Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Creating Reverse Reverb Effects

Although you don't hear the effect as much as you used to, reverse reverb can be a very dramatic effect when used properly. (Think Phil Collin's "In the Air Tonight" or Carol-Ann's screams to her mother when she is sucked inside the television in the movie Poltergeist...) In the old days, the process to achieve this effect was rather convoluted, but it's quite easy to achieve nowadays.

I'm going to walk you through the process of a reverse reverb leading up to the first part of a vocal, which is probably the most common use of the effect.
It sounds cool on just about any track you would normally use reverb on, though.

1. Using your DAW's editing tools, make a cut to isolate the first word of your vocal track. Copy the edited first word to its own track.

2. Assign a reverb to the new track and set the wet/dry level to 100% so you are hearing nothing but the reverbed signal.
What type of reverb you choose depends largely on how long you want the 'leading up' of the effect to last, but starting with a general 'large hall' type effect is a good place to start.

3. Bounce the snippet down, being sure to set the end time late enough that you capture the entire reverb tail.

4. Import the bounced audio and use your DAW's audio editing facilities to reverse the file.

5. Place the reversed audio on its own track and line it up so the effect ends precisely where your main vocal part begins. Expanding the size of your tracks so you can see the audio's waveforms makes this a snap.

And that's it. When you're satisfied with the results, you can get rid of the temporary track you used to bounce that first word out, but if you're not, you can use it again with different reverb settings until you find something you like. Note that this effect can be very cool with delays too, especially tape delays set so the delays degrade with each repeat.


line of control said...

is this the effect that DM used on SFD in the "breakdown section" of Rush, on the vocals- "i come up to greet you..." or the reverse sounding pianos from Mercy in You???

p.s. they are coming to town (toronto) in 2 days!!! hope they play some oldies...

Tom said...

Yeah, most likely. There's a mix of Personal Jesus that uses it too right at the beginning on Gahan singing 'Reach out and touch faith.'

Rendom said...

Thanks Tom. To bad there is no easy way(put this vst, push this button)
And problems with using it live. My thoughts is somehow pause your original voice channel and put reverb first. So singer must start singing little before. Maybe its little complicated and risky.

Anonymous said...

@ Rendom, doing a reverse reverb live would require breaking the laws of physics, since you can effect something that hasn't happened yet. You could fake with a volume swell, though...

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