It's the one effect that can either make or break a vocal mix.
Yet, despite its importance, many musicians struggle to master its complexities.
Well, get ready to be enlightened because today we're going to uncover everything you need to know about using reverb on vocals.
From selecting the right type of reverb to applying it tastefully, consider this your ultimate guide.
Best Reverb Settings For Vocals
Reverb can make your voice sound larger than life, add warmth and richness, and bringing out the subtle nuances of a voice.
But it's not just about making your vocals sound impressive.
Reverb can also convey emotion, giving your performance an ethereal quality that resonates with listeners on a deeper level.
Insert vs Aux
When it comes to using reverb on your vocals, there are two main approaches: inserts and aux channels.
Inserts involve adding the reverb effect directly to the track, while aux channels involve routing the signal to a separate channel with the reverb effect applied.
So, which one should you use?
Inserts can be great for adding a reverb plugin to individual tracks, allowing you to control the wet/dry mix and EQ settings of the effect directly.
However, using inserts on multiple tracks can quickly eat up processing power, causing your mix to sound cluttered and muddy.
On the other hand, aux channels can be more efficient, allowing you to apply the same reverb effect to multiple tracks with less CPU usage.
This can result in a more cohesive and natural-sounding mix.
Additionally, using aux channels gives you more control over the overall reverb mix, allowing you to blend the effect with different levels of dry signal for a more nuanced sound.
Ultimately, the choice between inserts and aux channels comes down to personal preference and the needs of your mix.
For example, if you want a more straightforward and efficient workflow, aux channels may be the way to go.
However, if you want more control over individual tracks, inserts may be a better choice.
Experiment with both methods and see which one works best for you.
If you want to use reverb on your vocals like a pro, one important factor to consider is pre-delay.
Pre-delay refers to the amount of time between when the original sound is produced and when the reverb effect begins.
It may seem like a small detail, but adjusting the pre-delay can have a significant impact on the overall sound and feel of your vocals.
By increasing the pre-delay, you can create a more spacious and open sound, allowing the vocals to breathe and stand out in the mix.
On the other hand, decreasing the pre-delay can make the reverb effect sound tighter and more compact, which can be useful in certain genres or styles of music.
For example, a slower pre-delay can work well for ballads or slower songs, while a faster pre-delay can be effective for upbeat or energetic tracks.
Experiment with different pre-delay settings to find the right balance for your vocals and mix.
It may take some trial and error, but once you find the sweet spot, your vocals will shine like never before.
Normally, I advise setting the reverb time based on intuition rather than mathematical calculations.
Nevertheless, since this is the ultimate guide, I shall impart to you the proper methodology for synchronizing your reverb with the utmost precision, should you be so inclined.
Timing your reverb to your song's BPM can make a world of difference in the overall sound and feel of your vocals.
By synchronizing the reverb effect with the tempo of your song, you can create a more cohesive and natural-sounding mix.
To achieve this, start by setting the reverb's decay time to match the length of the beat.
For example, if your song's BPM is 120, you may want to set the decay time to 500 milliseconds, which is roughly half a beat.
Additionally, you can experiment with adding pre-delay to create a rhythmic effect that complements the song's tempo.
This technique can work well for a variety of genres, from dance music to rock to hip-hop.
It can help glue the vocals to the beat and create a sense of unity within the mix.
Don't be afraid to try different timing settings (1/4 note, 1/8 note, etc.) and adjust as necessary to achieve the desired effect.
The Best Type
When it comes to using reverb on your vocals, the type of reverb you choose can have a significant impact on the final sound.
There are several types of reverb to choose from, including hall, plate, room, chamber, ambient, spring, convolution, etc.
When choosing the best type of reverb for your vocals, it's important to consider how it affects the tone of the voice.
Some types of reverb, such as hall and plate, can emphasize the mid- to high-frequency range, while others, such as chamber and ambient, can emphasize the lower mids and bass frequencies.
For example, if your vocals need more warmth and depth, you may want to choose a hall or chamber reverb.
However, if you want to add more sparkle and shimmer, a plate reverb may be the way to go.
Ultimately, the choice of reverb comes down to personal preference and the needs of your mix.
Experiment with different types of reverb to find the one that best enhances your vocals and brings your mix to life.
Best Reverb Settings For Vocals
When it comes to setting up reverb for your vocals, there are no hard-and-fast rules.
However, there are some general guidelines that can help you achieve the desired effect for different genres and styles of music.
For instance, on ballads or slower songs, a longer decay time can create a more spacious and ethereal sound, while a shorter decay time can work well for faster and more energetic tracks.
Additionally, a slower pre-delay can create a more relaxed feel, while a faster pre-delay can add excitement and energy.
For hip-hop or rap vocals, a short decay time with a longer pre-delay can create a distinctive and tight sound.
On the other hand, for rock or metal vocals, a longer decay time with a shorter pre-delay can add a sense of majesty and power.
Ultimately, the best reverb settings for your vocals will depend on the specific song and mix.
Experiment with different parameters and listen carefully to how the reverb interacts with your vocals and other elements in the mix.
With some trial and error, you can achieve the perfect reverb settings to make your vocals stand out and shine.
