DIY ‘pseudo-reverb’ processor
What’s the difference between delay and reverb? The amount. Here we’ll go overboard with our delay plugins to splash in a sea of reverberant sound
Reverb and delay – these production staples are often seen together… and that’s because they’re very much related. Here we’re going to use multiple delay lines, all fed back into each other, to build some sort of pseudo-reverb processor. We’ll be doing it in Ableton Live, because its sends and returns are very flexible, allowing for extra methods of routing signals. To start with, make sure you’ve got a limiter on your master bus.
Send A back to itself, using the A Send knob, and send it to B as well. Use B’s Send knobs to send it back into itself and into A as well, by varying amounts. Now we have multiple delays ricocheting off each other. It might not sound quite like a ‘reverb’ yet – we’ve just crudely simulated some early reflections and given the sound a sense of space.
Next we’ll create a blank Return channel (Alt-Cmd-T), and we’ll stick a Simple Delay processor on it. Switch the left channel from host Sync to Time, set the Time Base to 1. Set the Time to about 10 milliseconds, which corresponds to a distance of about ten feet of sound moving in the air. Set a similar value in the right delay channel. Now turn the Dry/Wet right up to 100%.
Let’s add two more Return channels, with their Simple Delays timed at about 100ms, give or take. Right-click to Enable All Sends and add these delays into the chain. Send each channel to every send by varying amounts, gradually fine-tuning your ‘reverb’ reflections. Too much signal running through one processor can build up and create a disturbing ringing. Our next stage will mitigate that a bit…
Turn the Feedback up high, to about 66%, and see how it affects the sound. It gives it some atmosphere as the short reverbs repeat into each other. Now create another Return channel with another Simple Delay on it, set to similar (but slightly different) timings, with Dry/Wet at 100%. Leave its Feedback at 0, and turn the first Simple Delay’s Feedback to 0 too. We’ll right-click the Send knobs on the Return channels and select Enable Send, to set up feedback loops ourselves.
Add some modulation effects to taste, placing flangers, phasers and chorus processors on the various Return channels. Sneaky tip: real-world room reverb doesn’t really modulate, especially not in this way, but so many artificial reverbs use these effects to smooth out their signals that it’s become normal. Try panning your ‘taps’ pre-fade, for a more realistic sense of space.