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Essential reverbs for your session or mix template

If you’re in the middle of a tracking session or in the early stages of your mix and you want to add in some reverb, the last thing you want to be doing is auditioning each of your reverb plug-ins and messing around with pre-delay, room size, decay time, reflection etc etc.

To avoid the rabbit hole, it pays to have two to three “go-to” reverbs in your template. I have four go-to reverbs in my mix template – two Plate reverbs, a Room reverb and a Hall reverb.

My favourite reverb is Soundtoys Little Plate, with Lexicon MPX Native coming in a close second. Sure there’s plenty of free reverbs out there, I especially like Voxengo OldSkoolVerb and I think it’s a fantastic reverb if you’re just starting out and you’re looking for something other than your DAW’s stock reverb plug-in. However, I find most free reverb plugins lack the character and lushness of a truly distinctive, studio-grade reverb.

I’m going to use Lexicon MPX Native for the examples below, largely so that you can easily see and compare the settings in the screenshots. In my mix template, I’d use Soundtoys Little plate for the Plate reverb aux tracks and Lexicon MPX Native for the Room and Hall reverb aux tracks.

In a tracking session

For a really quick and easy, sure-fire way to add a some reverb to a tracking session, I’d recommend using just two reverbs; a plate reverb and a small to medium room reverb.

Reverb 1 – Plate reverb

I’d use this for practically anything other than the drums. In MPX Native, I’d use the Large Plate preset, set the Rolloff (Low-pass filter) to somewhere between 8-10KHz, set the Reverb Time to 1.8 seconds and the Pre-delay to 20 milliseconds. If there was a High-pass filter available I’d probably roll that off around 80-100Hz but you can just as easily add an EQ after the reverb to do that.

It’s also worth noting that I’ve got the mix set to 100%. That’s because we’re setting up aux tracks and we’re going to route our instrument or vocal tracks or buses to the “Reverb – Plate” aux track. We can then adjust the amount of reverb applied to the track/bus using the send volume controls.

Reverb 2 – Room reverb

This should be used for the drums, in particular the snare and the toms. There may be times when you find you want to push the hats a little further back into the mix, you could use this reverb for that or possibly a short delay. As with any mix, it depends on the song.

In MPX Native, I’d start with the Medium Percussion Studio preset, which I like because it’s quite bright and it lets you use longer reverb times than the drum room presets allow. I’d set the Rolloff (Low-pass filter) to somewhere around 10KHz, set the Reverb Time to 1.5 seconds and the Pre-delay to 20 milliseconds. Again, if there was a High-pass filter available I’d probably roll that off around 80-100Hz.

In your mix template

In a mix template, I’d use the to two reverbs above plus a third reverb that can really give your mix some depth – especially if you have any strings or pads in your mix.

Reverb 1 – Plate

Use the same setup as the tracking session Reverb 1 example above.

Reverb 2 – Room

I’d essentially use the same setup as the tracking session Reverb 2 example above but shorten the Reverb Time to around 0.5 to 1.0 second.

Reverb 3 – Hall

Here’s the third reverb I’d recommend you add to your template – a Large Hall reverb.

Adding a hall reverb to your mix template will give you a short, medium and a long reverb to use in your mix, and a long reverb such as a hall reverb is perfect for strings. In MPX Native I’d start with the Large Neutral Hall preset. I’d set the Rolloff (Low-pass filter) to somewhere around 10KHz, set the Reverb Time to 2.5 seconds and the Pre-delay to 20 milliseconds. Again, if there was a High-pass filter available I’d probably roll that off around 80-100Hz.

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