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Creating subtle reverb

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Creating subtle reverb

Postby Scouser » Fri Jun 14, 2013 3:47 pm

I'm having trouble hearing subtle reverbs. I recently watched a tutorial on ambient reverbs and really struggled to hear it. When it was used collectively on more than one source, the effect was slightly more audible, but still very subtle. I get the feeling that it can be the culmination of effects being used this way that can really enhance recordings. So how can one create something you can barely hear ? How to know what to aim for..
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby James Perrett » Fri Jun 14, 2013 3:57 pm

When you say watched, was this on Youtube or something similar? If so, chances are that the draconian data reduction used for these online videos is masking the reverb effect. It also helps to have a decent monitoring setup in order to identify these subtle changes as reverb. Poor monitoring will just give you a general feeling that something sounds a little different.

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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby The Elf » Fri Jun 14, 2013 4:30 pm

Honest answer: aim for something that sounds good TO YOU.

If you can't hear the effect of something, then it is too subtle. Turn it up until you hear what it is doing, then back it off to a point where it is doing the job you need it for.

Personally when I use a reverb I want to hear it doing something, or I'd rather get it out of there, reduce clutter from the mix and save the processor for more important tasks.
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby Scouser » Fri Jun 14, 2013 4:35 pm

No James, this was a purchased disc, so sound was ok. My monitor set up, not too bad either..

I fear it may be my ears ;) Or at least experience ? is it not true that some small ambient reverbs are very subtle, difficult to hear ?
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby The Elf » Fri Jun 14, 2013 4:39 pm

Scouser wrote:is it not true that some small ambient reverbs are very subtle, difficult to hear ?

That's true, but you should be able to discern it making a difference when it is muted/un-muted in the mix. If not then there's no point it being there.

Sometimes I'll add a very short reverb, just to give a part some sense of width. Percussive parts and guitars, for example, can benefit from very subtle early reflections.

The same goes for stereo widening. If I can hear chorus on my vocal part then I have it too loud - I just want to hear the vocal 'bloom' away from sitting thinly in stereo centre.

Subtle - yes. Inaudible - no! 8-)
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby Scouser » Fri Jun 14, 2013 4:45 pm

Elf, that sounds like sound advice and a principal I have used thus far. It was only when I listened to the example that I mentioned, that I started to wonder. It instructed you to try to listen to the front to back relation of the effect as I way of hearing it. But I couldn't..
This was illustrated on one track, but when it was applied to more than one track you could hear it, just !
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:32 pm

I know where you're coming from Scouser. It took me quite a while to get 'tuned-in' to reverb. I find that it's very easy to overdo it and am increasingly conscious of that on other amateur recordings - especially using inappropriate reverb settings on different elements of a mix so that there is no 'aural perspective' and the complete sound is a mess.

Properly and subtly used I find that reverb will help hold the whole track together and give that sense of an acoustic space which our ears/brains are expecting. Often with a good commercial recording I find it hard to know whether there's reverb there. It's a lot easier when making your own stuff as you can instantly hear the difference by switching it on - and perhaps more importantly - off. :)
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby hollowsun » Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:42 pm

Trevor Horn was rumoured to have said "There's too much reverb on that snare... add some more!" ;)

Strikes me that you've bought a CD - an album, whatever - so you have no control over it. It might sound like there's no reverb/ambience on but I'd wager that if you had access to the masters and cut whatever reverb was applied, you'd hear the difference and maybe even be startled. Just because it's not obvious doesn't mean it's not there.

It also depends on the musical genre - some lather everything in massive reverb in a larger than life production while others go down the more subtle route... just a hint of room here and there that's barely noticeable. Some go for an even drier approach to the extent of almost no (or totally no) reverb to create a more up front and 'in yer face' sound (which can be effective ... no pun intended).

For your own stuff, just do what you think is appropriate and sounds good. And yes - a slight hint of tight room on drums, a totally dry bass while your lead lines or pads or guitar, whatever, sound like they were recorded in a massive cathedral can be just the ticket.

What was the CD, out of curiosity?
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby Folderol » Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:13 pm

It's sort of musical 'salt' really isn't it?

Used sparingly you don't notice it directly, just that other musical 'flavours' seem more pronounced. However, on musical 'crisps' it's the thing you notice instantly above all else.
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby Scouser » Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:13 pm

especially using inappropriate reverb settings on different elements of a mix

Good point, I have a general idea, but I gues there are no hard and fast rules, or are there ?



