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Are You Ruining Your Mixes With Reverb?

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We’ve all been there. You’re done arranging your track, you’ve done some EQing, you add a reverb here and there, and before you know it, your mix is slipping out of control.

The key is to stay organized.

Essentially, there are two ways to apply reverb:

  1. Create a send/parallel track, and apply the reverb to the beginning of the chain. This will allow you to customize the reverb with other effects, and leave the dry signal without reverb processed as-is.
  2. Put the reverb effect directly on the track, and adjust the wet/dry knob and other parameters to get the sound you want.

There are advantages to both ways, but in my opinion, using sends is the way to go. If you’re in Ableton like a BOSS, you can use an effect rack (ctrl+G) to split off a dry and reverb signal chain! This lets you EQ, compress, distort, and flange the reverb with your favorite VSTs in addition to the reverb you’re using. It also allows you to EQ the reverb without affecting the original sound. This is a BIG advantage to using this method, and I’ll often use mid-side EQ to aggressively cut the low-mids of the MID channel.

When I work with vocals I often use multiple reverbs for different purposes. I often run a send from the main vocal to Manny Reverb Mono, and fade in a very very soft reverb that’s tilted with EQ to chop off the highs. I love when the clean high end of the vocals shine above the mix, so I like to add back a tiny bit of low end as reverb. You can only really hear it when the vocalist isn’t singing or rapping.

Sometimes, when you’re working with vocals, you want to emphasize certain individual words with effects. I do this with effect drops. Create a new audio track, put a reverb on it (I like Valhalla Reverb for drops), and create a secondary room or chamber that you can throw individual words into. Make it lush and wide.

Take it to the next level and make ANOTHER drop track for a second reverb drop! This will let you further vary your mix, and bring a new element into the world of the listener. I often will use the stock Ableton Reverb effect as a secondary throw. Here’s some semi-typical settings for what I’d use on it. Notice the big scoop out of the low end of the diffusion network.

For a similar effects, try a 16th note delay as a drop. I love this effect, it’s all over Travis Scott’s work, and I think it’s super entertaining to listen to as a listener.

When all is said and done, and you have your reverbs sitting right (you cut out 400hz in the mid channel, right?), it’s a good idea to use an imager or width plugin to time how wide each sound is. For instance, If you have reverbs on all your pianos, and they’re all set to be very wide, like most reverbs are, they’re going to clash and sound washy. Which may be what you want. I find it much easier to convey depth when one of my reverbs is fairly thin width, maybe 40%, and the others are 80% and panned. The S1 Imager from WAVES is amazing at doing this very quickly.

If you enjoyed this post about reverbs, let me know! Hit me up on Instagram!

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