Talkin’ Reverb with Matthew and Samik
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Talkin’ Reverb with Matthew and Samik
Matt: We’ve got to shoot this again already.
Okay, Matthew Weiss here, theproaudiofiles.com,
Samik: Hey guys, Symphony here — theproaudiofiles.com.
Reverb today, right?
Matt: Yeah, reverb.
So you do a lot of sound design stuff, you
make sample packs, that’s a shameless plug
for the Machine Master sample packs, Pro Audio
Files sells them, sample packs, when I’m stalling
while you try to figure this out.
Samik: Sorry, it’s a little bit tricky!
Matt: When you incorporate reverb into your
sound design, what are your thoughts?
How do you incorporate the reverb into it?
Samik: Usually I’ll use the reverb on vocal
parts, or actual little vocal chops that I
do in my sample pack.
Matt: Those little shifted things?
Samik: Yeah, exactly, so I’ll do that to give
it its own space, and its own presence in
the actual sample.
So I kind of like to let it stand out a little
bit, so that’s what I use the reverb for.
Matt: So it’s like you purposefully select
a reverb that’s more of a tonal thing than
like, “hi, I’m in a space?”
Samik: Yeah, like more of a room type of reverb.
Because a lot of times, you’re — when you’re
doing your samples, you’ll have something
like a string section, which inevitably has
a sound of like, a hall on it.
So you’re grabbing, “Okay, this is in a
hall in the record, and this is in a room
on the record.”
Samik: Right, exactly.
Matt: I think there’s kind of two ways to
We can sort of think of it as like, going
for like, a cohesive space, where everything
kind of sounds like it’s in the same world,
or we can get contrasting spaces that don’t
sound realistic, but sound musically pleasing
and create an effect of contrast, and I think
people tend to either not consider the idea
of making their reverbs cohesive, or not consider
that it’s okay, and a lot of times, preferable
to have reverbs that aren’t necessarily connected.
Samik: Yeah, I mean, it’s all what sounds
good to you I think.
It’s interesting when a lot of times, when
I hear your stuff, when I get it in just from
your session or whatever, and it’s got that
AIR reverb on it, and then you’ve got your
layers that have like, halls and stuff built
It sounds to me like, in a way, it sinks the
vocal back in the stereo field, but it also
kind of highlights it at the same time, so
it makes it — it like, makes it more present
and a little further away?
So it kind of does both.
I just think that’s kind of cool.
I don’t know if there was a question in that.
Samik: I mean, I don’t know if there was either
but shit, that’s awesome.
I’m glad you like it.
Matt: I’m okay!
Yeah, so you’re sort of approach is just you
basically put the reverb on there, and you
just tweak it until it makes you happy, right?
Samik: I mean yeah, what I like to do is I
don’t like the full on wetness of the sound,
I like the actual — I like more presence
in the actual vocal, and then a little bit
of room around it.
Matt: Yeah, like something that gives it like,
a three-dimensionality, but isn’t like, “Hi,
Well, I mean, that’s — really, like, when
we hear voices in particular, you know, a
lot of times, 99% of the time, we hear somebody’s
voice in a room, you know, we don’t even think
about the reverb too often.
Samik: No, not at all.
Matt: So it’s like, to create a compelling
reverb, a lot of times, the more realistic
way, the more natural way to do it is something
that’s a tighter decay, and less in the way.
I guess I’ll just jump over to talk a little
bit about some of the more technical side
of what goes on inside of a reverb algorithm,
and you know, what makes things sound different.
You know, the biggest influence on the sound
of the reverb is going to be the algorithm
Like, you know, people sort of think a room
is a room, a plate is a plate, a spring is
a spring, and the reality is every room sounds
Plates will always sound different.
Every spring reverb sounds a little — they
all sound different.
I mean, even just the actual room itself,
one room to another, will sound different.
Samik: True, yeah, of course.
Matt: Then on top of that, it’s exactly that,
it’s the designer of the algorithm then interprets
what it means to be a room or to be a plate,
and that’s going to change from every designer.
So it’s very subjective along the way.
Matt: So it’s like, in a lot of reverb units,
there’s more similarity between the AIR room
and the AIR plate than there is between like,
the AIR plate and the Lex plate.
So you’ve got two completely different algorithm
names, but they sound more dissimilar than
Samik: Correct, yeah.
Matt: And then within that, there’s all of
the parameters that you can tweak and mess
around with, and even those parameters are
kind of subjective.