Often with a good commercial recording I find it hard to know whether there's reverb there


Me too, but I would guess that most of them do have it, and it is that subtle reverb that I would like to have a better grasp of..

For your own stuff, just do what you think is appropriate and sounds good. And yes - a slight hint of tight room on drums, a totally dry bass while your lead lines or pads or guitar, whatever, sound like they were recorded in a massive cathedral can be just the ticket.

What was the CD, out of curiosity?


Think it was audiopro home recording.. As for dry, there are many records I like in this style, I think Rick Rubin did the Johnny Cash & Neil Diamond recordings without reverb. But there is such a rich sound, which I guess is the room and the people in it. My understanding is you need a good room for that to be an option, which I dont have. I tend to use reverb as I close mic, multitrack instruments to avoid room reflections etc, have made some sound panels to help also..
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby MonkeySpank » Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:11 am

Sound on Sound did a Reverb Techniques article a few years ago. I remember listening to the online WAVs demonstrating various subtle reverbs and hearing no difference whatsoever. I could have cried.
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby Scouser » Sat Jun 15, 2013 4:17 pm

So is it my ears or is it something that you have to learn ?
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby The Elf » Sat Jun 15, 2013 4:43 pm

Scouser wrote:So is it my ears or is it something that you have to learn ?
Maybe a bit of both. If you are more used to hearing reverb as a separate 'wash' of sound arriving after the dry signal then short reverbs can seem to blend in so much that you don't hear them as a distictly separate sound - which is often the point of using them!

I suggest you fool around with some early reflection patterns using some dry drum samples - you should be able to hear the difference as you increase send levels.

But...

Do what sounds good *to you*, not chase some theoretical ideal that someone else has come up with. If you can't hear the effect then why bother with it?
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby Scouser » Sun Jun 16, 2013 2:15 pm

Thanks again elf, sound advice..

I just listened to the samples here: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul08/a ... 1audio.htm

from the article here: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul08/a ... everb1.htm

in particular I found the samples reverb length: dry, short, medium and long hard to distinguish and so could not agree with the conclusions

"If you have a listen to the ReverbLength audio files you can hear how the length of a single reverb can affect the fullness of the mix, given a fixed effect-return level. ReverbLengthShort leaves the mix a bit lacking in warmth, while at the other extreme ReverbLengthLong goes over the top, swamping the details in the mix and giving itself away as an unnatural effect. ReverbLengthMedium strikes a balance between these two extremes and therefore sounds more successful in context. I've also created a file of the same section with the reverb bypassed so that you can hear how it's contributing to the song's blend"

Yes I could at times hear slight differences, but extremely subtle, also felt that dry version was good and reverb didn't seem to add much.

Maybe it is my ears ;)
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby MonkeySpank » Sun Jun 16, 2013 5:36 pm

Scouser wrote:Thanks again elf, sound advice..

I just listened to the samples here: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul08/articles/reverb1audio.htm

from the article here: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul08/articles/reverb1.htm

in particular I found the samples reverb length: dry, short, medium and long hard to distinguish and so could not agree with the conclusions

Yes I could at times hear slight differences, but extremely subtle, also felt that dry version was good and reverb didn't seem to add much.

Maybe it is my ears ;)

Nope...I said as much a few posts prior to yours. You are not alone.
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby A. AuCr » Sun Jun 16, 2013 7:32 pm

I've just loaded those into my DAW to play with them. When I invert the "Dry" and played both the dry and wet together, it seems bloody obvious. But flipping back and forth between the dry and the wet, it's very subtle. The differences are more apparent in my headphones than through my monitors. (Which is an instructive thing to know in itself, the reflections of my room may be swamping the artificial ambience!)
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby Scouser » Sun Jun 16, 2013 7:44 pm

Sorry "our" ears, Spanky ;)

When you say invert the dry and play both together AuCr, could you explain ?
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby A. AuCr » Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:53 pm

Scouser wrote:Sorry "our" ears, Spanky ;)

When you say invert the dry and play both together AuCr, could you explain ?


Hit the ø button on either the dry or the wet track. The resulting sound will be the difference between the tracks. In this case, the hard-to-hear reverb and delays...
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:04 am

Scouser wrote:So is it my ears or is it something that you have to learn ?

