151: Why Your Reverbs Don’t Work

151: Why Your Reverbs Don't Work

If you're struggling with getting your reverbs to sit right, or you feel like you're not quite getting the effect you want, listen to this episode.


Book a free feedback call with Benedikt, the host of the show!

Here's why your reverbs don't work and what you can do about it.

Using reverbs is an essential part of mixing.

But as great as they can sound, they can also completely ruin your mix or get in the way of more important elements of your arrangement, if you use them the wrong way.

There are quite a few reverb mistakes that we hear all the time in a lot of songs and that we are trying to avoid when we work on our own mixes.

And of course, there's always a solution and a better way, which is exactly what we're talking about today.

These are some of the things we address on the episode:

  • Using reverb plugins as inserts vs using AUX/FX tracks (send/return)
  • Choosing the right type of reverb
  • Setting the length/decay time correctly
  • The importance of pre-delay and what that actually is
  • Why you should EQ your reverbs
  • Why we often de-ess our reverbs
  • How transient designers can make your drum reverbs sit just right
  • Compression and ducking effects on reverbs
  • Maybe reverb isn't even what you want (and why you should probably try a delay instead)
  • There isn't one reverb to rule them all - Using different reverbs for different instruments and vocals

Let's go!


Related Articles:

Room Sound & Reverb

Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB 151 - Automatic Episode Transcript - Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy

Malcom: It's not uncommon. I don't know if I've ever publicly admitted this, but I will have a de-esser sitting on my reverb channel turned all the way up. It is often my go-to for my delays and my reverbs because I don't need esses in my reverb. That's happening on the main track.

Benedikt: Hello and welcome to the Self Recording Band podcast. I'm your host, Benedictine, and today we're gonna talk about why your reverbs don't work. We're gonna get to that in a second. If you are new to the show, Thank you for joining us. Thank you for tuning in, and, uh, I hope you get value out of this episode. Welcome. If you are already a listener, thank you for coming back. If you get any value out of the past episodes that you've been listening to, um, maybe you wanna share with your friends, like make a screenshot of you of this, um, episode on your phone, whatever ever you, the app you're using to listen to this, make a screenshot of that and share it in your Instagram stories. Share it with your friends, share the podcast with your friends, and tag us on your, in your post because we love to see that stuff. And, uh, you know, we might just share it too and so you can get some eyeballs on your band or a project that you have. So we really appreciate that. Thank you for coming back. Thank you for being a listener. Now, if you are looking for a proven way to improve your recordings and mixes so you can finally release impressing, impressive sounding music consistently. You know that if you've listened to the podcast before, you know that we always say that investing in yourself is always the best thing you can do with your money. Better than any plugin purchase could ever be. And by far the best way to improve your skills and learn what it really takes to produce pro quality records is personal feedback and one-on-one mentorship. This is why so many engineers and producers started out as. At bigger studios or like a mentorship from producers and you know, they want it to be a fly on the wall and get real word education, you can do that right now as well from the comfort of your home studio and with a program specifically designed for self recording artists like you, because the DIY route, you know, presents a whole new set of challenges. The way to get started with this is to simply apply for a coaching program to surf recording, syndicate, and book a free first one-on-one call with me. So on this call, you get a personal feedback on your music, on your recordings. You get an action plan, like a step-by-step plan on what I would do next in if I were in your position. And, um, you get answers to your most pressing audio questions of course, and you know, best case scenario, we end up working together and we can transform your mixes and recordings forever. Worst case scenario, you get an action plan that you can implement on your own and you get an hour of free coaching. Right. So if you wanna do that, go to the surf recording band.com/call and book your first free call. Can't wait to hang and talk about your music. Now, on to today's episode as promised. As always, I'm not here alone. I'm here with my friend and co-host Malcolm Owen Flat. How are you, Malcolm?

Malcom: Hey Benny. I'm great, man. How are you?

Benedikt: I'm grade two. Thank you. And a wonderful weekend. Cross-country skiing. Um, beautiful weather.

Malcom: That sounds really nice. I don't think I've ever done CrossCountry skiing. I've only just done like downhill stuff, so gonna have to give that a shot one day. I think now in my adult life, I would like it where as a kid I probably would've hated it.

Benedikt: Yeah, I, I did it when I was a kid then I hated it and I, all I did was snowboarding. And now I got back to cross country skiing. But the thing is, I can't do the downhill thing because I was always snowboarding. I was never skiing. So that is kind of a challenge. So because I'm a, I'm a decent runner and all of that, that's not so much a problem. But, um, the downhills, are dangerous and exciting.

Malcom: right, right.

Benedikt: um,

Malcom: yep. I had some excitement last night. I just, I sent you a photo of Benny, which, uh, viewers you won't be able to see, but he'll describe it for you if it's, it's in your WhatsApp, buddy

Benedikt: I'm just open it.

Malcom: there.

Benedikt: what am I looking at here,

Malcom: you are looking at. Yeah.

Benedikt: I'm describing it real quick. So I see a red car at the side of the road that doesn't look like it's supposed to be there. Um, I see, uh, like a firetruck.

Malcom: Yep.

Benedikt: and, um,

Malcom: Perhaps a pull at an odd angle. Yeah, we, we got like the slightest sprinkle of snow yesterday and somebody just drove straight off the road into a telephone pole right by the house that I'm looking after. Oh, actually, if this sounds a little different to you, longtime listeners, it's because I'm, I'm looking after my brother's dogs. I'm over at his place while they're away. And, uh, so I'm just in, I'm not in my studio. So it sounds a little bit different and it looks a little bit different if you're watching as well. But, uh, yeah, right outside this house, somebody just drove right into a pole. Like it was like the, it's the weirdest thing. It's straight road, straight stretch, straight into a pole, they just didn't turn, I guess. I don't know. Um, and uh, yeah, power was out for a bit. Obviously everybody's all right. Everybody's all right.

Benedikt: That's the, I was about to ask, that's the one thing that matters, but it definitely, yeah. Um,

Malcom: yeah, when you see the photo, it's like, what

Benedikt: like, but I don't even see snow. Like there's.

Malcom: No dude. There was like no snow. There was snow falling, but nothing was sticking it. Like they can't blame it on the snow. . That must have been distracted driving. That's my only guess.

Benedikt: Yeah. And, and I think in like, I don't know where, I always think that in Canada you should be used to snow, but maybe that's not so much the, the case in your area. I always think of Canada as like a place with a lot of snow in the

Malcom: Yeah. It, it's snowing right now. Actually. I think we're gonna get quite a bit this week, but, but generally you're right. And it is because we have such little snow on Vancouver Island when it does snow, it's like chaos breaks out. People just don't know what to do. They can't drive in it and it's, yeah, it's hell.

Benedikt: Oh yeah. Yeah, it looks like it, man. No, glad nobody get hurt.

Malcom: Yeah.

Benedikt: definitely a good picture though. I could see that one. Like you could turn that into, um, a variety of memes.

Malcom: Yeah.

Benedikt: for sure. Yeah. Great. Uh, so yeah. You're, what is, what is it called? Dog sitting or house sitting? Both

Malcom: both. Yeah, both. Yeah. It's been fun though. I'm, I'm setting up the camera and stuff for YouTube content here, which is different than having my studio for it, where it's all ready to go. It's gotta figure it out, new stuff. But that was part of the challenge because one day I would like to take YouTube on the road and travel well, making videos and, and podcasting with you and stuff like that. So figuring out how to do it. Mobile is part of the fun.

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah, totally. And I mean, just bringing a couple of lights and you, you are a new camera that looks awesome and stuff. You can turn, um, almost any room into something usable.

Malcom: Totally. Yeah. It's, it's amazing. Um, audio is, I think that's the hardest thing to figure out on the road. Um, but, you know, close, large dive around, Mike. It's always gonna work.