Samik: Yeah, I would say it’s — a lot of
times, you have so many options, especially
in the AIR reverb or whatever, you’ve got
the mix, and you’ve got the diffusion, you’ve
got the decay, pre-delay, all of that kind
of stuff, and then you’ve got the lo-fi, the
hi-fi, you can play with the filters, and
stuff like that, so like, yeah, a lot of times,
that gets a little bit confusing, but I just
play around with them until I feel like I
Matt: You know, when I’m teaching this stuff
a lot of the times, I think when people play
around with it, they hear the change, but
because the technical side isn’t necessarily
there, the vocab for the change is not present,
so it’s like, it’s hard to describe what’s
being heard, so a lot of times when I’m teaching
this stuff, I kind of try and put the technical
into it so that you can say, “Oh, okay,
this is why I hear it texturally changing,
but this is how it’s texturally…”
I think diffusion is one of the ones that
people are always kind of confused on, like
what the heck that means.
Because that’s the one where — it’s like,
you know what decay time is, you know what
a filter is going to do, you know what the
pre-delay does, it puts a delay, but what
the heck is the diffusion doing?
It’s changing the texture, but how?
Like, in what way?
Samik: So if it’s from like, a scale of zero
to 100, and 100 being I guess the most diffused?
I mean, what is it?
Matt: Usually — well, it depends on how
the designer set it up, but usually, 100 would
be completely diffused, and zero would be
So if you wanted to imagine a completely — a
literally completely non-diffused room, it
would be you standing in a perfectly spherical
dome, right in the center, because what would
happen is the sound would hit all of the — it
would take exactly the same amount of time
to hit every point of the surface in that
room, and so because it takes the same amount
of time, the reflections would all come back
to you at the same amount of time.
As soon as you start changing away from that,
you start getting the reflections to come
back at slightly different times, and this
is called scattering.
So if you were in a perfectly square room,
it still wouldn’t be very diffused, because
most of that wall is going to come back to
you in one collection of echoes, so you’re
really not getting a very diffused sound,
but now let’s say you take like, a square
room and you start bending the walls in in
weird, jagged ways, and you setup some chairs
and some bookshelves, and some — you know,
there’s a big statue in the middle or something.
Like, you know, like most people’s homes.
Samik: Yeah, I was going to say, like my apartment.
Matt: Yeah, you guys don’t have a giant marble
statue of a dragon or of yourself in the middle,
riding a dragon?
But all of those reflections start to break
up, basically, and so it becomes more scattered,
and the way that that sounds is when all of
the reflections are kind of coming back at
similar times, the sound starts to interact
It creates what’s called a modal response,
and that creates both a frequency change and
a textural change that can sound ringy, or
resonant, or you know, if you want to hear
it very clearly, throw a snare drum through
the AIR with the diffusion all the way down,
and you’ll hear this crunchy, pingy kind of
sound in the reverb.
If you turn it all the way up, that’ll go
It’ll sound very smooth.
It’ll sound very even all the way down.
But sometimes that can be a bad thing, because
sometimes, when these reverbs are too open,
they kind of disappear.
They lose their life.
Samik: Yeah, that’s what I find.
That’s why I try to stay away from using reverb
almost, you know, every single piece of percussion
I try to rather keep it dry, or keep it in
a very small amount.
Matt: Yeah, it can take away some of the transient
energy, but the diffusion specifically can
take away the energy from within the reverb
itself, so it’s like, I try to be discerning
about how diffused I want something to be.
If you turn something completely diffused,
it almost sounds empty.
It can sound haunting, like there is an effect
for it, but it tends to be — it’s not as
colorful, it’s not usually quite as interesting
as a less diffused sound.
The only thing you got to watch out is if
you don’t have that diffusion, you can kind
of start to mess around with the frequency
response, and you get a weird texture that
is really metallic, or not pleasing or something
So you want to find somewhere in there where
you don’t have anything that’s displeasing,
but you still have the life and the energy
and the imperfections that make it exciting.
So yeah, I mean, I feel like I could talk
about — I actually am working on — this
is shameless plug number two, guys — I’m
working on a Mixing with Reverb tutorial.
I’ve been spending forever doing it, but I
could talk for this about — you know, talk
about this for hours and hours and hours,
so maybe we should cap it here, unless you
want to talk?
Samik: I don’t want to talk about anything
Matt: No, nothing.
Actually, I don’t even want to — I don’t
want to see you or me in this room right now.
I’m getting out of here.
Pro Audio Files!
Oh, we got to sign off.
You’ve got to sign off.
Matt: That’s right.
So yeah, but wait, how did you do it before?
Matthew Weiss, signing off! [laughs]
Samik: Right, that was…
Matt: Except I have to stop the Screenflow
About The Pro Audio Files
Tutorials on mixing, mastering and producing music in Pro Tools with plugins from Waves, FabFilter, SoundToys, Softube, Sonnox, PSP, Slate Digital and more. Learn how to mix using EQ, compression and effects like reverb, delay, saturation and distortion on vocals, drums, guitar, bass and more.
Talkin’ Reverb with Matthew and Samik
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Talkin’ Reverb with Matthew and Samik
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