Reverb can give your vocal the shimmer and shine of a professional track. Follow these steps to get it right every time!
Keep watching to find out the simple 3 step approach to applying vocal reverb that will make your vocals sound loud, professional and radio ready.
Is Reverb making your vocal sound messy? Keep watching to learn the simple three-step approach to applying vocal reverb that will make your vocal sound loud, professional and radio-ready. I am Rob from musicianonamission.com and in this video you are going to learn how to produce vocals that sound more like this…
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But first, to make sure you get this right every single time, download the free vocal effects cheat sheets that will guide you through the process of applying reverb and delay to a vocal. Just head to the link you see on screen now.
Okay, let’s dive in.
So let’s dive right in with step number one, which is to set up the reverb bus. So I’ve got a track here, done all the vocal processing on this org channel because the vocal itself has been automated on this, so I want to add compression after the volume fader so it’s getting sent over here to this channel. And this is where I am doing all my vocal processing. So we’ve got a pretty good vocal sound going on already. Let’s have a listen to the whole track and then I will solo the vocal.
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So it’s already got a sense of space because I’ve got some stereo delay going on over here, which just lets you just to start logic stereo delay, different time on the left and right to give it that width. I’ve got a mono-delay down the middle so that’s just like an echo, but with this genre I think it can really benefit from some reverb to give it that sense of shimmer to help it to sit in the mix a bit better and give it that kind of final polish touch. So the first step is to add the bass because if we added reverb directly on the channel itself, and let’s say we just grab any old reverb and we create the sound we want, we adjust the wetness here…
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So what happens now if we decide, well, I want to shape this. I don’t like the tone of this, it’s a bit bright. I want to reduce some of that top end. Well, you can’t because if we add an EQ on here to reduce the top end, we are just reducing the top end of the whole vocal.
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And that’s not what we want. So instead, let’s send it to a bus and that means we have way more options, we can add many plug-ins on that reverb buses we want. So we are just going to create a new bus here, it’s Bus 14. That’s going to, in logic, automatically create a channel over here, which we can call Vocal Verb. So now, this is where we are going to add our process in. And it means when we add the reverb, we can then shape it if we want to. We can do whatever we want to make this reverb sound exactly the way we want. So let’s pull this next to it. And that’s step number one, create the bus.
So now, moving onto step number two, which is where the bulk of our time is going to be spent, and that’s shaping the reverb. So the first thing we need to do is just load up the reverb and this is where when we are talking about reverb plug-ins, there’s a lot of variation between different plug-ins in the terms of the way they sound. But, they all have similar controls, we normally have some kind of space or time control where we can adjust the length of the reverb. We normally have a distance where we can say how close we want the source to be. Often there will be some kind of brightness or tonal control, and that’s pretty much it. They are the main things we need.
The one we are going to be playing with the most is this one here, the space. So let’s just get rid of these EQ curves that come standard. And we are just going to leave it on the default setting for now, and then we can play around with some different rooms in a second. So the first thing we are going to do is make sure it’s a 100% wet, because now we are using on a bus, we don’t need any of the direct signal here because that way we are just duplicating the vocal. We want this to be a 100% wet and then we are going to set the send which is this one here, vocal reverb to 0 for now. And this is going to be really loud and we are going to do this in solo just so you can really hear what’s going on. But we are going to leave it loud to adjust the tone, adjust the room and get the sound we want. And then we can drop it down and that’s going to be step free. So let’s start with the space.
The biggest mistake I see time and time again is using too long reverb times. And that’s a general reverb mistake, we are not specifically talking about vocal step but especially your room reverb that you’ve got everything going through. So here I am using stereo room from Eventide. And my decay time is less than 2 seconds. You want to adjust this to the tempo of the track but generally shorter decay times work best because long decay times add mess and muddiness to the track because the reverb is constantly ringing out, where short decay times will fade out quicker and not add to that mess.
Now, on vocals, it’s slightly different, because we are only using this reverb on the vocals, sometimes a long haul can sound really good whereas other times we might want a tie it to room sound. Now, there’s no answer in terms of which should you use, a plate, a hold, a room, a chamber, just try each of them out, try to have an intention. So on this track I know that I want this to sound quite lush, I don’t want it to sound too aggressive and it’s also quite down temper track. So we are probably not going to have to go too quick. And I am just playing with the space control here, but if you have different settings, plate, hold, etc. there’s no right answer. You just need to try them out or decide first, so I want a quite short reverb or quite a long reverb, what’s going to work for this track. If you are not sure, just experiment.