Benedikt: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Cool. All right, so let's talk about, as I said, why your reverbs don't work, and what we mean with that is, I oftentimes, and I think it's the same for you, probably Malcolm, when we listen to people's mixes or when we mix songs ourselves, sometimes it's a good idea that there's reverb in there, but how it's being used or how it's, how it is in there, like how it's treated or not treated is a problem because, um, reverb can, as, as beautiful as it can sound, it can completely ruin your mix or get in the way of more important elements of your mix if you don't treat it correctly or if you don't make, if you're not able to make it fit into the mix. Well, I think, and, um, so oftentimes when I listen to, to people, to people's mixes that I get for, um, yeah, when they ask me for feedback, Uh, the idea itself is good, as I said, but there are things about the reverb that are really problematic, and that comes from not treating the reverb as its own sort of element in the mix and making it fit in the mix together with everything else. And so a lot of people just use preset or, um, they, they choose a type of reverb, put a certain amount of it in the mix, and then that's it. And that's what I've been doing for a long time too, until I discovered how, like what you need to do with a reverb or what you can do with a reverb to make it blend really well and do its job really well. So we're gonna talk about that. So if you're struggling with getting your reverbs to sit right, uh, we're gonna, we're, we are really here to show you why your reverbs don't work and what you can do about it.

Malcom: Yeah, it, it's pretty fascinating because I feel like there's some genres where it seems like you can get away with anything like giant, huge, long vocal reverb. That just sounds magical, but like, especially in like rock genres where I think a lot of our audience lives, it's really easy to do. Think you can do something like that, have a big, long vocal reverb that sounds great when you're listening to just the vocal. But when you have that overlapping over top of all of these, you know, fast drums, dense guitars and stuff like that, you've created like a big soup bo. Oiling pot that is just, it's just getting in the way of all those other instruments and, and causing harm to the overall sound of all the other parts. Um, so what good is making your vocal sound lush if it's making the rest of it sound soft?

Benedikt: Yes. Um, absolutely. That's, that's part of it. I haven't even thought about it from that perspective when, how it affects other things in the mix and how they sound because of the reverb. But that's that. Yeah. That should be another thing. You're an outline actually. Um, so it's not only how the reverb itself sounds and, and how it kind of can mask other things, but it's also making other things sound weird in the mix or the thing that is it is applied to can sound different because of it. Yeah,

Malcom: Yeah, totally.

Benedikt: yeah, for sure. So, but there's always a solution and a better way, which is what we're gonna talk about today. And, um, so how do we, I mean, we should just get through the, these, uh, bullet points, I think, and talk about

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. They're all.

Benedikt: cool. So the first thing I'd say is, first of all, I think, okay, before we start doing these bullet points, going through these, I wanna say, I wanna quickly explain what reverb actually is, because that helps us with a couple of these things that, that we're about to explain. And just real quick, um, reverb is actually, A series of, a lot of echoes, basically a very dense series of echoes that sound like one big tale of like a Yeah, like a hall or like, you know, some ambient. Can't be short, can't be long. But it's basically what it is, is it's a lot of echoes that are very, very quickly, um, you know, very dense and, and, and we don't hear the individual echoes anymore. We just hear this long reverb tale basically. And between the direct sound and this reverb tale, there can be a gap in between, but it can also become one sort of, and then the tail can have certain characteristic. It can sound, can be wide, can be narrow, can be bright, can be dark, can be, um, Can, can sound like a, a real room can sound like a fake room, like something that doesn't exist in real life, depending on h the pattern of these echoes and where they come from and how dense they are and all of this, um, this creates different shapes of, of like virtual rooms. And some of them are close to what a real room sounds like. Others are like something that doesn't exist in real life. But you can manipulate that. So you can manipulate the, the room that you're putting your instrument in. You can attach the room sound to the direct sound. You can detach it, you can sort of uncouple it and you can manipulate the two things individually basically. We're gonna talk about some ways to do that and why that all matters. So it all starts, I think, with the question, do you put the reverb directly on the track as an insert or do you use ascend return configuration? Because some of the things we're gonna explain are only possible in ascend return configuration really, and other stuff with other things. It doesn't matter as much so, We've, I think we've talked about that on the podcast before, but really quick, Malcolm are, there are like go-tos for certain scenarios where you put it in, um, as an insert and in other scenarios where you use it as a send return

Malcom: Yeah, I mean, I think we can safely say that best practice and what I think we both recommend you do as a rule thumb is use a send return or ox track method where the reverb isn't directly on the track that you're trying to apply reverb on. That's gonna give you the most flexibility. Um, it's. If you just, you know, get smart, build some templates and, and have its living in your session already, it doesn't take up that much time. So it's not like it's a huge hassle to, to get it done either. Um, that is the way to go. Do I sometimes break that rule and throw it on an individual track? Yeah, that does happen, of course. Um, and that's okay, uh, if you don't need that extra flexibility, um, or if you are intentionally running it into something. So if you, I mean, I'm going down a rabbit hole here, Benny, so stop me at any time. But one example being throwing like a spring reverb sounding plugin on a guitar ei that's going into an amp sim is a pretty weird sound that's like running a reverb pedal in front of the amp, which is something you can do. And the only way to do that is inserting it before the amp, which is an amp sim plugin in this case. So there's of course, exceptions to every rule, but as rule of thumb, uh, the send and return trac method is totally the way that I would recommend it.

Benedikt: Yeah, absolutely. Perfect. Uh, summary there. Um, if you can treat it like a, if you think of it as like a guitar pedal, it's part of the chain, part of the source, and then it's good on an in an insert. Um, but in all other cases, I, I would recommend using it as a send return thing. Now, what the send return thing actually is real quick, is you have, you have your track with the source that you wanna apply reverb to, um, and then you have another track, which is usually does call it differently, but it's u it's usually called. Um, either an effects track or an UX track. Um, I don't know if there's a return on, on an analog desk. It would be the send knob on the channel and then the return channel somewhere else on the desk. And what it does is, like from the, the source channel, you send a certain amount of that same thing that's on this channel. You send that out somewhere, and then you route, you route that output into the input of a different channel. So you send, it's like a second fader that doesn't send the volume to the master, but it sends the volume to somewhere else and it arrives at some other channel. And on that other channel there is your reverb, and then you set the reverb there, the plugin there, you set that to 100% wet. So you hear only the reverb. And then when you turn up that fader, you can, uh, you hear, you start to hear the reverb, and then you can balance the two faders against each other. So you have your dry track on one, on your source track, and then you have a second channel with only the reverb. And you can balance these two. Um, and you can do the balance with. As I said, the return channels, fader, the ox, channels fader, or by adding more or less of the, uh, the send from that original source. I hope that all makes sense. But basically you're splitting up the signal, one goes dry to the master, and then another version of that goes to the fax channel and you sum those together and that's what you're hearing at the end.

Malcom: Yeah, no, that was a great explanation. It, it is confusing if it's something you haven't done in a doll before, but if you haven't done that in a doll before, it's a totally essential skill. So jump on YouTube, figure out how to make. Could happen in, in your workstation. Um, cuz it's something you're gonna need to do even if it's not just for reverb.

Benedikt: yeah, totally. Um, one way you can also think of it is you could, in theory, I wouldn't recommend doing that because there's a better way, but like the same thing would happen if you'd just duplicate your track and one would be completely dry and the other one would be completely wet. And then you balance the two. That's exact essentially what happens. But instead of duplicating it and working on another audio track, you uh, send the track to the effects channel. And there you.

Malcom: It's kind of a train of thought here, but I'm wondering if that is becoming harder for new people coming into audio to grasp, because I think anybody my age or older has experience with oxes and sins because they're PA systems and, and, and. Like the gear we would've used growing up and jamming had all of those as actual knobs to turn and make happen. You know, if you wanted reverb on your vocal at a rehearsal space, your PA system had to have an OX reverb send. Um, so my brain had already made sense of it by the time I got to a computer, and it's just had to make the same thing happen. Where nowadays most, I, I don't know about most, but a lot of people are using like virtual mixers that don't necessarily have that like physical routing to learn from. So they have to figure it out purely digital, which is kind of just an interesting change in how people are learning to, uh, route tracks, I think.

