When Do I Need To Use Reverb?

By Kevin Graham

Every video creator has heard the word, “Reverb” at some point in their career. But many don’t fully understand what it is, how it works, and when to use it.

In simple terms, reverb is a collection of reflections created by a sound when it occurs in a space (basically, anywhere except a true vacuum). The sound’s waves reflect off of surfaces in this space, eventually fading out into nothing.

Virtually every sound we hear in the real world has reverb, even if it’s just a tiny, almost undetectable amount. This is because true sonic vacuums do not naturally exist (except in outer space), so there are always surfaces for sounds to reflect off of before they reach our ears.

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A listener will hear these reflections at different times, which results in the effect we know as reverb. Depending on the size and type of space, as well as the position of the listener and the loudness of the source, reverbs can have very different sounds.

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When it comes to video, reverb is an extremely versatile tool when it comes to sweetening your audio. You can use a subtle amount on ambiences, effects, and foley to add depth, and help the sounds fit better with music and dialogue.

Try adding a small amount of a medium decay room reverb to your natural production sounds in the edit. This will soften them just a little bit, and can also help make thin camera audio sound much fuller and more immersive.

You can also use a little bit of medium plate reverb on cinematic sound effects to add some emphasis to those sounds, or you can add a larger hall reverb to create an echo effect.

Or, you can use more dramatic reverb settings for effect, such as to convey a sense of space or to create dreamlike flashbacks.

Hall and chamber reverbs work best for these effects. You can play around with the decay, pre-delay, size, and overall wet and dry mix to really shape your sound.

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And best of all, almost every piece of editing software has plenty of built-in reverb options, so you can dive in and start experimenting with this important audio effect.

Kevin is the Music Director and Lead Composer at Filmpac.

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