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Q. Will multi-band mastering mess with my reverb sound?

If reverb were added to a track and then the finished article were passed through, say, a TC Finalizer or other multi‑band compressor, would the reverb not suffer? In other words, what is the best time and way to add reverb in relation to the whole mastering process?

David Mitchell

Assistant Editor Mike Senior replies: Any multi‑band gain‑riding will inevitably effect the decay characteristics of your reverb. However, multi‑band compression should be a very subtle process, so unless you're deliberately using it for its own effect, it ought not to make your reverb sound unnatural. Where you would most notice reverb being unnatural would be in recordings with a wide dynamic range, and these are just the sort of thing that you wouldn't want to go near with heavy‑handed multi‑band dynamics processing at all. In short, if you keep your multi‑band mastering 'tasteful' then it's unlikely that your reverb is going to suffer unduly.

Editor Paul White adds: It's also worth stating that, because reverb is usually added in different amounts to individual tracks within a mix, it's rarely possible to successfully add reverb at the mastering stage. Having said this, if you compress individual tracks before they send their feed to the reverb units, then you may be able to reduce any overall processing needed later. Ultimately, particularly for pop music, we're now so used to hearing productions which have been heavily compressed during mastering to achieve maximum 'loudness' that most people perceive this as sounding right even if, technically, it is unnatural.