Benedikt: 100% correct. And there's more problems that come with that. I think that's one of them. But I, I think in general, still to this day, it's very valuable and very useful to learn basic analog signal flow on a, on a console. Like just how a channel strip works, how the parallel routing works, how the summing works, all of that. Just once you know. That on a simple, like you could, you could look at a simple, like four channel analog sort of cheap mixing desk or something, but just knowing where the signal comes in, how it travels through the channel, how it then gets sent to the master, what the parallel processing is and all of that. If you, if you really get that, then you can, um, you can totally apply that to what you do in the door. And it's a, I think, a very valuable skill to have just to, to understand that at a, at a, at its core basically.

Malcom: Yeah, actually like, like a mixing console, like a, with faders, a big one that you see in like any, any big recording studio photo that is like, you can actually see you, you can see where the mic plugs in, and then trace with your finger how the audio moves through that board. Pretty much it's laid. Like that because it physically does have to move in order. Right? Um, and so being able to see that and then look at a do and figure out that same thing because most dolls are kind of designed to look like a mixing console. Um, uh, so it's, the audio goes through that DAW the same way. I mean, it doesn't because it's code, but if you, you can pretty much safely assume that, okay, if I put a plug in here below this thing, it's gonna happen after whatever that is. Right? Um, so just learning to be able to visualize and actually like trace with your finger where the sound is gonna go in, in what order makes it pretty easy to understand any.

Benedikt: Yeah, absolutely. That's, by the way, one reason why I like Cubase so much, honestly, just because it is very close to what an analog console looks like, the channel strip and how it's all laid out, it makes total sense to me and other others do that as well. But there are some dos who kind of went away from that intentionally and that that is always kind of hard for me to wrap my head around. Um,

Malcom: Yeah. Lo Logics doesn't necessarily make sense or no, no, sorry, not logic. Logic might be fine. It's been a long time since I looked at it, but Garage Band, I, I really don't know what's going on.

Benedikt: Yeah. And then there's a couple of like free or, or inexpensive ones designed for, uh, musicians or people who are not like, as, um, like tech savvy and wanna get quick, like, you know, quickly get ideas down and stuff. And it makes sense and they're kind of intuitive, but also they're so limited because of that.

Like, there's a couple of dolls that come to mind where, where I, I look at it and I'm like, what am I, what am I looking at ? You know, like it's so different from what I'm used to. Um, but yeah, anyway, I, I think it pays off to, to just know that and, um, good. So now once you know how to make that work, the whole send and return configuration, the next step is I think choosing the right type of reverb because, you know, um,

Malcom: So, yeah. Yeah.

Benedikt: scenarios.

Malcom: E, e, exactly. So when we say that if somebody's listening and thinking, well, what are the different types of reverb? It's like an unlimited list. But essentially, think about it this way, if you go into the room I'm in right now, has some small boxy sounding reverb, not very pleasant if you ask me. Um, and hopefully Wayne has managed to make that not so noticeable when you're listening to this . So if you can't hear any reverb, uh, good . But, uh, if I were to go into a church and record this podcast, it would probably sound very different. It would be this long, uh, and kind of delayed reverb. Um, and if I go into, uh, a tiled bathroom, that's, that's gotta sound as well. Everybody sings in the shower at some point in their life and they're like, Hey, this sounds. That's a different type of reverb. There's different spaces sound different, so most reverb plug-ins have ways of emulating those different types of re.

Benedikt: Yes, absolutely. And if you wanna hear a deep dive on that, um, we have an episode, it's episode 1 33. It's called The Vocal Effects we Use in our recording and mixing templates. And, uh, I remember us talking about a whole, you know, bunch of different types of reverb that we use and the reasons why we used that. And I think we didn't, as always, we just went down rabbit holes and we didn't just talk about vocal re reversers, but reverbs in general and then other effects too. So you might wanna check that out. It's one episode, 1 33. Um, just to, to maybe a quick overview of some of the go-tos without going deep into, uh, each individual one, I'd say like there are some common starting points that a lot of people use. So I think a plate reverb is a very common one, um, that you can use on drums, on vocals, on all kinds of things. It has a certain sound to it. I like to use plates when I want the reverb to be kind of obvious and, and, and heard as a reverb because it has a sound. It's not like a very subtle thing there. And there are different types of plate plates in that category, but the, the overall thing, um, then there are, and, and the plate is not a real, like a simulation of a real room, but like a simulation or a, yeah, let's, let's call it, um, a simulation of a physical device that is actually a metal plate that is resonating and creating that reverb tail that's been used back in the day. And now there's plugin versions and digital versions of that. Um, then there are reverb types that. Are sort of a virtual room, you know, where it could be a room like a s that would be a short, small rere. That sounds like a room, like what you just described, Malcolm in your room. There could be, sometimes it's called ambience. Um, sometimes it's called room. Um, there are chambers which are usually more obvious but also pretty small. You know, like, like a small room with um, blank walls, bare walls, um, that is a chamber. Then there is halls which are also, um, sort of natural emulations of, of real rooms, but like big ones like hall or a church or something like that, or jazz hall or you know, concert hall, stuff like that. And then I would say there's more specific types, like a spring reverb. That's the thing that's built into like fender amps, for example. Guitar amps often. Um, and you know, but I think Hals plates and then. Yeah, those are pretty much the big ones. And then like ambience room, smaller stuff, and then specialized things like, like springs. I think that will get you very far already.

Malcom: Mm-hmm. . Yep. Yeah. Yeah. There's, there's kind of unlimited ones and like, if you really find this interesting, just dig into irs, which I think we have an episode on as well. But you then you can get the reverb of a specific room, like literally a room in the world. . Choose that room, get that reverb.

Benedikt: yeah. I'm not even sure that we have an episode on IRSs. We might, we've definitely talked about it before. So, yeah, if you go by the way, if you go to the search recording band.com/podcast, you'll find the whole podcast archive including your show notes. And there's a little search field there too. So if you type in reverb, it shows you all the episodes that are about reverb basically. Or you know, now I typed in IRS and it shows me we have an episode on guitar caps and

Malcom: Ah, okay.

Benedikt: and yeah, just use that search function like we have 150 episodes now at this point.

Malcom: Okay. Episode incoming about River by Ours. Then we, we should, we should have that.

Benedikt: Yeah, we should have that. I think so. Yeah, for sure. All right, so now why is that, does that matter which type you use? Because they all sound very different. And it's not just the size of these rooms, it's not just the obvious thing that, um, if you want a small room, you choose a room and if you want a long sort of hall you choose or a big hall, you choose a hall. It's like some of these are, to me at least, and to most people, I think more natural sounding and blend better or are more like in the background, even though they're long and others are more obvious. For example, a long plate versus a long jazz hall are two very different things. A plate usually, as I said, is more obvious, can sound a little brighter and maybe synt depending on the type of plate. Whereas a Chas Hall is like more subtle, smoother, less, um, cnt or harsh. It kind of sits more in the background a little bit. Um, and so you can pick the, so it starts, it all starts by picking the right sort of reverbs to begin with. I think before you start manipulating it.

Malcom: Yeah, absolutely. Um, yeah, it, it's, it's a lot like choosing what Guitar Amp you're gonna use. They're, they're gonna sound different. Um, and while you can get a distorted tone out of Offender or a mesa, they're pretty different sounding. I think we would all agree. Um, so think of it that way, choosing the reverb is equally as important.

Maybe, uh, maybe not equally

Benedikt: Yeah. De depends on how, how big of a role the reverb plays. I mean, there are some songs, some arrangements where the reverb is such a part of the arrangement that it absolutely matters,

Malcom: Yes. Yeah, you're right. Um, Adele's re. a sound, you know, uh, uh, hosier do you ha do you get, listen to Hosier out in, uh, Germany,

Benedikt: yeah.

