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Proper use of reverb for creating ambience in rock and metal ?
Old 6th April 2021
  #1
Here for the gear
 
Proper use of reverb for creating ambience in rock and metal ?

Hi,

Although I have been playing the guitar in various styles for a very long time, I am a newbie in the digital recording/mixing department.

I am now using VST's for recording distorted guitar parts, but I have trouble in dialing the right amount of reverb for creating ambiance.

I am using Reaper and have some plug-ins at my disposal as well.

Specifically:
1)My mixes are either too dry or or too wet. It took me a very long time to dial in the right amount of reverb for melding my recent vocal-guitar oriented song mix. (I am using a dynamic microphone for vocals BTW). In comparison to any reference recordings, my mixes have that "demo" quality with regard to ambience. The moment the playback starts, I can hear the lack of ambience. Guitars are the dominant instrument in my tunes and since they are VST's, they provide no room feeling of their own. But when I use reverb (on a bus, not as an insert, and with very low send levels), it sounds amateurish immediately. Is there a way to dial in the proper amount of reverb with reference to a tune whose sound/production I enjoy listening to ?

2) Over a section with 3 distorted guitars (panned L, R and center) with a rather moderate dose of reverb, I was unable to make the solo sit in the mix no matter what I did. The solo would become wet immediately and I found myself preferring to hear it "bone dry" over the 3 reverberated guitars in the background. I have tried delays as well, but they were not much of a solution either. Is there a way to address this ?

Thanks in advance,
Tolga
Old 6th April 2021
  #2
Gear Addict
 
Kozmos88's Avatar
 
Quote:
I am using Reaper and have some plug-ins at my disposal as well.
have you tried ducking reverb .. on the guitar ..
https://reaperblog.net/2017/04/ducking-vocal-reverb/
or ..
https://www.waproduction.com/plugins/view/mutant-reverb
[ or similar ]

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Old 6th April 2021
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
The goal of using reverb is to create a space that all the sources live in.

The old school method was to use a single piece of outboard and send a bit of most of the tracks to a single reverb.

In general, the goal is to take the close mic's and make them sound like they are in the same room with the distant mic's.

That's what I would call "proper use of reverb"

Of course there are no rules, and creative freedom trumps all. But that's how I would define traditional use of reverb.
Old 7th April 2021
  #4
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
I seriously doubt that there is much about "reverb" that is strictly applicable to "metal". I mix many different kinds of music and approach the reverb similarly.

Quote:
But when I use reverb (on a bus, not as an insert, and with very low send levels), it sounds amateurish immediately.
I typically have anywhere from three to eight reverb auxes in a typical mix. Most instruments will get varying percentages these different reverbs. Plenty of "overlap", but different "proportions" So the guitars might be sharing "Room A" with the snare drum, but the snare also has some "Room B" and the guitar also has some "Room C". Some overlap, some different. Meanwhile the vocal has some A, some C, and some D. I think most artificial reverbs are too 'simple' and layering them like this creates a complexity that sounds more satisfying to me.

Just as you create left-to-right illusions with the pan controls, you can create front to back illusions with reverbs. More reverb and larger reverbs will tend to push the instrument "back". So don't put the same amounts of reverb on each instrument.

IMO, a lot of reverb plugin presets are too bright and need to be taken down a bit. And if you are not high-passing, it can get muddy on the other end. Get to know the EQ section of the reverb plugin and get a feeling for what it can do.

Look into some predelay ideas
having different instruments feeding even the same reverb but with different predelays can create different spatial illusions

Also check out tail suppression - this can help you clean up some of the mush that might accumulate. A lot of the newer verbs include it as a built in feature
and of course you can roll your own as well

Last edited by joeq; 8th April 2021 at 12:16 AM..
Old 7th April 2021
  #5
Here for the gear
 
Thanks to everyone answering; you all have been most helpful. I have been doing some reading on different reverb types. I experimented with some room/studio presets. In comparison to a plate reverb, they sound definitely more natural, at least to my ears. I will also work on the predelay settings and the ducking reverb.
Old 8th April 2021
  #6
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vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TGuven ➡️
Hi,

Although I have been playing the guitar in various styles for a very long time, I am a newbie in the digital recording/mixing department.

I am now using VST's for recording distorted guitar parts, but I have trouble in dialing the right amount of reverb for creating ambiance.

I am using Reaper and have some plug-ins at my disposal as well.

Specifically:
1)My mixes are either too dry or or too wet. It took me a very long time to dial in the right amount of reverb for melding my recent vocal-guitar oriented song mix. (I am using a dynamic microphone for vocals BTW). In comparison to any reference recordings, my mixes have that "demo" quality with regard to ambience. The moment the playback starts, I can hear the lack of ambience. Guitars are the dominant instrument in my tunes and since they are VST's, they provide no room feeling of their own. But when I use reverb (on a bus, not as an insert, and with very low send levels), it sounds amateurish immediately. Is there a way to dial in the proper amount of reverb with reference to a tune whose sound/production I enjoy listening to ?

2) Over a section with 3 distorted guitars (panned L, R and center) with a rather moderate dose of reverb, I was unable to make the solo sit in the mix no matter what I did. The solo would become wet immediately and I found myself preferring to hear it "bone dry" over the 3 reverberated guitars in the background. I have tried delays as well, but they were not much of a solution either. Is there a way to address this ?

