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Top 10 Lists


Top 10 Reverb Tips and Tricks

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009


With reverb, you can make or break a space

Imagine listening to a recording and half a minute into a song you notice something wrong. You can’t quite put your finger on it; you just can’t feel the instruments, you feel attacked by the singer’s in-your-face voice and everything is just too…..dry. It’s like listening to music in a vacuum. There’s no space.

Although listening to a reverb-free record is nearly impossible, (unless it was recorded entirely in an anechoic chamber), you can still have a really dry record if you don’t put any reverb on anything.

Reverb can be perceived as a glue that holds everything together, yet retains enough space to maintain a perceived distance between each element. It makes a three dimensional picture of the soundscape you just recorded, causing you to feel that you can hear the room accompanied by the instrument.

Different modes of reverb

There are quite a few different types of reverb. You can call them reverb modes, or room types. Some of the more common types include; Room, Hall, Chamber, Spring, Plate, and Convolution. In our age, we have access to digital reverb simulators which can simulate, quite realistically, all of these programmed room or reverb modes. Let’s take a look.

  • Room reverb – These types simulate the sound of having recorded something in a room. Whether the parameters are for a big room or a drum room, they usually simulate smaller spaces than their Hall/Chamber counterparts.
  • Hall reverb – Rich, warm and big are the first adjectives that come to mind when thinking about Hall reverb. These types simulate halls, whether they be medium halls, concert halls, or whatever lush parameter name the hall has.
  • Plate reverb – Plate reverb is a personal favorite of mine for vocals. Live, I propably use it too much, but I just think it does wonder to the vocals, without taking it too far or drowning it in reverb. Plate reverb is basically sound being sent to a metal plate which vibrates back and forth. These vibrations are picked up and transformed into an audio signal. Plate reverbs are very bright but clean, so they suit vocals especially.
  • Spring reverb – I was once asked what reverb was when I was fooling around with my guitar. I cranked up the reverb on my small practice amp and then kicked it. “That boing you heard?” “Yeah?” “That’s reverb”. Although true is some form, that boing wasn’t all reverb, it was spring reverb. The reverb found on guitar amps so most usually used for guitar.
  • Chamber reverb – In the old days, studios had so called echo chambers. In these chambers they had speakers that they routed the audio signal that they wanted to put reverb on. The signal, be it guitar, voice or whatever was produced through the speakers into the chamber and picked up by a microphone that was positioned to capture the reverb in said chambers.
  • Convolution reverb – This is the type of reverb that allows digital emulation of real three-dimensional spaces. If you’re familiar with the famous reverb plugin Altiverb, then you have heard convolution reverb. In order to capture a room’s reverb characteristics, an “impulse” sound is played in a real space, such as an opera house or a cathedral, then recorded into a computer. The impulse sound allows the computer to simulate that space just from the impulse sound. This is possibly the best kind of digital reverb around

So now you know a little bit about the reverb modes you most commonly work with. Below I have brainstormed a few fun tips you can use whenever you like to spice things up.

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Top 10 signs your electronic music is amateur

Monday, August 11th, 2008

I’ve gotten a few requests to make the top 10 signs your track is amateur for electronic music instead of acoustic music. Well, here’s my list of things you should learn to avoid if you want professional sounding tracks.

  1. As I’ve written about before, the most common thing that prevents amateurs from getting a full sound is not filling the “box” that is volume, panning, and frequency. The typical dilemma is this: as more sounds are layered together, the audio may start to clip. And so, you turn the gain down on the each channel of the mixer so it doesn’t clip. But then, it sounds quiet. In order to fix this, you need to learn about compression and mixing. If used properly, compression reduces the variations between one audio channel’s highest and lowest gain levels throughout the track, which allows you to turn the volume up without clipping.
  2. Muddy sound:

    When too many frequencies are overlapping in a mix, the result is “muddy”. To prevent mud, you must consciously keep in mind what range of frequencies you are adding with each new part. Inevitably, frequencies will overlap, no matter what instruments you choose. For example, two bassy sounds on top of each other will interfere, resulting in weird phasing issues. If you want to use two instruments that use up the same frequency spectrum, you’ll want to carve out the highs on one and carve out the lows on the other (through the use of EQ, you will eliminate too many overlapping frequencies and clear up your mix) The end result should be consist of many different parts that all cover different ranges of frequencies, which all add up to a full, clear sound.

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10 ways to get your music into film and TV

Monday, August 11th, 2008

10 ways to get your music into film and TV
download “10 ways to get your music into film and TV” (60kb PDF)

via www.filmmusicmag.com

There is one basic fact about the film and television music industry that drives much of what you will read in this guide: it is a very, very competitive business and there are many more songs and instrumental music pieces than there are openings and places to use them in film and television. In Los Angeles on any given day, hundreds, maybe thousands of people are marketing their music for film and television productions. This guide is designed to show you how you can successfully compete in this industry, whether you live in Los Angeles, New York, or in a small country town far removed from the major music cities.

Location, Location, Location! The tried but true real estate mantra is definitely applicable to the film and television music business. A simple fact: being in LA or NY can make it easier to compete for work. While film and television shooting locations can be found worldwide, the infrastructure for post production, which includes music, is still centered in Los Angeles. Although this is changing rapidly as cheap digital editing equipment becomes available in other cities, in film work, the city that the director resides in can also be a major factor in underscore work.

It’s useful to note that song placement is much less location-oriented than score composing. Score composing requires a weeks-long cycle where it can be very helpful if the director and composer are in close physical proximity so demos can be heard. Song placement is much more easily done from locations outside of LA since once the director or music supervisor decide they want to use a song, the physical location of the songwriter is not that important.

That much being said, if you’re in LA or New York, make the most of it and seek out personal relationships with people in the business. Film directors, television producers, and music supervisors are among the most important people you can meet in terms of getting your music into film and television projects. By putting a face with a name,” you can increase the chances of your music being heard.
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