Malcom: the most incredible vocal sound and that vocal sound is so important to his success? I would say, I mean, he's obviously an incredible songwriter and voice and the, the, the, yeah, the productions are incredible, but that vocal sound gives the exact feeling that everybody connected to. It's like this crazy gospel sound that is so interesting and that reverb is, is super important to that.

Benedikt: totally. Aren't those, um, Shep's mixes? I think at least some of them. Andrew Shep's, I think used work with Hosier quite a bit.

Malcom: Some of them are the original, uh, breakout song I can't even take me to church, I think was, uh, was originally released by the producer who did a mix on it, which also sounds great. Um, and then when it came out as an album, I think Shep's did the, the, the album mix. I, for some reason, I know quite a bit about that song.

Benedikt: Yeah. It's like, you know, we can remember things for weird reasons,

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah,

Benedikt: and others not so much. Um,

Malcom: Um, but you know, one more fun fact, uh, that was actually, uh, a hardware reverb, which is something people might not know these days either, is that, uh, reverb is in the do very successfully. Um, I think most people would say that reverb plugins are one of the things that are usually better digitally rather than hardware. But there are cool hardware effects units out there that have sounds that are just different.

Benedikt: Yeah. And, and the funny thing about that is that it's oftentimes because of the old inferior components in those things because inside like the actual algorithm or the actual digit, like it's digital, you know, a hardware river unit, what is, what happens inside is also digital if it's not a spring or a plate or something. And so that is not the difference. You can take that same sort of code and put it into a plugin and it would be the same. The difference is that sound has to get into the unit and out of the unit, and there's electronics and, and converters and stuff and that stuff, if it's from the eighties or whatever, it's just not nearly as good as it is these days, but that has a sound, so they often sound grainy or you know, and that's, that's not, it's not the rear of itself, but the whole unit that has that sound oftentimes.

Malcom: Mm-hmm. . Yeah, exactly.

Benedikt: yeah, but there are good emulations of that too, but it's kind of funny how a digital version of an already digital thing can still sound different. you know? So yeah. Anyway, but yeah, you, you're totally right. There are some things, uh, that are cool to play with. So, okay, so now you added Malcolm that there isn't one reverb to rule them all. Now, we talked about there are different types of reverb, but not only is it you, you don't only have to choose, you not only have to choose one reverb for the song, you can choose a couple of reverbs and use them all in the song, but on different sources in different reverbs for different things in your mix. And more often than not, that's what I do in my mixes. So I rarely use one for everything. I have different Rebus to different things in my template. And, uh, so, so what did you think of when you added that? Like, which, which types?

Malcom: So I, I think for a lot of people, if when they start a new session template or make a new session to start working on a song, they might just like build one reverb ox. And whenever they need reverb for any instrument, they just add. That ox into the chain, right? Um, now that does work. You're adding reverb, but you're just adding the same blanket reverb to everything. And it's not realistic to think that one reverb is gonna work for every type of instrument in your song. Um, and I'm a big fan of creating separation with reverb as well. So my lead vocal very often will have reverb that my backing vocals don't have. It's creating its own space essentially. Um, that's gonna help it kind of contrast from the rest of the mix. There's of course gonna be times where you want the opposite of that. You want everything that kind of has a co a cohesive nature to it, but, but you just have to make that decision essentially, right? Um, and you know, don't assume that the giant lung plate reverb that you've chosen for your vocals is gonna work on your tom drums. Where the drummers play in a really fast Tom role. It's, it's a totally different situation. So set up a different reverb for the different things as needed.

Benedikt: Absolutely. Absolutely. So the only situation where I would use one across many different things is when I wanted to glue it together or put it in the same virtual room, sort of when I want the band and when it's very dry. But I want it to sound like a band in a room. I might choose an ambience or an IR of some great room and then, um, put like varying degrees of, of, of, um, my individual sources into that reverb and blended in just like a, like there was a pair of room mics in the room with the band. That's what I treated as. And um, but other than that I use individual things and part of the reason is, uh, are all the things that we're gonna talk about now, which is how to manipulate. The, the reverb, because as you said, Malcolm, your vocal reverb might not work on Tom's. So it might be the, the wrong reverb to begin with, but also you might want to treat it differently than the ones you use, uh, than the one you use on Tom's. That's why what we're gonna talk about now, because I said the title is like, why your reverbs don't Work, and the part is because you might have chosen the wrong one. But the other part of that is a very, a very, very common thing is even if you choose the right one, um, you shouldn't just stop there, but think about like how, how it, like if it actually fits the way it is or if you have to do more to it.

Malcom: Yes. Yeah, this is so good. I, if your, uh, ox track only has a reer plug on, plugin on it, there's potentially a problem. . That's a, that's a hint that, uh, some skips have been, or sorry, uh, . Yeah. Yeah. Your skips have been stepped and . Uh, wow. It's too early for me. Apparently everyone, uh, but it that, that's a clue that essentially there's more work to be done and, uh, you, you know, get in the river plugin on that channel is the first step. Of course, that's gonna give you reverb, but if you want it to fit into your song, uh, and, you know, sound professional, there's more to be done.

Benedikt: Yes, 100%. Now, what are the those things that, uh, you can do to your reverb? So the first thing that I start with typically is I listen to, like, let's say I found a reverb that I think fits perfectly and sounds great. Um, the first thing I look at is the length of it, because almost always that has to be slightly adjusted to the song, the tempo of the song, and to like what I want it to sound like. So it might be a perfect, like long plate that sounds beautiful, but it might be a touch too long. And, um, if it's a drum reverb, for example, then it becomes very obvious where I usually don't want my snare plate reverb to sort of. Bleed into the next snare hit. So it has to die off shortly before the next hit. Or can even be gated, like an eighties drum thing or, you know, but I, I definitely wanna manipulate the, the length of it. So I grab the decay knob length or whatever it's called in your plugin, and I just adjust the length of the tail until I think it fits the song. So that's the first thing. And, and more often, like very often I hear l reverbs that are just a touch too long, and therefore it bec everything gets muddy, you know? Or, or it's like, the other thing can be true too, where I wish it would just be tiny bit longer and therefore it would be more cohesive or, you know, but just adjust that. I think that's the first thing.

Malcom: Yep. And easier said than done because if you solo it, I think you're bound to make it a little too long. But if you listen in the mix and don't get it just right, you end up a little too short and . Um, cuz what our natural inclination is, is to, you know, we solo it. And like I said, you're probably gonna go too long on that because longer it just seems to sound better. Um, and then you're gonna listening in context and be like, okay, that's too long. I'm gonna dial it back. But because you're focused on the vocal, you've probably got the vocal turned up still a little bit louder than it will be in the end. Um, so then you end up going shorter because you're listening in context. But once you duck it down, It could be a little bit longer. , it's really hard to dial in perfectly, is what I'm saying. Um, so you'll figure out little tricks to get that done. But that does bring me to the next most important step in dialing in your reverb is the mix knob or the volume. Now if you're using an ox, uh, the send volume is your mix knob. Um, but if it's right on the track, there will be a mix knob right in the plugin. So length and mix are the two primary drivers of what your reverb's gonna sound like.

