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Spaciousness of a mix, especially vocal tracks, is crucial for a healthy and professional production. Here you may find a number of creative and technical tips to improve your reverb usage.

Sidechain Compression & Sidechain Gating

Sidechaining concept is generally known to be used on bass or synth sounds to create a pumping effect triggered by the kick drum. My favorite way to use this concept is to apply it on reverbs either through compression or the gate chaining. If these are all complicated for you, here is a great tutorial explaining these 2 concepts (tutorial starts with a reverse reverb trick which is also cool but sidechaining section starts at 5 min),

Use Multiple Reverbs Panned

Using two different reverb plugins with different settings will introduce a richer spacious environment. Send your vocal track to 2 different send channels (aux) and insert 2 different reverb plugins to each of them (no dry signal on send channels). When you pan one send channel to left and other one to right, you will experience a luscious environment as well as a wider sound. You may also apply this for instrument tracks in your mix. Here is a video demonstration of this effect,

Reverse Reverb Trick

This is a classic one. You simply reverse your original vocal recording and process it through a wet reverb and reverse the wet signal again. Then mixing the original track and the reverse reverb track will create a generic reverse reverb trick. Here is a short video demonstration of this process (also first 5 mins of the first video above explains this concept),

After these more creative approaches, lets have a few tips on how to treat these reverbs technically.

Low Pass & Hi Pass EQ for a Clean Reverb Sound

Using a vast amount of reverb is crucial for a spacious mix but this can easily add up to a muddy mix. The simple most important treatment to avoid this is using hi pass and low pass equalisation. With the low cut (hi pass) EQ, the muddy bass frequencies of the reverb will be eliminated. As a starting point 200 to 300 Hertz low cut can be applied. You should listen to the reverb alone and with the mix while adjusting the frequency.

spacedesigner_eq

On the other hand the hi cut (low pass) EQ  is useful to avoid unneeded air that is been introduced by the reverb plugins. You should be careful not to effect the brightness of the reverb which is important for vocal & instrument tracks. 12 kH -14 kH can be a good starting point.

These can be applied either in EQ of the reverb plugin itself or through a seperate EQ plugin. Never forget that every reverb operation needs a different EQ setting.

Use Compression for a Tight Reverb

Last but not least, use a compression at the end of your reverb chain. This might seem like a fantasy with no effect but generally the plugin reverbs tend to have a dynamic sound and a little compression will tighten the overall sound.

Test these tips on a free vocal library,

FREE VOCAL LIBRARY : VOCAL MORPHS

 

(Thanks to Rob Mayzes, this article is included in his Recording & Mixing Vocals Guide, check it out!)

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