Reverb & Vocal questions

I’m working on a new song, it is essentially unmixed here - I’ve just quickly set some levels.
I have 2 major questions

  • I’m torn between what kind of reverb to go for - either swamped/church like ‘big reverb’ or a more ‘we are playing in your back yard/front room’ kind of loose feel. I’m edging towards the latter as it reflects more the way we recorded (many tracks recorded 2 at a time, e.g. piano and vocals, harmonies etc), but I’ve no idea how to achieve it.

  • I’m really stuck on how to process the lead vocal to bring the best out of it. I think I’m so close to the song now its’ clouding my thought. I just can’t picture where I want it to be or how to get there.

Any ideas?

If you can’t decide on a reverb, start with a delay! You may find as you dial in between super-short to medium times that you’ll like it more than reverb.


Reverb treatment is very much in the realms of the personal, subjective & aesthetic, although there are some practical considerations as well. (For example, faster songs tend to lose focus if long prominent reverbs are used).

My personal experience with reverb treatment is that I hardly ever just use one type of reverb, because in any given environment a complex range of factors come into play, and it’s that interaction between the different types of ambience and the source sounds that truly gives a sense of depth, perspective and relative “size”.

I’m guessing you probably have specific reference points (ie. Songs) in mind regarding the two different “extremes” of ambience you describe. It would be great if you could perhaps post examples by linking songs you would use to represent both of the two different types of reverb treatments you are thinking of going with - that way, it might be easier to envision how the two different approaches would apply to your particular piece of music, & we might be able to give some more specific suggestions.

Yeah dude. Try what Andrew said. Try blending several verbs together. One super short room verb with hyped up early reflections. Then add a short verb to that. Then add a long verb to the other 2. Then add a ping pong delay. But keep them all in there subtle and make sure the tails don’t clash :slight_smile:

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Very wise advise above. One of the things to keep in mind is what does the voice your listening to want. Not what do you want to do to it:) When I listen to this voice a huge amount of reverb would be, in my opinion, a huge disservice. This voice is beautiful and it has a very rich harmonic content type tone. I absolutely love that quality. This “rich harmonic tone” is what I would highlight. A very slight amount of doubling Followed by some delay would be very nice. When I want to add reverb on a vocal but it I don’t want to push the vocal back in the track I add reverb to the delays only.

Great advice thanks. Someone else mentioned delays - this will be my first port of call then.

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I added a touch of delay and doubling to the vocal.
Doubling from Waves Reel ADT and the delay is cubase mono delay, both setup as sends. Also put the LA-2A as an insert on the vox, taking off about 3db max.
Not sure the delay is quite right, I going to experiment with a stereo delay. I was surprised by how few delay options I have - obviously not an area I have paid attention to. Aside from the stock Cubase - mono, pingpong and retro delay, I only have the Waves Kramer Tape.

I listened on my laptop.

I think this sounds lovely as a general vocal effect. I am such a fan of her voice. Through laptop speakers, I only heard a couple of places that felt a titch dry. You could try putting a little bit of reverb on only the delay buss or the adt buss. I don’t have the ADT(but I’m tempted to get it). If you have the ADT on a separate bus you may also try adding some of it to your delay buss as well. Automating the delay and or ADT up ever so slightly when she holds notes and then down between phrases could also be wonderful. I am not suggesting that you have to do all this stuff. I a merely telling you in general how I approach delays.

When I want a large amount of delay that is hidden I will keep it mono. For “widening” I’ll use delays that are stereo and very short (10-40ms)

With a delay, I wouldn’t worry about buying fancy plugin’s. I’ve owned tape-delays, vintage delays etc. I found delay one of the easiest fx to emulate and get what you need. If you roll of some highs and lows it gets more “vintage sounding”. If you put some distortion and compression on it that can help if you want vibe. I’ll often put a transient designer on my delays to soften the attack and let me turn the delay up a little louder.

To be honest she doesn’t need a lot of “vintage vibe” on her voice. She has it in spades without doing anything. This is a vocal where less is more because it’s awesome.

