Short and Long Reverb

when to use which

As the new version of How to mix a pop song from scratch had just popped out I found one thing that kept me thinking for a while years ago. It says:


Short reverb “pushes back” a sound into the mix. Long reverb just makes a sound “float”.

I take it as this: when I use short reverb, the effected instrument will apparently feel more as part of the mix. It won’t be too disconnected with the overall ambient of the whole mix. OTOH, long reverb will make it sound like further away. If I compensate away-ness with volume it gives a spatial quality to the sound, and a shining spark too :).

Is this the general consensus? Or is me understanding exactly the opposite?

And now that reverb is on topic, what is the purpose of the pre-delay setting? I see it as a way of delaying the start of the reverbed sound, but how can it be useful? Just to imitate nature where echoes start after some time, when they hit the walls? To avoid stepping over the initial sound? To be used as a rhythmic element?

Sorry for mixing things in a single post but they’re somewhat related.


My (borrowed) opinions on reverb here.

predelay is used to do everything you mentioned, it gives the original sound time to “breath” before being washed over, and it imitates the size of a room-large room, large pre-delay, and vice versa.

the pre-delay could again be used as a rhythmic element if it was set in time with the music. so you seem to understand it.

Think of predelay as the distance from the sound source to the walls. In real life you have no reverb until the sound has had time to travel to the walls and bounce back. Predelay is essentially moving the walls. The longer the predelay, the bigger the room and the further from the sound source the walls are.