Vin­tage Re­verb

Future Music - - CONTENTS -

As in so many as­pects of modern mu­sic pro­duc­tion, we’re rather spoiled when it comes to the types of re­verb we can add to our mixes. We can work with con­vo­lu­tion re­verbs, which use im­pulse re­sponses recorded in real spa­ces to cre­ate for­merly un­fea­si­ble levels of au­then­tic­ity. Or, we can take our pick from a spec­tac­u­lar range of ‘ar­ti­fi­cial’ al­go­rith­mic re­verbs, which use the light­ning-fast ca­pa­bil­i­ties of our com­put­ers’ CPUs to dream up sim­i­larly im­pres­sive sound­ing spa­ces; use­ful for ev­ery­thing from ex­treme spe­cial ef­fects to per­fectly tai­lored am­bi­ences.

As a con­cept, ‘ar­ti­fi­cially added space’ has been cen­tral to the sound of recorded mu­sic since record­ing it­self be­came vi­able, so it’s no sur­prise that the in­ge­nu­ity of en­gi­neers in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s helped forge a range of tech­niques and pieces of equipment which sat­is­fied the tech­ni­cal and cre­ative whims of mav­er­ick mu­sic pro­duc­ers. Take plate re­verb as an ex­am­ple – plate re­verbs don’t sound ‘nat­u­ral’ at all. Try select­ing a Plate al­go­rithm in your modern re­verb plugin of choice and solo it on a vo­cal or in­stru­men­tal part and you’re un­likely to im­me­di­ately as­so­ci­ate the sound with a type of room or hall. How­ever, they tend to shine a light on the sound be­ing pro­cessed, of­fer­ing it a focus, warmth and colour which is, son­i­cally, hugely ap­peal­ing.

Spring re­verbs, mean­while, of­fer a dif­fer­ent take along sim­i­larly ‘retro’ lines; this ap­proach uses a trans­ducer to trans­mit sound to a coiled metal spring. Through­out the 1960s, gui­tarists were se­duced by the sound of spring re­verbs – so much so, in fact, that Fender started us­ing them in am­pli­fier de­signs. Even with the ad­vent of dig­i­tal re­verb units such as Lex­i­con’s 224, the in­put trans­former stage and 12-bit dig­i­tal to ana­logue con­ver­sion en­sured that colour and a unique sonic iden­tity were cen­tral to the sound.

So no won­der that, in­spired by th­ese unit and many oth­ers, lead­ing plugin man­u­fac­tur­ers are flock­ing to cre­ate clones of the most cov­eted re­verbs ever de­vel­oped. Among th­ese are UAD’s em­u­la­tions of AKG’s BX 20 and the AMS RMX16 re­verbs. Waves’ Abbey Road Plates are won­der­ful recre­ations of pro­pri­etary de­vices con­structed at the world’s most fa­mous record­ing stu­dios, while Val­halla’s Vin­tageVerb man­ages to pro­vide its own unique sonic (and vis­ual) style to echo the sound of spa­tial treat­ments from yes­ter­year.

Through this month’s walk­throughs and video, we’re ex­plor­ing how a num­ber of clas­sic re­verb tech­niques can ben­e­fit your mixes, ir­re­spec­tive of the mu­si­cal gen­res you pro­duce. Let’s re­mind our­selves why the sound of th­ese boxes has never fallen out of favour.

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