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Managing Reverb Dynamically on a Vocal

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Managing Reverb Dynamically on a Vocal

Postby cyberdaniel82 » Fri Oct 16, 2020 8:46 am

Hi SOS! I notice that in most professionally mixed songs, a reverb isn't simply slapped on the vocal to remain constant throughout the entire song. One example: the reverb amount and/or length might seem to increase notably on the final word of any vocal phrase.

My question is this:

I assume that mix engineers are just meticulously programming level automation to govern the amount of reverb at any given time. It sounds tedious, but maybe this is my answer. It occurred to me, though, that perhaps these professionals are achieving the effect I hear with ducking tricks that I don't know about, designed to scale back the reverb when a song is busy. Is this what they're likely doing and, if so, what are they keying the ducking to? I'm just trying to understand the most common way(s) professionals manage and vary reverb dynamics in a mix.

Thanks for any input!

- Daniel
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Re: Managing Reverb Dynamically on a Vocal

Postby Sam Inglis » Fri Oct 16, 2020 9:21 am

Do you have any examples in mind?

It's certainly possible to do this using ducking, and some plug-in reverbs even have this as a built-in feature (some of the Exponential Audio reverbs for example). But I don't know if it's routine practice as such. I suspect that often what you're hearing is more of a psychoacoustic effect, whereby the reverb is being masked by the dry vocal until the end of the phrase. It could also be that the mixes are using quite long pre-delays on the vocal reverb.
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Re: Managing Reverb Dynamically on a Vocal

Postby blinddrew » Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:56 am

I use the dry vocal as a ducking source on my vocal reverb, so that it pops up in the gaps.
For fx reverb then it'll be completely dependent on what i'm trying to achieve, and likely fully automated.
But I'm no pro.
But if you read the Inside Track articles in the magazine you'll frequently see that the pros spend a huge proportion of their time on the vocals.
It's varies by genre to an extent, but if you want a pro sound then ultimately you have to put the hours in.
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Re: Managing Reverb Dynamically on a Vocal

Postby Matt Houghton » Fri Oct 16, 2020 11:08 am

Yes, I think ducked reverb/delay is commonly (though not always) used. I certainly use it a lot. Ditto send-level automation.
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Re: Managing Reverb Dynamically on a Vocal

Postby The Elf » Fri Oct 16, 2020 1:31 pm

A delay also sent to the reverb and on automation is also a good trick.
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Re: Managing Reverb Dynamically on a Vocal

Postby Martin Walker » Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:25 pm

I suspect this might also be a good time to remind everyone of the 3-mic technique used by Tony Visconti on David Bowie's 'Heroes' track:

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... wie-heroes

"Mic number one was a valve U47, and with the other two on gates I made sure that number two, an 87 placed about 15 feet away from him, would go on at a certain level, while the third mic, another 87 that was all the way at the other end of the room, didn't open up until he really sang loud. That reverb on his voice is therefore the room itself, none of it is artificial, and it's his voice triggering the gates. What is really great is that the sound of the opening two verses is really intimate. It doesn't sound like a big room yet, it sounds like somebody just singing about a foot away from your ear."


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Re: Managing Reverb Dynamically on a Vocal

Postby CS70 » Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:51 pm

Martin Walker wrote:I suspect this might also be a good time to remind everyone of the 3-mic technique used by Tony Visconti on David Bowie's 'Heroes' track:

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... wie-heroes

"Mic number one was a valve U47, and with the other two on gates I made sure that number two, an 87 placed about 15 feet away from him, would go on at a certain level, while the third mic, another 87 that was all the way at the other end of the room, didn't open up until he really sang loud. That reverb on his voice is therefore the room itself, none of it is artificial, and it's his voice triggering the gates. What is really great is that the sound of the opening two verses is really intimate. It doesn't sound like a big room yet, it sounds like somebody just singing about a foot away from your ear."


Martin

A great technique. Now I have finally an excuse to get myself a 47! :D
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Re: Managing Reverb Dynamically on a Vocal

Postby zenguitar » Sun Oct 18, 2020 12:56 am

CS70 wrote:A great technique. Now I have finally an excuse to get myself a 47! :D

And a much bigger studio :D

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Managing Reverb Dynamically on a Vocal

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Oct 18, 2020 1:48 pm

zenguitar wrote:
CS70 wrote:A great technique. Now I have finally an excuse to get myself a 47! :D

And a much bigger studio :D

Variations are available to suit mere mortals, such as Mic 1 in the studio, MIc 2 in the bathroom, and Mic 3 in the next door neighbour's garden ;)


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Re: Managing Reverb Dynamically on a Vocal

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:48 pm

Martin Walker wrote:
zenguitar wrote:
CS70 wrote:A great technique. Now I have finally an excuse to get myself a 47! :D

And a much bigger studio :D

Variations are available to suit mere mortals, such as Mic 1 in the studio, MIc 2 in the bathroom, and Mic 3 in the next door neighbour's garden ;)


Martin

And Bowie to sing for you ;)
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Re: Managing Reverb Dynamically on a Vocal

Postby cyberdaniel82 » Sat Oct 31, 2020 6:02 am

Thanks for the insights! After your feedback encouraged me to experiment with side-chain compression on the vocal reverb, keyed to the dry vocal, I can confirm that this indeed is the effect I've been chasing.
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Re: Managing Reverb Dynamically on a Vocal

Postby CS70 » Sat Oct 31, 2020 11:19 am

Sam Spoons wrote:And Bowie to sing for you ;)

Missing Bowie, I'll just settle for a GA copy instead of the Neumann.. :D
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