Why Do Singers Use Reverb?

There are different effects units that we work with in audio production. Some of these are digital plugins that we install and use in our Digital Audio Workstations while some of these are physical units that we integrate with our audio systems.

Most singers during recording; will sometimes have their vocal being run through a different set of effects units to achieve good vocal delivery. One of these effects is Reverb.

In this post I’m going to discuss why singers use reverb.

Without wasting too much time, let’s get into it.

Why do singers use reverb?

Reverb is short for reverberation which is simply an effect that occurs when sound is reflected off of a surface causing numerous reflections to build up. Singers use reverb to create a grand performance characterized by depth, fullness, warmth and space.

Let’s look into the reasons why reverb is Important so we get a better understanding of why most singers utilize reverb on their vocals.

Helps to Smooth out and mask Imperfections in recordings

Reverb is a great tool in masking mistakes.

It  can help you smooth out imperfections on a recorded vocal or instrument.

But usually the cost to bear is perceived clarity.

When working with vocals, for example, clarity is of paramount importance.

Because people listen to music to hear and listen to the lyrics and not how smooth your mix is.

On an instrument however, clarity may not be as important.

Its always good to get a combination of both clarity and smoothness.

There is always a sweet spot, where you will get the benefits of a smooth sound as well as clarity.

Just don’t go overboard with the reverb and you should be just fine.

Turns Simple sounds into Grand sounds

Simple melody loops, sounds and patches can get a lot more positively sophisticated through the use of reverb.

For example, if you have a melody with tones,

applying reverb will cause a lingering effect in the background

before the next tone plays which keeps the melody interesting.

Therefore using a combination of tones while applying reverb

will result in the melodies sounding harmonically pleasing and more complex.

This can be helpful when you’re dealing with Simple melodies

comprised of a simple structure, because you can bring in

fullness and completeness without adding extra notes to the melody.

Makes sounds huge

Reverb essentially tricks the brain into perceiving space that

does not exist.

Reverb does this by mimicking real life reverberation.

Therefore, adding reverb to any sound can make it go from

sounding small to sounding absolutely massive!

Used in this manner, reverb can help us make music with fewer

elements without compromising the end product.

Music with fewer elements allows us to easily incorporate and

blend it singing vocals without them conflicting with instruments.

Easy listening

Sounds without reverb (dry sounds) can sound very

in-your-face, and can lack space.

This is not really easy to listen to especially if the sound is too dry.

Reverb therefore, compensates for this “dryness” by some

adding space around a sound.

Listening to the direct sounds using headphones can be

more fatiguing because headphones basically keep all audio

locked between your ears with very little influence from the outside environment.

Which is why reverb is such a great countermeasure to sounds that could cause irritation or ear fatigue.

Blending and Cohesiveness

Reverb is also helpful because it has the ability to glue a mix

together by putting every element in the same space.

If you employ the same reverb effect for most elements, it can

make the sounds have more in common with each other, even if they’re totally different instruments.

This can be sometimes done by, for example, putting reverb on the master bus but dialing it back a whole lot.

Because Just a few percent can be enough to create a glue that binds the mix together.

Other times you could use a simply reverb bus for all elements

which can act as a centre for smoothness.

This is usually the case in mixing singing vocals.

Final Thoughts

Reverb is an important tool and without a doubt one of those

things that sounds amazing on tracks, and blends in so well. .

In mixing or setting the stage for vocals, there’s loads of room

to get creative and have fun with what you think sounds best for each specific track.

Understanding how reverb works can turn a simple singing vocal into a grand performance.