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Old 12-01-2013, 03:52 AM   #1
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Default How to do Reverb setting for Strings and Orchestral Arrangements

Hello again! I have a song that has real actual strings playing through the entire song. It starts out as a quartet, and ends with about 40 different violas, violins, cellos, and double basses (fancy, I know.) My trouble is that the person who recorded them for me told me "your producer will of course put some reverb on them during mixdown. Strings just sound stupid without it." Unfortunately, I am that producer and reverb has always baffled me.

My problem is I have no idea where to begin. Could someone give me a starting point for some settings? Spring reverb? Plate? Hall? Canyon? Room? The song is also rhythmic in nature so the reverb can't delay the attack on the strings or else everything sounds off and out of tune. I just dont know where to start and I do well with templates and making them my own.

Any help you can give me would be GREATLY appreciated. Also, I'm not sure how, but I think I could post the file on here so you guys could mess with them if you feel like it...
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Old 12-01-2013, 09:14 AM   #2
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Reverb is not an absolute must!

It completely depends on the recording and how they were recorded. How many mic options do you have? Do you have extra options such as ambient/surround mics, decca trees, etc?

The ambient or surround mics, if you have them, give you a flavour of the room the strings were recorded in. These can be used to give space, width and dimension.

The way the strings are played and how they blend into the song also strongly determines how much and what reverb you need to use.

If there is a nice room sound in the recording or a hint of reverberation, some carefully tuned compression can nicely bring this out, without the need for a reverb. You're just aiming for a tiny bit of the room presence to be sustained.

If stereo miking has been used, you can use Mid-Side to balance out the room ambience usually present in the sides, tilting the ratio between the mid and side or separate the signals are work on them individually.


Since you mention the song is rhythmic, I assume, you don't want the reverb washing out the sound. In such cases, a nice plate reverb with carefully set pre-delay (to compensate the attack) can be used to just lift the strings into the sound stage. You will also have to take care of your Decays (Reverb Time) to end before it muddies up any other instrument. An additional EQ on the strings, around the mid-frequencies will bring out the bow/initial attack/scraping kind of sounds, giving it more focus (some clients may not like these sounds, others love them). You will have to hunt down these frequencies per instrument as it can vary according to the miking.

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask any further questions!
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Old 12-01-2013, 09:21 AM   #3
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It sounds like a nice sounding Hall reverb is what you're looking for.
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Old 12-01-2013, 09:46 AM   #4
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For orchestra instruments I prefer True Stereo Reverb. It can be a little complicated at first but once you get it set up it should work well.

Here is a thread I started about it that might shed a little light on it.

http://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=107409

You can get a track template as well as a FX-Chain from this post.

http://forum.cockos.com/showpost.php...5&postcount=12

You can get true stereo impulses from here.

http://www.samplicity.com/bricasti-m...lse-responses/
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Old 12-03-2013, 02:19 AM   #5
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Ah! You guys are awesome! To answer some questions, I only have one micing option for them. They were recorded in stereo. In reality, only the first 30 seconds of the string section NEEDS some help. Long story short: the first 30 seconds were re-recorded with a different mic 6 months later due to a song structure change, and it just doesn't sound as pretty as the rest of the song.

I have no idea what "Mid-Side to balance out room ambience" means lol.

If i understand pre-delay correctly, I set up my reverb to my preferred effect, then I use pre-delay to "move it back" so the timing of the notes is still right on, yes?

There are several parts of the song where I would LOVE to bring out the bow/initial attack to enhance focus, I will definitely experiment with that!

TOD: I'm going to start with the handy template that you provided. I'm also going to download the true stereo impulses from the link you provided. Should I use the same impulse for both ReaVerb instances that you have in your template? And is the Waves Files or the Waves Quad channel Files impulse more favorable? I literally have no idea what the difference is.

And I havent the slightest idea how to open the FX chain that I'm supposed to put in my FXChains folder. I cant even find an FXChains folder lol!

Btw, thank you guys so much for your help. My recordings would sound like Nintendo games without you!

EDIT: Found the FX chains, but I don't see how that is different from just loading the template into my current project.