So we are going to start with really long and then we are going to pull it down until we find kind of a sweet spot, where it just seems to feel nice with the tempo of the track and the speed of the vocal.
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That works well, because what’s going on here is it’s fading out just before the next phrase starts. So it’s not overlapping between phrases like this…
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And it’s not so sure that it sounds a bit jarring like this…
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So here was got the sweet spot where, sure it’s not adding too much mess but it fades out quick enough as well before the next phrase. So let’s move on from there. Distance, we want the vocal to sound front and center. We don’t want to put it too far back in the mix. So you want to avoid going far and different reverbs have a different name for this control, but normally it’s close far. And these are the reflections of the wall that makes something sound close.
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Whereas far is the reverb tail the reverb ringing out in the room.
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So we want to start close and then just keep backing this off until we hit a sweet spot where it’s just not as jarring, doesn’t sound as odd.
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Cool. So that would do and I am just speeding that up a bit there because it felt a little too long. Besides that I am not going to go into these other controls because that’s specific to this reverb. They are the main two things you want to adjust, the space or the time and the distance. So now let’s shake the tone, because what we are doing with reverb, we are not just adding space in vocal, we are affecting the tone. So let’s say if I boosted the top end here and added loads of brightness to the reverb…
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And without reverb…
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It makes the vocal sound brighter, because we are boosting that top end equally. If we cut the top end…
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We are making the vocal sound duller. So reverb can affect the tone as well. Now, the way you want to approach this is to decide first, what do we need to do to the vocal, how can we improve it. Well, the problem areas is that it does it need to sound brighter, does it sound harsh, does it need to sound more aggressive, decide that first, and then shape the reverb. So let’s have a listen, just without the reverb now in the context of a mix.
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Let’s check a couple of references.
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So as you think, the vocal could sound a little warmer. We’ve got plenty of brightness on the top end. That’s often the problem. We need more top end to make it sound more expensive, but in this case, I think, we can make it sound a little warmer. So, we can do this in a number of ways. With this reverb plug-in, you go on the reverb itself, but we are going to do this just with a separate EQ here. And let’s just try dipping some of that top end to make it sound a little warmer and then we can even try giving the vocal some more body around here. So let’s make that shelf, and let’s just play around with this a bit.
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Now let’s check that in the mix.
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So that’s definitely added some body to the vocal. I don’t like kind of the top end that much, so let’s back that off a bit.
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Cool. So now let’s go to a verse where we can hear it more clearly.
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So step number three, now that we’ve shaped the reverb, is to set the level. And this is going to be very subjective. Always err on the side of caution. If you are not sure how loud to put the reverb, you probably need it to be quieter than you think, because it’s easy to drench a vocal and reverb and then pit further back in the mix away from the listener. But at the same time, with this kind of genre, maybe it’s going to work quite well. We are going to drop this down to the bottom and then just bring it back up until we start to hear the reverb. And that’s probably going to be the sweet spot.
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So there we can feel it, it’s not overly noticeable but it’s adding some warmth and shimmer to the vocal and without putting it too far back in the mix. So let’s solo that now.
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So, we don’t want it to be over the top, we don’t want to put the vocal too far back. We’ve already got quite a lot going on with those delays as well. So just having that tucked underneath is enough to make that vocal sit in the mix, but that’s to give it a sense of space and also improve the tone.
Now, a quick note here, in a lot of genres you might not even want reverb at all. You might want to rely purely on stereo delays. Hit pop, a lot of pop music, hardcore music, metal, that kind of stuff. Adding reverb to the vocal puts it too far back and instead we want the vocal to be really in your face. And you can achieve that with stereo delays to create a sense of space rather than reverb.
So, those are the three steps for applying reverb on vocals. But within each of those steps they have a quite a few guidelines, suggestions, starting points, settings that we went through in this video. So make sure you remember these and actually apply them and get this right every time. Be sure to download the free vocal effects cheat sheet. It’s completely free and it’s going to help you to make your vocals sound professional, radio ready. So just head to the link you see on the screen now to get that for free. So that’s all from me. I am Rob from musicianonamission.com and remember, create regardless.