What Is Reverb in Music?

  • James Parker
  • January 14, 2022

Reverb is a way of creating space in music. It has the effect of making the sound feel like it’s coming from a room or hall. 

This can be done through electronic effects or through acoustic tricks. Reverb is an important tool that helps create an atmosphere for the music to dwell in and for listeners to inhabit as well. 

This article will discuss exactly what reverb is in music. Here are some things to know about reverb and how it affects music and listening.

What Is Reverb?

What is reverb? In its most simple form, the word reverb simply refers to the act of amplifying the sound of the sound source. When sound is released from a speaker, it can travel in all different directions. 

Usually, the sound will travel from the speaker to a listening location. When sound reaches a listening location, it will bounce off of walls, furniture, or whatever is in front of it. This creates a sound wave. 

As the sound wave bounces off of objects, it gets thinner and thinner. This creates different layers of the sound being made. These different layers of the sound create different sounds depending on where the sound wave is coming from. 

For example, if you’re close to a speaker, the waves will be much faster and more intense.

The Role of Reverb in Music Production

When creating a song or a piece of music, there are many times where reverb is used to give a song the feeling of taking place in a particular place. Whether that means that the sound has the sound of a beach, or just a house or a barn, reverb can help create the environment for a song to be in.

Reverb also has another use in the creation of music, which is to create different emotions. The sound of rain can help you empathize with the singer, and the sound of thunder can make you want to take cover. Reverb is used in a lot of music production in order to get people to respond to the music in the way that the artist intended.

Digital Reverb Types

Algorithmic Reverb

Reverb has evolved into its modern form through the addition of processing algorithms. This not only changes the sound of reverb in the sense that it can turn it into a distant or warm echo, but it also changes the way that it is played. 

Convolution Reverb

Convolution reverb is something you will hear a lot of in music. It’s created by stretching the sound source around the room or hall. This creates a circular sound-scape in which the listener can see and hear the sounds from the room.

This effect is named after Sir John Francis Lowe, the inventor of the first reverberating chamber. This had a circular shape and the space in which the sound would travel around was often circular as well. Because of this, it was known as con-volution (meaning “circular sound”).

The Control of Digital Reverbs

Pre-Delay

Pre-delay (or post-delay) is a feature built into most electronic studio software. It allows the hardware or software to record whatever comes into the microphone(s) after the beat.

In effect, the recording adds delay to the tempo. This effect is most popularly used in drum and bass, which is a popular genre of music that originated in Britain.

Decay Time

A high frequency tone (generally up to 5 kHz) is played in a recording chamber, usually at low power (you cannot hear it but the sounds recorded with it are getting lost), with a short decay time. This means that the sound is changing, fading and becoming soft. This is called decay time.

Diffusion

Diffusion is a specific type of reverb. It can be measured by looking at the typical delay time. It is best described as a soft reverb effect. When an instrument is played or recorded with a flat frequency response, the delay will be faint or nonexistent. But if the audio is played through a diffuse system, the reflection will be somewhat amplified. As a result, the reverb will tend to disappear when listening from close range, but will become more audible as the recording moves away.”

Damping

Damping is a way of turning down some of the volume of the reverb or the reverberation itself to give it a softer sound.

Dry/Wet Balance

The distinction between these is whether the effect is coming from a dry or wet speaker, or between one dry speaker and one wet speaker. A mix of dry and wet speakers is called balanced, which allows an audio signal to have an interesting sound without the reverb being too drastic and/or sounding muddy or muddy sounding.

What Are the Different Types of Reverb Sounds?

Hall reverb

Hall reverb is the type of reverb that has the reverb chamber in a hall, making it sound bigger. You can use this effect if you’re in a large hall, such as a concert hall. It is also known as an acoustic hall reverb.

Room reverb

Room reverb is basically the same as a hall reverb, but the effect is set for smaller spaces such as a room instead of a hall setting.

Chamber Reverb

Reverb is usually used with a reed instrument, such as a saxophone. They create different sonic effects when playing because of their different textures.

