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-   -   What makes a reverb "good"? (https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=191015)

mykrobinson 04-20-2017 12:25 PM

What makes a reverb "good"?
 
The title says plenty..


For those of you who have been doing this for a long time, how you decide which reverb to use and how much to use, which parameters to adjust, etc?

Seems to me like trial and error become your teacher, but those who do this for a living or at lest do this a lot, what is your "go to" reverb, either and exact one or type, what settings do you prefer for certain scenarios, and why?

I realize this is a very open ended question, and you're free to respond (or not) however you choose. I think the question posed in the title is simple enough, though.

somebodyelseuk 04-20-2017 12:30 PM

Context...
...and whether you like how it sounds.

MikeVB 04-20-2017 12:45 PM

This reminds me of when an ex and I took one of those touristy cooking classes in New Orleans about 12 years ago (her idea, not mine). They have you for about 2 hours and you make a few classics, and eat it afterward. The chef was demonstrating a gumbo, and remarked what the traditional ingredients were, but made a special point to say we could use those, or put in whatever food we'd like.

On cue, some wag in the back then asked, "Can you put sardines in it?" The chef said, "Uh...do you LIKE sardines?" And the guy replied, "Yes, uh/huh." The chef then shrugged his shoulders as if to say, "well, OK then..." Then I swear, about 3 minutes later, somebody else said something like, "Can you put [I dunno what he said exactly but something weird too] peanut butter in it?" The chef again asked, "Well, do you LIKE peanut butter." Again the same response and the chef again looked incredulously at this next person indicating that same response. I swear I could've slapped these people.

It's the same thing with anything in music, and I know I'm not saying anything you don't know; but it bears repeating. If you like a little, or a lot of reverb, or distortion, or compression, et al. -- and it's ultimately meant to suit YOU for YOUR enjoyment -- then YES, put as many, er, sardines in it as you'd like!

Judders 04-20-2017 01:13 PM

The right use of reverb is when the part sounds like it is occupying the space you envisaged for it.

Sorry, but that's about it. Rather than trying all kinds of reverb on something, try to think beforehand what you want the space around the sound to be.

Getting to know the general types is a good start - spring, plate, room, chamber, hall.

It's also good, once you've got the basics of getting a space and feel you want, to play with compressing and/or EQ'ing the signal before it hits the reverb (when using a send), as well as hearing the difference it makes to do those things after the reverb.

Pre-delay is very important for opening up a sense of space and not muddying things up.

This video gives quite a good introduction to basic reverb concepts:


Retro Audio Enthusiast 04-20-2017 01:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by somebodyelseuk (Post 1834637)
Context...
...and whether you like how it sounds.

Exactly this.

karbomusic 04-20-2017 01:36 PM

I have a number of reverbs I suppose, the few I use the most at the moment...

FabFilter R-Verb
Bootsy's Epic Verb
Nebula with a custom EMT-250 plate library

Others I have that get used less than those... Not that I think these are any worse, I just develop habits and obviously have too many. ;)

Native RC24
Native RC38
Valhalla Room
Valhalla Vintage
Redline Reverb
Voxengo Pristine Space
LiquidSonics Reverberate
PodFarm Reverbs
Nomad LiquidVerb
Nomad BlueVerb
Tal Reverb
TB Reverb

Probably a few more but forgetting without looking. As the others said, decide the space you want it to live in, pick one. About the only thing you really need is being good at using it, how much, does it muddy up and so on, it's all about context.

Judders 04-20-2017 01:46 PM

I think it is worth noting that you don't need an arsenal of reverbs. Plenty of studios did perfectly fine with just one spring or plate unit, or one hardware digital reverb.

Having said that, I do have a lot :p

My go-to's are freebie impulse responses, Valhalla Vintage and Plate, Softube Spring and Liquidsonics' Verbsuite Classics.

