In Part 1 of “Using Reverb on Vocals” we discussed the importance of setting up and aux bus and using a pre-delay. In this article I’m going to discuss why you should manipulate the return to create an interesting sound to your effects.
So what do I mean when I say manipulate the return? Well we are talking about adding processing or more effects to the actual reverb itself. We might use an EQ, a compressor or we might add an effect like a flanger. Truthfully the sky is the limit.
Well the first reason we might want to manipulate the return is to create more space. We can take a compressor to push down the major peaks so if the singer gets more dynamic, the reverb is not competing with the singer, we can add a EQ to cut out the frequencies that interfere with the lead vocals, or we use the EQ to boost the top end, adding a nice airy sound to the reverb. Also opposite to boosting the top end of the reverb, we could cut it if the vocals are bright creating an interesting subdued effect.
Another thing about the reverb is we don’t necessarily want it to be noticeable. We will most likely still be able to hear it but we are trying to get the listener to focus on the vocals and not on the reverb. An over bearing reverb that sounds hollow and intrusive almost always takes away from the performance. Our goal is to highlight the performance as best as we can. We want to wash it out to give it a more blurry type of sound. So what are a couple of options to create that? We can use a m/s plugin and cut out some of the middle, enhancing the stereo width. We can also use something like a flanger (sparingly) which adds a warped, swooshy sound to the reverb making it harder for our ear to grab.
But it really doesnt stop there. You can use your imagination to really create some cool and interesting sounds. Just remember to start with the thought “What am I trying to achieve”. If the answer is “a washy sound” then from there you can look to all the tools you have to find out which one could potentially work the best.
YouTube Video Source: Using Reverb on Vocals Like a Pro (Reverb Return)