Today we’ll be looking at how to use the reverb effect on vocals to create more depth and space. The video below will show you a visual approach of how to find the right reverb settings for the vocals you’re currently working on.
This is a concise guide, meaning you can apply the info below on any reverb you prefer. Basically a reverb is made up of million little delays and when those delays are put together they sound like a tail of the signal that is getting reverberated.
Most of the time when vocals are recorded, the vocalists often gets closer to the microphone and when you play it back in your DAW with the rest of the song the vocals will be up in your face (maybe even overpower everything in the mix).
A reverb effect will come handy to push the vocals front or back in the mix to create more depth and width. Let’s look at the common reverb parameters and what they do.
Reverb Effect Parameters
Wet/Dry or Mix -- This parameter determines how much reverb must be added to the signal. If you’re using it on a send or return channel then keep it at 100%. Wet means the reverb signal and dry means the direct signal (which is the vocal in our case).
Size & Time -- This determines how long is the decay of the tail and how big is the room you put it in.
Predelay -- This determines when must the reverb start after the direct signal hits the reverb.
Using The Reverb Effect On Vocals
The first thing is to choose a good reverb, but a plate or chamber will mostly work well on vocals. The chamber is really smooth, it is also low-mid focused so good for someone with a low tone voice.
I always use the reverb effect in a return channel so that I can be able to Equalize it if needed. To thicken the reverb and make it warm I also add a distortion or bitcrusher in the same reverb return channel.
It’s not always a must to equalize or saturate your reverb effect but I do it if I’m using a stock plugin just to give it more character. Some reverbs just sound hollow so you can use an eq to remove that, and reverb can also add some mud to your vocals so use an eq to get rid of that as well.
The first thing you need to do is to find the right settings for the space and size of the reverb using early reflections with the reverb parameter at zero. This makes it a lot easier to find the right settings for other parameters to help your vocals fit well in a song.
Once you have a good sounding reverb that you like then what you must do is determine the pre-delay that will work well with your song. This will help your vocals stay upfront and punchy, but if you want the reverb to push the vocals at the back of the mix then use a fast pre-delay. A fast pre-delay works well for backing vocals.
Sometimes a reverb can make a sound lose it’s definition if it’s not separated from the direct signal. So you must use a predelay to allow the attack of the vocal to kick-in 1st before any effect takes place.
Then you can determine your decay time that will fit with the music your working on. To help push your vocals to stay present and never pushed too much to the back in a mix then use less high-end information in your reverb. Having too much high frequencies in the reverb signal will also add sibilance.
If you use too much reverb it will push the vocals at the back and too little will push it upfront in a mix. Get a good balance that won’t ruin the vocal performance, just enough to help the vocal become one with the rest of the mix and keep it organic.
Reverb adds emotional impact on vocals so don’t focus too much on how it sounds but instead focus on how it’s making you feel. Spend some time tweaking the reverb to get the best sound, never rush.
OK that’s it guys, if you have any questions then leave them below and I’ll get back to you. Check out the video below to see this in action and don’t forget to subscribe to my youtube channel.