Benedikt: Oh yeah, totally right. Forgot the mix up here in the outline. Yeah. And some presets, the default is like mix set 2 50, 50 or something or, and if you have it on the same return configuration, you wanna make sure that it's turned to 100% wet. Uh, and if you know you're only gonna use it that way anyways, I would change the default preset to do, to do that. Just so you don't forget. Yeah. Okay. Cool. Now, length decay, we talked about that. The next one is interesting to pred delay. Now when I try to explain what reverb is, I mentioned that there could be, that there can be a gap between the direct sound and the reverb tail. And that is the pre delay. And what that does is think about when. Say you, you're standing in an empty, in an empty room with like a small empty room, untreated walls, and you talk or clap in that room. The reverb will be almost like immediately. It's like when you're standing close to, to an untreated wall, you'll hear the direct sound and the reverb almost at the same time, which makes the whole sound of your voice or you're clapping sound pretty ambient and kind of distant, and it, it all becomes one. Whereas if you stand in a bigger. Next to a treated wall, and you clap. And the, the other side, the opposite side of the room that's further away is untreated. Then you hear the direct sound. You can localize that. You hear where it comes from. It's kind of clear and dry. And then slightly after that, you hear the, the room sort of, and your brain can tell the difference between the direct sound and the room. And then it sounds closer, but still has the ambience. And that's what the pre delay does. So if you increase the ple, if you turn up the pred delay, if you set the two, I dunno, 20 milliseconds, 30 milliseconds, 100 milliseconds, um, where there is an audible gap and it's the audible starts at like two digits. So ev anything from 10 milliseconds and above basically is what we can hear as a gap, sort of as a delay. If you, if you dial that in, the bigger that gap is, the closer the direct sound will remain, will. And, um, the better we can, uh, tell those things apart, the direct sound versus the room sound, and if they become one, if there's no pre delay, the, the tail starts right with the direct sound and then it becomes one. And it sounds like the difference basically is one, sounds like the source is in front of you and the room sound is sort of a little backwards and comes after that. And the other one sounds like the source is standing at the opposite side of the room where the reverb is coming from. So it sounds further away. And you can use that to make, to add a lot of re when you wanna add a lot of reverb to a source, but still keep the source front in the mix. So if you wanna keep the vocal up front and on top of the mix, but still have a lot of reverb on it, then you want to increase the pred delay. Because if you don't do that, get the reverb, but also it will make the vocal sink into the mix more if that makes.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. This is perhaps the quickest way to make your vocals more intelligible. Um, if you're having trouble making out the lyrics because of the reverb, pred delay knob is like the magic fix for this. Um, I can't really stress enough how important pre delay is to me in getting vocal reverbs dial.

Benedikt: Yeah, 100%. Um, so not, yeah. Not only does it do what I just said, where it puts the vocal in a certain place in the rooms, so either up front or at the back wall. But it does what you just said. Um, Malcolm, it, it prevents the lyrics from being sort of muddied up and mixed up with the river because, you know, you hear the lyrics first and then with the slight delay, the re comes in. Yeah,

Malcom: Now

Benedikt: definitely helps.

Malcom: it helps with that because, because of, like you said, if I want that little noise like a siblings, there's gonna be. The reverb's not happening right when that siblings happens. It's happening right after. But if it's a long vocal phrase, that reverb is coming,

Benedikt: Yes.

Malcom: it, and it's gonna happen while I'm saying something else. So it's not like it magically is just gonna skip all of the, the singing and there won't be reverb while somebody's singing. But that little, our brain can make that space work. And it does help us understand what's being said, um, now for making it so that the reverb is more outta the way, even while we're saying other words after that initial noise. Uh, that's coming later in this episode. So keep listening,

Benedikt: Yeah, you're, you're totally right. Yeah. Yeah. Abso absolutely. There's a way to deal with that too. For sure. Andele comes to mind here too. There's a, a song where they use that beautifully, but we'll get to that. Um, so yeah. Okay. So the next one I think is, you just said at Malcolm there's the siblings That is often a problem with vocals, uh, with, or like with vocal reverbs and other sources, um, too sometimes. The timing is part of it, but also you, you don't have to leave your reverbs like they are. You can EQ them, you can manipulate them, and you can treat them just like you would treat the vocals. It's themselves, like if the vocal is too sibilant, you would either reach for a DSR or an eq, you would make it smoother. You would get rid of the sibilance. And you should do the same thing with the reverb, because it might be that your vocal sounds totally fine, the dry vocal, but the reverb is still too civil.

Malcom: Yes.

Benedikt: and, and then it could, it could clash with the vocal, it could get in, in the way of the vocal. It could be, um, yeah, it could be all sorts of problems. So, um, it makes absolute sense and it's completely normal to EQ your reverb and not just the dry sound. In fact, I think it's, it's, in most cases it's necessary. And not just the surveillances, but EQing in general. So are there, are there some go-tos, some things you generally do to, let's say vocal reverbs or drum re.

Malcom: Yep. Absolutely. Um, so for a vocal, I'm definitely gonna be de eing it. It's not uncommon, uh, I don't know if I've ever publicly admitted this, but I will have a DSR sitting on my Reer channel turned all the way up, like. Like lis b, like as, as much ding as, as humanly possible inside of that plugin. . It is often my go-to for my delays and my reverbs because I don't need s's in my reverb that's happening on the main track, on the dry vocal. Um, and I, to me it sounds totally normal. My brain hears the one s instead of multiple S's coming from different places, because when you send into a reverb, that s is gonna become very stereo as well worth mentioning. Um, yeah. So I pretty much use EQ or a Ds or to eliminate all consonants. Consonants,

Benedikt: Yep.

Malcom: yes.

Benedikt: Yeah, I know what you mean.

Malcom: you know what I mean? Um, and, uh, For me, I, I, I, I've never thought, oh, I took out too much from my reverb. It's just doesn't need to live there, in my opinion. Um, but other things I might do is carve out low end, low end, I find can, like the muddy is the word that's gonna come to mind, um, against other instruments. So I can take that out sometimes, or thoughts that, uh, a lot of vocals, or sorry, a lot of reverbs have really sparkly top end to make them sound like shimmery. Um, and that is all great and all until you don't want that. So, The, there could be situations where you wanna just carve like smooth out the top end of the reverb as well. Um, Valhalla, like vintage verb is a hugely popular reverb that most people have probably heard, uh, definitely heard, but even checked out. And like the, the like classic plate reverb on that with the like modern setting is so bright and it's awesome, but like you can really tame that out and, and kind of smooth it out quite a bit if you want.

Benedikt: 100%. Now the question is, do you do that before the reverb? Like do you ds, do you insert that plugin before the reverb plugin? So which means you would treat the unprocessed,

Malcom: Yes. This is such a good question.

Benedikt: into the plugin? Or do you treat it after it's gone through the plugin, which means treating the actual reverb tail?

Malcom: Yes. Uh, so great, great question. In the case of the ding or removing consonants noises, uh, I would be, Doing that before the reverb. So I'm deleting that information before it even hits the reverb, really. Um, and then that way the reverb will not amplify any s noises because they don't exist

Benedikt: Yeah.

Malcom: Um, so if you think about it that way, what we're feeding it is refined and that's great, but if it's more of like a broad, I just want the whole reverb sound to be darker, then I'm doing it after. Because what I find is that reverb plugins just kind of recreate, like if I darken the vocal being fed into the reverb, it will make it darker, but the vocal, like impulse response just makes bright information again. Um, so I find it more effective just to put the EQ after the reverb plugin and then make sure that if I'm cutting highs, for example, that's happening to that entire output, um, it, like, it's, there's not more bright information being added after it. It's kinda the last thing in my chain.

Benedikt: Yeah, totally. Uh, interesting because I do exactly the same thing. Uh, so most of the time I do both. I do the corrective thing before it hits the reverb, and then I make the reverb fit into the mix by shaping it again afterwards, basically. So there's these two steps. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. And it's interesting you say that because I feel like, I feel like. It's really true that you can send something really dark into a certain reverb and it will come out bright no matter what,

Malcom: it just like

Benedikt: the reverb or whatever.

Malcom: makes that information cuz it's like creating this sound and it, yeah, it fills in the gaps it seems.

Benedikt: yeah, yeah. Absolutely.

