Tips for Creating a Gated Reverb Effect

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Tips for Creating a Gated Reverb Effect

Hey folks, Matthew Weiss here.

Welcome to The Pro Audio Files YouTube channel.

Jumping in for the first time, don’t forget
to hit that subscribe button, hit that like

button, because it helps us do what we do.

We’re going to be talking about gated reverb.

Now, if you’re older, you’re going to remember
gated reverbs from the 80’s, because that

was a quintessential 80’s thing, and then
it sort of died out, but noticeably, and Vox

even brought this up, which is the inspiration
for this video, a lot of Pop records today

are building back in that gated reverb sound.

So I thought it would be really cool since
I’ve got a Mixing with Reverb tutorial coming

out pretty soon to do a demonstration of how
to create gated reverb as an effect.

So alright, let’s get into this.

The very first thing we’re going to need is
a drum groove going here.

You know, it’s usually off of the snare, so
I’ve just got some drums setup here in Battery,

and they are both from my Weiss drums kit.

That link will be in the description, because
they’re pretty cool drums.

Here’s my kick.



And here’s my snare, which is actually two
snares layered together.


So we’ve got nice, crunchy, grungy little
drums, and we’re going to get a little groove

going here.

Alright, here we go.



Just something kind of like a big beat sort
of thing.

Once we’ve got our drum groove tracked out,
now it’s time to actually create the reverb

effect itself, and there are three main components
of this reverb effect.

The first and foremost of course is the reverb.

The second is going to be compression, and
the third is going to be a noise gate, and

how we do each one of them, there’s a lot
of flexibility and a lot of creativity that’s


So you can really choose your own stuff.

I’m going to start with the reverb.

For the reverb, the one thing that is really
important in my mind is that there’s a good

character to the reverb, and an interesting
and unique character to the reverb, because

this is all about creative effect.

We don’t want something that’s too clean,
we want something that’s got a lot of vibe,

so this is going to work with certain types
of plates, this is going to work with spring

reverbs, which is a great choice for this
in my opinion, this is going to work with

room reverbs, which tend to have a lot of
modal action going on, or chambers, which

tend to have a lot of modal action going on.

The only things that I don’t really like for
this are like, really pure, clean sounding

halls, really lovely sounding, like, nice,
clean sounding chambers or rooms.

Like, I want something that’s got vibe to
it for sure.

So I chose the Valhalla Room, and one of the
things that I like about this effect is because

ultimately, what’s going to happen is that
our reverb is going to get cut off abruptly.

We can kind of have this big, scopic sized
reverb, and the size ultimately kind of ends

up shrinking as a natural effect of this process,
but by building that size into it, we get

this really cool, contradictory vibe that

Anyway, I’m going to hit the play button,
just so you can hear what my room tone kind

of sounded like before any other effects.

[room tone with drums]

Now, I would say that while this room is a
little on the cleaner side, it’s not like,

super pristine polish, and actually, a really
cool thing you can do is you can actually

just setup a couple of microphones in your
own room, and play the snare drum out into

your own space, especially if you can like,
take your acoustic absorbers down or anything

like that, or put the microphone out in a
hallway or something like that, but there’s

still some very clear modal interaction.

There’s some vibe that’s going on in this

It’s not like the most pristine room in the
world, and it’s not meant to be.

So the next step is going to be the compression.

The compression, we want something that’s
very aggressive.

The quintessential compressor would be the
Shure Level Lock.

That was one that was used in the 80’s for
this all the time, but some other examples

would be something like an 1176 with all the
buttons pushed in, or the dbx 160 VU, which

has like, this very distinct quality in the
attack, and a certain tone to it that’s like,

very affected.

So I’m using in the box the SoundToys Devil-Loc,
which is modeled after the Shure Level Lock,

and you’re going to hear very quickly that
it’s an exceptionally aggressive compressor,

and because there’s no output gain stage on
there, I’m going to put a trim on the back

end of it, and knock 9dB off, just so it’s
a little bit more level matched.

But here’s our before.

[drums and reverb, before
and after Devil-Loc]

And here’s our after.

So I’m really compressing the snot out of
this reverb, and what’s happening is it’s

extending the tail, and it’s also creating
a very distinct, obvious upper mid-range color

that has a lot of vibe, and has a lot of personality,
and a lot of energy.

Now, the very last step of this is the noise

So once we’ve created this compressed reverb
tail, what we want to do is truncate it.

We want to just chop it off once it gets below
a certain level.

The way a noise gate basically works is it
takes quiet sounds and it makes them go away,

and we set a threshold for where that sound
was too quiet.

So if we set the threshold very high, it’s
going to remove a whole bunch of that decay.

If we set the threshold very low, it’s going
to let most of that decay tail off.

Now, what I’ve done is I’ve found a sweet

The threshold control is actually like a timing
control when we’re doing a gated reverb, and

where we adjust it basically changes the duration
of the note that the reverb takes up, and

so what I found is basically what’s an eighth
note, and you’ll hear it pretty clearly.


[reverb and drums, before and after gate]


So you can hear that, [imitates reverb].

That sound abruptly cuts off after about basically
an eighth note passing by.

If I want to make it a little bit longer,
I can take the threshold, and turn it down.

I can probably find something that’s pretty
close to a quarter note.

[reverb, adjusting gate]

That’s a little short of a quarter note.

Let me make it a little longer.

[reverb, adjusting gate]

So that’s a quarter note.

Or I could make it like a 16th note, which
would probably be somewhere around here.

[reverb and drums]

But for this purpose, I really liked the eighth
note feel, because it creates this feeling

of this like, burst of energy that then suddenly
goes away, so it gives you this very exciting

fun feeling where it’s like, “Boom!


[drums and reverb]

So it’s a cool vibe.

So I’ll do the A, B, before and after real

[drums and reverb, before and after processing]

And I really encourage you to play with this

It seems to have come back into style.

It can certainly be a lot of fun, and you
can do it with white noise bursts, you can

do it with spring reverbs, you can do it with
all sorts of creative ideas that, you know,

hey, I mean you could take the snare, you
could comb filter it and time stretch it,

and basically make something that doesn’t
even sound like a reverb, but kind of does

its own thing.

There’s just a million possibilities that
you can have fun with using this basic concept

of a vibey style of reverb, very aggressive
compression, and very truncating, aggressive

noise gating.

That’s the formula.

Now, in my Mixing with Reverb tutorial, I
do talk about gating reverbs, but I talk about

it more in the pragmatic sense.

In between the 80’s gated reverb, which was
kind of like today’s auto-tune, it sort of

showed up on every record as like, the thing
to do, after that went out of style, gates

still showed up on reverbs for the next 27
years, but it was in a much subtler way, and

was functioning as a practical device for
keeping the reverbs from masking other elements,

and I delve into that in the tutorial.

Anyway, thank you guys for checking this out.

Once again, please don’t forget to hit that
like button, hit that subscribe button and

drop a comment.

Tell me what you think, tell me what you’d
like me to talk about next, if you have any

questions with reverb, all of that stuff really
helps out the channel, it helps me keep making

videos and giving you this great information,
and don’t forget to check out Mixing with


That’s coming out September 18th.

If it’s before September 18th, get excited,
because that’s coming up soon, if youre’ watching

this video and it’s after September 18th,
hey, good news, it’s already out!

Anyway guys, until next time.

Tips for Creating a Gated Reverb Effect // A tutorial on creating a gated reverb effect for snare drum.

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.

Tips for Creating a Gated Reverb Effect

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