Reverb can make your vocals sound luxurious, expensive, polished, or smooth. In addition, reverb adds space and volume to the vocals and a distinctive flavor, which depends on the type of reverb. So in this article, we’ll show you some of the best types of reverb for vocals to use.
In general, using plate reverb with either chamber or room reverb is considered to be the best decision for vocals, as you get various textures that help you to sculpt the sound exactly as you need.
Best Type of Reverb for Vocals
You can use every type of reverb that is mentioned in this article on vocals independently, though you can get even better results if you decide to mix them.
Plate Reverb for adding shimmer to vocals
As we established, plate reverbs adds shimmer to your vocals and make them sound brighter. This helps the vocals to cut better through the mix while giving them enough space. Plate reverbs can be used almost in every music genre.
Room and Chamber Reverb will add space to vocals
Room as well as chamber reverbs are equally good for use when you need from intimate sound all the way to dense and magnificent space. Using either of these two reverbs, you can easily create a feeling that there’s a lot of space around the vocals or put the vocals further away in the mix. In some music genres, such as pop, jazz, rock, and folk, you might consider using room or chamber reverb not only on vocals but on other instruments as well to glue all the mix better.
Experiment with Spring Reverb, Use Hall to add Volume and Space
Spring reverb is best to use if you’re into experimental music and indie projects. If you want to compose more radio-friendly music, it’s better to use hall reverb. Also, hall reverb is a good choice if you need to add more volume and space. Plate reverb is an excellent option when you need volume, intimacy, and a bit of vintage flavor. And room reverbs are good for creating intimate tracks.
The general idea when you’re using a reverb is to use it very accurately so that the reverb would be almost invisible rather than it would be ‘in your face’.
Understanding Each Type of Reverb
Room reverbs are known to be the most basic of all types of reverbs. Room reverbs are created in a way that they would add warmth and coloration to the track as playing in the tiny room would. Room reverbs are great for cases when you need a feeling of intimacy as if the musician is playing in the same room as you are. Also, you may notice a rise in the low end and low mids, which might need the involvement of the EQ if you have accidentally overdone it.
You can use room reverbs in a lot of different genres of music, though in jazz or folk, they would shine the most. Room reverbs tend to make the dry sound more beautiful and add some distinctive features to it. On top of that, you can use room reverbs to glue elements of the mix together, especially when they were recorded apart.
Chamber reverbs are based on chamber reverberation, which some years back was made by putting a mic and a speaker inside the smallest room possible that has equilateral angles and reflective surfaces. Chamber reverbs are known to give a thicker sound as they add body to the tails and to have earlier reflections thinner. Chamber reverbs were made in such a way that they would be transparent, and they are often used as a neutral option. You can always use a chamber reverb when you need the vocal to have a distinctive sound texture.
Hall reverbs were designed specifically to make a mix or specific instruments in the mix, including vocals that sound big, lush, and majestic. Hall reverbs are based on some concert halls around the world, the sole purpose of which is to make the music more satisfying to listen to. The said halls are often constructed in such a way that reduces any undesirable sounds, such as resonances and echoes.
Hall reverbs always make vocals sound luxurious and lush. Most definitely, you won’t add any hall reverbs to folk or jazz music. Rather it’s expected to add this reverb to an orchestral piece, a ballad, or when the vocal is accompanied by a single instrument. Also, you can use hall reverbs when you need to glue the instruments, including the vocal, together. Though, you should proceed with caution because if you have lots of tracks with this reverb, it may sound rather muddy. So the rule of the golden middle is the best choice when you want to add a hall reverb.
Cathedral reverbs are designed to reproduce huge reflective spaces that can be found in cathedrals. Cathedral reverbs are a bit similar to hall reverbs because they, too, have a decay time, but in contrast with hall reverbs, cathedral reverbs have a decay time of up to 10 seconds. If you decide to add this reverb to the mix, you should do it with great accuracy as they tend to sound rather overbearing because of their ability to blur all sounds.
Plate reverbs have a unique sound out of all other kinds of reverbs because, basically, it’s the sound of a reverberated metal sheet. Plate reverbs are characterized by having smooth tails, dense echoes, and a lot of high-end frequencies. Using plate reverbs on the vocals will make them shiny and more present.
Spring reverbs are a bit similar to plate reverbs as they, too, sound dark and produce sound by vibrating spring. Their decay time is from short to middle and the sound has a metallic character of some sort. It can be used on vocals, though, it suits best for some experimental music or indie tracks.
Convolution reverbs are rarely used on vocals, and in general for that matter. They’re based on the recording of some space, which is analyzed, then the frequency profile is created.
If you want the song to have a natural flavor and vibe, it’s best to use a reverb that adds a bit of space to the vocal without making itself apparent. In that case, you can use the room, hall, chamber, or plate reverbs depending on what mood you want to get. Regardless which reverb you chose, you should set pre-delay and decay time somewhat short and listen to the whole mix. By doing that, you can regulate if it is enough space or you should add a bit more. You can make the tails of the reverb less obvious by applying EQ on the low-end and high-end of the reverb.
If you plan to create a ballad, you should know that the best reverbs for such music idea are plate, church, and hall. Whichever of the said reverbs you would choose, you should set a long decay time of about 5 seconds and set pre-delay in the middle position. After that, listen to the whole mix and apply the necessary changes. You should apply EQ on the reverb and use a high-pass filter somewhere around 200 Hz and use a low-pass filter around 12 kHz.
If you want to achieve an intimate ambience, you should set a short decay of the room reverb. Alternatively, you can use a convolution reverb that resembles a relatively small space, something like a small club. On top of that, you can use slap delay on the vocals, which would emphasize any reverb setting that you have and adds even more intimacy.
In some cases, you might need the vocals to sound short, especially when the song has a fast tempo. If this is the case, you should set the decay time very short and use convolution reverb which is based on tiny space, to enhance the feeling.
Another great idea for applying the reverb on the dry vocal is to use return channels. It’s specifically great because the vocal shouldn’t be blurred by the reverb that you are applying over it. In that case, using two separate channels for dry vocal and reverb effect is superb.
If you decide to apply reverbs on each and every one of your tracks, the overall sound of your mix is likely to be near to washed out. Though in some cases, it may be exactly what you were looking for if you wanted to have that kind of sound. You can use a delay to add some ambience to the mix while not adding any mud. Another situation when you can use a delay instead of a reverb is when you are dealing with a fast vocal.