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This article was originally published in issue #42
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Reverb can make individual sounds seem massive, it can make groups of sounds appear as though they were recorded together in a real space and it can make individual parts seem to be further away from the listener. It can be captured by simply recording in a room with a sound you like, or created by mechanical devices (chambers, tanks, springs, plates), software models that use calculations to create a fictional reverb effect, or by software that uses impulse responses (IRs) to add the sound of a real space onto something that isn’t in that space.
Hundreds (probably - I haven’t counted them) of plugins offer different combinations of ease-of-use, fine control, flexibility and sound quality. Completely synthetic reverbs are often used for shaping sounds and because they don’t sound like anything real we happily accept them, but anything that’s close to any sort of space-reality can start to fight against what we’ve always known is 'right'. The balance is getting something that’s believable but still adds a bit of magic to the basic sound.
The back-story for Eventide’s Tverb plugin is that long ago in 1977, legendary producer Tony Visconti was in Hansa Studios in Berlin, recording Heroes with David Bowie. Faced with a limited recording track count he created the reverb technique that is modelled in this plugin. Put a microphone in a large, great sounding room, and have a fantastically talented singer sing into it. Place a couple of additional microphones in different places in the room and gate them so that they record only when the sound gets to a certain volume. As the sound level in the room increases the additional mics feed more room sound.
Of course, once it’s in a plugin, you don’t need the producer, the room or the fantastically talented singer (RIP) to make it work. Throw in a selectable polar pattern and compression on the main (close) mic, the ability adjust the gates and move the ambient mics around the room, and to modify the diffusion patterns and frequency response of the room and you get a simple yet powerful processor.
The odd thing is that the overall effect sounds very 'right' but it isn’t actually what you’d hear - if you make a noise in a room you’ll hear the room sound; make a bigger noise and you’ll hear more room sound - but you’ll hear it from the same place. In Tverb the additional sound comes from somewhere else in the room, and it increases in steps as you hit the gates, so it sounds subtly different and fresh. By adjusting how far the room mics are from the main mic, and how severely they’re gated, you can range from a very natural sound through to a quite pronounced effect.
Within the plugin there’s no long list of different rooms, no plates, springs or tanks, and thank goodness for that; anything that avoids me having to decide between a 'large room' and a 'small hall' is a good thing. You do get a set of presets which are a great place to start to get to grips with what Tverb can do .
Since I fired-up my copy I’ve tried it on just about everything I’ve recorded and it just seems to work. Yes, I’m still going to be reaching for plates and springs for sound-shaping work, but for those times when I want something that sounds kind-of-believable but a bit more exciting, Tverb simply nails it.