Is it OK to use several form of reverbs in a mix?

My response is yes. Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

Aside from the jokes, I see this subject pop up now and again, and I realize there are individuals on both sides of the debate. Before we get into the meat of my argument, let’s go through the many sorts of reverbs and how I may employ them in production and mixing.

The Areas (Chambers, Halls, Rooms)

While you could theoretically divide them into three categories. Chambers, Halls, and Rooms are three different sorts of physical spaces, each with its unique set of reflected features.

Chambers — Chambers, which are reflecting areas connected to receive signal from a control room, were employed in popular recording studios in the past. A monitor or numerous monitors are used to play the signal back into the area. It’s then recorded again using microphones, transmitted back into the control room, and eventually mixed in with the original signal. The sound will be altered by employing various monitors, microphones, and combinations in addition to the acoustic properties of the chamber itself. Other than the real bunker underneath Capitol Studios in Hollywood, my favorite chamber is the Universal Audio plugin simulation of that precise area. The real chamber as well as the plugin provide a rich and melodic sound.

Halls – Halls are acoustically engineered places that improve the listening experience. Hall reverbs have somewhat lengthy tails, but when utilized appropriately, they sound realistic and realistic . Alitverb by AudioEase is one of the most stunning collections of halls (and other venues). Convolution reverbs, such as Altiverb, employ impulse responses to create sound profiles of real physical places and/or gadgets.

Rooms — It was a revelation for me to play a drum kit in a professionally built studio for the first time. In a well-designed recording setting, the gear comes to life. The rooms in which my favorite recordings from the 1960s and 1970s were recorded, as well as the way those rooms were utilised, are primarily responsible for the sounds they produced. Rooms have a short fade period and are best used in a subtle manner. I don’t frequently use room reverb to alter a signal in such a manner that the listener can tell it’s in a room. I usually put something in a room to make other things sound more prominent.

In this area, I may as well add “cathedral” reverbs. Cathedral reverbs have lengthy tails and may affect the sound in a variety of ways. Some are deep and edgy, while others are light and airy. 

Spring Reverbs

The origins of one of my favorite varieties of reverb may be traced back to 1960s organs and guitar amplifiers. The idea is simple: a signal is put into a small metal box with a spring inside, the signal echoes in the spring, and the spring may then be blended in with the original signal. Spring reverbs have a lot of personality and tone, so I utilize them on a wide range of sources when the mix calls for them. They sound great on vocalists, organs, and guitars (obviously), and I adore putting a snare signal through a spring for a unique effect.

Plate Reverbs

The iconic EMT 140 plate reverb works by vibrating a big metal plate with a transducer. The sound of the vibrating plate is then captured by pickups and combined with the original signal. The idea is similar to that of a spring reverb, only instead of a small spring, a massive sheet of metal is used.

The EMT was introduced in 1957 and quickly became a standard in recording studios because to its luscious sound and relative simplicity of use (no need to create a chamber). Given the architecture of a plate reverb, it should come as no surprise that they may have a metallic tone, therefore a little corrective equalization may help the wet signal’s timbre.

Digital/Hybrid Reverbs

Technically, any of the reverb plugins discussed so far are all “digital” in the sense that they are controlled by a computer. What I mean by “digital” is that there are special plugins intended to create sounds that do not/cannot exist in physical environments.

Non-Linear/Gated Reverbs

The reverb tail would gently diminish if you walked into an actual area (whether it be a room, hall, or chamber) and clapped your hands. Because this progressive tail may be represented by a line, we refer to it as linear. Non-linear reverb tails do not fade in this natural way, and their tails are impossible to depict with a straight line.

Reverse Reverb – This is another form of reverb effect that isn’t likely to be used on every line of a song. Reverse reverb is made by reversing a recording (typically only one or two words). After that, add a reverb to the reversed recording before reversing it one final time.

So, now that we’ve gone through the various types of reverb and how I use them, let’s get to the point:

Is it OK to mix several tracks with various reverb types? Or maybe a mix of styles on a single track?

If you’re going for a minimalist approach (trying to create a natural-sounding experience in which all parts are contained inside a single location), I can see why you’d use just one sort of reverb. Sending many (if not all) of your tracks through the same reverb may help to create a feeling of coherence, as can putting all of the pieces in the same room. When a lot of parts are routed via the same reverb, though, things start to sound a little foggy. Apart from that, I think it’s a good idea to combine plates, springs, chambers, and other components in the same mix. Furthermore, I often employ more than one sort of reverb on a single instrument, especially when mixing voices.

“Does this track require any reverb?” is maybe a more crucial question to ask yourself before mixing.

Reverbs used in excess may make a mix seem crowded and lack intensity and clarity. Certain production styles need additional reverb, and I’m willing to use different kinds of verb if the customer or production need it. However, if something was recorded cleanly, is in the right place, and/or doesn’t need the color provided by some of the more character-rich reverbs, it’s typically best to leave it alone. Almost every time I use the effect, I do it with a lot of thought. It’s uncommon that I think to myself, “I wonder if reverb would make that part sound better,” and then use reverb to try to enhance the mix. I can always tell which songs need the effect and which do not. When possible, I try to avoid utilizing reverb since, as I previously indicated, superfluous reverbs tend to cloud up a mix rapidly, especially when used in modest quantities.

So, when should I use reverbs together?

Multiple reverbs are often used to enhance vocals. It’s customary to add some form of special effect reverb, especially in current pop songs, but only on certain phrases. For instance, a voice might be treated with a more realistic sounding reverb across the whole production, such as a plate. I’ll then automate the send level to a second reverb at the conclusion of a phrase so that just a single word or phrase gets saturated in the second reverb. After that particular word or phrase, I’ll bring the send level back down, repeating the procedure to accent certain vocal parts throughout the production. Not just for vocals, but for other aspects as well. Placing a single snare strike within a large, cavernous area is a cool one-off effect, and I occasionally do it with several reverbs. I’ve created a blurred-out, rich, dreamy sound by sending the whole mix through numerous reverbs during an introduction and then again at the very end.

There are also lots of times when I’ll send a voice or lead part to various reverbs that stay at a very constant volume throughout the song. Combining a chamber with a plate, or a hall with a spring (possibly panned left and right) might create some unique places and textures. I’ll sometimes print a re-amped voice recording with the spring reverb set up and utilize it many times during the song. In your choice DAW, construct a mix template with various distinct auxiliary tracks and reverbs incorporated. One chamber, one plate, one spring, and one additional unique effect reverb of your choice is a decent starting point.

In conclusion, unless you’re utilizing a purist’s approach and aiming to create a natural feeling of space while mixing, don’t be afraid to mix several forms of reverb inside the same project. Reverb is often used expressively in modern mixes, and I recommend using it to your preference as long as you can tell when you’ve gone too far.