Reverb gives our sounds a realistic environment to exist in, providing us with depth and width. We’ve all experienced real Reverberation in the Physical World. So what’s actually happening, and how can we replicate these reactions in a DAW, without just using a typical “Reverb Plug-in”?
Please Note – this is designed to be educational and should not be used in place of Reverb Plug-ins. However, building one for yourself without relying on something pre-made can give you a completely different perspective on what you are doing.
Scientifically, “Reverb” is multiple random delays.
This means, in the Physical world, a Sound will bounce off of all of the Hard Surfaces, returning back to our ears at different times, causing us to perceive an environment. This effect is called “Reverberation”.
So let’s build a Reverb using Multiple Random Delays:
First we need Multiple Aux Channels.
To create these channels, Press ⌘ + alt + T
Now that we have created Blank Return Tracks, we are going to turn them all down a significant amount before progressing any further. Remember that you are increasing the volume of your signal each time you duplicate it.
Shift + Click your Return Tracks, and turn them all down halfway to start.
Now Send the Signal form the Original Source, to our Return Tracks
Now we can solo the element and adjust the volume until we are within the correct dynamic range, watching the peak meter of our Master Output. (This is where everything is being Summed to)
Shift + Click your Return Tracks, and adjust them until the desired output is achieved.
Now we can start to add delay processors to our Return tracks.
Relating Reverb to Physics, the sound that leaves your body loses it’s own energy as it travels, as well as breaking up further as it comes into contact with walls and other hard surfaces. By the time it returns back to our ears, it is no longer the Original Signal.
Besides time, degradation is why Reverb sounds different from the Original Signal. We actually lose a lot of the sound, meaning unlike a digital delay we are not hearing the full signal return back to our ears. Forgetting to acknowledge this step can lead to an unrealistic sounding reverb and a chaotic mixing disaster.
This physical attribute can be applied using a technique called “Diffusion” (Reductive EQ)
Now let’s apply the following effects
We need to Duplicate these modules, and change each Delay Time in ms
(Remember – You will want to select different Delay Times for each instance)
It it also optional to adjust the feedback independently
We can also adjust the EQ’s different for different textures.
Pressing play, while listening to our Track, we now should have a sense of an Environment places around our Signal. You have just tricked your brain into believing that your sound is now in another space, besides your computer. (This can be enhanced by also using Subtle Saturation on the Return Tracks) Hopefully this sparks some insight into what’s actually happening under the hood of a Reverb Plug-in.
Again – this is not something I suggest using in a Mixing Situation. That is why there are developed Reverb Plug-ins, providing us with more options and environments. Plug-ins can also replicate different mediums, which can further enhance unrealistic sounds in a Mix, bringing them to life!
Now have developed a greater confidence with Reverb, your next step is to get experience with using this Effect in different situations. Deciding whether you need Reverb to fill up an empty/lacking band of frequencies, or simply to make short samples have a more realistic decay will take practice. There are many different Reverb Plug-ins out there, try utilizing the demos and finding what works for you!