Malcom: Um, I do wanna mention though, that some plugins, most reer plugins have kind of some tone shaping built into them, so you can probably roll off the highs right in that plugin if you want. Um, I like using like fab filter ProQ as the both Benny and I's favorite plug plugin, I think , um, utilitarian plugin anyways. And just because I can see like the, the curve of what's happening, um, And I find that's kind of nice for the, this situation where you're trying to just like take out the, the top end, for example. You can kind of see what, how much is actually happening there.

Benedikt: Yeah, absolutely. And, and, um, it might not be, it's like on some plugins it's pretty obvious because you have sort of an EQ there where it says lows, mids and highs or whatever. But sometimes it's called something like damp or so, or where you can like tame the top, which just isn't another way of saying it. You tame the top end. Um, so there's often the parameter like this, uh, but there's usually some way built into the, the plugin to, to at least dampen or like tame the top end. And sometimes it's a full eq. But as you said, I like to have control over things, so I, sometimes I might do it, but yeah, I oftentimes just use a plugin.

Malcom: It, it's often a combination of both. Um, and there's sometimes there's ways like actually, okay, yeah, there are definitely times where it makes sense to u to use the parameters inside of the reverb because, uh, you can accomplish the same thing in better ways, possibly. So you can actually change, um, the amount of decay time on certain frequencies in some plugins, right? So you can make the higher frequencies, uh, half a shorter decay time, which sounds different than just carving the mo You're changing the shape of the room, kind of the, the response of like the reverb, um, profile. And, and that's gonna sound different than just cutting it out after the fact.

Benedikt: Yeah. 100%. Yeah, totally. Um, cool. So that is actually great segue to the next point here because you can also do that if your re were, uh, plugging doesn't have those parameters. You can shape the sustain and attack of certain parts of the frequency spectrum with a transient designer. Like you can do it overall, but you can also do it per band with a multi-band transient tool. Now, before you get overwhelmed or before this sounds too complex or confusing, a transient designer is a tool that lets you, it's sometimes also called envelope shaper. It's let, it lets you shape the envelope of the sound, which means you can make it. You can increase or decrease the attack. So the beginning of the signal, the transient, so for a drum hit, it would be the moment where the stick hits the drum. Um, that attack can be made harder or softer, like you can turn that up or turn it down, and you can also increase or decrease the sustain of something. So you can make sound a tom, like it's dampened or gated or something. Or you can make it sound like it's very open and has a long sustain with a transient tool. Now why is that useful on reverbs? It's not something I do every single time, but I, I just did it this week and I love the results and I, I, I thought I had to share it. So I use this mainly on drums, but I can see it being useful on other things too. There is sometimes the reverb is fine and sometimes I don't want it darker or brighter. But I just don't like the fact that the stick attack, for example, is very audible in the reverb. And like, it sounds like a, you know, this sort of sound, that annoying sound that just becomes part of the snare sound. It makes it brighter in a weird way, and I don't like that, but I like the length, and I don't wanna darken it completely because then it gets lost in the mix. And so what can help with that is to just use a transient designer on your reverb channel, either before the plugin or sometimes after it, but before it usually works well, and just removing the stick attack from it or making it softer, and then you get the beautiful tail with the right color and everything, but without the annoying, phew sound at the beginning. Um, So I use that a lot to get rid of the attack on my, uh, on my snare plate. Re re uh, for example, to just make that plane better. And so I get the full sound, the uncolored unchanged sound of my snare rum close mic with the tail that I want, without the weird attack getting in the way, which can also sometimes sound like a slap or something so that you can, um, that solves that problem too. So that is a beautiful way of, of dealing with that. Sibilance and vocals can also be the solution. So if, if the ING and getting rid of the SS doesn't do it, maybe you can make it just softer and, uh, and remove the, um, the, the attack and the higher frequencies, but leave the rest like it is. Or you can remove the sustain of a certain whatever you don't like. You just have to think about what, what is it that I don't like? And if it's not a, um, sort of a, an overall static broad thing, you can just treat the attack or the sustained part of it. And, and the drum thing is the prime example here for me, where I, that I use a lot actually.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. For me, I think it's usually more, sorry. For me, it's usually more vocals. I think when like, it's a very, uh, somebody's got like a very rhythm based vocal part. Um, or it's punchy like that. I don't always want the reverb to match that. I find it like, yeah. Distracting. So taming the, the transient, um, of the, the vocal reverb to be kind of smoother and, you know, doing other things like using that DSR method I talked about earlier and more of that we're gonna talk about soon to get the reverb out of the way. The vocal, I, I'm just kind of using all the checks at my disposal for that situation.

Benedikt: Yeah. Totally. Totally. And it's al also one of these things where I, I guess there's probably a lot of mixers out there who have never used a ENT center on a river, but. Then again, it just works for me. So you might just wanna try it and, and figure out if it, if it works for you. Um, and I just, it might also be a personal thing that I don't, and it's the same for vocals. I typically don't like those hard, upper, mid-range or high frequency plosives or attack sounds in reverb. It's very rarely that I want that. So that's why I often do this. I just want the reverbs to be soft in a way, and that gives, that makes the, the actual sound even more punchy and makes the reverb go out of the way. And I also don't like my reverb to change the actual sound so much. So I like that to be sort of behind it and not get like, you know, not blend with it, you know, in

Malcom: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. We're trying to make the reverb kind of responsibly soften when the vocal gets more aggressive. Uh, it is like often what I'm trying to do and that's one way of doing that.

Benedikt: Yeah. And obviously the opposite thing can be done as well. You can have a short ambience or a room thing that you like and it doesn't get any longer by just using the parameter on the plugin. And then you can use a transient designer and just turn up the sustainer on that, and all of a sudden it gets longer and more explosive and starts to pump or whatever. You can create cool effects with that too, just so, okay, cool. Now another way of making things softer or harder or more dense, um, is compression. So just like we can make, we can really pin a vocal or we can increase the punch of a sn drumm or completely remove the punch of a sn drumm with compression. We can do that with a, a reverb too, so we can create an even more dense sounding reverb that is very consistent. Very yeah. Dense. Um, we can tame the attacks and transient with compressional limiting. We can make it cut through the mix more, even though it's like not as loud. So there's a lot of benefits to. It's also kind of dangerous sometimes, but there's benefits to compressing a reverb in certain scenarios where maybe you hear it on every other word, but not like really consistently, but you want it to be dense and on audible all the time without having to turn it up a lot. And so just as you can compress the actual thing, you can compress the reverb and that creates really exciting results sometimes I think.

Malcom: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So if we think about how we mix vocals and we make it usually pretty consistent with. On, on the vocal channel itself. If you're finding your reverb isn't doing that the same job, like doing the same job and you're like you said, hearing it for some lines, but the re kind of disappears on quiet spots, whatnot, compressing it can kind of bring that solidified volume to our reverb channel. Um, I find myself doing this when the reverb is like really important to the sound, like it's an obvious effect. That's when I'm compressing my reverb pretty hard.

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, totally. I just thought about is there ever a time where you want a reverb to become more punchy or to move more or pump more, either with like compression or transient design or anything.

Malcom: I'm sure there is, but for me it's like, well, I mean on, on the Mixes unpacked song I did with Wet Future, the song Crooked Judge, it's like a really obvious like slap delay on the vocal sound. And I think I compressed the snot out of that because I wanted it just to be like, just as loud as the lead vocal. It it is, it's the lead vocal sound.

Benedikt: Yeah,

Malcom: So I'm, I'm sure that same thing could happen with reverb in, in place of a slap back delay.

Benedikt: Yeah, 100%. Yeah, you're right. But in Mo in most cases, I think smoother is your friend. Um, yeah. Okay, cool. Now, now we get to the thing that you were already talking about, Malcolm. So this is how to get a reverb out of the way of the vocal, specifically while the vocal is still going. Like you wanna hear the lyrics, you want to hear what, what the, the singer is singing. You want to hear, you want, you want it to be intelligible, and then you want the reverb to come up, but not at, not necessarily at the same time or not as much of it. Like how do you do that?

