Advice || and opinion

Reverb & Digital FX Processors

What is Reverb?

Often, people coming to record in one of our studios and say to the engineer "I don't want any reverb, please", when what they mean is that they want a raw, up front, in-your-face result. They say this usually because they have had a bad experience at another studio where the engineer plastered a washy, swimmy reverberation all over their recording and made it sound distant and mushy.

Nowadays, the term 'Reverb' does not necessarily mean reverberation in the strictest sense, like the sound of a big hall or cathedral. It can just as easily mean the acoustic space inside a small rock club, or even a telephone box. It can also mean the 'open air' sound of cricket being play on the local green, the sound of people in the street. The sound on top of a bus. All these are 'Acoustic Spaces' that can be convincingly simulated by machines and loosely call 'reverb'.

Instructing a studio not to put any 'reverb' on anything will always produce a disappointing result. A mix has to have a foreground, midground and background - just like an orchestra. This means that some things need to sound a little further away than others - you can't actually have everything in your face at once. The whole mix sounds one-dimensional if you try for that (with the exception of Slipknot!)
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This is why having a classy reverb is absolutely essential for getting a professional sounding result.

Digital FX and Reverberation Hardware

This technology is very expensive to do properly. Accordingly there are only three manufacturers of really good quality reverb. They are:

  • Lexicon,
  • TC Electronics, and
  • Eventide

Suitable Lexicon models include: 960L; 480L; PCM 91; PCM 81; PCM 70 (Vintage); and 224X (Vintage). Other Lexicon models such as the MPX series make great guitar fx units, but are not nearly as suitable and can sound a bit cheap.

The best TC Electronics models are: M3000; M4000; M6000.

Eventide make the Orville, and its baby sister, the Eclipse. Both produce very classy fx.

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