I really love convolution reverbs. I don’t really use them with traditional space IRs (like a famous opera house). I have a collection of classic 80s hardware reverb IRs. Of course nothing is like having an actual Lexicon 480L or EMT plate but Altiverb gets you close enough. Altiverb 7 adds a very nice searchable IR photo browser, synthetic brightness add on (if wanted), drag & drop IR creation, chaos modulation and more. I can see using the drag & drop IR creation quite a lot. I would say 90% of my vocals are recorded with a convolution reverb on a send panned to the right a bit. $595 USD.
“Altiverb 7 is the industry standard convolution reverb plug-in. It uses top quality samples of real spaces to create reverb, ranging from Sydney Opera House to the cockpit of a Jumbo Jet. Altiverb 7 is efficient on the cpu, offers many parameters to tweak reverb, is total recall automatable, and has 64 bit support. Every month Altiverb 7 users receive new impulse responses for free.” audioease.com
Here’s clip from a song I am working on. Drums are Vermona DRM1 MKIII, Synth is layers of a Yamaha CS5 no real effects except I’m running the track through Altiverb but only for a Neuman mic IR (Impulse Response) not for reverb and Izotope Ozone for widening. Eventually the song will be longer with vocals.
“Synthpop is a genre of music in which the synthesizer is the dominant musical instrument. It originated as part of the new wave movement of the early 1970s to the mid-1980s, and it has continued to exist and develop ever since. The genre has seen a resurgence in popularity in the late 2000s/early 2010s.” – Wikipedia
Not so long ago computers for producing music were all seriously underpowered. I remember on my old Mac clone, a Power Computer PowerCenter Pro210 I could only open 2-3 plug-ins before the computer would click and glitch to a halt. However, today we live in an amazing time as far as music technology. I can load up my Macbook Pro all day long with plug-ins and it seems my CPU never jumps past 50%. It actually took me a few months to get used to piling on plug-ins without freezing or bouncing tracks. I realized I was wasting time bouncing everything by watching younger kids demo their Ableton and Cubase tracks on YouTube. My keen eye caught mountains of plug-ins placed frivolously over twenty plus channels. I realized I better “un-old fogey” myself and start painting with thick strokes of live effects or be left behind.
So today’s quick tip is to start a song with plenty of effects placed on assorted channels before you ever even place a sound producing synth, sample or voice anywhere. What do I mean? Well how about putting Altiverb with a Neuman Mic IR (Impulse Response) on the Master Channel? Why not also put a nice compressor there too? Now as your build your song and mix as you go building into those plug-ins. In effect it’s almost like you bought a new sounding mixer.
There’s no reason to be subtle either. Try creating a sub-mixer of 6+ channels and on the Group’s master fader and have a flanger set to 100% wet. Next place all your synths in your new flanger group and adjust the oscillators and filters toward the flanger not the other way around. The key is to start off fully loaded with effects on so everything you hear isn’t the same ole, same ole…
A friend of mine Marc Acardipane is working on a new album. He is moving from dance music into full on pop. To make the move he went on a serious shopping spree. Recently during a phone conversation he went on for an hour about a new Reverb unit he bought.
Most people would be fine with the built in software reverb that comes with your DAW. I often use Ableton Live’s built in Reverb. A quick tip for the Ableton Reverb is to click the “Quality” drop down menu and pick “High”. Most of the people I know also spend some cash and grab a Convolution Reverb plug-in like Altiverb. I have my Altiverb loaded with vintage hardware reverb Impulse Responses.
But what if you want the absolute best reverb? Lexicon possibly? Nah! Bricasti! According to my friend Marc he just sat there for hours listening to vocals through the Bricasti Model 7 in total awe. I trust Marc as he owns every software and hardware Reverb there is. The specs are basic but this unit is all about sound quality:
Revolutionary new reverb algorithm
True Stereo Reverb Process
Classic and new Presets; Halls, Plates, Rooms, Chambers, Ambient Spaces
12 Parametric Program Parameters
Custom design toroidal transfomer
High performace switching supply
Separate Digital and Analog modules
Postive feel 2 db stepped analog input level control
Hand Crafted in the USA
An optional remote control is coming soon. It’s $3700 USD. Are you game?
Here’s a technique I use on almost every song I record. This step gives me a helping hand in making transitions in the arrangement work. It also can add drama at the end of an important verse. I have a few names for this tactic including the Kickverb, Kickboom and the awesome Thunderverb!
Take the kick drum you are using throughout the track and isolate one hit. Make a new audio track and place the single kick drum on it. Don’t forget to render your kick first if you had some effects on it like compression or EQ. Once on its own channel insert a reverb. I usually go for Alitverb convolution reverb or the Korg MDE-X multi-effect which comes with the Korg Legacy collection. Both those reverbs have colors to them. Next, I render a single kick going through a wash of reverb. Do several bounces with different kinds of reverbs. You end up with Kickverb1, Kickverb2 and so forth. If your song calls for it insert a distortion plug-in after the reverb. This gives you a dirty decaying sound. My favorite distortion plug-ins are Izotope’s Trash and Ohm Force’s Ohmicide. Another thing to try is pitching your rendered kickverb down.
I usually create my Kickverbs after the general arrangement is finished. Then, I place them strategically throughout the timeline. Two places they fit include at the beggining of the chorus and in the verse after you say something shocking or important. You can also start and finish the song with them.
Some other things that maybe obvious that you can do is reverse the Kickverb. Place that “Reverse Kickverb” before the chorus comes in to build up tension. Of course you don’t have to stick to the Kickverb at all because real thunder and explosion samples will also work.
I have a large pool of tips and tricks I pull from when creating arrangements. To me they are like colors in a pallet I choose from. Because I make electronic music it’s important to keep the listeners ear interested at all times by constantly adding variations to the sound. Over time on I will talk about many of things I do. Here’s a simple one.
Let’s say you have a kick and a snare going in your song. Take every 16th snare and instead of having it dry like the others explode it out with reverb. You can either have reverb on a send return and just turn in up every 16th snare. You could also bounce one of your dry snares fully loaded and drag them in your arrangement.
Remember you don’t have to use a stereo reverb either. I like to use Altiverb which is a convolution reverb in mono. Sometimes I pan the mono reverb tail to only the left or right side.
If your “snareverb” isn’t smashing enough add some eq or distortion to the reverb. I usually use Izotope Trash for that because it has an eq, filter and distortion unit all ready in one plug-in.
I hope that gave you some ideas. Do you have some songs where you used the technique? Post a link in the comments!