Tag Archives for " reverb "

New Music Gear Monday: Exponential Audio R4 Reverb Plugin

Exponential Audio R4If you grew up in the days of recording studios built around consoles and hardware, then you were probably used to using a Lexicon reverb. Although not the first digital reverb, the Lexicon 224 and subsequent versions became a must-have for every studio to have in its arsenal in no time, and we all grew to love its sound. Michael Carnes helped design and perfect these reverbs for Lexicon for 25 years before he began making reverb plugins with own Exponential Audio. The company already has some pretty cool reverb plugins, but Michael’s new R4 gives you the best features and character of those old hardware units at a very reasonable price.

The Exponential Audio R4 has a super amount of flexibility, allowing you to conjure nearly any reverb sound you can imagine, or it can be dead simple, with dozens of meaningful presets that can be easily searched for a quick solution to every situation. Among its many features (taken from its press release, which I couldn’t top) include:

  • A character reverb that outdoes all the classics
  • 6 independently-selectable types of EQ for input, early reflection, and reverb tail. 
  • Early and tail EQ can be dynamically modulated.  Whether a subtle pulsation or a sweeping notch, modulated EQ is a powerful new weapon in the producer’s toolkit.
  • R4 retains the Chorused Hall of earlier Exponential Audio plugins. And it adds a second Hall with density modulation that adds motion to the tail without adding pitch change. Of course, you can add pitch modulation on top if you want it! These halls are the perfect solution for sparse or sterile mixes and solos.
  • There’s also a Plate and Chamber; updated from R2.
  • Multiple early-reflection patterns
  • Warp section with compressor/expander, overdrive and word-size reduction.
  • Pre-delay and reverb delay now adjustable by tempo
  • Tail suppression circuit for more dynamic response
  • Gated reverb effects
  • Over 1200 presets
  • Helpful tool-tips to guide new users.
  • Freeze function to capture the reverb tail and run it forever.
  • Industry-leading CPU efficiency–run as many reverbs as you want.

I’ve been playing with the R4 for a while, and I can tell you that unlike many reverbs that you have to struggle with to make sit in the mix, this one just works with almost no hassle. Dial up a preset and you’re ready to go, or you can get as tweaky as you desire with all the available parameters if you want.

The Exponential Audio R4 reverb plugin is now available on all platforms for $299, with a free demo available. If you’re an Exponential customer already, there’s also a $150 discount available. Check out the product page for more details, as well as the excellent videos that explain the features of the R4 supplied by Groove3.

Just What Your Mix Needs – Surveillance Tower Reverb

surveillance tower reverb pluiginI know, I know. You can’t finish that mix until you get the sound of an old surveillance tower to pull it all together. But where to find one? Well you’re in luck as the impulse responses from the Teufelsberg National Security Agency tower in West Berlin are now available. Best of all – it’s a free VST plugin.

The Teufelsberg security tower is a three-domed structure erected on a “devil’s mountain” of WWII rubble dumped on top of a half-finished Nazi military school. From this perch high above Berlin, the US government and its allies listened in on the communists of the Eastern Bloc and Soviet Union. It’s still standing, and you can add its cavernous sound to your tracks, thanks to Balance Audio Tools.

The plugin provides 6 different IR reverb sounds, all with fast, zero-latency convolution. There are only two controls, blend and gain, along with A/B compare and preset saving functions. It’s available as a free plug-in for Mac, Windows, and even Linux, and it’s open source.

Download it here.

Have a listen to what it sounds like.

If you want to tour of the structure, check out the video below.

New Music Gear Monday: FabFilter Pro-R Reverb Plugin

FabFilter Pro-RWe’re starting to see more and more next generation DAW plugins where outside the box thinking results in an easier user interface which ultimates leads to new or more useful sounds. Nowhere is that more evident than with the new FabFilter Pro-R Reverb plugin which takes many of the more difficult reverb concepts and controls and presents them in a new, easier to understand way.

FabFilter Pro-R has the same familiar interface as it’s other wonderful plugins, showing a real time waveform display, but this time with a decay time and EQ curve superimposed over the top. While there are many unique features of the plugin, one of the most striking and useful is the previously mentioned decay curve, which allows the user to simply grab and shape as necessary. This allows you to have different decay times for different frequencies, which while not totally unique, is presented here in a way that’s far easier to achieve the final result you’re looking for.

Another unique feature is the continuously variable Space control that lets the user fade between dozens of different room models and automatically chooses a matching decay time. Once again this is possible with most other reverb plugins, but the fact that as you dial up the Space control it automatically switches from algorithm to algorithm is not only pretty cool, but one of those “Why didn’t anyone think of that before?” features.

There’s also a Distance control that adjusts how close the source is in relation to the reverb, so you can bring things closer or further away as needed. Of course, on most reverbs you can do this by adjusting the first reflections, but this is so much easier. A Character control also changes the sound from a clean, transparent decay to one with that’s over-modulated for a chorus-like effect. This is one clever plug!

