Reverb may seem like a simple effect but it can get quite complex. There are many different kinds of reverbs that naturally occur in the environment around you. The concept reaches beyond the plugin when you learn how reverbs came to be how it was produced in early years. Times are different now in which you don’t need to create a massive structure like a music hall to create the reverb you want. No you can simply get a plugin that has these amazing algorithms that produce great sound.
Before we dive into the main parameters in reverb plugins, let’s go back to a time where there was no such thing. Back then, symphony halls would create their own acoustics that would help bring space into the music. Adding space to music will make it sound more organic and real to the touch. This blissful experience was then emphasized across the world.
Natural reverb is crucial when creating quality acoustics. This is why concert halls were built the way they were because the ambiance redirects sound waves to the audience. This experience is so unique, you’ll be able to hear faint noises while sitting 100s of feet away.
This unique sound is commonly incorporated with the design of many famous rapper studios. Many artists record music in spaces that has the ideal natural reverb to them. Of course everything is subjective, reverb is something every artist is aware of.
Natural Reverb Dry / Wet Parameter
In a natural reverb case, the balance between the Dry and Wet signals are determined by distance. Between the microphone and the sound source usually creates consistent effects. Playing further away from the microphone causes the sound to blend with the room’s noise. Playing closer to the microphone causes a dryer sound.
Digital Reverb Systems
Eventually artists started to advance their reverb rooms to using digital reverb systems. Reverb technology was ever increasing as physics algorithms were used to create these complex effects. EMT set out the first commercially available digital reverb system in 1976. It was named EMT 250 Electronic Reverberator Unit contained adjustable reverb processor, chorus, phasing, and delay effects. Whoa!
The inventor’s name was Dr. Barry Blesser who later released another banger piece of equipment called the Lexicon. Did I mention these reverb tools were usually over $10,000? Sony later released their own version called DRE-S777 said to produce more organic results.
Software Reverb Plugins
It’s crazy to think that reverb plugins came from such a long line in history. Michael Carns continues to be a leader in the reverb plugins as he is the founder of Exponential Audio. Unlike their hardware counterparts, software continue to advance in algorithms making it very competitive to natural reverb.
Reverb Main Parameters
There are 3 main reverb parameters; pre-delay, decay, and mix. This mix contains the dry and wet signal. In music production, knowing what each of these parameters do is important when delivering the right sound.
Pre-delay is the time it takes for the reverb to start after the dry signal. Your dry signal is in your mix parameter. When you push your pre-delay longer, you add depth to the reverb. When the pre-delay is shorter, the more wet the sound will become. Usual times for rap vocals and hip hop production is 0-20ms.
Decay is the time it takes for the reverb tail to fade out. These are the reflections you hear in the reverb in most popular songs. The longer the decay is, the longer you will hear the reflections. And vise-versa, decay is used differently among background noises and up front vocals.
The mix contains the balance between your dry and wet signal. The balance is of volume and it applies the reverb effect by however much you want. This is where you can control the level of reverb you want in your sound. Again, the uses are limitless when creating a song.
As you saw, there is a lot that happened before making software reverb plugins. The history extends on while the new ages experience an advancement in technology nobody could’ve believed. Digital software has taken over the rap and hip hop game when it comes to creating reverb. Reverb plugins all have these 3 main parameters. Learning predelay, decay, and mix will help you create the music you want to listen to.