Useful Stuff to Know » article » Vocal Reverb Mixing Trick: Stacking Reverbs » Mar 22, 10:59 PM

Vocal Reverb Mixing Trick: Stacking Reverbs

A common problem in home-recordings is where the vocal, despite having reverb on it, still sounds too up- front and dry and doesn’t sit in the mix. This is especially evident when vocals are recorded in booths or over-treated rooms, or when using dry mics like the SM7B. It’s as if the singer were a foot away from your face despite having a large space behind him or her.

Well the solution is quite simple: put a tight plate or room verb on your vocal first, keep it subtle, and next (or later) in the plugin chain put the larger verb you’d normally be using.

For example, get the room verb sounding natural, like you didn’t just record it in a closet or basement, but in a nice roomy studio. Then dial the mix percentage down to 5%-15% max. Bypass the verb to hear the difference, make sure it’s there but not cheesy-there. The goal is merely to remove the “I’m trapped inside a pickle jar, HALP!” mono-ish sound that you get from too dry a take.

This will distance the vocals from the audience, put it deeper into the mix. It’s a distance/depth control.

Not only that, but psychoacoustically it will give the listener’s mind a reason for having that second larger reverb around it, because when you perceive the vocalist as being further away from you and more in that large space, you expect more of his voice to be reverberating throughout that space.

With this trick, you can indeed record very dry and thereby pick the “room” sound of your choice in the mix. The one extra benefit is that this artificial room can be in stereo, if desired.

Now, some mixes benefit from this more than others. Some genres demand a very up-front, dry, in-your-face sound. But for epic or operatic metal styles, this reverb stacking trick may help.