To achieve natural 3-dimensionality in your mix you have to consider which kinds of reverb you should use for various instruments.
Normally for solo and lead instruments the tendency is to use reverb effects that recreate large spaces with long reverberations. For accompanying instruments that don’t have as much impact on the spatial impression, the tendency is to use reverbs that recreate smaller spaces with shorter reverberations.
You’ll also want to create reverb with a more non-linear characteristic for individual instruments that should stand out a bit in the mix.
And as a final touch you can also apply the appropriate reverb to your master signal to add some polish to your final mix.
Reverb for Drums
Standard drum recording is usually done with mics on each part of the kit and very close to the sound source. This leads to a recording with very little natural reverb on the individual tracks. Usually only the overheads and room mics pick up any room effects that might be present.
For this reason it is good to use reverbs on the drums that recreate small rooms, e.g. “Small Room” or “Ambience”. The short delay times of the “Early Reflections” create a spatial sound without reverberation. By condensing the reverb in a small space we can achieve more punch in the drum sound.
Step 1: To create our small drum space we’ll set up an AUX Bus (Track Menu > Insert new tracks > New AUX Bus) and select the eFX_Reverb and use the preset „Reverb_Drum_Room“.
We’ll increase the Pre Delay value from 3ms to 13ms to bring the snare signal a bit closer. 100% Diffusion gives us a soft and dense reverb. Keeping the effect mix level at 20% ensures that the reverb is perceived as being quite close.
Step 2: Now we can turn up the individual drum tracks on the Send for AUX 1 until each part of the kit has a good, 3-dimensional and powerful sound.
Go easy on applying the effect to the bass drum. With low frequencies there is always the risk that the room effect will lead to a muddy mix.
Step 3: For the snare drum we’ll use a special effect called the “Gated Reverb”. This non-linear effect combines a high effect mix and crisp, powerful sound with a clearly audible reverberation that stops after a short time in contrast to convential large reverb effects.
To do this we’ll set up another AUX Bus, select the VariVerbPro as a plugin and use the preset “36: Drums/Precussion > Snare Drum > Snare Drum Plate A”.
Feel free to experiment with the Decay Time – the faster the song, the shorter the Decay Time should be. In our example we’ll leave it at 900ms. The low Pre Delay value leads to perceiving the signal as being far away.
Step 4: As in Step 2 we’ll adjust the Send Level for our snare effect.
Step 5: Now we can simulate a room sound for the entire drum kit. We’ll do this by adding a pinch of natural room to all parts of the kit. First we’ll set up another AUX Bus, insert the Room Simulation as a plugin and use the preset Impulse Response “Miscellaneous > Large_Room_2_Digi.WAV”.
At this point we’ll reduce the low frequencies a bit to make sure the kick drum doesn’t muddy the mix in the bass range. Lowering the early reflections creates a light diffusion of the reverb.
Step 6: Now we can adjust the Send Level for our room simulation effect.
Reverb for Bass?
If we want to use reverb on a bass track we have to be careful. Low frequencies with reverb tend to muddy the mix. A better option is to add a Chorus Effect to give the sound a bit more of a beat (e.g. eFX_ChorusFlanger > Chorus_Classic_Bass).
Reverb for Guitar
There are a lot of options for applying reverb to electric guitar ranging from wide, open rooms (e.g. VariVerb Pro 51: acoustic hall HQ) to bright plate reverbs.
Step 7: For our guitar sound we’ll use a classic spring reverb. This slightly metallic sounding reverb has been used in countless rock songs and probably sounds familiar to you.
We can use the “tension” knob to adjust the ambience of the spring reverb while “tone” and “damping” can be used to control the timbre and the reverberation characteristics. You can insert the MAGIX Vandal plugin into AUX 4 as follows:
and then adjust the AUX Send level.
Reverb for Vocals
Finally we’ll add some reverb to the vocals. Because the vocals are often the focal point we should use the highest quality reverb possible.
Step 9: First we’ll set up another new AUX Bus. This time we’ll insert the room simulation program “Medium Halls > Hall Echo 2.9s”. To get a better impression from up close we can set the Pre Delay value to 15 ms and reduce the early refelctions to make the vocals sound like they are close to our ears.
Reverb for the Master Signal
Last but not least we can apply some reverb to the stereo master to simulate a room effect that will make the mix more homogeneous.
Step 10: In the master area of the mixer we can set up the Room Simulation plugin, Select the reverb “Miscellaneous > REVROOM2.RAP” and adjust the effect mix level until the master signal sounds refined and homogeneous and the room effect is decently noticeable.
And one more tip: Try experimenting with other effects in your AUX Sends, e.g. using a compressor to make the reverb more dense. Additional amp simulators can add some interesting distortion and with a few EQ adjustments you can create a completely unique 3-dimensionality with your mix.
Have fun creating amazing 3-dimensional mixes!