Shape the Tone
Ah, EQing the vocal reverb signal—a crucial step for achieving a polished and professional mix.
The key here is to remove any harsh or unwanted frequencies that can muddy up the vocals and mask their clarity.
For example, you might cut around 2-3 kHz to remove any harshness or boost around 1 kHz to add warmth and body.
Remember, the goal is to create a cohesive and balanced mix that highlights the vocals and creates a sense of depth and space.
Sidechain Reverb Effect
If you want your vocals to stand out in the mix, you can use a sidechain reverb effect to create space around them.
This effect involves routing the vocal track to a compressor, which is then sidechained to the reverb send.
When the vocal is present, the compressor reduces the level of the reverb, but when the vocal stops, the reverb is allowed to increase over time.
To create a sidechain reverb effect, first insert a compressor on the reverb bus, and then set up a sidechain input from the vocal track.
Next, adjust the compressor settings to reduce the reverb level when the vocal is present, and release the reduction when the vocal stops.
Finally, adjust the reverb settings to create the desired space around the vocal.
This effect can be particularly effective in dance and electronic music, where the sidechain compression can create a pumping effect that enhances the rhythm of the track.
Vocal Reverb Tips
Is it Good to Put Reverb on Vocals?
Reverb is a powerful tool for adding depth, space, and emotion to your vocals.
By carefully selecting the right type of reverb and adjusting the parameters correctly, you can create a cohesive and professional-sounding mix that enhances the vocals and brings your music to life.
Should I Use Reverb or Delay First?
Ah, the eternal question.
Well, there's no right or wrong answer here.
Some engineers prefer to apply reverb before delay to create a more natural and cohesive sound, while others prefer the opposite.
Ultimately, it's up to you to experiment and find the order that works best for your mix and style.
Why is Plate Reverb Best for Vocals?
Plate reverb has long been a go-to choice for adding depth and dimension to vocals.
This is because it creates a warm, natural sound that complements the human voice and enhances its emotional impact.
Unlike other types of reverb, plate reverb adds a subtle shimmer and density to the vocals without overwhelming them or clouding their clarity.
Plus, its shorter decay time and longer pre-delay can help create a more defined and focused sound that works well for genres like pop and rock.
Ultimately, plate reverb is a versatile and effective tool for achieving a polished and great-sounding mix.
Which Type of Reverb is Best for Rap Vocals?
The best type of reverb for rap vocals can vary depending on the desired effect.
Plate and chamber reverbs are popular choices for rap vocals, as they can add warmth and depth without overwhelming the mix.
However, it's important to experiment with different types of reverb to find the one that works best for your specific vocal and mix.
You can even try using a convolution reverb to create a sense of space or an ambient reverb for a more ethereal sound.
How Many Reverbs Should I Use?
Some producers may use multiple reverbs to create a sense of depth and space, while others may use just one to keep the vocals front and center.
It's important to use your ears and experiment with different approaches to find the best solution for your specific track.
Don't be afraid to try using different types of reverb with different settings to achieve the desired effect.
Mono or Stereo
The decision to use mono or stereo reverb on vocals depends on the desired effect and the mix.
Mono reverb can create a more focused, centered sound, which may work well in a sparse mix or to create a sense of intimacy.
Stereo reverb, on the other hand, can create a wider, more spacious sound that can enhance the sense of depth and dimension in the mix.
It's important to consider the overall balance of the mix and the other elements in the arrangement when making this decision.
Experiment with different approaches to find the best solution for your specific track.
You may find that a combination of both mono and stereo reverb can work well together to create a balanced, cohesive sound.
If you're still confused, just go for stereo, it will work 99% of the time.
Vocal Reverb Cheat Sheet
If you’re tired of spending countless hours tinkering with your vocal reverb settings, only to end up with a muddy mess of a mix, fear not, because I've got your back with this Vocal Reverb Cheat Sheet.
But wait, before you dive in headfirst, let me remind you that this is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
While these guidelines can be a great starting point, the best way to find the perfect reverb for your vocals is through trial and error.
So go ahead and try out these settings, but don't be afraid to make adjustments along the way.
- Bright Vocals: A shorter reverb time often works best for bright vocals. A plate reverb can add a metallic sheen, while a room reverb can create a sense of space.
- Warm Vocals: For warm vocals, a longer reverb time can enhance the warmth and richness of the tone. A chamber reverb can add a sense of depth and dimension, while a hall reverb can create a more expansive sound.
- Thin Vocals: A medium-length reverb time can add body and fullness to thin vocals. A hall reverb can create a sense of power, while an ambient reverb can create a dreamy sound effect.
- Smooth Vocals: Smooth vocals benefit from a longer reverb time. A chamber reverb can add a sense of intimacy, while a plate reverb can add a touch of shimmer and presence.
- Harsh Vocals: A shorter reverb time usually helps tame harsh vocals. A room reverb can create a sense of space without overwhelming the mix.
Keep in mind that these are just guidelines, and the best way to find the perfect reverb for your vocals is through experimentation.
And remember, if all else fails, just turn up the reverb until it sounds like you're singing in a giant cave - instant hit record, guaranteed! (Disclaimer: not actually guaranteed.)