The Big Bad World of Reverb

Surely you hear all types of musicians throwing the word reverb around, be it dropping a dash of reverb on a violinist's solo track or activating your guitar's reverb pedal while rocking out on stage, meanwhile many still don't know exactly what this entails. Let's talk.

So what exactly is reverb anyway? “Reverb occurs when a sound hits any hard surface and reflects back to the listener at varying times and amplitudes to create a complex echo, which carries information about that physical space. Reverb pedals or effects simulate or exaggerate natural reverberations.”

Once we’ve grasped it’s concepts, now let’s drag it out of our toolkit and get to making reverb work for us! As fellow singers here, we can’t lie when it comes to reverb, in the recording process, it becomes a bit akin to that safety blanket or cozy teddy bear that you can’t seem to shake despite your younger years being pretty far back in the rearview mirror. If you’ve done your fair share of performing vocals live, you’ve likely encountered a multitude of spaces to sing in. 

The Big Bad World of Reverb3_PitStop Musicians (1) (1).jpgIf you’ve ever sang in a church, with a cathedral setting, then you know what we’re talking about when it comes to the joys of reverb. This can give an ethereal body of tone and power to your voice. It almost makes the space feel thicker and as it carries the sound further and wider. Acoustics are truly nothing to be underestimated. So, if you’re familiar with recording yourself as a vocalist or simply the idea of reverb at all, you know how tricky it is to try to sing without reverb once you’re used to it. 

Now, where and when can reverb be used? This will successfully serve its purpose on almost every instrument, even percussion can use a dash or two of reverb in the right places. On the flipside, it’s important to dial it back, just like almost everything when it comes to sonic effects, less is more. If you use too much reverb on anything, it will feel muddy, lost and the true crisp grip of the instrument will sound swollen, simply losing it’s punch that we all love so dearly.

One may ask, where does the difference lie when it comes to reverb versus echo? NoiseNews reminds us that “Reverberation is the persistence of sound after the sound source has been stopped. It results from a large number of reflected waves which can be perceived by the brain as a continuous sound. On the other hand, an echo occurs when a pulse of sound can be heard twice. It is normally assumed that if there is a delay of 50ms or more between the first and the second sound reaching the ear, then they will be perceived by the brain as separate events rather than one extended event.”

If it isn’t already, reverb is about to be your new best friend. Just dial it back and you’ll be happy with your results. This will create a cozy and atmospheric space for your music to exist in, giving the listeners a feeling that successfully replicates a live listening venue that is almost impossible to reproduce in our technology heavy, virtual world.