Malcom: And so this is ducking is what we're called, uh, we're what we're referring to. So we're ducking the volume of the reverb channel. To be quiet when the actual vocal is present, and then when the vocal input stops, the reverb fades back up. Um, to kind of fill those gaps in between, there's a lot of ways to do this. Um, you can automate the fader level of the reverb, send, um, either what you're sending into it or the output of the, the reverb send, uh, like manually. Um, which is definitely a great way to do it. Uh, you can set a side chain, um, from your actual vocal channel. I, I'm using vocal as an example here, everyone, but of course this could be applied to j drums, whatever it, it, anything but vocals is what my brain thinks about when I think about reverb uh, so yeah, you could. Send a side chain output, which is gonna send that vocal sound to another ox, essentially, and then have a plugin listening to that. That'll like, like, like a compressor for example, that'll compress based on that input. And essentially we can make, you know, set that up. So that's ducking the loud stuff happening there. Um, essentially getting it more out of the way. Uh, there's a plug-in called Track Spacer, which ducks it, EQ essentially it's like, it's, it's removing frequencies. It's hearing from the side chain. So we're removing the, the sound of the vocal from the reverb while it's happening. Um, some plug-ins have ducking built in now, which is actually really cool. Uh, what, what, what's your primary use case, Denny, for, for.

Benedikt: Um, pr I only do one thing actually. I mean, all of those things you said are, I can see all of those work and track space. Yeah, I've tried, I've tried it and I kind of, I kind of liked it, but I dunno why I didn't end up using it a lot. Um, But it's, it's a absolutely a, um, a very helpful, fantastic plugin. But the one thing that I really do is just, I duck, I put a compressor, I put a compressor on the reverb return, send the dry signal not only to the reverb channel, but into the side chain of that compressor and duck the reverb while the vocals are going. And I only duck a certain amount. So the reverb is still there, but quieter. And I do it in a way that it comes up in a musical way. So the, the release time of the compressor is important to me. So it can either come up immediately when the lyrics, when the vocals stop, or it can take a while to come up, sort of, and be feel a little late.

Malcom: It's the release time, but also the release shape so you can set the, it's called the knee, which is gonna be like a hard lift or it's gonna be a more gradual curve.

Benedikt: Absolutely. So yeah, that, that's, that's mainly what I do. And there are a lot of, uh, there are some, yeah, a lot of songs out there, some mostly in balls where I heard this on other mixes too. I don't remember the exact Adele song, but there's one song where there is a really big, long and loud reverb, but it's only really audible a lot when, or really obvious in between the lines, in between the words. And while she's singing, it's still ambient and you still hear the reverb, but her voice is pretty clear too. And then as soon as she stops, the reverb comes up. But it's done so well that you don't really notice it until you intentionally pay attention to it. So, uh, it sounds like a very, um, audible obvious reverb, but it's actually moving all the time. It's ducking when she sings and then it comes up again, and then it's ducking again. And it's actually, the way it sounds to me is I think it's, it's not even a reverb, just it's like a, a delay being fed into a reverb and that has been ducked. And then when, when it stops, the, the, the ambient delays that it comes up and very cool stuff. So, Uh, whenever I want a lot of reverb, but if I do, if I add the amount that I want, it gets too muddy and I can't hear the vocals with the, the lyrics clearly anymore. I'll use that ducking sort of thing. And it sounds kind of weird thinking that you send the, the source to the reverb track and then also send the same thing again to a plugin on that reverb track. But that's what you essentially do. You add a compressor and into the side chain, you feed the same thing. And that just tells the compressor that turn down the reverb when the vocals are present, and then when they stop, um, stop the compression and let the reverb

Malcom: Yeah. Go back to your native volume. Um, this brings up something that isn't on our list, but another secret to making your reverbs work and sound fantastic and professional is automation of any parameter inside of that plugin. Um, actually any parameter inside of that, of any plugin on that entire extract. Or even the send that you're using to feed the ox track, you can automate anything . It's really what it comes down to, which is incredible when you think about it. So not only could you have it get quiet, uh, while the, the, the vocals are present and then come back up in the gaps to let this reverb kind of fade in, you could also automate the length of that reverb. Um, I think I just said delay. Sorry, I meant reverb. Uh, you could, yeah, automate the length of that reverb. You could automate, uh, the mix if you've got it right on the track so that the vocal, the reverb takes over the lead vocal. You can, you can really change anything. You could automate the, the type of reverb, um, and use it as like a, a specific effect that is very noticeable in just one spot of the song. Um, there's, there's no limit here, but don't, don't miss that opportunity, especially playing with the length. You could have a shorter delay. I keep saying delay. You could have a shorter reverb in, uh, the verse and then maybe a longer, more epic reverb in the course, for example. And you can just do that really easily with automation.

Benedikt: Yeah, 100%. I just think about whether it would be better to automate it or to add a second, um, return channel and then just, um, you know, duplicating it or whatever. And gen then just, just use a different setting for different parts, basically. Um, both could work. Yeah.

Malcom: yep. Totally.

Benedikt: Yeah, and even just riding the volume, obviously.

I mean, you can bring up certain tales and leave the rest quiet and you can, you know, these types of things. Yeah, for sure. Automation should have been on the list here. You're definitely right now. Okay. There's ducking and getting the reverb out of the way. Now, what if reverb wasn't the best choice to begin with, because that could be the case. Sometimes you think you want river, but it's actually not the right choice.

Malcom: I think there's a journey that every audio engineer goes on, and it starts with reverb and it ends with delay,

Benedikt: yes. Yes. Absolutely.

Malcom: um,

Benedikt: yeah,

Malcom: uh, and, and for guitarist, it starts with a metal zone. It ends on a tube screamer. Um,

Benedikt: that's also so true. Yeah. Yeah, you're right.

Malcom: um, . I could just keep going with these. , it starts with bass layers, it starts with your fingers, ends with a pick , so somebody's gonna be pissed off at that

Benedikt: Yeah.

Malcom: Uh, yeah, no, uh, Delays are better. ? No, I don't wanna say that. Uh, they're, they're totally different. And often I think when you hear a song, you think that's a cool reverb sound, but it might just be a well crafted delay. Um, because the reality is delays are very long and often that is way too much to fit into a mix, um, where a delay or an echo is momentary and, uh, that is usually gonna be a cleaner result.

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. Um, it's this thing where I said reverb is sort of a, a series of very quick echoes that are like, it, it's actually a delay. It's actually the same thing. It's just super quick and a lot of echoes, a lot of delays throws like together, create this reverb tale and if you just use a delay, Then it can't have the effect of a reverb just, but it's less dense. There's less reflections, less echoes, which means more space in your mix. So we can get the same sense of depth without that very dense tail that covers up everything. So yeah,

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. And I, I'm just being ish, the word, I don't know how to say, uh, , but like, I'm, I'm just joking. It reverb's amazing and it is a different tool. Um, but look, get, try and get really good with delay so that you can make it sound like a reverb. Um, and it, that's a different tool and I find it to be very effective. Um, and I, I know a lot of other professionals that do as well, so don't just assume everything's reverb. It could be delay as well.

Benedikt: Yeah, totally. And I think, um, if you are struggling to like, imagine now how a delay could sound like a reverb if you think guitar pedal delay. Some of these that are very, very famous and that you might be familiar with, they actually don't sound like heart, like echoes. They sound like a reverb tale, almost like you hear the, depending on the setting, but there's some delay pedals and some, some sounds that you can do with these that sound very, they sound like they have a tale that sound very ambient and, and so that might be something you might be familiar with where, and a delay doesn't have to be a very dry sounding, um, series of like individual echoes. It can have a tail, it can sound ambient, it can sound dreamy, but still leave more space for the rest.

