While Audacity has several reverb factory presets to offer, you can tweak the reverb parameters as you think it’s best and adjust the settings along the way. With reverb, you should always keep in mind that there is plenty of room for experimentation, and you are limited only by your own imagination and experience.
Achieving great vocal sound using reverb in Audacity can be done by several methods. Firstly, you can adjust the reverb settings to your liking based on the initial audio material that you get, minding the result that you want to achieve and doing it by ear.
Secondly, if this option isn’t attractive to you, you can choose from a few factory reverb presets and set them the way you like. It is not recommended to leave presets as is, but you still can do it if you feel that it fulfills your initial expectations.
Use these Reverb Setting in Audacity
As a general rule, to get a natural sense of space on your vocals set the room size to about 90-95%, then pre-delay to around 20ms, followed by reverberance around 50-55%, with damping at 50%. Finally, set tone low and high between 50-55%, wet/dry gain at -1, and stereo width from 70-75%.
If you want to achieve more punchy, bright, and slightly wetter vocals, you should set the room size at maximum, set pre-delay around 28-30 ms, reverberance around 60%, and damping no less than 50%. Set tone low about the middle, around 50-55%, tone high about 75-80%, keep dry gain at its minimum, wet gain at -1, and stereo width no lower than 90%.
If you notice that the vocals sound rather metallic, which tends to be a common issue when you apply reverb, you can do the following set of actions to resolve the problem.
You should start by keeping the room size nowhere less than 50%. Then, while regulating the tone high parameter, you should put it somewhere from 0 to 50%. If the vocal track has a lot of low end, you should adjust the tone low somewhere between 0 and 25%. Keep a close eye on what numbers you have at pre-delay and wet gain. You can use from 30 to 40% of pre-delay as a good starting point and go from there.
Applying reverb on vocals
Applying a reverb on vocals is always a good idea because no one would agree to listen to a dry, spaceless, and intimate sound to the point of audible dissatisfaction. As you may know that applying a reverb helps with delivering the emotion and feeling that you want the listeners to experience while listening to your composition. Then, applying a reverb on vocals helps to stick everything together in the mix or put vocals in the back. Also, reverb is an excellent tool for making emphasis within the song, to make the accents more transparent or delivery of the hidden meanings more straightforward. Finally, it’s a great tool for experimentation and exploring your creative potential.
Also, when we talk about adding the reverb to vocals, we should briefly mention why you should be careful not to apply too much. Firstly, you may make your song absolutely not listenable, and why on Earth would you want that? Secondly, you should always check whether the amount of space that you’ve added via reverb corresponds with the style that you’re composing in. We, personally, don’t know anyone who loves punk rock with washed, meditative-like vocals. Thirdly, as reverb is good for emphasizing, you should choose whether you want it on vocals or on other musical instruments, but choose only one track where it would be applied.
In Audacity, you can operate the reverb parameters such as room size, ore-delay, reverberance, damping, tine low, tone high, dry and wet gain, and stereo width.
If those aren’t enough, you can use factory reverb presets, which include Vocal 1, Vocal 2, Bathroom, Small room bright, medium and large rooms, Church Hall, and Cathedral. While Vocal 1 and 2 are designed specifically for vocals, you can tweak them as you see fit to your particular situation. Also you can apply other factory reverbs as well.
What is Audacity?
Audacity is a free digital audio editor that allows users to record and edit audio compositions. It’s available for all operating systems and isn’t space-consuming. Though it has its limitations, as you can’t add any VST, it’s not possible to use any real-time effects, and it can’t import or export AAC, WMA, or AC3 file formats.
Despite the said limitations, you can use this audio editor for a lot of things that require working with audio and voice. It is commonly believed that free software is of second grade and generally not suitable for even remotely serious work, but when you dig a little bit deeper, it turns out it isn’t always the case. Audacity is a very much capable DAW with powerful and flexible editing, which makes it more than enough for podcasting and voiceover workflow. In fact, a lot of modern professional streamers and podcasters use Audacity with results that speak for themselves.
That being said, if you plan to mix and master for a living, you very quickly will have to face these DAWs limitations. But for a quick demo, it is truly hard to find a better option, especially considering it is free.
Audacity Reverb parameters: explained
Room Size parameter is responsible for setting the size of the room that is being generated by the computer. By moving the toggle from left to right, you get to control the size of the imaginary room from the tiny closet (when it’s 0%) to the grandiose hall (when it’s 100%). In addition to that, you should mind the features of the sound when it reflects from the walls in the small room and reflections come back really fast. And when the sound reflects from the walls in the huge space, the reflections have some time before being completely settled.
Pre-delay setting controls the time before the reverb activates. It can be added before the reverb starts, or it can be applied to its tail. It’s set in milliseconds with as low as 0 and a maximum of 200. By adjusting the toggle, you can isolate the dry sound from the tail of the reverb, which results in more clarity. It also can be used for more creative results by pushing the pre-delay even further while stacking multiple delays together.
The reverberance parameter controls the length of the tail. By moving the toggle from left to right, you can manage the duration of the reverberation that is happening. If you set the room size quite big, you might expect the reverberance tail to be bigger as well. Be careful not to make it too long to avoid washing the sound away.
The damping parameter controls how fast the high frequencies are disintegrating and how quieter the overall sound would be. While changing the values with the movements of the toggle, you get far less reverberation, and the speed of disintegration of high frequencies is faster, which results in a much smooth reverb tail. A damping setting is the simulation of the naturally caused situation when you have less reverberation in the room with walls of concrete, drywall, or plywood, for example.
The tone low parameter is responsible for inclining the low end of the reverberation, which results in the sound becoming less spacious. This result is reachable when you set the toggle anywhere less than 100%.
The tone high parameter controls the inclination of the high-end content of the reverberation, which results in the sound being less cheerful. This result is reachable when you set the toggle anywhere less than 100%.
The wet gain parameter controls the increase of the power of the reverb. The dry gain parameter controls the minimization of the power of the reverb. When you place the toggle at the same position of the wet and dry gain, you get a mix of dry and wet audio that results in the sound being from softer to louder.
The stereo width parameter controls the volume of the reverb effect when implemented on stereo tracks. When you move the toggle close to the maximum, you get more disbalance between the right and left channels, which results in more spacious sound.