Last edited by Multibomber; 12-03-2013 at 02:24 AM. Reason: User stupidity
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Old 12-03-2013, 09:44 AM   #6
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I have no idea what "Mid-Side to balance out room ambience" means lol.
That's a micing technique but your's have already been recorded so you have no control over that. Unless the Mid-Side was used of course, you'd have to check with the engineer as to what stereo micing technique was used.

Quote:
If i understand pre-delay correctly, I set up my reverb to my preferred effect, then I use pre-delay to "move it back" so the timing of the notes is still right on, yes?
This should have nothing to do with the timing of the notes or music. In the real world there is a slight difference in timing btween the direct dry signal and the first reflections. Pre-delay is used to try to simulate that difference in time.

You may not need any at all or you might find that adding some makes it sound better. You'll have to use your ears for that one.

Quote:
There are several parts of the song where I would LOVE to bring out the bow/initial attack to enhance focus, I will definitely experiment with that!
Reaper gives you a great deal of control with it's envelopes. What kind of notes are they, staccato, legato, etc.. A Take Volume envelope might give you the best results for that.

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TOD: I'm going to start with the handy template that you provided. I'm also going to download the true stereo impulses from the link you provided. Should I use the same impulse for both ReaVerb instances that you have in your template? And is the Waves Files or the Waves Quad channel Files impulse more favorable? I literally have no idea what the difference is.
I downloaded Peter's IR files a long time ago and they didn't have any Quad files. I'm assuming they are the combined left and right channels giving you 4 channels and only some of your very expensive convolution reverbs will be set up to handle them.

You'll need the two Left and Right stereo files, the Left should go in the 1st instance of ReaVerb and the Right should go in the 2nd.

You should also see a file name that has something like "M to S" in it which mean Mono to Stereo and is for a single instance of ReaVerb and is not used for True Stereo Reverb.

As far as which ones to use, you might start off with a Med or Large Hall. This is something you'll have to experiment with.

Quote:
EDIT: Found the FX chains, but I don't see how that is different from just loading the template into my current project.
No, they aren't any different, it's just another way to get the True Stereo Reverb set up.
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Old 12-03-2013, 10:59 AM   #7
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I suggest you find a good reference recording in the same style/genre and try to match it. At least use that as a guide for the amount of reverb.

To me the delima is that all of that nice "room sound" coming from all-around you in a concert hall ends-up sounding like too much reverb when reproduced over a pair of stereo speakers in a small room. Even with surround sound you need to cut-back on what you hear in a hall. If you've ever made a live recording with a microphone from your your normal listening/seating position, you know what I mean. And, that's the case with any type of music.
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Old 12-06-2013, 01:05 PM   #8
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SO I've narrowed it down to either the small hall or a couple of the plate reverbs. What I figured out is that I was really only needed reverb at the beginning of the song where there was only a quartet playing. I figure that is because when 20-40 instruments are playing, each recorded one at a time, there was plenty of room sound captured in these takes to give the instruments space. Yet when there was only 4 instruments playing, the sum of all the room sounds wasn't that much and needed a little help.

The advice you guys have given me is invaluable and you can be assured that I will be referencing this post for years to come. Thank you very very much for your help!
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Old 12-06-2013, 01:58 PM   #9
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^^^ I will also bookmark this thread - good info!

Are there any examples that you know of that highlight the differences in these techniques? Thanks in advance!!
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Old 12-09-2013, 05:25 PM   #10
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^^^ I will also bookmark this thread - good info!

Are there any examples that you know of that highlight the differences in these techniques? Thanks in advance!!
ANYbody there? ; )
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Old 12-10-2013, 04:32 AM   #11
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In a busy mix with lot of going on I often use reverb with ER preset.
ER meaning early reflections. Like it says there isn't the tail of the reverb.
Often the ER is enough to create the space and without reverb tail to mud the whole mix.

Didn't see you mentioning what plugins you have but many reverb plugins have ER parameter. I would start with medium hall preset and play around with er, wide and predelay parameters.
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Old 11-11-2014, 06:29 PM   #12
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Hey guys! So I'm back again trying to tackle this same situation. If you've a regular, you'll know by now that my computer was stolen, which was explained here http://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=149168 Thus putting my work back about a year or so So I am re-trying to get some pretty reverb on these strings. On the brigh side, I did buy the computer I referenced in that other post, which came with a TON of spectacular plugins, most notably the entire suite of Lexicon Reverbs and the entire Waves Mercury Bundle 9.1!

