Using Reverbs In Series for Female Vocals

Understanding how to configure multiple reverbs in series for processing female vocals.

Effects


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Quite often a single instance of a reverb effect is not enough to achieve a wide and deep texture for treating female vocals and no matter how much equalisation and compression you apply the reverb effect still comes across as thin and uninteresting and in these instances professional producers will turn to the Old School technique of running reverb effects in series as a solution.

The problems with running reverb effects in series are twofold: smearing of frequencies and control over the reverb’s parameters.

Frequency Smearing

Frequency smearing can take place when a frequency range from the dry source sound is mixed with the same frequency range that is repeated by an effect but with different timing settings. With reverb effects we use the pre delay and reverb decay time to control the behaviour of the reverb and these two parameters will introduce a timing variance between the dry channel that feeds the reverb and the wet channel (auxiliary effects channel) that runs the reverb effect. Think of this as two sounds playing together but out of phase – ie, both sounds are not in sync. Reverb effects are presented with all manner of filtering options for exactly this type of a problem. We can use the reverb effect’s built-in filtering or EQ section to remove frequencies that smear or cause other anomalies like a brittle high frequency response or a build-up of low frequency content.

Control

When two reverb effects are used in series a decision has to be made as to which reverb controls which reverb parameter. Traditionally, when using a single reverb effect, the shaping of the reverb’s response over time is managed by the pre delay and reverb decay time but when two reverb effects are used and in series you are presented with the same parameters on both reverb processors and it can get very confusing deciding which reverb handles the pre delay and which reverb handles the decay time. Additionally, early reflections have to be managed from reverb to reverb otherwise more timing and smearing issues will enter into the equation.

Control is also required when dealing with the diffusion settings for both reverbs. It is easy to muddy a reverb response by using the wrong diffusion settings and some planning is required to make sure the reverb colour is both smooth and clean.

In the video I show you how to structure both reverb processors to achieve a warm, smooth and deep reverb texture. I explain how the reverb parameters affect the overall response of the two reverbs when used in series and guide you through which settings to use and why. I use a female vocal take as the audio example and show you how to achieve different reverb textures by adjusting critical parameters on both reverb processors.

Plugin used in this video:

FabFilter Pro R

Topics covered in this video are:

  • Configuring Reverbs for use in Series
  • Best female vocal settings for reverb
  • How to work Reverbs in Series. Pitfalls and tricks
  • Managing early and late reflections
  • FabFilter Pro R and how to use it
  • Complimentary EQ
  • Phase and how to control it
  • Frequency Smearing