Chamber reverb produces very distorted results. The reed instrument is hitting an isolated sound source, or a little box. If you listen to an upright saxophone, it’s using a saxophone reed or a saxophone sounding reed to create reverb.

Plate Reverb

Reverb has an “in” and an “out” in music, often called the “in” and the “out” of a plate reverb. The “out” (or “bounce”) is the place where the sound is coming from, while the “in” (or “plate”) is the place where the sound is coming from. The “bounce” takes away the “shimmer,” the smoothness of the sound and makes it sound distorted. The “plate” takes away the “hi-hat” of the sound and makes it sound distorted.

Spring Reverb

Literally, this means that sound is sent through springs to create a unique effect. Spring reverb has been hugely popular since the 1960s.

Hypoallergenic

For those with hyper allergy issues, there are hypoallergenic ways to still enjoy making music. They come in the form of powdered coatings that can be added to different instruments such as banjo strings, for those that are considered to be super-sensitive or even allergic to certain materials, allowing them to play their instruments.

Step by Step: How to Apply Reverb

1. Patch sidechain

Start by recording your separate audio from your mixing board into your Audio Basic Compression Studio. Then all you have to do is relay your sends into your reverb track.

2. Select your reverb type

Go ahead and pick out whatever reverb type you prefer. Just make sure the reverb suits the style of music you intend to use with it. 

3. Set your size

This will help you choose what type of “space” you want the listener to hear your reverb effect. The shorter the size you use, the shorter the reverb effect will be and vise versa.

4. Set your decay

Adding effects to your music allows you to create more complex, unique sounds. You can add reverb by either dragging and dropping or by dragging and dropping an effect. 

Remember to change the Format to “Reverb” and turn the effects volume control to full. Determining when your effect should go silent (Setting the Decay), is probably the most important part of reverb. 

5. Set your pre-delay

Pre-delay sets the void, or space between the reverb effect. It helps to keep your layered reverbs from conflicting with each other. Normally this is set for either low or mid-size delays.

6. Set your early reflections level

The reflection reverb setting will immediately remind you of echoes, and since echoes can be quite harsh if used incorrectly, you’ll need to use this effect with caution.

7. Set your diffusion level

Diffusion can be set to any level you see fit. It’s meant to add additional layering and texture to your music. Mostly it is used for downplaying or even removing more harsh sounds. 

8. Set your mix level

Mix levels are extremely important. Using it will tell you precisely how the reverb effects you’ve applied to your music will ultimately sound. You will need to monitor your mix level (both wet and dry) to make sure your final production reverb doesn’t result in overkill. 

Frequently Asked Questions  About Reverb

Is reverb the same as echo?

Is reverb the same as echo? Yes, they are essentially the same thing. However, reverb is also used in both DJ and production applications. In terms of applications, you can think of both as a type of sound creation tool.

Think of reverbs as very fast pitch-shifting. In terms of production, you might hear reverb plugins called reverbs, send/return envelopes, or envelopes.

You can also think of both echo and reverb as transitions. In DJing, we can think of these as forms of delay. In production, we can think of them as sonic layerings.

What is reverb in singing?

Does adding reverb make the vocals sound more important than the instruments? Not necessarily.

Reverb does not add anything new to the vocals in terms of importance. The vocals and the instruments are equally important, however the reverb sound will help give them that extra dimension that can be a fun, added layer to the mix.

Do vocals need reverb?

Vocal reverb (often referred to as chorus) usually adds the main dimension of acoustic reverb to a recording. This can be a good addition to a track because it helps to increase realism.

Many experts argue that more reverb is not always better. Usually if the tone and the sound quality are what you want, simply layering more reverb after it is captured will not help achieve this.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading all the way through our review article about reverb in music, we hope you enjoyed it. As you can tell, reverb can play a very important role in music making. 

It’s important to experiment with reverb. As long as you don’t go overboard with the effect, your music production will have gained a new layer of creativity. Happy Music Making!