what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

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what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

Post by bernardrasson »

hello everyone,
until recently, I have only used a single hardware or sofware instrument at a time (either a Roland rompler or a gm2 soft synth compatible with BIAB)
during the covid however, I have purchased a few additional instruments to add to my setup and correct a few weaknesses of my single instrument
now I read music and technology magazines since 35 years but there is something that I have never seen adressed
since most romplers and soft synths now have their own main reverb what happens if you use several of them in a song ?
I know that reverb applied to a drum sound seems most of the time perceived as part of the sound itself (cue the success of the alesis SR16 drum machine)
and the same is also somewhat true if you use say, an amp string reverb to enrich your guitar sound
but what about other instruments ?
since I use mostly hardware, if I mix together an Integra guitar, a Korg Krome piano and a Ketron SD1000 string patch, each with its own reverb, will it sound wrong for the listener ???
thanks in advance
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Re: what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

Post by James Perrett »

I tend to use a couple of reverbs and possible a couple of delays as well. One reverb tends to be more of an ambience while the other would be longer and more obviously a reverb. The delays are often used instead of reverb to give a sense of space without cluttering the mix as much as reverb can. These are all on busses so any source can use any reverb/delay.
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Re: what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

Post by The Elf »

I tend to switch off effects such as delays and reverbs in synths and use something more refined in my DAW - but it's an un-typical mix where I'm using less than three or four reverbs, and at least that many delays - usually a few more. It's all about finding a blend that works, not adding up the numbers.

Bright, dark, long, short, distant, close, fat, thin, muted, wide, narrow... These are the kinds of qualities I'm chasing when I'm choosing my effects.
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Re: what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

Post by Luke W »

Definitely nothing wrong with multiple reverbs, as already mentioned above it's quite a common approach. The overall sound has much more to do with how you use them than how many there are, it's perfectly possible to make a mess with just the one!
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Re: what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

Post by blinddrew »

Luke W wrote:it's perfectly possible to make a mess with just the one!

Ah, that explains it then...
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Re: what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

Post by Martin Walker »

Like many others here I started out many years ago using the reverbs already provided on my keyboards/synth sounds. My mixes sounded OK, and it was certainly an easy approach.

When I decided to 'up my game' I too disabled all those internal reverbs and moved to choosing the most appropriate single external reverb for use on all of them. Like most new techniques, it was a bit tricky at first to find the most suitable reverb for each song, and the most suitable amount of this reverb for each sound, but once I'd managed this it was the first time my music sounded as if all the sounds were emerging from the same space, and the results were far more 'realistic'.

Nowadays, I may well like the others here use two or even three reverbs in total to place things in a stereo mix, but that initial experience working with a single one was nevertheless most valuable, as it taught me what to use and when.

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Re: what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

Post by Zukan »

The old school 3 master verbs has evolved tremendously thanks to software. Use whatever sounds good to your ears but if you need the mix to sound homogenous then consider the colours of the verbs used.
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Re: what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

Post by bernardrasson »

thank you everyone
yes, it is certainly possible to make a mess with only one effect
try a flanger or harmonizer on their wildest settings and you will hear ;)
can you tell me in a few lines what is this old school, 3 reverbs approach ? thanks in advance
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Re: what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

Post by Zukan »

Sure. We used to have a global reverb that every sound tapped into, a vocal reverb and a drum reverb. The idea was to use the global reverb to denote the space the entire mix would reside in. The other reverbs were very specifically shaped to suit drums and vocals and they on occasion would also tap into the global reverb.
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Re: what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

Post by bernardrasson »

thank you
It makes a lot of sense
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Re: what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

Post by DC-Choppah »

To my ear, it sounds the best when each instrument has its own unique reverb. It is like each instrument was recorded in its own unique space. The unique reverb becomes part of that instruments sound and character.

Then on top of that there is a common reverb that glues it all together.

If you think about recording in a high end studio where they separate out each instrument and give each one its own different room, then this is what you get - different reverb on each instrument. Across all of that goes a 'glue reverb' as Mike Senior describes.

So you get unique reverbs that helps you hear each instrument, but you also get glue that brings them together into a common place. Best of both worlds.

But then I will add a different reverb for 'sparkle'. But only use it on the stuff I want to sparkle to make it stand out.

Most of my favorite reference mixes I found were done this way and it turns out to be one of the things that attracts me to their sound. It sounds like a proper recording.

When there is only one reverb across the whole thing the sound is more like a live band recording all together in the same room. If that is the sound you want, then you want only one glue reverb and everything recorded dry.
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Re: what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

Post by robin746 »

Try to record & mix without any artificial reverb at all. Instead of adding reverb to a lead line, add a diffuse pad as an additional (stereo) track. You will learn a good deal about creating space through the musical arrangement. When you go back to using reverb, you will then have a more delicate touch.

Consider: what are the psychoacoustic cues that a sound is further away? One cue is the increased ratio of echo/reverb from the space. But also the highs get rolled off, ability to localise becomes more difficult, and the amplitude diminishes. You can do most of this without reverb.

Of course this depends very much on the music you are making. And what options you have during recording.
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Re: what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

Post by Martin Walker »

robin746 wrote: Fri Jul 09, 2021 7:17 pm Try to record & mix without any artificial reverb at all. Instead of adding reverb to a lead line, add a diffuse pad as an additional (stereo) track. You will learn a good deal about creating space through the musical arrangement. When you go back to using reverb, you will then have a more delicate touch.

Consider: what are the psychoacoustic cues that a sound is further away? One cue is the increased ratio of echo/reverb from the space. But also the highs get rolled off, ability to localise becomes more difficult, and the amplitude diminishes. You can do most of this without reverb.

Of course this depends very much on the music you are making. And what options you have during recording.

That's a very interesting perspective Robin! :thumbup:

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Re: what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

Post by bernardrasson »

thank you for the tip, Robin
I don't record real reverb because I have a school as neighbours and this is much too noisy
I try to make basic pop-rock, nothing special: 5 or 6 instruments at most
but I do like both super-technological records like FGTH 's Welcome to the pleasure dome and one-mic recordings like the Cowboy Junkies 's Trinity Session ;-)
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Re: what happens when you mix two or more different main reverbs ? a mess ?

Post by RichardT »

I think it’s important to know what your reverbs are intended to do - something I’m just waking up to myself.

Mike Senior’s mixing book has a list of 5 aims : to improve blend, size, tone, spread and sustain. I struggle to get my head completely around this, particularly as these overlap quite a bit. For me the basic distinction is between reverbs that are intended to alter sound of an instrument in its own right vs those that affect the way the instrument fits into the mix.

For example, adding a bright chamber reverb on drums can brighten the tone and give them some fizz, while adding a longer spatial reverb can help a piano blend in better.
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