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6.1 Natural and Mechanical Reverberation and Effects:
I prefer the sound of natural reverb to digital reverbs. A good plate or spring reverb can be very nice too. I do use digital effects, but only if I can't get the sound I want naturally in my home. You can move close mics farther away from the source to pick up a small amount of reverb. A second ambient mic can also be used, so that the source and room mics can be manipulated individually. When using two mics, the position of the mic causes phase cancellations, (which also leads to problems with mono-compatibility) but these can sometimes be used to your advantage. The right position might cancel out a boomy mic, making it sound clearer.
If you used two tracks, you can then adjust the relative volume of the reverb at mixdown. There are millions of great sounding rooms, and every room in your house will even sound different. I work in a warehouse environment, and it sounds nice for some instruments. I imagine a little creative baffling will improve the sound even more. Many times, people will record in their bathroom, or in a stairwell with the musician on the bottom and a reverb mic on the top.
You can also use a seperate room as a reverb chamber. Do your tracking in one room, then have a speaker playing the performance in a different, reflective room (bath room). Different volumes, speaker/mic positions, type of mic, and type of speaker will all change the reverb sound. This can be done either at the time of tracking, or afterwards. You can easily replay the track, feeding it into the speaker in the reverb chamber, then mic the room (this can even be done at mixdown to save a track).
Another reverb option is a reverb plate. This is a tuned, suspended plate the vibrates more freely than air. This makes it very responsive to sound waves. This used to be the standard reverb method, and the studio was known for the characteristic sound of a it's reverb plate. A transducer was mounted at one position on the plate, then there were one or more transducers as pickups. Unfortunately, due to these transducers, plates are very sensitive to ambient noise and motion.
There are also spring reverbs, much like the ones found in guitar amps. These generally sound pretty good. They have a very characteristic tone that's good for some applications.
Flange effects are present in most multieffects processors, but can be created with an open reel recorder. Play the track, and use an effects send to feed the reel to reel's input. Attach the open reel deck's output back to an input or return on your console. The tape will record onto the tape, then monitor the fresh track with the playback head. If you rub your thumb on the flange of the wheel (hence the name flanger), it slows down the tape, changing the amount of time it takes for the tape to pass between the record and playback heads. This causes a phase cancellation at different frequencies, creating the effect.
There are also analog tape echoes that are available. These work on a similar principle. There is a closed loop tape, and you connect it in the same way as the flanger. There is also a tape speed adjustment that will change the delay speed. I personally like tape echoes, they're great for certain tracks. These can be overdriven, just like any tape media, and may produce a nice effect for a specific sound. Newer tapes really sound better, especially in the high end response, so don't let them get too old.
6.2 Reverb and Effects Processors:
There are times when you won't be able to create the effects you want in your recording environment, and you'll need an effects processor. Effects should always be added during mixing, not while tracking. If you record the effects with the track, you're stuck with it, and can't change it. Unfortunately, if you have only one processor, and you want to use multiple effects on different tracks, you'll need to add effects while tracking.
For noise reasons, I usually run my effects sends at about 50% to 75%, then try to keep my effects input low to get the correct level. This makes the signal in the wire a little hotter, and less susceptible to noise. Some outboard gear will actually sound good slightly overdriven, go easy, but try get a little distortion from your gear (where you want that specific effect). I like doing this on heavy metal bass lines. You should try to use effects lightly, over using them really muddies up the song. Try to make sure you aren't losing the clarity of the mix in the thick reverb tails.
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