Reverbs don’t have to be simple emulations of realistic acoustic spaces. Some reverb effects include a modulation option for adding extra ‘swirl‘ – something that some Lexicon reverbs in particular became famous for.
This is a speciality of algorithmic reverbs (largely because it’s something that doesn’t happen in the real world, so it can’t really be recreated with convolution effects).
Convolution reverbs excel at realism, which can make them easier to use (they usually have fewer parameters to change). Let’s reconsider the idea of depth and three-dimensional space we mentioned earlier when we look at the congas:
Combined with a shaker:
Notice how the perceived distance between the shakers and congas increases as we add progressively more reverb to the congas:
By adjusting the amount and type of reverb on different elements in a mix it’s possible to create a greater perception of depth, making for a more balanced, three-dimensional mix.
All Together Now
Other elements of the mix can now make use of the reverbs we’ve set up on auxiliary buses. In fact, it’s perfectly possible to create a good mix with only a few reverb processors – one short reverb, one long, and one ‘special’ treatment for slightly more extreme effects. This is usually a good approach for reducing processor use and creating a cohesive mix.
Once we add all the elements together, it’s easy to hear how the overuse of inappropriate reverb settings can smother the mix, making the low end muddy and removing clarity in the top end.
And here’s the highly undesirable effect of putting reverb on a low frequency sound like a bass part:
Finally, let’s have a listen back to where we started:
And how the mix comes to life with the addition of nothing more than reverb: