Reverb Talk

SIR et. al.

Reverb. I’m quite familiar with its usefulness, and the very basics. However, I’m noticing that if I take SIR and put it in the AUX buss and route things too it, that I get a washed out sound (I’ve tried 6 or 8 or so different response files). Let’s say for instance, that I’ve set SIR to “wet” only. I then give the lead vox and backup voxes about a -18 to -12 boost on the aux channel. I put a little on the piano and the horns or the strings or acoustic in the same fashion, and use a different room (usually a vst like N’s verb) for the drums just to keep things distinct. None on the bass. Ya with me? This seems to be too much verb. Maybe what I should really say is that it seems too artificial and not natural --transparent, not processed. I’m not putting any verb on the master track. I’ve experimented with EQ’ing and found that I don’t really want the verb below 200 - 400 Hz, so I roll it off. I’ve messed with the predelay and the attack and envelope. Still too artificial. If I back it off to say -20db or less, then it becomes difficult to tell that I’ve even applied the effect. Now, I realize that it’s not the star of the show – it’s a supporting actor (with a very minimal role, at that), but still, when listening critically, I would like to think that it’s worth the time and effort to put it the effect into the chain at all. I want it to sound like a good room, and not a bathroom. The desire is to make it sound real, and not processed.

So, from where I’m standing (ok, sitting), it seems to me that the problem could be any one of the following:

1. I don’t know what I’m doing with reverbs in general.
2. I have bad response files (ok, not BAD, just not what I’m after).

I realize that this just sounds like I’m venting, so here’s where you come in: What’s been your experience with the response files? Are there BAD ones vs. GOOD ones, or is it all just a matter of taste and knowing how (and when) to use them OR do I need to go to reverb school?

Let the free-for-all begin.

Hi Bill,

I use and like SIR. I have the impulse files from SIR and some Lexicon files from Noise vault which really sound good. What I had to learn was how LITTLE 'verb you really need. To me, it’s almost like if I notice the reverb… it’s TOO much! Know what I mean? It gets that un-natural sound very quickly. For individual instrument tracks, I like n’s reverb on the track insert. Again though, not too much. You are thinking right on the EQ thing too. Keep at it. I’m still learning myself…


One thing I can say about my own reverb learning curve - I have always used too much. When I listen to recordings I really like, for the most part they have very little reverb on them at all. They are also mostly recorded in very good sounding rooms. My conclusion: the room sound matters more than the reverberation added later.

A recent example: Springsteen’s Seger CD - get it and watch the video of the sessions - the sound is the recording space. Older example: if you ever get a chance to visit Sun Recording Service in Memphis, you will notice as soon as you enter the tracking room that the “sound” is all there. I’ve visited it twice, and I swear the first time I nearly broke out in a cold sweat, it was so much like walking physicially into an early Elvis recording. Religious experience. :)

On impulses: yes, bad ones and good ones, in the sense that some sound more like what one sort of expects to hear. I have used the PCM90 impulses from noisevault a lot.

But a couple of months ago I got a lexicon MX200. Amazing. 200 USA clams.

There are tricks to running SIR on an aux track, due to issues with latency compensation, and that could be causing problems. However, those should be minor, if you’re remembering to set the “dry” control to zero. Whenever using an effect in an aux channel, you need to do that.

Hi TomS:
I like that line… Religious experience. :)

I do believe that the “Room” is all important when you’re tracking. IT shouldn’t be “Dead” or “Live” or anything else. IT should be "Natural… with no Peaks in it’s acoustic reflections… But, that’s tough to attain… If you’re tracking a guitar in one of those rooms you need to find the right place for the the mic placment… Then you find the mic placment for the “Room” mic… When the tracks are mixed you have a guitar track that is technically “Magic”… No effects or EQ. or anything else added to the track is nessessary…

That would be a track that you are describing… as a Religious experience.


Really, Bill, it was like stepping sonically into those old records. I highly recommend the experience. :)

Hi TomS:
Some of the first things I do when I go into someone’s Tracking room and Control area is, I snap my fingers or snap my toung against the roof of my mouth to grasp a “Feel” of how the Room responds to acoustic energy. Then I do my best to recall how my areas compare.

The guys that “KNOW” know exactly what I’m doing… but the guys that don’t know look at me with some weird expression on thier faces and laugh…

I often think how I could use someone else’s rooms to suit my tracking ideas…

Yea know… Tracking is like riding a bicycle…

The more you track the better you use the areas you have… You have to track all the time to retain your kraft, at tracking… Practice… Makes Perfect… ???


How the track sounds solo’d will not be how it sounds in the mix. Always make your final tweak judgements in relation to the overal blend and not by soloing tracks, whether its verb, other effects or levels.

What Tom said. Always adjust EQ and FX while listening to the whole mix. Unless you’re just fiddling to see what the FX does, or investigating a problem in the track.