I did recently also get Exponential Audio R2 for free and PSP Springbox on sale, but I've not had time to check them out thoroughly.

karbomusic 04-20-2017 01:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Judders (Post 1834660)

Having said that, I do have a lot :p

Yea, it's the same for delays for me. I just seem to collect them because I like them in general. That's why I purposely split them up above like I did, I have 20ish but use maybe 3 on a regular basis.

galaxy_beef 04-20-2017 01:49 PM

Presets
 
For a lot of things like this, I find it comes down to the interface and usability of the plugin. I just use the slate reverb (Verbsuite) and delay (Repeater) because I like the feel of their plugins and I subscribe to their suite. I'm sure I could get good results with any other reverb plugin, but I'd rather work with what I know. I'm sure valhalla reverb is dope, but it's probably not going to get me anywhere that I couldn't get with Verbsuite and some tweaking.

I've also noticed that I used to consider plugins 'good' or 'bad' based on their presets, and I'm sure that's where a lot of plugins get judged. For example, if I use a 'male vocal' preset from two different eq's, the one that happens to work better for my voice might be considered 'better', but once you get comfortable tweaking things on your own, it seems to matter a lot less.


Edit: I'd like to clarify that reverb is not a huge part of my mixes, and I don't spend a lot of time with them. I'm sure other people don't find the same value in having different amp cabinets to chose from for recording heavy guitar tones. It all comes down to your personal style and preference.

Judders 04-20-2017 01:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by karbomusic (Post 1834661)
Yea, it's the same for delays for me. I just seem to collect them because I like them in general. That's why I purposely split them up above like I did, I have 20ish but use maybe 3 on a regular basis.

Playing with new toys is always fun :)

karbomusic 04-20-2017 01:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Judders (Post 1834664)
Playing with new toys is always fun :)

Yea and special use. For example FabFilter Timeless and OhmBoyz delays are pretty much what I use when I want to do rhythmic delays on drums or something but Tal-Dub and a few others for your standard delays for a vocal, guitar solo and so on.

Judders 04-20-2017 01:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by galaxy_beef (Post 1834663)
For a lot of things like this, I find it comes down to the interface and usability of the plugin. I just use the slate reverb (Verbsuite) and delay (Repeater) because I like the feel of their plugins and I subscribe to their suite. I'm sure I could get good results with any other reverb plugin, but I'd rather work with what I know. I'm sure valhalla reverb is dope, but it's probably not going to get me anywhere that I couldn't get with Verbsuite and some tweaking.

Verbsuite has become my go-to, but Valhalla Vintage does some things it can't, and vice-versa.

Knowing what a plugin is doing helps a lot. Verbsuite and Vintage Verb both go for digital hardware reverb sounds, so it's not essential to have so much overlap.

I think it's worth reading up on real life plates, springs and digital reverbs to be able to spot what a plugin is going for (for example, many "plate" presets on plugins are actually emulating the plate settings on digital hardware, rather than actual plate reverbs).

But, at the end of the day pick a sound you like and go with it.

Judders 04-20-2017 01:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by karbomusic (Post 1834668)
Yea and special use. For example FabFilter Timeless and OhmBoyz delays are pretty much what I use when I want to do rhythmic delays on drums or something but Tal-Dub and a few others for your standard delays for a vocal, guitar solo and so on.

Very true.

I'm the same with compressors, and to some extent EQ's.

Reason 04-20-2017 03:14 PM

Very interesting to read what others look for.

Followup, slightly off-topic question from non-OP.

Why not use ReaVerb and impulses, whether purchased or free?

lowellben 04-20-2017 03:23 PM

The tails give it all away.

Cheap reverbs have god awful tails.

Trust me. Once you listen to the divine Lexicon's or TC it's impossible to go back to Sonitus LOL..

Judders 04-20-2017 03:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Reason (Post 1834704)
Very interesting to read what others look for.

Followup, slightly off-topic question from non-OP.

Why not use ReaVerb and impulses, whether purchased or free?

Impulse responses are very useful, but they lack the movement found in the better algorithmic reverbs (unless you're using Nebula or Fusion IR type stuff).

Quote:

Originally Posted by lowellben (Post 1834705)
The tails give it all away.

Cheap reverbs have god awful tails.

Trust me. Once you listen to the divine Lexicon's or TC it's impossible to go back to Sonitus LOL..

Sometimes a nasty, grainy, metallic reverb is just what I want ;)

gpunk_w 04-20-2017 05:29 PM

I'm a freak with Reverbs, I don't really like them, so all the reverbs everybody thinks is great are garbage to me, the ones I like you can't hear, they sit near invisibly but fill, quite rare that I like a reverb.

