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,,

[acoustic guitar]

Samik: Hey guys, Symphony here —

Reverb today, right?

Matt: Yeah, reverb.

Samik: Sweet.

Matt: Okay.

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.

Matt: Okay.

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
interpret reverb.

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.

Matt: Yeah.

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
into them.

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,

I’m reverb.”

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.

Samik: Absolutely.

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

find something.

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?

And why…

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
completely non-diffused.

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?

[laughs] Seriously!

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
on itself.

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

or whatever.

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
like that.

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
at all!

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.


Samik: Alright.


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


Talkin’ Reverb with Matthew and Samik

Matthew Weiss and Samik Ganguly chat about reverb. // Mixing with Reverb: http://mixingwithreverb // Sample packs:

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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