When you add reverb to a mix, you’re adding a new signal. So it’s likely that it will need to be EQ’ed just like any other signal in your session to make it sound its best and make it sit well in the mix.
In this lesson, we’ll examine how to EQ your reverbs and how doing so will benefit your mix.
How to EQ your reverb:
Many reverb plugins allow you to EQ a signal on its way in to the plugin and/or EQ the reverb’s output signal. But if yours doesn’t, you can simply add an EQ plugin before or after the reverb plugin on the effect return channel to equalize the signal going into the plugin or EQ the reverb coming out of the plugin.
How reverb sounds:
Reverb has a tendency to impart a lot of low end, potentially making things sound muddy and compromising the clarity of the low end in your mix. Similarly, the high end in reverb can exaggerate high frequency sounds like sibilance and can make it hard for the dry signals to cut through the reverb. One way of managing this is to EQ the signal on the way into the reverb plugin so that these frequencies are not sent to the reverb to begin with. One method I like to use to do this is the ‘Abbey Road reverb trick’…
The Abbey Road Reverb Trick:
The Abbey Road reverb trick is done by inserting an EQ plugin before the reverb plugin on the effects return channel. The EQ is then used to filter out the high and low end that is being sent to the reverb. To set this up, apply a high pass filter at 600Hz and a low pass filter at 10kHz, both with a 12-18db per octave slope as a starting point, and then adjust the frequency and slope as necessary.
EQing the reverb output:
Even if you EQ the signal before it goes into the plugin, it can still be necessary to EQ the signal after the plugin as well. For example, even if your dry signal doesn’t sound muddy/boomy before going into the reverb, the reverb algorithm might create some additional frequency content that needs managing. Similarly, plate reverbs, or reverbs with low diffusion settings, can sometimes sound quite metallic. So post reverb EQ is a nice opportunity to make the reverb sound its best and make sure that it sits nicely in the mix.
By rolling off high end, your reverb will sound darker, warmer, and more vintage. Rolling off high end can also make the reverb more transparent, meaning that it can sit at a louder level in the mix. Of course, rolling off too much high end can make your reverb sound dull. Boosting the reverbs low end can make it sound bigger and warmer, but it can also very easily make your mix muddy. Attenuating low frequencies will make the reverb thinner and less overpowering. Boosting high frequencies can add some sparkle, but can easily sound harsh and make the reverb very noticeable. Also, generally speaking, high frequencies make things sound close to the listener, so the dry signals should take priority for those high frequencies so that they sound close and present.
In addition to pre and post EQ, frequency adjustment to the reverb can also be achieved via the damping parameter. This can be particularly useful for reducing harsh sounds such as vocal sibilance or guitar string scratches by making the high-end die out more quickly.
As you can see, EQing your reverb is a simple process which can really benefit your mix. How do you like to EQ the reverb in your mix? Leave a comment below.
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