7 Essential Reverb Tips

The usage of reverb depends on the taste of the artist or engineer and the music style. It can add beautiful effects to sounds and elements in a mix to make a more pleasant-sounding final mixed track. But at the same time, it is very likely to mess up your entire mix!

Thus, it is necessary to know the right reverb settings for different situations. These seven reverb tips I’m sharing may help you save your final mix!

Use auxiliary tracks for it

I often create auxiliary tracks when it comes to effects, though they still get used for many more purposes in my mixes. Auxiliary tracks will help to have more flexibility in shaping the added sound effect.

Most reverb plugins have setting controls within themselves plus a wet and dry mix knob. Still, I’d prefer to use the auxiliary tracks since they give way more possibilities. For instance, you can add a compressor, saturator, De-Esse, and so on.


You don’t need the lows on Reverb tracks

That reverb on sub-bass sounds amazing – said no one ever.

I think it’s a must to use a high-pass filter on your reverb to get rid of the low frequencies on it.

You can use the high-pass filter knob on your reverb’s settings or add an individual EQ plugin for that to your auxiliary track. Using an EQ plugin would be more accurate in my opinion, though you can also use both!


Tempo and Decay

The “Decay” is referred to the length of reverb tail before it dies off. While changing the Decay setting, it is best to make sure that it matches the tempo of the song. As well as keeping the rhythm in context, it will help to avoid things to get washed up!

Besides that, it’s good to consider where in the song you’re adding the reverb. For example, when there are lots of sounds and elements, getting played together in some part, I don’t think it’s a good idea to use long decayed reverb. But if there’s some more quiet part where there’s only a solo guitar getting played, there should be more room for the amount of Decay and reverb its self.

Therefore, be aware that you don’t have to use the same decay time on all reverb tracks in a mix. That can be changed in different parts, depending on your creativity and musical taste.

Make proper use of Pre-Delay

The Pre-Delay setting is very related to Decay.

Pre-Delay setting can help the reverb get heard more obviously and reach its place within the mix. It does a lot in terms of creating room for it.

It detects when the reverb begins. For instance, when you set it to 2 Milliseconds, the reverb effect begins after two milliseconds of the dry sound playing.

Now there are different ways to match the Pre-Delay setting with the Decay. Many use mathematical solutions for that, but I tend to focus on using my ear while trying different settings. Just solo your Drum hits, add the reverb to a snare or clap and play around until you reach the perfect spot!

For more info about ear-training read my other article “Trust The Ear“!

Use a compressor on your reverb track

Sometimes depending on the source, the reverb may need compression. It might be because of too much of dynamic change or sharp transients, etc.

Many different compressors with different settings can be used depending on the sound, for example, a FET compressor with a very fast attack and high ration to smooth out the reverb transients, and an Opto compressor to reduce the overall dynamic range as much as you want.

My favorites: Waves CLA76, Cake Walk CA2A. Sonimus TuCo, FabFilter Pro-C2

Regarding dynamic range, I often tend not to reduce it so much, so that the reverb doesn’t lose its spacy vibes. Though it still depends on music style and taste.


Be careful with Highs and Sibilance

As you cut the lows in your reverb track, the highs and sibilances would sound more prominent. And when they get mixed with the dry signal, they may cause harshness!

As you know, brightness (High-Mid, High Frequencies) make the sound seem closer, and Darkness (Low-Mid, Low Frequencies) pushes it back in depth. Nevertheless, if the aim is to the primary source of reverb to seem like it’s in a vast space, it would be better to use a low-pass filter and cut the highs!

On the other hand, if you want the opposite, it’d be a good idea to use a De-Esser to smooth out the highs. (I sometimes use a Tape-Saturation plugin on them.)

Know the difference between Reverb types

There are reverbs that simulate the natural spaces, such as Room or Hall, including some that would create unique type space sound effects, like ambient.

All add different effects to the sound, which makes this essential for us to know how they work so that we use them at the right time and place (within the mix).

We first got to have a purpose before throwing a plugin in the chain! That knowledge makes it possible.