How to Mix Reverb



When mixing reverb, it helps to use an auxiliary track or send for the reverb so that processing can be isolated.  This way I can introduce equalization, compression or upward compression, saturation, lo-fi effects, or even transient expansion and have it affect solely my reverberated signal.   

How to Duck Reverb

The chapters in this video are in no order, so use any tips I’m showing here as you see fit in your mixes.

Delay ducking has been popular for some time, but reverb ducking is just as helpful – here’s how you set it up and what it is.  I’ll use a send from the signal I want to reverberate, the vocals, and insert my reverb plugin with 100% wet/dry.

Then, I’ll insert a compressor and side-chain the dry signal, again, in this case, the vocal, and set the compressor’s trigger to this external side chain.

This way whenever the vocal is sung the reverb is attenuated, but then gradually comes back after the vocal’s transient. On the compressor, I’ll use a quick attack and release, a little lookahead, and turn off any makeup gain settings.

Let’s listen to how this gives the vocal some space and helps the reverb blend in.

Equalize After Reverb

Some reverb plugins come with an EQ section, but if yours doesn’t you can use the same auxiliary track we created in the last chapter and insert an EQ after your reverb.  If I want a darker reverb I could attenuate the highs, or do the opposite to make it brighter.

In this example, I’ll reverberate the instrument using subtle settings and amplify reverberation on the fundamental, as well as some of the overtones. Let’s listen to how this helps give us more control over our reverb reflections. 

How to Compress Reverb

In chapter 1 we covered how to compress reverb for the purpose of ducking, but let’s consider how compression can augment our reflections.  I’ll insert a compressor after my reverb on the same aux track we’ve been using, and set a quick attack, long release, lookahead, and make-up gain.

Alternatively, we could use a maximizer or upward compressor after the reverb to pull out all of the quieter details.  Let’s take a listen

Should I Saturate Reverb?

Saturating reverb can be difficult since some saturation will sound great whereas other types may completely ruin the sound of the reflections.  Let’s try using the Arturia Tube Culture saturator and run through a few of its algorithms to see if we can find the right sound.

There’s no sure-fire way to set this up, it’s really on a case-by-case basis so use your ear when adding in saturation.

Transient Expansion on Reverb

You don’t typically see reverb combined with transient expansion, but it can have a really cool and beneficial effect.  I’ll use the aux send we were using in previous chapters then insert this Punctuate expander after it to amplify the incoming transients for a more detailed sound.

Alternatively, I could de-emphasize these transients to make the reverb even smoother sounding.  Let’s take a listen to both, start with expansion, then attenuation.

Creating LoFi Reverb

If we want to create a lo-fi reverb sound, we can combine a few of the chapters we’ve discussed so far – first, let’s select an emulation of an older reverb type like a plate reverb.  Then I’ll use an EQ to focus the reflections on the mids.

Lastly, I’ll introduce saturation.  Let’s listen and let me know if this is a sound you’d use in any of your projects.

EQ Reverb for Vocals

Let’s go back to equalizing reverb like in chapter 2, but this time tailor it specifically for vocals.  With an M/S EQ, I’ll amplify the lows and highs of the reverb on the side image to make it more impressive – on the stereo image, I’ll dip around 2-5kHz.

This dip will keep the vocal sounding focused and clear, but do the opposite by amplifying this range if you want a more washed-out sound for your vocal.

Let’s take a listen.

Reverb Tailored for Drums

When reverberating drums, I’d recommend using a different reverb type for each instrument- so maybe a snare plate on the snare, kick, and low frequency, on the kick. Then using a send or on your drum bus, use a collective reverb like room emulation, or maybe a generalized drum reverb.

This way you achieve distinct sounding reverb on each signal, but still get a cohesive sound with the collective room reverb on the bus.

Let’s take a listen.

Layering Reverb Types in Series

Reverb, although typically isolated by using sends, can be later in a series configuration to create an impressive sound.  For example, on my vocal I could use a short time-synced option to thicken the vocal, then a mid-frequency reverb to blend it in with the instrumentation.

Lastly, I could introduce a long, ethereal-sounding reverb.  If used in this order, each reverb will be processing the already reverberated signal that came before it, so use this technique to make creative sounds or dense and impressive ones like what we’ve done here.  Let’s take a listen.

Combining IR Reverb and Gear Response

It’s pretty well known that impulse responses based reverbs are usually more realistic sounding than algorithmic reverbs, but most people don’t take full advantage of this.  So, what I want to do is first use an IR of a room or studio, but then introduce an IR of analog equipment.

For example, I’ll use this IR created from a Pultec EQ to shape the timbre of the reverb and create both realistic room emulation and realistic post-processing of the reflections.

Let’s take a listen and note how IRs can be used for a lot more than just room emulation and reverberation.

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