Malcom: Yeah. Now pro tip, everything we suggested to do to your reverbs in this episode is also what we suggest you try on your delays. Um, getting con control of the transients, how long it is, and making sure that it doesn't mess with the other instruments because it's sustaining too long. Um, the. The ducking of it. Actually, I duck my delays probably more than I duck my reverbs to get them out of the way while the vocals are actually happening, and then they kind of fade back up when the vocals are absent to fill those holes. Um, messing with how , how, like the vocal it sounds, right. Um, a digital lay can sound like a, like a carbon copy. So it's like the exact same sound you just heard of the lee vocal being repeated. But you can mess with that to make it almost sound more like reverb, where it's like you can't make up the lyrics, you can just tell that it is an echo. Uh, make it really dark and murky, saturated, uh, like all of these things that we just talked about apply to delay as well.

Benedikt: 100%. Yes. Good. Good point. Yeah. So to wrap it up, I think if you are, if you're just using river plugins and you haven't treated them in any way, you just chose the preset, you just, um, Went with some, some sounds, some reverb patch or some plugin and used that and left it that way. Start treating your reverb now because it's not, it's not even optional. I think in mo like in most cases you have to do something to it, like really? Uh, and if it's just slightly e queuing it, but just treat it like another instrument that you want to fit into the mix. There's the occasion where it just fits the way it is. I'm never, I'm not saying that can't be the case, but like think of it as another element of your mix, just like another instrument and do whatever you have to do to make it fit the mix. I think if you think about it that way makes much more sense. You would, with any other thing you add to your mix, you would think about those things. You would think about the, the frequency response. You would think about the transient, the dynamics. Just do the same thing with your vo uh, reverb returns and delay returns and uh, you'll be.

Malcom: Yep. Uh, one more pro tip I want to add. You're gonna figure out what types of reverbs work well with your voice or your singer's voice. If you're not the singer in your band, um, make note of that. Save a template where that is just always in each session. You start up. So you can just quickly throw that one in. You might find that there's a couple options that work for different scenarios, so not very uncommon for a professional mixer to have like a room, a plate, like a long and a short, uh, like just options of reverb. Then sitting there in the session and while we're mixing, we just like throw one up. No, try the next one. No. Try the, oh, there we go. That one sounds kind of cool. I'll leave that one up. How about we add this back in? Okay, sweet. You'll, you'll find your favorites and then just make them always live there and then you can just quickly audition them is really what that boils down to. But that brought up one more idea is that you can have more than one. It doesn't have to be one reverb or one delay. You can mix and match and, and have a combination of both.

Benedikt: absolutely. Um, you can sending delays into reverbs. Beautiful thing too, where the, all of a sudden the delay doesn't jump out as much because it's soaked in reverb and sort of gets pushed to the back. In that case, you might not want to use a pre delay, for example, because you want the reverb and the delay become one to become one. You know, there's, and there's possibilities. Yeah.

Malcom: Yeah, there you go.

Benedikt: Yeah. Experiment with all these things. Create your go-tos, your templates, your presets, your own chains that you like. Uh, it's a very creative thing. It's like a, it's effects. There is no rules. Just, um, experiment and see what fits your, your style. But if you're wondering why it hasn't worked so far, it might be because you haven't, um, treated the reverb like its own instrument

Malcom: Yeah,

Benedikt: Its own element of the mix.

Malcom: totally. I, I think this is gonna be actually really helpful for. For making like your, your rough mixes while you're tracking a song sound more like you actually want them to. Um, cuz reverbs sound very different from each other. and some stock reverbs are just terrible , I think I just can't figure out like what they were going for. Um, like, and, and it's not that they're terrible, it's just that their default settings are terrible. I think we really, you can mangle any reverb into shape with either the parameters inside of the plugin or some additional processing with other plugins in that chain. Um, but don't just assume that when you click reverb and open up the default channel that it's gonna be what you're looking for.

Benedikt: Yeah, totally. I actually think that before you go by plugins now, I actually think that reverbs are one of those plug-ins that work really well with the stock plugins, to be honest. If you know how to manipulate and treat them, um, might be, might you need some, some work. Um, but I think I, at least the ones I've used, I, I remember the logic one being pretty decent. Um, I like the cubase ones, as you said. The presets not always, um, the best, but it gives you all the options you need to manipulate them to make them whatever you want. I remember DRB is, I think it's drb, like the

Malcom: From Pro Tools. Yeah. I, I,

Benedikt: it's actually pretty

Malcom: it's, it's fantastic. Yeah. There's, there's weird things you have to do to know about it. Um, like it starts with the gain turned down a bunch, so you're just like, I can barely hear it . So, uh, like little quirks like that, but it's easy to fix. Um, the garage band reverb, I think sounds really bad, but you can mess with that and make it sound good for sure. Like, it, it's not that it's bad, it just starts off bad. Um, so I, I'm really glad you said that. You don't, uh, nobody needs to buy a reverb plugin. Um, probably ever

Benedikt: Yeah,

Malcom: like really, it does not necessary. Um,

Benedikt: Right.

Malcom: Yeah, of course I have, but I've spent way too much money on plugins,

Benedikt: Yeah, that, that, and also I think there's a difference between, uh, you know, when you're a self recording musician and you work on your own music, you can just put some time into figuring out how to make the plugin that you have, how to make that work, save your presets, your templates, and then you have your, your sort of go-tos and your sound. Um, whereas we, when you are like a professional mixer working for various, like different artists, we need different types of flavors. And the color palette at our fingertips that is quick and efficient. We could all do that with one plugin, two, but for us it's way quicker to just have a bunch of different reverbs that we know have sound and we can, you know, it's just working quickly, efficiently, having these options. But if I were just to work on my own band, I would just use whatever Reba, plug in, find the few things that I need for that band and that that's it, you

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. From the point of view of a self recording band, which this is obviously for spending 50 to like hundreds of dollars on a reverb plugin is a terrible investment for your band. That that makes no sense at any point in your career. Trust me,

Benedikt: Yeah. . Absolutely. All right, cool. So this was an actionable episode again after a couple of like these mindset, broader big picture episodes. Um, this was a very actionable one, so go try it and as always report your results. Go to the surf recording bent.com/community, post your results there, your questions there.

Uh, we're happy to help. And the other people in the community are too. As always, you can reach out directly to us. We've just published an episode about how valuable community and connecting with other people is. So reach out to us, reach out to friends, to peers, reach out to people in the community. Uh, and, uh, yeah, share the, again, share the episode with your friends. Tag us in your stories. You can put a question there. If we see it, we might answer it. So, um, don't try to go it alone. You don't.

Malcom: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. We'd love to answer some, uh, listener questions on. On the podcast. So yeah, send us, send us questions in your Instagram stories and we'll check 'em out there. Um, I got one more call to action that I'm gonna throw in here. So, the last few episodes we've been, uh, asking people to leave us reviews on Apple Podcasts or whatever podcast app you listen to if it has reviews. But Apple Podcast is the one that helps, uh, or podcast reach more people the most. So totally appreciate that. I wanna say it here at the end of the episode to do that because this episode is gonna finish in like five seconds. So before the next episode starts playing automatically, pause it. Go leave us a review, please, , because when we say it at the beginning, you're just listening. You're like, I'll get to it, and then you forget. So here's your reminder

Benedikt: Yes. Thank you so much, Malcolm. Yeah. Do it right now. Pause, leave a review, and then come back. Thank you

Malcom: we'll be back next week.

Benedikt: Yes, . Alright. Thank you so much. Thank you for being a listener. Thank you for, uh, loyalty. Thank you for another year because we just started the new year, uh, probably when you listen to this episode. So thank you again for another year and for sticking with us. If you're new to the show. Welcome. Um, and yeah, so super stoked. Really appreciate every single one of you.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah, this is, uh, one of my favorite things I get to do. So thank you all.

Benedikt: All right, talk to you next week. Bye-bye.

Malcom: Bye.

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