In today’s world of music production, recent successes have been heavily reliant on advancements in technology, but the quick understanding or catchup of this new technology is not a sufficient guarantee for being a top audio professional.
Apart from being familiar with the use of the latest technology, the most important ingredients that every music professional must possess is their creativity, their expression, attentive listening skills, an incredible ability to discern several sounds, and a special talent of mashing different sounds to produce a distinct sound that will evoke the right emotions and communicate the right feel and vibe through the music.
Producing top quality music also requires deft mixing skills and pragmatic application of equalization and compression. All of these are essential to making the music evoke the right expressions.
In this article, we will go on further to examine reverberation; the most common of “time based effects” in music production that plays off of ambience and resonance.
Let’s get right into it.
WHAT IS REVERBERATION?
The first time you would probably come across the term reverberation is in your early physics or science class. Then, reverberation was explained as the collection of different overlapping echoes, but that doesn’t quite explain reverberation in terms of music production.
That early introduction to reverberation helps us to understand that reverberation is not a unique experience. It happens around us all the time. As long as there is some form of sound around us then, reverberation is bound to be present.
To give you a clearer perspective, reverberation is produced every time sound waves vibrate about any surface. Sound as a wave requires a material medium for its propagation and anything outside of that is unnatural in every sense of it.
Reverberation of sounds is very useful in music production. In a typical music production studio, natural media for sound propagation are usually minimized and sometimes eliminated but, there are special techniques and tools that are used to replicate reverberation of sounds in the studio. These special tools and techniques focuses on minimizing the external acoustics to be as low as possible so that clean sound can be captured.
A clean sound guarantees a clean mix and this can prove very pivotal when you are editing and improving your mix. A clean mix also guarantees a very good master, and because all of these are interconnected in this sense, every single one of them must be handled correctly to guarantee the best results.
Reverberation is important in music production to recreate room sound scenarios that had been naturally eliminated. Without reverberation, sounds produced in the studio will not sound natural and once sound doesn’t sound natural, it cannot be pleasant to the ears.
When you take your time to make your track brilliant, you need reverberations to produce that much required sense of space and for other reasons that will be highlighted below.
WHY IS REVERBERATION IMPORTANT?
As a sound or mix engineer, your understanding and handling of reverberations will determine the quality of your mixes. Applying reverberation to your music demands that you be creative and be able to capture an end in mind. Reverbs are very adaptable to suit most purposes in mixing as it can provide quality, depth, a rich tone, and can make the listening experience of listeners to be very impressive and immersive.
Reverberation gives more meaning to your music especially as regards giving your listeners the correct picture of the sound. It helps you tell them where the sound blasting through their speakers is coming from. Reverbs helps you create an ambient feel that draws the listener into the world of your sound.
ROOMS AND THEIR NATURAL REVERBERATIONS
Since sound requires material medium for its propagation, different spaces reflects sounds differently and any space may have its special arrangement for the type of sound it is meant to produce. This is why the sound you hear in room A may sound different from the sound in room B. Every room has their characteristic sound reflection capacity and this is why venues are usually designed with specific sound details in order to ensure that the right results are derived for the sound arrangement. This sound arrangement usually includes reverberation.
EXAMINING REVERB PARAMETERS
As a sound engineer, your ability to apply reverberation to your music rests on your understanding of reverb parameters. We will examine some reverb parameters below.
Type – This describes the kind of digital reverb you are operating. They are typically found in multi-effects processors or in units carrying different reverb arrangements.
Size – Size is the dimension of the room for the reverberation. The reverb length must match the room’s size.
Decay – Decay is the time for the reflections from a reverberation to lose their energy or die out.
Pre-Delay – Pre-Delay describes the difference in the time when the sound is released from the sound source and the first reflections that make up its reverberation.
Early Reflections – These are the first reflections that make up the reverberation. They are sometimes called pre-echoes and how you set them up will determine the intensity of the first reverb. Early reflections are distinct from other reflections that will make up your reverb so, you have to understand the differences.
Diffusion – Diffusion is the spread of the sound to fill up the shape of the room. It must be set to correctly cover the shape of the room for the reverberation to take maximum effect. When setting your diffusion parameter, you must take cognizance of all the surfaces where the sound can be reflected from so that you can accommodate more reverbs to counter their effects.
Mix – Reverberation includes the correct mixing of a wet signal with a dry signal. A signal is said to be wet when it carries a reverb while, a signal is dry if it does not carry a reverb.
*These parameters have to be set correctly to match the desired results.*
In part 2 of this article, we will delve more into explaining other time based effects that are related to reverberations. We will talk about delays and how they are linked to tempo. We will also examine modulation and their components, and why they are often combined with harmonics in mastering.
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Until next time… REFUSE TO SOUND ORDINARY!