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Need Help Getting the Reverbs Right

redninja

Member
Hi,

From my little experiences and the sources that I've read, I see that as with most of the other ingredients in composing/mixing and arranging, reverb plays a big role. Alas, I'm still missing that sweet-spot when it comes to adjusting/dialing a nice reverb in some cases. My particular instrument groups or overall mixes are either too much in-your-face or gets sunk in the background. It either feels like a cheap reverb effect where the specific instrument stands out from the rest of the mix or it contributes to the overall unintentional blurriness of the mix. Sometimes I'm having too much difficulties to get the reverb thing correct.

I know that reverb should be adjusted/dialed when listening to the overall piece unless you do some surgical adjustments.
But, do you have go-to tips and advices for dialing in a natural reverb that feels.... ermm... natural? and glues with the rest of the mix?

For example, what should be the correct order while setting reverb parameters? Should I start with 100% wet or should I first dial a reverb tail length? etc etc...

Also I'm routing my individual instruments to both Instrument busses and also to dedicated reverb track so that I can adjust how wet/dry they sound in overall group/section. This is so far the best method I've seen around to make things easier.

How do you deal with situations like when an instruments plays an FF or MP dynamics? Because when that particular instrument overpowers the rest of the instruments playing FF instead of MP or F, that "reverb attached to it" also shines and comes forward and feels like the instrument is recorded in a different space because of the parallel increase in its reverb amount. Do you frequently find yourself automating reverbs in this manner to compensate this problem or is it a sign of a faulty/fake reverb adjustment? I usually come across this problem with French Horns. They can get as loud as FFF within their peaked passages and eventually the reverb assigned to them also spreads all over the place. So should I treat the core volume(dry) of the instrument and it s reverb (wet) inversely proportional and automate it this way?
Also I'm having a hard time to dial better reverbs for solo vocals or choirs or solo strings(i.e. a solo viola playing a melody over the rest of the orchestra).

I've read about Abbey Road trick and it slightly improved my reverberation department but as you know high-freq instruments can easily overpower the mix(perceptional hearing), the reverb that comes along with them also overpowers the rest when they're at their peak. What to do in such cases?

In short, should the reverbs be warm enough to be felt instead of heard for a subtle and natural effect?

Thank you in advance for the help and tips.
 
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redninja

redninja

Member
Thread starter
Do you use wet or dry libraries?
Umm... Mostly dry-ish. By this I mean I usually try to use libraries with several mic options including spot/close mics. Trying to avoid libraries that the room sound or reverb is completely baked in.

To give an example, Orchestral Tools Berlin Series.
 

Draco Solis

Member
If you happen to be using stock reverbs, this may contribute to the problem. I haven't heard much of stock DAW reverbs being...well liked.

To my understanding, the Berlin series actually is pretty wet. If you want to check out a room's presence for yourself, grab an instrument with short articulations (strings is best for this), load a decca mic or similar, and play a note or two. This'll make the tail of the room very clearly heard and can help inform your decision on how to approach adding reverb (thanks to Guy Michelmore for this idea).

I'm by no means an expert in reverb so my advice can only be worth so much. But if you're going the approach of both inserts + sends, consider whether the inserts may be too wet and the sends added on make the reverb overpowering.

Also consider using EQ on the reverbs, even if just to introduce some low/highpass filters. Even just that will make a world of difference. It's pretty easy to slap an EQ after a reverb on an FX track and adjust it that way. On an insert you'll need a reverb with built in filters to do this.
 

Trash Panda

Clueless nitwit
Umm... Mostly dry-ish. By this I mean I usually try to use libraries with several mic options including spot/close mics. Trying to avoid libraries that the room sound or reverb is completely baked in.

To give an example, Orchestral Tools Berlin Series.
Berlin Series typically does not need much (if any) reverb applied to it. What microphone setup are you using with it?
 

mybadmemory

Senior Member
Perhaps you could post examples so it would be easier for people to feedback on?

Any library with a lot of mics is usually recorded in-situ on an orchestral stage and is therefore considered wet, in contrast to libraries not recorded in-situ and in smaller studios which are considered dry. Berlin, recorded at Teldex, is therefore considered a wet library.

With dry libraries a lot of spacial positioning is needed with panning, EQs and reverbs. With wet libraries much less is needed sine the position and space is already there. The instruments are recorded in their correct positions in relation to the mics, both in a front to back and left right perspective. The natural sound of the stage and room is also already there, meaning any reverb needed from there is basically an artistic choice rather that something needed to recreate a convincing space.