Glennbo 04-20-2017 10:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mykrobinson (Post 1834635)
The title says plenty..


For those of you who have been doing this for a long time, how you decide which reverb to use and how much to use, which parameters to adjust, etc?

Seems to me like trial and error become your teacher, but those who do this for a living or at lest do this a lot, what is your "go to" reverb, either and exact one or type, what settings do you prefer for certain scenarios, and why?

I realize this is a very open ended question, and you're free to respond (or not) however you choose. I think the question posed in the title is simple enough, though.

For me, reverb is mostly about smoothing rough edges off of the sound, much like sanding a project made out of wood. You don't want to sand it down so far that the original item is no longer recognizable, which is easy to do with verb. Too much and you muddy the mix up. I generally go for room sounds, and use them sparingly enough that I have to bypass them to really hear what they are doing to the sound. My reverb of choice are the Lexicons. I use the MPX Native Reverb, which primarily has room sounds.

-

mykrobinson 04-21-2017 05:21 AM

This has become quite an interesting thread :)

It seems a lot of folks really like smooth, subtle reverb, and I have to agree, it seems that the magic trick is just find something "you" like and stick with it. But if you follow music for several decades, you will quickly spot trends where some unknown entity would dictate what reverb was considered "good." For example, many songs in the late 70's and early to mid 80's used very HEAVY slapback reverb (i think that is what is called anyway) where the singer sounded like they were in a small tiled showed or something, but the use of that is not quite so common now.

I guess there is no real point to my question the more that I think about it because it all ultimately becomes like adding seasoning to a meal, the individual will season to taste.

Still curious to see some other thoughts, though.

I am a guitarist, and I very seldom use effects. Meanwhile tons of other guitarists seem to be in a competition to see who can build the biggest pedal board with the most stuff. I guess it's the same way with effects in a DAW, huh?

Just thinking out loud, as always.

karbomusic 04-21-2017 05:31 AM

Quote:

Meanwhile tons of other guitarists seem to be in a competition to see who can build the biggest pedal board with the most stuff.
It's all about context. I have a huge pedalboard because I have multiple pedals where one gets used for 30 seconds in one song and another in 20 seconds in some other song. The point is all that is there for occasional seasoning and has nothing to do with being always on. :) So I might go 1/2 a set and not a single pedal on, but again context, I've often went for years with just a guitar plugged straight into the amp.

mykrobinson 04-21-2017 05:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Judders (Post 1834651)
The right use of reverb is when the part sounds like it is occupying the space you envisaged for it.

Sorry, but that's about it. Rather than trying all kinds of reverb on something, try to think beforehand what you want the space around the sound to be.

Getting to know the general types is a good start - spring, plate, room, chamber, hall.

It's also good, once you've got the basics of getting a space and feel you want, to play with compressing and/or EQ'ing the signal before it hits the reverb (when using a send), as well as hearing the difference it makes to do those things after the reverb.

Pre-delay is very important for opening up a sense of space and not muddying things up.

This video gives quite a good introduction to basic reverb concepts:


Thanks for this video. I am going to show exactly how naive I am, but this is the first time I have looked at an explanation of predelay ;)

heda 04-21-2017 05:46 AM

It depends on the music style or what do you want to achieve with the reverb. In general don't let the reverb be very loud making the original audio worse.
A good technique is to sidechain a bit original signal to a compressor on the reverb.

karbomusic 04-21-2017 05:56 AM

The really good rule of thumb/starting point is to bring the reverb up until you know you can hear it, then back it off just until you can't be sure you hear it. Then judge how much is there by playing the song and hitting stop and seeing how much is actually there as the tail fades. If you do it right, you can get away with quite a bit of reverb that no one actually notices is there.

There are plenty of exceptions but since such a huge amount of existing music has reverb applied similar to what I just described, it's the place to start.

Softsynth 04-21-2017 07:14 AM

Karbo's advice above is good.

Here is a thread on True stereo in reverbs:
http://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=67620

And on another forum:
https://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=362237

Springs explained:


Springs and plates explained:

iqi616 04-21-2017 07:58 AM

A touch of small room reverb is great for gluing synthesized or excessively isolated drums together so they sound like a kit.

A plate reverb is good for general use on vocals.

