The sparse arrangements that fit slower songs provide mixing engineers the opportunity to create a perception of space through the use of reverb effects. Reverb, in a mix, allows “placement” of each instrument in a sonic space. But a “realistic” use of reverb is quite tricky to get right. Realistic reverb – counter-intuitively – is not really supposed to be heard (at least consciously), and since our ears enjoy hearing things we are aware of, it’s a common mistake to push it too high in the mix.
Here are a few tricks you may find useful when using this effect:
1. Avoid reverbs with too many editable settings, the parameters you really need are just time (i.e. how long the reverb lasts), pre-delay (how long it will take before the reverb starts after the sound) and some kind of control on the EQ (hi and low pass filters).
2. Use different reverbs for different sources: shorter ones for percussive sounds, and longer ones with some pre-delay for vocal sounds – main vocals may even benefit from some slap back delay.
3. Always tame the high end of the reverb/delay you use for vocals using the low pass filter, so that the sibilants won’t reverberate forever in the mix. You also don’t really need any reverb in the very low frequencies, so you may always want to have the high pass filter slightly closed.
4. When you have your settings right, turn up the reverb until your ears are satisfied with it, then turn it down 2-3 dbs. If you feel like it disappeared, try removing it all together and then turning it back on – you’ll realize it’s still doing its job of creating a perception of space without sounding overwhelming.
In the picture is one of the best sounding reverb plug ins out there, the Universal Audio recreation of 3 vintage plate reverbs. – PDG