What people generally do with wet libraries is just to add a tad bit of extra reverb across everything to add some tail and blend the different recordings together. Either set up per section or on the full mix.

It’s hard to say without hearing anything but it sounds a little like you’re overcomplicating it. With a library like Berlin, not using any reverb at all, or just a very small amount using almost any hall preset should work perfectly fine. As long as you’re not doing anything strange with the mic mixes, like using only the close mix’s or something. Which mics are you generally using?
 

Russell Anderson

Sound and Music
Speaking for myself I was super excited to start throwing reverbs around and messing with sense of space to get that super deep, super spacious sound... and in practice, I hardly ever use reverb at all thanks to microphones. Imagine my disappointment.

There's a little bit that goes on when something needs to get pushed back without losing volume, and so often that's either Savant Quantum or CRP dialled in quite conservatively. As an insert effect OH MY GODDD!

As for how you set them up, for any kind of reverb with a complex layout it's usually helpful to learn what the parameters are doing at close to 100% wet, and then think about what role those parameters are playing in supporting the realism of the space. Once you know what they're doing... you can just set them by ear. You could also just set them by ear... Whatever works for you! But it's true that reverb can be over-thought quite a bit. If you're using E.G. berlin-levels of wetness I will echo the others and say, try using no reverb at all. You might love it. If it is not working at all just using the microphone positions, disable the early reflections of your reverb and then stick it on. Having early reflection propagate an already wet signal in a new space is a ticket straight to fake land.
 

fakemaxwell

Senior Member
Perhaps you could post examples so it would be easier for people to feedback on?
Honestly this should probably be a rule for this section of the forum (and probably a few others....)

There's so many variables to this question that can easily be made more concrete with a few minutes of DAW exports.
 
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redninja

redninja

Member
Thread starter
If you happen to be using stock reverbs, this may contribute to the problem. I haven't heard much of stock DAW reverbs being...well liked.

To my understanding, the Berlin series actually is pretty wet. If you want to check out a room's presence for yourself, grab an instrument with short articulations (strings is best for this), load a decca mic or similar, and play a note or two. This'll make the tail of the room very clearly heard and can help inform your decision on how to approach adding reverb (thanks to Guy Michelmore for this idea).

I'm by no means an expert in reverb so my advice can only be worth so much. But if you're going the approach of both inserts + sends, consider whether the inserts may be too wet and the sends added on make the reverb overpowering.

Also consider using EQ on the reverbs, even if just to introduce some low/highpass filters. Even just that will make a world of difference. It's pretty easy to slap an EQ after a reverb on an FX track and adjust it that way. On an insert you'll need a reverb with built in filters to do this.
Actually if I use tree mics around their default values, yes, Berlin Series is quite wet unless I bump up close mics and decrease the tree mics considerably. But then it starts to feel a bit "dull". That's why I'm not sending much of the strings to the dedicated reverb track.

Actually I'm using EQ before my Reverb FX. Doing some high-pass and cutting some top most frequencies of the signal that feeds the reverb.
 
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redninja

redninja

Member
Thread starter
Actually after reading the replies above I've also realized that it's better to post a snippet as an example of what I'm talking about. I'm not letting the strings section sink deep in the reverb as I also know that the tree mics are already doing a decent job with it and I send these to reverb channel at minimum.

Maybe, I have issues related more to the overall balance of the levels of instruments in my arrangement. As I expressed it through the end of my first post, I usually have problems adjusting the Brass instruments' presence in this manner (To be more exact, Trumpets and FH. I don't have much problems with trombones or tuba). Since they can easily overpower the rest of the orchestra and can be used as leading instruments rather than supportive ones at the peaks/climaxes of some arrangements, I might be overdoing it a bit. Or having some thin arrangements which leave FH's and trumpets in the foreground alone therefor exposing their reverb more than usual.

I'm currently at work but I'll post a snippet that displays this issue when I'm free.
 

mybadmemory

Senior Member
On general balancing, it’s usually good practice to leave all volume faders at zero, and balance using orchestration and dynamics (velocity and modulation/expression) instead. At least for a natural orchestral sound.

Volume faders become important when using multiple different libraries recorded at different levels, or for soloists on top of the orchestra. But generally not for anything placed in the standard orchestral seating within the same in-situ recorded library.
 
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redninja

redninja

Member
Thread starter
On general balancing, it’s usually good practice to leave all volume faders at zero, and balance using orchestration and dynamics (velocity and modulation/expression) instead. At least for a natural orchestral sound.