The FabFilter Pro-R reverb plugin costs $199 (EUR 169 or GBP 149), and supports both Windows and Mac OS X in VST and VST 3, Audio Units, AAX, RTAS, and AudioSuite plug-in formats. Check out the website for more details, or this excellent video that pretty much explains everything.

New Music Gear Monday: Exponential Audio NIMBUS Reverb Plugin

nimbus-reverb-pluginI really love Exponential Audio plugins because you get high performance effects that don’t require a ton of CPU power at a reasonable price. While the company’s existing plugins are very cool indeed, Exponential founder (and ex-Lexicon engineer) Michael Carnes has outdone himself this time with his new NIMBUS reverb, a true next-generation plugin.

NIMBUS takes the excellent sound and parameters of the company’s PhoenixVerb and gives it an injection of steroids, providing a host of new and useful features. For instance, there’s expanded EQ with 3 separate sections – one on the reverb tail, another on early reflections, and a new EQ on input. Each section allows you to select between 6 different types of filters (2 Lowpass, 2 Hi-pass, Bandpass and Notch). Thanks to these new EQs and filters, it’s easy to keep problem sounds like traffic and rumble out of the reverb, create different effects, or work around buildup in overused frequencies.

There’s also a very cool new dynamics process called Tail Suppression that helps lower reverb levels when the input signal is strong, so you never have to worry about having a vocal that’s too wet yet you can keep the lush reverb in the spaces in between phrases.

NIMBUS also provides a choice of several early reflection patterns, which I don’t ever remember seeing in another reverb. One of the patterns is a special ‘Vintage’ selection that has a very low density that helps to get the sound of some of those old hardware favorites that we all know and love. Another feature that I really like is that you can lock predelay and reverb delay to tempo, something that had to be done manually previously.

Finally, there’s a new Warp section that provides three different parameter sections. One is an input compressor/expander that provides variable attack, release and knee to allow you to control how the input feeds into the reverb.  This can allow you to set how much reverb dynamically occurs during quiet passages, for example. Plus, it can even approximate the non-linear converters of 30-year-old hardware devices (Lexicon 224 anyone?).

Warp also has a  flexible overdrive circuit that gives you the ability to add some nice sounding harmonic distortion or even a bit of transistor crud to get a sound closer to what real plates and chambers (the ones that use real analog amplifiers) sound like.

Finally, there’s a word-size reduction control that can help you emulate the sound of the convertor and DSP distortion from all those expense vintage reverb devices that we used to use back in the analog days.

The Exponential Audio NIMBUS Reverb plugin is available for Mac (10.8 and up) and Windows (7 and up), and in various plugin formats – VST and VST3 (64-bit only), AudioUnits (64-bit only), and AAX (32 and 64-bit) so it will play nice with just about any workstation that you use. Go here for all the details.

NIMBUS will be available at the end of September for $199, and you’ll be able to test-drive it for 21 days. You’ll find it at the Exponential Audio Online store.

Time For Some Do-It-Yourself Reverb

Do-it-yourself reverbDigital reverbs have come a long way. It’s truly amazing what you can now get for very little money that rivals or betters hardware reverbs costing more than $10k. That said, sometimes there’s nothing like the real thing, even if a little DIY is involved. Speaking of which, the wonderful TapeOp Magazine recently posted a great article on making a relatively inexpensive do-it-yourself reverb.

Of course, the easiest DIY reverb has been a speaker and a mic in a live room, and that technique has been used almost since the beginning of recording (Capitol’s chambers are still some of the best ever, for instance). All you need is a live room like a bathroom, place any kind of speaker in it, and place the mic as far away as you can. Of course, it always helps if a stairwell is handy as well.

When it comes to-do-it yourself reverb, many of us would love to have a plate, and believe it or not, it’s not all that difficult to build yourself, if you have a little time. The TapeOp article does a good job in explaining how to build one yourself. Of course, depending upon your construction skills and ingenuity, your mileage may vary when it comes to the final project. Another more intricate way of building your own plate can be found here.

The article also discusses some other tricks that many of us have tried over the years, and mostly forgotten. Dropping a small speaker down the hole of an acoustic guitar (or even a 12 string) gives a very interesting effect. Don’t forget to detune the strings!

Also another oldie but goodie – dropping a speaker down the soundhole of a piano while the sustain pedal is held down yields a wonderful reverbish sound that can’t be duplicated.

Yes, digital reverbs are better than ever and something we’ll all continue to use, but sometimes a bit of good old fashioned do-it-yourself reverb, no matter how you get it, just can’t be beat.

[photo: Ionosonde Recordings]

How To Time Your Reverb Decay To The Track

Reverb front to backWhen signal processing is timed to the pulse of the track, everything in the mix sounds a lot smoother. This applies to compressors, delays, modulators, and especially reverb.

One of the questions I get a lot is, “How do you time your reverb to the track?”

There’s a step by step tutorial in my Audio Mixing Bootcamp book that I’ve excepted below. By the way, there’s also a video version of the book available on Lynda.com.


