Reverb is an essential effect in music production and other areas of audio engineering. It has so many different characteristics and in this post I’m going to discuss reverb tail.
You’ve probably come across that term before. If you wondered what it meant, not to worry this post will walk you through everything you need to know.
Knowing various characteristics of effects is important when dealing with audio because it allows us to know exactly what an effects processor is doing so we are not caught off guard.
With that said, let’s get right into it.
What is reverb tail?
The reverb tail is simply the decay or fade out of the reverb after the dry direct sound signal has stopped. In other words, the reverb tail is what is usually referred to as late reflections.
Let’s look at some important terminology of reverb that will help our discussion.
Decay is simply the time measured in seconds that is required for the reflections of reverb to die away. In most modern music production, reverb decay times of between one and three seconds are common.
A reverb setting with strong early reflections and a quick decay are a great way to create a stereo effect from a mono source.
This in turn can help us give our sounds some width.
Early reflections are simply those that reach the listener a few milliseconds after the direct or dry signal arrives.
Your brain automatically uses them to identify the size of the room you’re in.
If you are planning to simulate a specific type of room, this control will be extremely important, as it will allow you to set the level (in decibels) of the early reflections. The louder the early reflections, the smaller the room will seem.
Late reflected sounds are simply those that arrive at the listener’s ears after multiple reflections.
The speaker/signal and room both contribute to what we hear as late reflected sounds.
The speaker’s contribution or signal is termed sound power. The room contributes it’s decay properties, both at mid-to-high frequencies (reverberation) and low frequencies (room resonances).
A great example of late reflections is the echo effect.
Uses of reverb tail
Let’s look at some of the ways reverb tails may be beneficial in audio processing.
Many instruments can benefit from reverb because it can make them sound better.
A good amount of reverb would can allow for a good reverb tail that can make instruments sound fuller.
For example, a snare with a reasonably long reverb tail can help change the way people perceive other instrumentation.
Vocals also benefit a huge deal from reverb. Especially dry vocals that sound harsh or simply dry.
Reverb can soften up vocals and make them bigger to go well with instrumentation.
In singing, reverb tails are particularly useful especially in slow tempo song’s.
Rather than having vocals end abruptly, the reverb tails Can provide a soothing decay with late reflections.
The main advantages of reverb tails
Let’s get into some of the benefits of reverb tails that you can take advantage of while processing your sounds.
Makes a sound broader
Reverb tails make sounds a lot broader by provide a good decaying effect providing warmth, texture and width to a vocal.
It’s therefore important to know how to adjust your reverb parameters to get a good amount of late reflections.
Reverb can help you mask a lot of mistakes as well as provide the listener a decent experience.
Helps fill in space
Reverb is essential because it helps us widen up our sounds whilst making them wetter.
Late reflections are important because they help fill spaces in our music.
For example, a singer that has their vocals spaced out in a record with only a few phrases every now and then, will greatly benefit from reverb tails because they can help fill in those gaps in the song.
Paired with delay, the resulting effect could be nothing shot of great.
The main disadvantage of reverb tails
The main disadvantage of reverb tails is that they can sometimes clash with other sounds which could in turn make your overall mix sound overcrowded.
This is especially true for fast tempo song’s that leave no room for elements like reverb tails to occur without another sound instantly clashing into it.