Halls are best for special effects where the ambience is a big part of a sound. Best use for accents or just specific parts of the song. To sound very 80s do that on percussion hits with an eighth-note pre-delay.

Stick an EQ ahead of the reverb. EQ on the way in is not the same as EQ within the reverb itself or in the return path. When you EQ the send, the reverb is cleaner because it only includes the things you want reverberated. For example, on a vocal you can cut the presence frequency (upper mids) from the send so that the reverb wraps round the vocal instead of fighting it. De-essing on the way in is well worthwhile and you can do that quite heavily. Also, you'll generally high-pass the send if the reverb doesn't have that built-in.

Most of this applies equally to echo.

serr 04-21-2017 08:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mykrobinson (Post 1834635)
The title says plenty..


For those of you who have been doing this for a long time, how you decide which reverb to use and how much to use, which parameters to adjust, etc?

Seems to me like trial and error become your teacher, but those who do this for a living or at lest do this a lot, what is your "go to" reverb, either and exact one or type, what settings do you prefer for certain scenarios, and why?

I realize this is a very open ended question, and you're free to respond (or not) however you choose. I think the question posed in the title is simple enough, though.

It's kind of like that SNL skit.
1. Sound good
2. Don't sound not good.
3. See one and two.


A classic scenario is wanting a reverb that lets an instrument or sound take up appropriate space and ambience while not calling attention to itself or even sounding like you have any "effect" on at all.

Don't be afraid of using an eq (pre and/or post) with your reverb!
Get the basic size and shape you're looking for and then just finalize it with an eq instead of trying to find the perfect example right out of the box.

You'll find that the reverb plugin itself turns out to be not that big of a deal as long as it isn't pointedly metallic sounding or some such (unless you want that of course).

RDBOIS 04-21-2017 08:45 AM

Hello

Just a few personal thought on reverb:

1) Reverb in mixing emulates the physics of sound traveling in space in a given environment. In that sense, it will sound "good" if you emulate its nature well. For example, you may want to emulate what an individual would hear if he/she was sitting in a theater hall, aisle 14-seat C3, in an an opera show, or 1/2 mile away at t rock concert.

2) Reverb can be purely aesthetic, part of the creation, and non-rational. For example, one guitar is dry and the other is full of reverb. What is the context where a listener would have one guitarist by his side and the other playing in the back on large room? This is arranging things in 3D soundscape for entertainment purposes, ear candy, for example. The Cure's typical sound comes to mind (lots of chorus, flanger and reverb is part of their sound/tradeM.

3) Reverb can be a tool to "fix" things. For example, if the singer can't sing very well, then saturating the vocals with reverb will "hide" some imperfections. This can also be a "good" use of reverb.

Softsynth 04-21-2017 08:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by serr (Post 1835023)

A classic scenario is wanting a reverb that lets an instrument or sound take up appropriate space and ambience while not calling attention to itself or even sounding like you have any "effect" on at all.

Don't be afraid of using an eq (pre and/or post) with your reverb!
Get the basic size and shape you're looking for and then just finalize it with an eq instead of trying to find the perfect example right out of the box.

You'll find that the reverb plugin itself turns out to be not that big of a deal as long as it isn't pointedly metallic sounding or some such (unless you want that of course).

Then again in Electronic, EDM and New Age you might want a really obvious reverb/delay effect.

The latest plugin to use IRs of the popular Bricasti M7 (again with their own "fusion" tech):
https://www.liquidsonics.com/softwar...-professional/

Here is a video demo of hardware Bricasti (video cut to audio demo):
https://youtu.be/xQnKVJESIVU?t=568

There are free M7 IRs but the Fusion type is Liquidsonics own thing, as used in Reverberate 2, another Slate plugin and this high end newbie in my first link.

Much of the effects you want can be created in the best software delays too.

ivansc 04-21-2017 09:57 AM

Just to mix things up a little, apart from "special FX" type reverbs and delays, I use reverb mostly to help locate individual instruments spatially in the mix. So yeah I pretty much use the unobtrusive reverbs, rather than character ones.

Srender 04-21-2017 11:07 AM

Some other ideas that might help make whatever reverb you choose more appealing to the ear:

Spaciousness comes primarily from arrangement. It's not only about instruments not stepping on each other in the frequency domain, but keeping the unnecessary from cluttering the time domain. Feng-shui. You help to better define and accentuate a "space" or "room" with reverb/delay. Even better if the elements inside the room are simple and elegant - in a way that suits the genre.