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Cool stuff. Seem like the key is a tad high for the singer. The vox is good but I am hearing a little brittleness. Like where you take it at the 1:30 ish mark. Some real nice piano licks in there. I might use a sprinkle of verb, but not much at all.


I’ve taken it a little further. A little bit of reverb in addition to the delay, then some compression and eq. Its easy to lose sight of where you came from when tinkering around…

I listened with earbuds. I would reduce the modulation effect. ADT? It is starting to make it sound like autotune artifacts. Add the ADT to you the delay instead of the dry track. I would also thicken the track with a parallel compressed dark sounding track. She has such an easy voice to mess up when mixing. It doesn’t much but we always want to do stuff:) Getting the right amount of “thickness to her voice” will make you feel like you need less ambiance.

Yeah I had the feeling I was going awry…

I stripped off all the vocal effects, then added some compression (3-4db from CLA2A) and made 3 narrow notches to try and reduce some of the brittleness that was heard (I used a spectrum analyser to help me locate the ‘right’ frequencies). So here it is, no delay, reverb or ADT on the vocal:

I feel like I’m more on the right track now.

So, I have a plan to try 2 or 3 different things now:

  • Add in delay and/or reverb with ADT on the delay track
  • Mix in a compressed, darker version of the vocal with the original
  • Try having the delay/reverb only on this ‘darker’ parallel track to see if thats a bit nicer or not.

All those things you mention are great things to try. Keep in mind it sounds really good right now. What are the FX trying to achieve? I’m not saying don’t add fx. Don’t just add fx because you feel you have to though. Give them purpose.

Are you talking about the Waves ADT? I think this is a good idea for this track and will help add some vocal width. I would reach for the Waves ADT over a doubler, micro shifter, or Eventide H3000 emulator because it sounds less chorusy. I’d start with the Stereo Wide preset with your vari-speed set around +/-17ms and pan hard left and hard right on the wings. I think this is a really good idea because that vocal is definitely lacking width in my opinion. But use the V2…not the V1 because it gives you more control over the stereo image.

I would try mixing in a dark saturated drive first. If you have a Sound Toys Decapitator, this is a really good candidate for that plugin because it lets you control the contour of the saturation. I feel the dry source needs some warmth too. If you have a good 1081 Neve emulator I would throw that infront of the LA2A. The Fab Filter Saturn could really help because its a multi-band driver. Another idea is to take a multi-band expander and feed it to a drive/saturation plugin. Basically you want more warmth and saturation if you can get it.

I partially disagree with what @Paul999 said about verbs earlier, but only as a matter of personal preference and taste. I would send the piano and vocal to stack of several verbs like @ColdRoomStudio mentioned. The vocal is too dry for me right now, but this isn’t to say that he’s wrong…its totally a preference thing. If you have the Waves Bricasti, I think I’d start there. If not I tend to favor the Phoenix verb and the UAD EMI plates. If you don’t have those, it may be worth demoing some stuff in the Waves Abbey road collection. If I recall correctly Paul uses the Tsar (or was at one time). Its pretty good. I used it for a long time but stopped when I got the Bricasti set up. Also, if you have the Slate bundle, he has a Bricasti emulator in there, but I prefer the Waves one if you have it.

Which Waves bricasti plugin are you talking about?

They only have 1 as far as I know…its free. Download it here.

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I am going to download that waves Bricasti impulse:) To clarify. I will generally use more than one reverb. I will use a dark one in mono and a bright one in stereo. I find this gives a depth that neither can achieve alone. I will also add the reverbs and modulation to the delays to add further depth. My current “goto” reverbs are Softube Tsar and waves plate.

Lol! Sorry… I meant maybe partially disagree here:

Not with the part about layering verbs :wink:

…and Yes. Waves Bricasti Impulse. That’s what I meant lol.

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I would go very light on verb just to keep it from being bone dry. I wouldn’t use it for any kind of ‘effect’ but rather to widen the voice enough to sit with the piano just right.