Techniques to Use Reverb Powerfully in Your Music
I have a few favorite techniques which I’d like to share with you to take your reverb from average to next level!
What You Will Learn
- How to Effectively Set Up Reverb on a Parallel Track
- Why Using a Low Cut Filter on Reverb Helps Clean Up your Mix
- Using PreDelay on your Reverb to Make it Stand Out Better
- PRO TIP: – Sidechaining your Parallel Reverb Mixer Insert! (Sounds soo good!)
How to Effectively Set Up Reverb on a Parallel Track
If you do not know about series and parallel processing in audio production yet, now is the time to learn!
Series means your audio must go through one path only, and if you add a plugin in its path, it will get effected.
If you add a second plugin, that plugin sees the effected audio from the previous plugin.
If you add a third, the same result. It kind of restricts us!
However, there is a time and a place for series processing!
Parallel opens up way bigger door for us come mix time!
In the image above, I routed lots of instruments to a sidechain sub group. This is so that I only have to set one sidechain compressor instead of many individual ones.
I have then routed this sidechain sub group to multiple other mixer inserts (Reverb, Delay, Distortion, and Parallel Compression!)
The red arrows show which other mixer tracks the sidechain sub group is being routed to. (The FL Studio cables at the bottom show this, too).
This is parallel processing at its finest!
You take your original dry signal, and you can route this to as many other mixer tracks as you want.
You can dial in only the percent you want to be routed, too! – This allows for huge flexibility.
The most important thing to set up on a parallel track, depending on the effect, is setting the dry signal to 0% and the wet signal at 100%. Most reverbs/delays allow this in the plugin itself!
For effects like distortion, it’s already 100% of the effect anyways, you just blend in the amount you want.
You can also route other instruments to use these same effects for maximum control!
I’ve read people say – since you’re using the same sends for multiple instruments, it creates a more in-sync/unified feel to your track, creating a cleaner mix.
I agree to an extent, but sometimes it’s nice to have multiple reverb sends for different instruments. (Even if you do apply a reverb directly onto a sound.)
Why Using a Low Cut Filter on Reverb Helps Clean Up your Mix
Using a low cut filter on a reverb helps to remove low-end rumble from sounds.
This is a great technique to clean up the mix, yet still retain the power and emotion reverb gives us!
As you can see on the Fruity Reeverb 2 plugin, there is a low cut knob.
You can adjust this to take out the low rumble while retaining the high-end!
This technique also applies to delays too – especially the high-end of delays.
Delays over power the original signal if just left by them self. But if you cut some high-end with a high cut filter, you can have more effect, yet it’s pushed into the background!
Using Predelay on your Reverb to Make it Stand Out Better
Predelay in my opinion is a pro-tip technique for using reverb!
I believe the actual intended use of reverb in general is to replicate your sound to be similar as if it were in an actual room type. (Such as a bathroom, cathedral etc.)
And predelay is building off this idea – if in a big room such as a church, if you said HELLO, it would take a certain amount of time for your HELLO to come back with all its reverb-like characteristics.
So if you’re wanting to replicate a big room sound, you dial your reverb to a large room option, but then increase the predelay for a more believable sound.
But here’s my opinion on this subject at the moment.
I don’t use reverb for a room sound. I use reverb to create emotion into my music.
If I’m at the same time adjusting a room type, well that’s just part of the process, but not intended.
I’m dialing in settings for the best fit for my song, and using predelay helps me to get a cleaner mix – here’s why.
In the image above, you can see the green and orange audio clips.
The green is the dry sound, the orange is the wet (the reverb).
If these two sounds were lined up and hitting at the same time, the dry masks a good chunk of your reverb’s sound!
Now what predelay on reverb does is delay the reverb for however long you’ve adjusted it!
So if the dry signal plays, and you’ve adjusted 50ms of predelay, the reverb will not play for 50ms after the dry signal has played.
Now your reverb resembles my image above with the green and orange audio clips.
But here’s the thing, if you keep the same decay time on your reverb, you could now have unnecessary reverb.
Yes, there is a thing as TOO MUCH REVERB!
Reverb has a tendency to clog up our mix. This is why they give us the option of having low and high cut filters to dial in a cleaner sound!
So now that you’ve set up some predelay, you can acutally decrease your decay time, all while allowing your reverb to still stand out because the dry signal and wet signal (reverb) are not hitting at the same time!
Keep in mind, I do not ALWAYS adjust predelay. It’s just a technique to use from time to time.
Some people actually will adjust the predelay quite long, and have a slapback type effect. So the snare would hit, and the reverb would actually play late!
If done right, it can sound quite cool!
Sidechaining your Parallel Reverb Mixer Insert!
This is a pro tip which can create such an amazing sound to your music!
We always tend to sidechain our dry signals, but what about our wet signals (the effects) ?
Like in my example above, I routed most of my instruments to a mixer group called SIDECHAIN.
I can then sidechain all my instruments at once, rather than having multiple plugins to look after, plus add to CPU usage!
By routing the sidechain mixer group to a parallel reverb, all those instruments inside the sidechain group get the same amount of reverb!
But in EDM and dance music, sidechain compression is essential to create a pump/bounce effect.
Therefore, on your parallel reverb, open up a compressor that will allow sidechain compression.
Route your kick drum to your reverb, but with no volume.
FL Studio gives us the option of sidechain to this track. This routes the signal to be used as a trigger, but the volume is not routed.
You first highlight your drum, then on the reverb insert, right click on the bottom arrow.
A pop-up menu will appear, and this is where you select sidechain to this track.
Now it’s just a matter of dialing in your threshold and ratio settings on your compressor!
Adjusting attack and release will allow your pump to get in sync with your tempo.
Just slapping on some reverb will for sure add extra emotion to your music.
But when you compare your music to commercial releases, you may be confused as to why their end result sounds much better!
It’s just by using tips like these to still get the same effect, but clean up the edges so to speak for a polished sound.
Are there any reverb tips you have that I missed? I would love to know in the comments!