I use reverb as a send effect for orchestral mixes as I'm sure most of you do. Is it a good idea to send more of the signals of the instruments set toward the back of the orchestra through the reverb? i guess this works because the orchestra gets larger in size as it moves away from the front and the reverb can aid this effect but do you GPO users do the same? The reason I ask is because I mix electronic into my orchestral arrangements and these just bypass the reverb send effect and get treated by insert effects. My aim as a composer and engineer isn't really to copy a real orchestra but instead is to compose an atmospheric soundscape using real orchestral samples and synthesized pads and effects etc. I don't go too far in mixing these styles as it's all about the atmosphere. So, as you can imagine, the reverb not only acts to copy a real space but it also acts as a sonic bed. In this context, the reverb becomes an instrument. I hope that makes sense. So, I always thought that, by using the same ammount of reverb on all of the orchestral instruments, I can compose a better atmosphere using the reverb. I don't know, maybe I'm not seeing it clearly. Maybe some words of advice and wisdom can help me?
It all makes sense to me - but you may get some seriously technical replies to your questions. Trying to keep this short, because you could write a book on reverb, I use Logic Pro and use the sends to control reverb amounts on a Logic Control desk. I use Altiverb's latest version and mess around with 'speaker placement' within Altiverb 6. I also use Space Designer occasionally and a Lexicon PCM96 for overall reverb. That's about as technical as I can get. Altiverb is terrific and the Lexicon is superb.
I use all the usual stuff like Gary Garritan's Steinway Piano to a Prophet 08 and sample orchestra's etc etc etc.
Firstly, mixing orchestral samples and reverb afaic, can be done anyway you like. If it sounds good - great. A lot of people like to get orchestral samples sounding as 'real' as possible and spend much time tweaking, purchasing and playing with reverb. That's fine if you are looking for as realistic an orchestral sound as possible. Never really cuts it though to my ears compared to a 'real' sound. That's the trouble with the word 'real' when it comes to computer generated music. Real time playing, whether it be electronic to orchestral can sound great and can also sound dreadful, dependent on many factors. But it always sounds 'real'.
But using the same amount of reverb (and I assume the same reverb patch as it were) is probably not a great idea. A lot of people may use up to 5 or 6 (or even more) instances of a reverb for an orchestral type piece. Just to clarify, when I say the same patch, I don't mean for instance with Altiverb, the same hall or venue. I mean the same instance of that venue for the whole orchestra.
Yes, I too use Logic and I use Space Designer. I don't have the money to invest in a more advanced reverb plug-in so I just make do. I use just one instance because, as I say, my aim isn't to copy an orchestra. I only use real samples because they sound very good compared to synthesized sounds. If I were trying to copy a real orchestra then I'd be using several instances of Space Designer to favor the instruments of the orchestra. In fact, I could just use an algorithmic reverb plug-in for the style of music that I compose because it's basically ambient music played by an orchestra. I don't care about if it sounds completely real because I'm not really composing orchestral music. Actually, I used a Lexicon at College and it sounds excellent. Thanks for your reply.
Paul's post was great.
I want to reinforce one thing.
Since your goal is to not necessarily duplicate a real orchestra,
you should forget about the front/rear thing and just use aux sends like most other mixing genres. Since virtually all
the orchestral music people hear today is made for television and movies, most all of these orchestra's are never
recorded in a concert hall with a minimum of microphones, instead, they are recorded in large studios or sound stages.
The engineers recording this music usually don't care about trying to duplicate a concert hall sounding mix.
These engineers still record with a myriad of effects, and the main one always being a Lexicon reverb which is an actual
hardware unit. The lexicon reverbs they use are not seen at Guitar Centers like my old Lexicon 200 shown here. To an engineer,
when you say Lexicon 200 you are talking about one of these. Sorry about the large pic
I bought this Lexicon 200 brand spanking new back in the 80's and it is still capable of awesome reverberation.
I created quite a few Impulse Responses from it with the Altiverb software, so now if the old Lexicon ever bites the dust,
I will still have some of my own Lexicon.
Sorry I drifted off topic there a bit...
The only real advice someone can give you here is just use whatever tools you have to create the best mix you can.
Your ears are your best tools. Trust them, and if your music still does not sound great when you are finished with it,
then you should hire a seasoned professional engineer who is musically inclined, and just because they work at a big studio
somewhere, does not mean "they" are capable of producing the mix you want. Of course, this forum is not about hiring
professional engineers, it is all about doing things ourselves with our own tools and experience.
Mixing music is a skill that requires many many years of experience. It is no less important than the writing. An amateur
sounding mix will always bring your music to it's knees.
Here is a brief tutorial I made of the routing that I use for purely orchestral mixes. Realize, it is just how I mix orchestral
music, real or sampled, and even then, not always exactly the same way. The music will always dictate the work flow.