“Like with other aspects to mixing, the use of reverb is frequently either overlooked or misunderstood. Reverb is added to a track to create width and depth, but also to dress up an otherwise boring sound. The real secret is how much to use and how to adjust its various parameters.

Before we get into adding and adjusting the reverb in your mix, let’s look at some of the reasons to add reverb first

When you get right down to it, there are four reasons to add reverb.

1. To make the recorded track sound like it’s in a specific acoustic environment. Many times a track is recorded in an acoustic space that doesn’t fit the song or the final vision of the mix. You may record in a small dead room but want it to sound like it was in a large studio, a small reflective drum room, or a live and reflective church. Reverb will take you to each of those environments and many more.

2. To add some personality and excitement to a recorded sound. Picture reverb as makeup on a model. She may look rather plain or even only mildly attractive until the makeup makes her gorgeous by covering her blemishes, highlighting her eyes, and accentuating her lips and cheekbones. Reverb does the same thing with you tracks in many cases. It can make the blemishes less noticeable, change the texture of the sound itself, and highlight it in a new way.

3. To make a track sound bigger or wider than it really is. Anything that’s recorded in stereo automatically sounds bigger and wider than something recorded in mono, because the natural ambience of the recording environment is captured. In order to keep the track count and data storage requirements down, most instrument or vocal recordings are done in mono. As a result, the space has to be added artificially by reverb. Usually, reverb that has a short decay time (less than one second) will make a track sound bigger.

4. To move a track further back in the mix. While panning takes you from left to right in the stereo spectrum, reverb will take you from front to rear (see the figure on the left). An easy way to understand how this works is to picture a band on stage. If you want the singer to sound like he’s in front of the drum kit, you would add some reverb to the kit. If you wanted the horn section to sound like it was placed behind the kit, you’d had more reverb. If you wanted the singer to sound like he’s in between the drums and the horns, you’d leave the drums dry and add a touch of reverb to the vocal, but less than the horns.

If we were going to get more sophisticated with this kind of layering, we’d use different reverbs for each of the instruments and tailor the parameters to best fit the sound we’re going after.

Timing A Reverb To The Track

One of the secrets of hit-making engineers is that they time the reverb to the track. That means timing both the pre-delay and the decay so it breathes with the pulse of the track. Here’s how it’s done.

 The decay of a reverb is timed to the track by triggering it off of a snare hit and adjusting the decay parameter so that the decay just dies by the next snare hit. The idea is to make the decay “breathe” with the track.

Exercise Pod – Timing Reverb Decay

Before you begin any of the exercises in this chapter, be sure to have two reverbs with the sends and returns already set up. Set one reverb to “Room” (we’ll call it Reverb #1) and the other to “Hall” (Reverb #2). Refer to your DAW or console manual on how to do this.

E8.1: Solo the snare drum and the reverb returns (or put them into Solo Safe – refer to you DAW or console manual on how to do this). Be sure that the Dry/Wet control is set to 100% wet, and the return levels are set at about -10.

A) Raise the level of the send to the Room reverb until the reverb can be clearly heard. Does the snare sound distant? Does it sound bigger than before?

B) Adjust the Decay parameter until the reverb dies out before the next snare hit of the song. Does the snare sound clearer?

C) Mute the send to the Room reverb and raise the level to the Hall reverb. Does the snare sound distant? Does it sound bigger than before? Does it sound bigger than the Room reverb?

 D) Adjust the Decay parameter until the reverb dies out before the next snare hit of the song. Does the snare sound clearer? Does it sound bigger?
 E) Adjust the Decay parameter until the reverb dies out before the 2nd next snare hit after the initial hit. Does the snare sound clearer? Does it sound bigger?”

The Who “Baba O’Riley” Isolated Track

The Who Baba O'Riley isolated trackThe Who’s “Baba O’Riley” is one of the most played tracks in the entire band’s catalog, to the point were just about every fan (and non-fan’s alike) know each note and part by heart. That’s why today’s isolated track is so cool. It strips away the arpeggiated synthesizer and, in some parts, the piano, to give you a clear listen as to what’s going on deep inside the mix. Here are some things to listen for:

1. The reverb on the vocal is pretty short, unlike many Who mixes. It’s also delayed so the vocal stands out a bit more.

2. The drums are in stereo, but have an unusual balance, with the snare and most of the kit leaning right and the ride and a crash leaning left. On the tom fill at 1:33 you can hear the rack tom on the left as well. Keith Moon also rarely plays the hat during the song, instead bashing the cymbals throughout, something that a producer would no doubt change today.

3. The big guitar power chords in the verse (0:51) are doubled and maybe even tripled, which you don’t notice in the full mix.

4. The outro starting at 3:11 sounds much different without the violin.  You definitely get to appreciate Moon’s prowess with his dynamics and machine gun snare roll.

As always, there’s always a lot of cool production techniques to be learned from an isolated track, and this one is no exception.

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