. It sounds like the reverb options in the likes of Pro Tools and Logic are infinite. Time to go back to analogue and work with limitations?

    I’ll tweet this out my friend. Have a great day.
    Mike

  • Well I guess Ill be trying that out man. Sounds like a good idea I just hadnt thought of doing that. Thanks for the great articles and tips man. Cheers!

  • Well I guess Ill be trying that out man. Sounds like a good idea I just hadnt thought of doing that. Thanks for the great articles and tips man. Cheers!

  • Good article. I’m sorry if I’m asking a dumb question, but how does one go about eq-ing the reberb? Do you place an eq on the aux send, or how?

    Thanks.

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      Just insert an EQ after the reverb. In some cases the reverb itself has EQ.

  • Good article. I’m sorry if I’m asking a dumb question, but how does one go about eq-ing the reberb? Do you place an eq on the aux send, or how?

    Thanks.

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      Just insert an EQ after the reverb. In some cases the reverb itself has EQ.

  • Colin Avosa

    Awesome post man !! It really helped a lot; As I have just started my journey of being a mastering engineering/music producer, though I have been experimenting with sounds for the past two years. What really helped me a lot is the notion of eq’ing reverbs, makes a lot of sense now. Special thanks again !! 😀

  • Colin Avosa

    Awesome post man !! It really helped a lot; As I have just started my journey of being a mastering engineering/music producer, though I have been experimenting with sounds for the past two years. What really helped me a lot is the notion of eq’ing reverbs, makes a lot of sense now. Special thanks again !! 😀

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  • Figge

    And while you’re at it : there’s absolutely NO LAW against de-essing a reverb send to avoid those long horrible sssssssssss-es that comes from a long bright reverb….
    I’m amazed that I still hear that ugliness in some mixes from today.

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      Exactly! I did a mix once with a bright reverb that just ruined the vocal. It still makes me cringe…

  • Figge

    And while you’re at it : there’s absolutely NO LAW against de-essing a reverb send to avoid those long horrible sssssssssss-es that comes from a long bright reverb….
    I’m amazed that I still hear that ugliness in some mixes from today.

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      Exactly! I did a mix once with a bright reverb that just ruined the vocal. It still makes me cringe…

  • Thank you so much for this post .
    “varying the amount of reverb is also key”…. wondering what instrument/track would need more reverb or less reverb

  • Thank you so much for this post .
    “varying the amount of reverb is also key”…. wondering what instrument/track would need more reverb or less reverb

  • I agree with these 5 things. Especially EQing your reverbs. This is a must in my profession.

    Professional Afordable Online Audio Mixing and Mastering: http://CrystalMixing.com/MUSIC

  • I agree with these 5 things. Especially EQing your reverbs. This is a must in my profession.

    Professional Afordable Online Audio Mixing and Mastering: http://CrystalMixing.com/MUSIC

  • Jx Rx

    I’d like to know your thoughts on how many and what types of reverb to use. Drums, instruments, whole mix etc. rooms, halls, impulse, plates

    Thanks. I enjoyed the write up

  • Jx Rx

    I’d like to know your thoughts on how many and what types of reverb to use. Drums, instruments, whole mix etc. rooms, halls, impulse, plates

    Thanks. I enjoyed the write up