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Music Reverb: What It Is & How To Use It

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Written by Music Sensation

I've spoken in a previous article about the reverb, telling you what it actually is and why is it so widely used in music.

The reverb is a fundamental effect in music, which has been used in electronic music for a while, so it's not something that you should overlook.

But being so popular we have to speak about it more detailed, am I right? What I want to do now is to teach you how to use the reverb in your projects.

First of all, let's go back a little and remember what is the purpose of this effect. The reverb's purpose is to give the sound a richer spectrum.

As you probably did notice, many effects have this purpose. The reverb, the echo, the distortion effect, all of them will make the sound feel fuller, and you, as a music producer, want that. The richer the spectrum is, the more impressive the project becomes.

The reverb can make a weak, undefined sound become a warm and sweet one. At least this is it's purpose if used right. The idea is that it's usage is conditioned by some parameters.

Here Is How You Can Use The Reverb Effect

Wet: it refers to the volume of the reverb effect. The higher you set this parameter, the more reverb you will get.

Usually it should not be higher than 25%, but it depends on the sound that you are using and the context.

On a sound that has transients you usually add more reverb. Sounds that have spaces between them can have more reverb. You can fill that empty spot by using the reverb.

Dry: it represents the initial sound without any reverb . Usually it should be higher as volume than the wet effect.

The reverb effect also has decay. Decay determines the volume of the reverb from maximum to minimum. Not all synthesizers have that parameter included, still it should not be overlooked.

These are the most important parameters. Some VST has more control elements, like putting a filter on certain frequencies, which makes the reverb have more effect on the highs, mediums or lows depending on what settings you've used.

Even though it seems like an easy to understand effect, is in fact a lot harder.

Why Is The Reverb Used In A Mix?

No sound should end suddenly in a composition, and no sound should start suddenly. Why do you think is that? Imagine that a powerful sound would start suddenly. Most likely you would be frightened, or even worse.

Let's say that you don't get scarred, but still, music is not something brutal or unpleasant. Quite the opposite.

The conclusion is that the reverb does the same thing: it fills the empty spaces between the sounds that have transients so they don't end instantly. Even more, it increases the duration of the sound.

As I was saying earlier, a sound that ends fast gives a unpleasant sensation. Even in the aggressive styles of music no sound starts or ends fast. Why?

Because if the volume is very high and in starts suddenly it would be unpleasant. The human ear must be prepared for such volume.

The reverb is an effect of refinement and design. It's extremely important in the creation of a pleasant ambience. The only thing is that it should be used properly.

Now lets talk about how to use the reverb. As I was saying earlier: use more reverb on short sounds with transients, and use less on long sounds(like pads) which already are 'rich'.

Is not a general rule, you should set it by the context in which you use it.

The reverb effect should be inserted on a separate channel. The dry sound should be set on a channel, and the wet sound should be set on another channel in the mixer.

I do not posses knowledge regarding other DAWs, but in FL Studio you can use sends. FL Studio is quite limited, it's mixer having only 4 sends.

So if you have more than 4 instruments in the mix and you wish to add reverb to each one of them then you can't add reverb for all.

There Is Another Way Though... You Can Separate The Effect Of The Source Of The Sound

How to do that? Here is a quick guide on how to do it

  1. Set the Dry in the VST at 0% and leave the Wet as it is.
  2. Record the wet sound and export it in wave format and import it again.
  3. Add the wet effect on a different channel where you have full control over it, like panning it or changing volume, or even adding an equalizer to clean up the unnecessary frequencies.

These are just a few ways of working with the reverb. If I will learn something new I won't hesitate in sharing it with you.

You need to know more about the usage of this effect in the mix, because it's irreplaceable.

Please leave a comment in which you could tell me how do you use the reverb in your own projects, and also, if I forgot to say something please tell me so I can correct the article.

Keep working on your dreams with passion!

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