Thanks in advance,
Tolga
You'll just have to keep trying things til something works. As for making a lead guitar stand out, just make the rhythm guitars stay back. Or, using eq, scoop rhythm guitar and put a mid bump on the lead. Or even hard pan the lead.
Old 8th April 2021
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Try using 3 verbs at once. Plate, room, and hall. Blend them.
Try using EQ on the reverb returns.
Try using EQ on the send to the reverb.
Old 10th April 2021 | Show parent
  #8
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elegentdrum ➡️
Try using 3 verbs at once. Plate, room, and hall. Blend them.
Try using EQ on the reverb returns.
Try using EQ on the send to the reverb.
Thank you for your message.
Your first suggestion is particularly interesting; any specific ideas on how to blend these ? Can you elaborate a little bit? For example, for blending clean lead vocals and distorted rhythm guitar tracks, what would your suggestions be ?

BTW, I am away from my home studio at this weekend, but I have been doing a lot of reading during this time. I realized that in contrast to panning the channels, I never thought about panning the reverb itself.

It is my understanding that all reverb in my current mix is in the center, where the lead vocals are also located. This could (at least theoretically...) explain while I have such a difficult time in adding reverb to the vocals and why the mix sounds cluttered. I will try panning the reverb of specific tracks accordingly and see if that also makes a difference.
Old 10th April 2021 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TGuven ➡️
Thank you for your message.
Your first suggestion is particularly interesting; any specific ideas on how to blend these ? Can you elaborate a little bit? For example, for blending clean lead vocals and distorted rhythm guitar tracks, what would your suggestions be ?

BTW, I am away from my home studio at this weekend, but I have been doing a lot of reading during this time. I realized that in contrast to panning the channels, I never thought about panning the reverb itself.

It is my understanding that all reverb in my current mix is in the center, where the lead vocals are also located. This could (at least theoretically...) explain while I have such a difficult time in adding reverb to the vocals and why the mix sounds cluttered. I will try panning the reverb of specific tracks accordingly and see if that also makes a difference.
Say you have a mixer with 3 aux sends. The 3 aux's would be the 3 reverbs. In that way you can pick any amount of each verb for each track.
Old 10th April 2021 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TGuven ➡️
Thank you for your message.
Your first suggestion is particularly interesting; any specific ideas on how to blend these ? Can you elaborate a little bit? For example, for blending clean lead vocals and distorted rhythm guitar tracks, what would your suggestions be ?
it doesn't have to be plate room and hall, it could be large medium and small room or 1 hall and 2 plates. The main idea is to mix and match and allow some overlaps as well as some concentrations.

The different reverbs are not simply larger or smaller, shorter or longer, but have other distinct characters. Real-life physical plate reverbs can sustain for a long time but they are only about 6 feet across, so the sound of a plate tends to get going faster. "Bloom". Depending on what you are after, this may make it preferable to a room or hall for certain roles or for certain instruments.

Quote:
I realized that in contrast to panning the channels, I never thought about panning the reverb itself.
Most reverbs are stereo return. Even when they do have stereo input, panning is not as straightforward as it would be for the dry signal. For example if you pan something to the left side of a stereo reverb, it will be naturally be more on the left than on the right, but just like in a real room, some of sound is going to go out, bounce around, and end up in multiple locations. The time delays off the 'opposite' wall can be similar to what a real room would do.

While I often pan the sends, I personally usually leave the returns alone - if I want to pan the returns of a stereo reverb to a narrow location 'behind' (or 'opposite') an instrument, I might as well use that reverb as an insert. I probably won't send anything else to it! For me, the big selling point of send and return is so that instruments can 'share' the reverbs, just as they would if they were all located in a real space.

Quote:
It is my understanding that all reverb in my current mix is in the center, where the lead vocals are also located.
if you listen closely to reverb on a center-panned instrument, you may still hear some differences between left and right. Just as you would in a real room that had some shape to it or objects in it. I rarely pan the send of center-panned instrument. But an instrument panned to the side is where it gets interesting. You could pan the reverb send of that instrument to the "same" side as the dry instrument's location. But it can also be cool to pan the send to the opposite side. As I said earlier, I would normally leave the stereo returns of the reverb itself full left and right. But there are no rules - experiment and see, maybe you will hit upon some cool sounds.

Quote:
This could (at least theoretically...) explain while I have such a difficult time in adding reverb to the vocals and why the mix sounds cluttered
Many engineers use delays in the place of reverbs. Or some combination of the two. If you think about it, a reverb is a fairly complex and 'busy' thing - consisting of dozens of early reflections, thousands of tiny later reflections and a long sustain-y mush that continues on past the end of a sound. A delay is only one reflection. I think of it as kind of a "shorthand for a room" where the nearest wall is "x" feet away. It can "represent" space, and still take up less space in your mix.

It's like those ink brush paintings where a single blob of ink can represent a bull or a matador. You don't always need a high-res color photo of a bull to get across the idea that it's supposed to be a bull.

a short, medium, and long delay can help 'place' your instruments in a relative space to each other just as different sized reverbs can.

And don't forget to look into "tail suppression" and also EQing the reverb. Or EQing the delays.
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Old 10th April 2021 | Show parent
  #11
Gear Guru
 
kennybro's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by elegentdrum ➡️
Try using 3 verbs at once. Plate, room, and hall. Blend them.
Try using EQ on the reverb returns.
Try using EQ on the send to the reverb.
Yup. Create a verb aux, and place an EQ plug before the reverb plug. Dial out significant HP and LP. This makes a huge difference. In any real room, a lot HF and LF information in the source signal is attenuated out of the reflection sound by wall bounces.
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