Volume faders become important when using multiple different libraries recorded at different levels, or for soloists on top of the orchestra. But generally not for anything placed in the standard orchestral seating within the same in-situ recorded library.
I've slightly and recently discovered this, too. Thanks for the tip. Most of my instruments sections are close to each other with their levels. Probably should check it once more. :thumbsup:
 

liquidlino

Senior Member
One key thing is that any multi mic library like Berlin, you do not want any Early Reflections in any added reverb. You'll get a weird overpowering room inside a room effect. So you must use reverbs that allow you to turn off the early reflections entirely. And then, the late reflections tail never really needs to be more than 15-18 percent in my experience, it's just there to subtly glue everything together and hide the end of samples, that your ear picks up on and gives away the game.
 

Joël Dollié

Active Member
Don't rely on dry library/mic position settings.

What will happen is that you will hear the extra reverb you add in solo and it will sound really wet but in context the dryness will poke out and it will sound unpleasant. You will want to add more verb to compensate and then everything will be muddy and veiled, it will feel like two separate layers of depth. A muddy reverb ''sea'' and harsh elements that sound close and ''detach'' themselves from the mix and sound too much in the foreground.

The ideal scenario is to have semi wet libraries that have a good depth and roominess to them to begin width and then just add subtle hall reverb as a bonus/glue.

The reason that works better is that good semi distant mic positions like decca trees or further (in a good room of course) contain lots of room information and depth information, especially early reflections which is the front end of a reverb technically, which both exist in reality and with reverb plugins (but of course the real deal sounds better). These reflections tell your brain how far something is, and they both affect tone, texture, tonal balance, envelope etc. It's impossible to feed a dry sound to a reverb and get the same kind of depth.
 
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redninja

redninja

Member
Thread starter
Don't rely on dry library/mic position settings.

What will happen is that you will hear the extra reverb you add in solo and it will sound really wet but in context the dryness will poke out and it will sound unpleasant. You will want to add more verb to compensate and then everything will be muddy and veiled, it will feel like two separate layers of depth. A muddy reverb ''sea'' and harsh elements that sound close and ''detach'' themselves from the mix and sound too much in the foreground.

The ideal scenario is to have semi wet libraries that have a good depth and roominess to them to begin width and then just add subtle hall reverb as a bonus/glue.

The reason that works better is that good semi distant mic positions like decca trees or further (in a good room of course) contain lots of room information and depth information, especially early reflections which is the front end of a reverb technically, which both exist in reality and with reverb plugins (but of course the real deal sounds better). These reflections tell your brain how far something is, and they both affect tone, texture, tonal balance, envelope etc. It's impossible to feed a dry sound to a reverb and get the same kind of depth.
Thanks!

What you describe in the first paragraph pretty much aligns with my problem.

I think I should also have a look at your Orchestral Mixing Tips series on YouTube. Some were quite useful for me. =)
 

Joël Dollié

Active Member
Thanks!

What you describe in the first paragraph pretty much aligns with my problem.

I think I should also have a look at your Orchestral Mixing Tips series on YouTube. Some were quite useful for me. =)
Haha yeah I've been there. Took a while to understand this.. Glad it helps and hope you enjoy my videos as well :)
 

cet34f

Active Member
I couldn't agree more with Joël. If you prefer to use dry samples, use a dry library such as Siptfire Studio or VSL VI. The close mics in the wet library are there to add nuance, not to give you the freedom to recreate the reverb.
 

mybadmemory

Senior Member
I couldn't agree more with Joël. If you prefer to use dry samples, use a dry library such as Siptfire Studio or VSL VI. The close mics in the wet library are there to add nuance, not to give you the freedom to recreate the reverb.
Probably wouldn’t call Spitifre Studio Orchestra very dry though? Isnt it actually quite wet, with a lot of room sound, just not very long tailed?
 

Russell Anderson

Sound and Music
Your best hope putting close mics into a space is going to be very, very dry close mics with either layered IRs to mimic actual placement (Infinite Series/MIR) or a beast of an early reflections reverb like Cinematic Rooms Professional. Because it's true that putting a close mic into reverb is going to sound very weirdly zoomed-in and ethereal, you really need the early reflections to give it some grounding within a given space.

Luckily you don't have to go that far!
 

cet34f

Active Member
Probably wouldn’t call Spitifre Studio Orchestra very dry though? Isnt it actually quite wet, with a lot of room sound, just not very long tailed?
It's strange because Spitfire Studio is marketed as a dry library, yet you're not the first person to say it's not dry enough. I guess Air Studio 1 is a bad choice to make a dry product. Spitfire Studio has been a commercial failure and this is probably one of the reasons. Not sampling staccatos did not help either.
 
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