- in Production by Bobby Owsinski
A Deep Look Inside Abbey Road’s Reverb Chamber
A while back we took a glance around Abbey Road’s reverb chamber when the excellent Waves plugin version was announced. Here’s a much more intimate look. This time it’s an actual tour inside the chamber itself provided by Mirek Styles, the head of audio products at Abbey Road.
While many of the good sounding live chambers around the world came more from luck than judgement, that wasn’t the case with Abbey Road’s chambers. There was actually a massive amount of experimentation to find just the right sound. The studio even had a person on the staff dedicated to coming up with new sounds, which was not exactly an easy task back in the days of 1950s analog.
As you’ll hear, the chamber in the famed Studio 2 sounds very much like a big bathroom, but a really good sounding one as opposed to the ones we get at home with all the flutter echos. As an example, you can hear it very clearly if you listen to the vocal on The Beatle’s “A Day In A Life.”
Although there was originally a reverb chamber for each of Abbey Road’s three studios, only the one for Studio 2 still exists. It’s changed over the years, as it’s now smaller since a new wall was built to stop leakage from the chamber into Studio 3. The pipes, which are there to diffuse the sound, have also changed a bit over the years.
About the only bit of tweaking that you can do is to change the type of speaker and microphones in the chamber, as well as their placement. That changes the color more than anything, since the decay time is fixed due to the size of the room.
Believe it or not, the chamber wasn’t used much in the 70s and 80s as digital reverbs took over, thanks to their versatility as opposed to the single sound of the live chamber. In the mid-90s engineer Geoff Emerick asked for the chamber to be put back in use for the remixing of The Beatles Anthology album, where its glorious sound was rediscovered.
Check out the video below.