In a busier mix, throw a mono reverb behind an instrument. Stereo reverb on a track in a busy mix can muddy.

You've heard the high-pass and low-pass tricks to clean up the sound of the reverb in a mix - but my world was rocked when I lifted 8K on a reverb behind a vocal, and on a separate song (ballad), on a drum machine snare. Finding some nice high-end spice to accentuate in the reverb channel can be nice.

And this: for a lush sense of space behind an instrument, send to two different reverbs loaded on two separate tracks- one panned to the left, and the other panned right.

In terms of plugins, big upvote for Valhalla.

I certanly struggle with thinking, conceptualizing about this stuff too much. It is great to wear the engineer's hat to understand Haas effect, the effect of predelay in defining a space, etc. My struggle is to continue developing my understanding of the engineering side, yet while mixing, to de-clutch from thinking and conceptualizing, and to let the ear inspire intuition, decision, and taste.

karbomusic 04-21-2017 12:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ivansc (Post 1835083)
Just to mix things up a little, apart from "special FX" type reverbs and delays, I use reverb mostly to help locate individual instruments spatially in the mix. So yeah I pretty much use the unobtrusive reverbs, rather than character ones.

+1

Almost any reverb applied smartly, is great a gluing things together - that's kind of what it is doing (with additional goodness) whenever it isn't being used as a 'special FX'. I now tend to, out of my own personal preference , use the term glue more when explaining because that's a result we get from being a similar space aka sonic continuity. :D

X-Tech 04-21-2017 12:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mykrobinson (Post 1834635)
The title says plenty..


For those of you who have been doing this for a long time, how you decide which reverb to use and how much to use, which parameters to adjust, etc?

Seems to me like trial and error become your teacher, but those who do this for a living or at lest do this a lot, what is your "go to" reverb, either and exact one or type, what settings do you prefer for certain scenarios, and why?

I realize this is a very open ended question, and you're free to respond (or not) however you choose. I think the question posed in the title is simple enough, though.







Not any reverb is good. Most is really good. Good reverb allow to control things in very detailed way or in enough detailed way at first place to control size and distance.

DBMusic 04-22-2017 08:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ivansc (Post 1835083)
Just to mix things up a little, apart from "special FX" type reverbs and delays, I use reverb mostly to help locate individual instruments spatially in the mix. So yeah I pretty much use the unobtrusive reverbs, rather than character ones.

+1

Love the Lexicon reverbs for creating a feeling of depth and space without getting in the way or mucking things up. Use 1 reverb per project and feed it varying degrees of track signals depending on the space I want it to occupy.

Softsynth 04-23-2017 02:40 AM

Simple explanation of the basics:
http://www.emusician.com/gear/1332/c...rameters/38871

Valle 04-23-2017 03:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mykrobinson (Post 1834635)
What makes a reverb "good"?

The fact that it is "good" when you not necessarily others think it is good. That's what makes a reverb "good".

daverich 04-23-2017 04:29 AM

has a lot to do with the listening environment.

If your reverb sounds bad try listening back in a large hall.

;)

slipstick 04-23-2017 05:08 AM

It has a lot to do with the type of music too. Since the stuff I make these days is completely "artificial", synths and a few samples entirely ITB I really don't need reverbs to sound "natural". That would be silly.

So ReaVerbate(mostly) and ReaVerb with a few IRs work fine for me. If I was recording acoustic piano or string quartets or acoustic folk I would probably prefer something very different.

Steve

Judders 04-23-2017 05:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by slipstick (Post 1835814)
It has a lot to do with the type of music too. Since the stuff I make these days is completely "artificial", synths and a few samples entirely ITB I really don't need reverbs to sound "natural". That would be silly.

So ReaVerbate(mostly) and ReaVerb with a few IRs work fine for me. If I was recording acoustic piano or string quartets or acoustic folk I would probably prefer something very different.

Steve

Yep, and even in the same piece of music I might have a set of acoustic instruments sharing a room IR, but then have a synth with it's own digital-sounding reverb.

It's all about the space you want the parts to inhabit.


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