I'm experimenting with the Lexicon stuff because it sounds so beautiful, but I need your guys' help because I dont really understand any of the terms. Whilst you can read the earlier posts on this thread, allow me to re-describe what I'm trying to do:

I have an entire strings section that I paid to have recorded throughout the whole song, which sounds perfect, except for the very first 17 seconds. The reason why is because that first 17 seconds was re-recorded, and a different mic was used on the rest of the track. The 17 second section is a quartet which was doubled (cello, 2 violins, viola). I want to lushen up the sound a bit, HOWEVER... the strings are playing along with a clean electric guitar, and I want the chord changes of the guitar and the strings to be simultaneous. Often times with reverb, it delays the attack of the strings a tenth of a second or so, I dont want that.


Heres the guitar file: http://vocaroo.com/i/s1Qbv3yOOjjU
Here's the strings file: http://vocaroo.com/i/s1IFaU37qDPQ

Hopefully you guys can make it sound cool or tell me how to get near what I'm looking for, I'm using the Lexicon Native reverbs right now, but I'm open to using anything as long as it sounds cool. And again, thank you guys SOOOO much for any help that you can give me!

Last edited by Multibomber; 11-11-2014 at 07:22 PM.
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Old 11-11-2014, 07:41 PM   #13
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Also, heres my options using the Lexicon Reverb. Obviously theres a ton of presets. In addition, theres also the drums and percussion presets which have Bass Xover sliders and such.

https://stash.reaper.fm/22283/vintage...%20options.jpg
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Old 11-15-2014, 02:43 PM   #14
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*bump
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Old 11-17-2014, 10:36 PM   #15
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*final bump
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Old 11-18-2014, 01:19 AM   #16
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Three things occur to me:

1) I hope you won't take offense, but I think you should re-record that guitar, and this time, tune it a little better first, perhaps not to concert pitch, but to the strings (which are only very slightly sharp), and certainly to itself.

2) The strings sound very pleasant, but it is difficult, from such a short excerpt, to anticipate where this is going musically. Personally, I'd be inclined to put a delay on the strings rather than a reverb. I tried this with your tracks, and it sounded quite good, but whether it would fit with your vision is another matter entirely.

3) I'm in a similar situation to yourself, I think, in that I am producing a complex recording project (though probably very different from your own) with limited engineering ability. I, also, employ musicians to record parts for me.

I can mix somewhat to my own satisfaction, but I am aware that I have neither the experience nor, at this point in my life, the quality of hearing required to bring the project to completion. I intend to leave the final mixing to someone who knows what they're doing (I have too much invested in the project to mess it up myself). This will be very expensive, of course. One big difference between us is that your budget allows you to hire someone to record a forty piece string section, whereas mine leaves me wondering how I'm going to eat next week (me jealous much? ).

I wholly encourage you to continue to experiment with time modulation effects, and any other musical tools that appeal to you, but I think you would be well advised to focus on getting the tracking right, and consider leaving the rest to a professional.

Last edited by Fex; 11-18-2014 at 02:02 AM. Reason: Llamas, inevitably.
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Old 11-18-2014, 01:59 AM   #17
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Oh, one other thing.... your first post in this thread was almost two years ago. Time to buy a license?
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Old 11-18-2014, 02:58 AM   #18
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Quote:
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Often times with reverb, it delays the attack of the strings a tenth of a second or so, I dont want that.
It seems you are listening to the 'wet' signal only: reverb doesn't delay your ORIGINAL sound, which it the DRY signal. You mix in reverb 'behind' the original signal, so the timing of your instruments should not be affected in any way. If it is, you are doing something wrong

So if you are using a reverb plugin as an insert, make sure the dry signal is set to maximum and use the wet (or mix) signal to get reverb added. If you have the reverb on a send (i.e. another bus-track) then you set the wet to maximum and dry to zero, because you want the send-bus to only add reverb-signal to your mix and not the dry signal.

Hope this makes sense
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Old 11-18-2014, 05:48 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fex View Post
Three things occur to me:

1) I hope you won't take offense, but I think you should re-record that guitar, and this time, tune it a little better first, perhaps not to concert pitch, but to the strings (which are only very slightly sharp), and certainly to itself.

