Learning theory might sound dull, especially when you could be spending that time playing around with loops and instruments. We love that part too! But when it comes to production, knowledge is power, people. Taking a little bit of time each week to learn one or two things and putting them into practice will really help you to develop as a producer and take your music to the next level.
Understanding why we use different plug-ins and techniques is often just as important as how, so we are going to focus on the whys and the hows of effects. Starting with reverb.
What is reverb?
If you sing in the shower or you sing in a church, you’ll notice that the sound reflections are different. This is reverb.
Reverb is used in music to create a perception of different spaces and atmospheres. When producing music, imagine the ideal physical space you would like your music to be played in and replicate it with the reverb effect. If your music is acoustic and you’ll be playing in a small room, use less reverb to create a warmer more intimate sound. If you envision yourself playing in a stadium, get that signature epic sound with a lot more reverb.
On mobile, there’s a bunch of reverb presets for you to use in the Mix Editor. Hit the Fx button and choose from a range of presets, each has a different reverb sound and intensity. We specifically designed each preset for the instrument you’re recording – for example, the Ambient Lead preset for guitar is a combination of a smooth overdrive with an ethereal, spacious reverb. When recording vocals, common reverb types like Large Hall, Classic Chamber and Bright Room are available.
Fine-tuning your reverb
In the Mix Editor on your web browser, you can also tweak the parameters of each preset, or build a chain of effects from scratch to truly make your own sound. To do this, choose a preset effect and click the fader button to open up your settings panel.
To start from scratch, make sure your Fx selection is set at None, then click the fader button. From the drop-down menu, you have 3 options for reverb – Reverb, Spring Reverb and Spacemaker.
For a less complicated option, simply choose Reverb. Here, you have a range of different presets and you can choose how much to apply with the mix knob. To get the most intense reverb, turn the mix knob fully clockwise. Turning it left will minimise the intensity of the reverb. Play around to find a happy medium, where you can hear the reverb’s presence, without overwhelming your sound. Clicking this green button on and off will help you to test and compare the sound before the effect and after the effect.
Spring reverb is a cool reverb effect to try out on vocals, guitars, and electronic organs – less so on percussive elements. Named after the spring that was inside the reverb tanks of early organs and guitar amplifiers, it adds a twangy metallic texture and adds an extra dimension to your music. There’s just one knob to control this, so it’s super simple. There’s even a new Spring Reverb Pro setting which offers a totally different texture, so check it out.
Space Maker is designed for the tinkerers – it gives you more parameters to play around with. We use Space Maker for most of our reverb presets, like Classic Chamber and Large Hall. Here’s what each knob does:
- Mix allows you to control the intensity of the reverb overall.
- Minimum width keeps the sound centred, but maximum increases the width as far away from the centre as possible – sometimes referred to as hard left and hard right.
- Minimum room size is like a small studio, maximum: a huge factory.
- When adjusting dampening you’ll notice you can see the frequency level, measured in Hz. Adjusting this will focus the reverb on that frequency – more to the right will focus on higher frequencies, with low-end frequencies to the left.
- Finally, the last drop-down menu at the bottom allows you to change the character of the reverb – from the huge ambience of Church to the natural sparkle of Room.
Come back in the coming weeks and months as we share a crash course in all the effects you’ll need to create winning productions.
Until then, embrace reverb and make space!