As I alluded above, a good monitoring system makes it much easier to hear reverb differences. Once you've heard the difference on good monitors, you will probably be able to pick it out on average monitors too but the good monitors really help to educate your ears.

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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby Scouser » Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:38 am

Yes James, maybe poor monitoring is playing a part..
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Jun 17, 2013 6:36 pm

...and possibly poor room acoustics?

This can mask finer details of the music far more effectively than the quality of the monitors :headbang:

This is the most likely reason why A. AuCr above could hear the differences better through headphones.


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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby Scouser » Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:32 am

Thanks Martin, I think it is more likely to be room, rather than monitors..
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby alexis » Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:41 pm

I was amazed when I heard how much reverb (LOTS) there was on some isolated Beatles vocals I listened to on youtube. I had never noticed any at all while listening to the whole song before. Re-listening to the whole song after hearing the isolated vocal tracks, I could hear reverb for the first time, but it was pretty subtle.

Just little 4 inch computer speakers in the home office (i.e., untreated acoustically), so I think (at least in my case) it is a matter of the part of the signal path between my ears, rather than room acoustics/speakers.
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby Scouser » Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:25 am

Alexis, That is a great example, just listened to :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWbPkQFTaqg

Which illustrates two things I would like to better understand.

1. I have wanted to know how to track a really dynamic vocal like the above song, so is it a compressor doing the levelling on the track or is it mic technique ? Or both. For something so dynamic it sounds very even.. I find on my recordings, even with much less dynamic vocals I can't get them very level sounding ?

2. I notice that the reverb comes after the lyric, like an echo, what setting controls this on the reverb, is it all early reflections or reverb/delay time ?
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby alexis » Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:15 pm

Scouser wrote:Alexis, That is a great example, just listened to :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWbPkQFTaqg

Which illustrates ... I would like to better understand ...

I notice that the reverb comes after the lyric, like an echo, what setting controls this on the reverb, is it all early reflections or reverb/delay time ?

I would like to please second a request for info re: how this reverb was accomplished.

How is the effect at the end of each line done? ... is it a combination of reverb and a very noticeable delay?

*Also:* I have a hard time "hearing" how much, if any, reverb is there *before* the last syllable of each line, i.e., during the main portion of the vocal phrase. Is the amount of reverb constant throughout each phrase, or is it "turned up" at the end of each phrase?

Thanks for any help in understanding, which at least for me helps me to "hear" it better.

:)
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby alexis » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:07 pm

Hi - I thought I might ask again after a week (even though it's still on the 1st page, please let me know if that is verboten) - would anyone have a moment or two please to look at the question or two in my last post?

Thanks!

:)
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby The Elf » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:42 pm

alexis wrote:I notice that the reverb comes after the lyric, like an echo, what setting controls this on the reverb, is it all early reflections or reverb/delay time ?
How is the effect at the end of each line done? ... is it a combination of reverb and a very noticeable delay?

Sounds like the vocal went through a tape delay before being sent to the reverb chamber.

You can create this on any decent reverb by increasing the pre-delay time.

You're hearing it at the end of a line, because that's where the original vocal stops masking the delay, and the compression is allowing it to lift.
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby alexis » Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:14 pm

The Elf wrote:
alexis wrote:I notice that the reverb comes after the lyric, like an echo, what setting controls this on the reverb, is it all early reflections or reverb/delay time ?
How is the effect at the end of each line done? ... is it a combination of reverb and a very noticeable delay?
Sounds like the vocal went through a tape delay before being sent to the reverb chamber.

You can create this on any decent reverb by increasing the pre-delay time.

You're hearing it at the end of a line, because that's where the original vocal stops masking the delay, and the compression is allowing it to lift.

Excellent, thank you The Elf, you are a real prince! (As long as that isn't outranked by Elfs(/ves?)!).
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby calmposer a » Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:18 pm

Scouser wrote:So how can one create something you can barely hear ? How to know what to aim for..
Read / watch Dave Pensado's concept of 'front-to-rear panpot' - this may help.

In many cases the reverb on its own isn't audible. But the effect contributes to the depth of the mix.
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Re: Creating subtle reverb

Postby The Korff » Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:01 am

Pro Tip: EQ the return!

Cheers,

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