Ok, I admit it.
I use reverb on almost every mix. Often on every channel. Even a little bit on kick and bass.
I’ve been doing it for years. It’s worked out pretty well. I’m satisfied with my mixes, and my artists are pleased with the results.
But I’ve noticed that I do it by default. It’s part of evey mix process – set the tone and dynamics for each track, set the relative level of all the tracks, then add some ambience behind the mix. And I think any time I notice myself doing something by default, there’s an opportunity to try something different and learn something along the way.
So I recently recorded a country-rock band in my studio. Full live take with drums, bass and two overdriven electric guitars. Overdubs for lead vocals, backing vocals and guitar solo. And this band rock a pretty modern sound, so pretty tight and dry – no ridiculous 80s reverbs needed here.
So I tried something a bit different. Rather than my usual approach ofrecording as close and dry as possible and adding all the ambience back in the mix, I pulled the microphones back a little and allowed a bit of bleed and room into the recordings. It helped that they were good players and hardly needed any edits.
The result was that the recording had an appropriate amount of ambience (not much) in every track, without having to add any artificial reverb. Not so much that there was a lot of room sound, but the individual tracks had a bit of air around them. They didn’t feel like they were in a vacuum. For this track, this was just enough. In the mix, I didn’t have to add any general ambience – jus a touch of plate reverb for the vocals and snare to thicken them up a bit. And that was it.
And most importantly, I found that it was a useful approach that I’ll likely use again soon.
So ask yourself – what would you do differently if you couldn’t use reverb?