Tuesday, June 3

Rock Vocals and Guitar Reverb Settings:Revealed!

I have been mixing for quite a time already and I admit reverb settings are the most abused effect in mixing. I can hear this quite often in amateur recordings where the instruments are played like in a football stadium or inside the church.

Worst will happen to a rock music with improper use of reverb. It can surely ruin a mix and damage the recording quality of the song. Trends of recording in rock music drastically change over the last 20 years.In 1980's we often hear rock music with deeper reverb such as Outfield and the Police. But reverb settings came down to a minimum starting 1995 above until now.

Today, we can almost hear no reverb in rock music. But there are reverb in it, ordinary listeners will not just notice about it. In this post I can give my reverb settings which I currently use in mixing rock music. I will breakdown it according to the major multi-track components in mixing, these are: vocals, clean guitar and rock distorted guitar. I will make a separate post on the other instruments such as bass and drums.

The settings below are not straightforward solution to all your reverb mixing related problems, use your ear always and remember to fit settings of reverb in the overall mix perspective. Use below as a starting point:

"Vocal Mix Reverb Settings"

I use plate type of reverb from Sony Express FX Reverb. To express it as a percentage with 100% original as zero reverb, I only use 23.6% reverb and the remaining 76.4% the original signal. The room size is also a bit conservative, I use 30% out of a maximum of 100%. The "liveliness" or echo is only 10%.

Most engineers will measure milliseconds for reverb. Unfortunately, I am not using it for vocals and could not give you a conversion. Use your ear to convert.

From the technical point of view, you should put less reverb on vocals so that it will be "up front or on your face" and will enable vocals to dominate the mix. Although there are exceptions to this such as in "grunge", "metal" or "alternative" genre where vocals are buried in the mix.

"Clean Guitar Reverb setting"

Guitar is very important in the rock mix. It is the primary melody instrument so it should also sound up front but not to dominate the vocals for a pop-rock style mix.

I am using Adobe Audition Full Reverb effect and I set it to 1000 ms for reverb length, attack time is 20ms, diffusion is 500ms, perception is 70. And the mixing ratio among dry and reverb is 90 to 10. This means only 10% of the signal is applied with reverb. The remaining is the dry/original signal.

"Rock distorted guitar"

This is a bit tricky,I came out with this type of setting after hearing "So far Away" by Staind. Although I could not match perfectly the reverb setting but for a style of "slowish" not a "speedy" type of song, this setting applies. If your rock song is a speedy just decrease the "decay" in ms by around 50% and your mix will be fine but use your ears!

I use Adobe Audition Studio Reverb Effect when putting reverb on distorted guitars,

Room size= 20, Decay= 3500 ms, Early reflection=0%, Stereo Width=9, High Frequency Cut= 20000Hz, Low frequency cut=500 Hz, Damping= 0%, Diffusion=0%

And for the dry to wet ratio, I set dry signal to around 95% and only 5% for signals with reverb (wet).This is a good technique to give a good punch because of drier signals.

Listen carefully the track below by Jeanine Maningo "Here you are now"

I mix this one using the following reverb settings above:

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