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Re: qualities of reverb

On Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 9:05 AM, Michael Peters <mp@mpeters.de> wrote:
> sometimes I love to listen to the dreamy music of Harold Budd, or Robin
>  Guthrie (Cocteau Twins). Their pianos and guitars are often drenched in 
>  very long and dense reverb that would put the Taj Mahal to shame - this
>  reverb has a depth, richness, and aliveness that is lovely to listen 
>to, it
>  is not the linear, cold, and boring reverb that comes out of my 
>  How do they achieve that? it often doesn't sound as if they would 
>simply use
>  echo or chorus to fatten the sound, it often seems to be nothing but 
>  Is it just a matter of using one expensive reverb unit? Are there reverb
>  units which can create such a sound out of the box?
>  I've put a Robin Guthrie sample here as an example:
>  http://www.veloopity.de/temp/guthrie.mp3
>  Michael www.michaelpeters.de

There's a fair chance the effect you're after is what often is
referred to as "freeze reverb". First time I heard it was at a Joh
Hassell concert in 1983. It sounds amazing!

It might be appropriate to also describe it as "a reverb loop". It can
be achieved in many ways. Last year I had a TC Electronics FirworX and
I set it up lined up with an Input Envelope Follow module. I set the
Envelope Follow Module was set to modulate the effect's feedback in a
way that feedback was always 100 percent when I wasn't playing any
audio input. But as soon as I made a noise into the mic the feedback
was lowered, by the Envelope Follow Module on the input, to create a
"pocket" in the layered "frozen" sound to fit in the latest audio
input. Unfortunately I couldn't make it work with TC's reverb, but I
reached a quite useful patch by doing it with a reverb-like multi tap

If you have a chance to play around with Ableton Live you have to
check out the reverb pre-set named "Freezeverb". It woks like my
FireworX patch described above, but with a pure reverb. The reverb
sound is thin, but that is good starters since you can work on it
(chorus the reverb sound or make it multi band to add differently
"rhythmatized" tremolo to different frequency bands of the reverb's
return signal.

If you work with Bidule or Max you can set up an Input Envelope Follow
process to target just about any other process, preferably "feedback"
in a reverb loop. If you do that, it might be a good idea to either
use pre-delay in the reverb patch or include a short delay in the
effect chain, just to prevent acoustic feedback to happen. I tried
that with Sir convolution reverb plug-in, but found it too CPU
consuming on all laptop systems I have yet had access to. The multi
processor support in Bidule is still not working properly, but when
that happens I will go back to that project. For Windows there is a
multi effect VST plug-in, named Ronin, that has a built-in Input
Envelop Follower function so I stick to that so far.

A third technique is what we hear in the Robin Guthrie example: Not
sending everything into the reverb loop. If you listen to the clip it
is obvious that Robin only sends the first eighth note (or maybe a
little longer slice) into the reverb. Since it is a FreezVerb
functionality (as described above) this short snippet "spreads out" to
sound more like a trembling pad than the guitar string sound he fed it
with. David Gilmour, of the Pink Floyd, is also known for having done
this trick at live concerts. You can set up a momentary button pedal
to send whatever noise you are making into the reverb loop.

Hmm... maybe the plug-in River Run also should be mentioned here. It
can only be bought as part of the Nautilus bundle from Audio Ease.
It's not a reverb but more like a "granular looper" that picks one
slice of the audio input and stretches it out in time. But the cool
thing is that the window for picking the slice is also moving along
the input signal. I first heard it in the American television show
Supernatural, before knowing how this effect was produced, but then I
saw soundtrack composer Steve Tavaglione talk about it and
demonstrating it in a video interview. Steve uses the version of the
plug-in that comes as part of the Digital Performer DAW software, but
I think it's the same as the Nautilus bundle version (which is the one
I have). River Run only runs on OS X.

When talking OS X there are also some interesting granular audio
freezing plug-ins available for free from the composer Michael Norris
called Soundmagic Spectral.
http://www.michaelnorris.info/soundmagicspectral/. For any Harold Budd
fans this is a must-have :-)

Greetings from Sweden

Per Boysen
www.boysen.se (Swedish)
www.looproom.com (international)