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Topic: Mixing without reverb?

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  1. #1

    Mixing without reverb?

    This might be a dumb or pedantic question, but is there merit to mixing without reverb?

    Steve Winkler

  2. #2

    Re: Mixing without reverb?

    merit?


    every recording of real musicians have some space.
    Dan

  3. #3

    Re: Mixing without reverb?

    true and I didn't mean the final product be without reverb. I just wondered if it helps hear anything that reverb might mask.

    steve

  4. #4

    Re: Mixing without reverb?

    Hi, Swinkler - Dan's reply may have been so succinct that you missed the point. He was indicating that the whole point of reverb is to create the impression in a recording that the music was performed in a real life space, either small or large.

    And that means that mixing without reverb would result in a track that doesn't sound natural - as if it wasn't a recording of something done in an actual real-life space.

    Some people apply a single reverb setting to everything in their mix, with the theory that this is closest to simulating how music is heard in an actual performance space. But that over looks the difference between a recording and the experience of being in a hall where live music is being performed. Satisfactory recordings demand a lot of "fudging" with what actually happens in real life.

    To create the semblance of a live performance, it's perhaps ironic that we need to go to great lengths sometimes to give that impression with our recordings. It may call for, as an example, having a different reverb program, or at least a different degree of reverb, to be applied to the various instruments in our project. An easy example is that if we add the same amount of reverb to our bass strings as we do to the violins, we could be adding an unnecessary amount of muddiness to our finished track. And that's because bass frequencies can sound rather ugly bouncing around in the same amount of reverb as the rest of our track.

    Whatever we do, the goal is to produce a recording that sounds "right" and "as if" it had been played by musicians in some kind of real life venue.

    In other words, a recording devoid of reverb can never sound natural to our ears - even if our ears are relatively unsophisticated. "Laymen" actually have a remarkable acuity for discerning unsatisfactory recordings.

    The samples we work with are in large "dry"-- lacking ambience. It's up to us as home studio artists to apply what amount of live ambience we feel is appropriate for a given project.

    Randy B.

  5. #5

    Re: Mixing without reverb?

    Reply Part Two:

    Steve, you also said:

    "... I just wondered if it helps hear anything that reverb might mask..."

    I take that to mean you're a man after my own heart. I feel that reverb is generally over-used. People tend to add a lot of effect in an attempt to emulate classical music recordings they admire. But they often end up making it sound like their music is being played from a block away - distant and indistinct.

    You're right that reverb can mask fine points in an orchestration. That's why I generally prefer recordings that are relatively "dry." I tend to keep the reverb to a subtle level in my own work.

    But you do need to understand that there's a big difference between subtle reverb and No reverb. We do need to indicate the semblance of a live performance space in our projects, but there's no reason why we can't create an effect where the spectator (the listener) is in the Front row, close to the musicians, rather than way in the back of that performance space.

    Reverb is essential to a good recording. We just need to use it sparingly, like a good spice.

    Randy B.

  6. #6

    Re: Mixing without reverb?

    I think editing without reverb has its merits. Mixing not so much.
    All your strings belong to me!
    www.strings-on-demand.com

  7. #7

    Re: Mixing without reverb?

    Hi, Hannes - Seems like over the years we haven't interacted very much-HELLO!

    I so agree - Mixing without reverb is an important phase of my mixing. After a dry balance is sounding good, I start trying out reverb levels on the tracks, making subtle adjustments to the mix as a result. And then, there we are later on, after much work - The final master has reverb.

    We've all heard some projects where reverb was either neglected or dispensed with entirely, and wondered how in the HEck we ever got one inch from the musicians--which is the effect that happens when there's no reverb on a mix.

    Randy B.

  8. #8

    Re: Mixing without reverb?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hannes_F View Post
    I think editing without reverb has its merits. Mixing not so much.
    Agree, editing without reverb is OK sometimes, but reverb should (IMO) never just be added to the mix.

    All good comments here. Sometimes when I am editing midi I listen dry, but most of the time I have the instrument where it will most likely end up in the mix. It depends on what we are all comfortable with.

    Dan

  9. #9

    Re: Mixing without reverb?

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser
    I so agree - Mixing without reverb is an important phase of my mixing. After a dry balance is sounding good, I start trying out reverb levels on the tracks, making subtle adjustments to the mix as a result. And then, there we are later on, after much work - The final master has reverb.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hannes_F
    I think editing without reverb has its merits. Mixing not so much.

    This is what I was really asking but didn't use the right terminology.

    The specific problem I'm trying to solve is tutti sections that are dense. I thought if I try to balance everything dry it would be clearer when I add reverb when each voice was in it's own "space".

    steve

  10. #10

    Re: Mixing without reverb?

    I prefer building a piece with a little reverb because it's just easier on the ears. At some point, I do like to check all my parts without the reverb, just to make sure there is nothing hiding in the cracks that needs to be fixed. Sometimes taking a listen dry can complete expose what was muddying up the mix.

    When you are doing the final mix, then it is time to start worrying about what type of reverb, and how much to use.

    I also agree with the sentiment that reverb is often overused, though often it only seems like too much because there are other factors muddying the reverb sound. I (as many do) put my reverbs on their own bus in my sequencer. I set them to 100% of the wet signal, and use the individual track send levels to control the amount of reverb for each track. I am personally a fan of putting an EQ on this bus input to cut the low end sharply. Typically anything around 55hz or lower, but it depends on the material. These are frequencies that can add serious mud to a mix without you really knowing why. Removing them will not make the mix sound too light on the bass end -- if done properly, it can actually focus the bass quite nicely.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

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