2) The strings sound very pleasant, but it is difficult, from such a short excerpt, to anticipate where this is going musically. Personally, I'd be inclined to put a delay on the strings rather than a reverb. I tried this with your tracks, and it sounded quite good, but whether it would fit with your vision is another matter entirely.

3) I'm in a similar situation to yourself, I think, in that I am producing a complex recording project (though probably very different from your own) with limited engineering ability. I, also, employ musicians to record parts for me.

I can mix somewhat to my own satisfaction, but I am aware that I have neither the experience nor, at this point in my life, the quality of hearing required to bring the project to completion. I intend to leave the final mixing to someone who knows what they're doing (I have too much invested in the project to mess it up myself). This will be very expensive, of course. One big difference between us is that your budget allows you to hire someone to record a forty piece string section, whereas mine leaves me wondering how I'm going to eat next week (me jealous much? ).

I wholly encourage you to continue to experiment with time modulation effects, and any other musical tools that appeal to you, but I think you would be well advised to focus on getting the tracking right, and consider leaving the rest to a professional.
1) Yes, I definitely need to re-record the guitar. It was re-recorded awhile ago, but I lost that version when my computer was stolen. The version you heard was recorded on a small, portable digital recorder about 4 years ago, before I even knew what REAPER was.

2) I'd be happy to experiment with a delay rather than a reverb. Could you suggest a starting point as far as delay settings? My only experience with delay is with making an echo effect with a very slow guitar part. As far as the rest of the track, the strings sound very good and it seems to me that they do not need any sort of "sweetening", its just that very first section that was re-recorded that needed some life added to it.

3)You might poop yourself, but I paid a guy in Texas $400 about 5 years ago to record those strings. He was just opening an online business doing string tracking. UNfortunately (or not) he has closed his business because he was hired as a full-time musician by his local orchestral company.

4) I've actually paid for the REAPER license twice already.

Quote:
Originally Posted by technogremlin View Post
It seems you are listening to the 'wet' signal only: reverb doesn't delay your ORIGINAL sound, which it the DRY signal. You mix in reverb 'behind' the original signal, so the timing of your instruments should not be affected in any way. If it is, you are doing something wrong

So if you are using a reverb plugin as an insert, make sure the dry signal is set to maximum and use the wet (or mix) signal to get reverb added. If you have the reverb on a send (i.e. another bus-track) then you set the wet to maximum and dry to zero, because you want the send-bus to only add reverb-signal to your mix and not the dry signal.

Hope this makes sense
I just have the reverb set as the only effect on the strings track. I didnt mess with any sends or receives. All the reverb plugins have a "Mix" fader, would that be adequate? I can also use that little knob on the top right of the effects UI as well, no?

By the way, thank you guys SOOOO much for helping me!
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Old 11-18-2014, 06:52 PM   #20
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Could you suggest a starting point as far as delay settings?
I doubt that there's much point unless we had agreed on a free delay VST to use, and even then I'd probably just advise you to go through the presets until you found something you thought appropriate. I'm not the best person to ask about this. I didn't experiment much - the first thing I tried was a 1/4 delay time with subtle tape emulation. It worked, pretty much, and I moved on.

Reverb can make things a little muddy in a way that delay doesn't. They're the same effect really, though; the difference is only the timing of the reflections.
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All the reverb plugins have a "Mix" fader, would that be adequate? I can also use that little knob on the top right of the effects UI as well, no?
Assuming that the "Mix" fader controls the wet/dry mix, then yes. You might find it easier to leave the mix 100% wet on the VSTs, and use REAPER's wet/dry knobs, which you have discovered, to set the balance appropriately. This goes for delay, too. Less is more....

You might be better off discovering this the hard way, but when judging the balance of reverb/delay vs dry signal, allow for psychoacoustics; because you are focusing on the delay at that time, your judgement will be slightly skewed, and you would be well advised to dial back the effect by 10% or so from what sounds right when you think you've finished, or you'll only be back to change it later.
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I paid a guy in Texas $400 about 5 years ago to record those strings.
Forty parts? If you're satisfied with the results, I think you got a very good deal there.
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I've actually paid for the REAPER license twice already.
Apologies for my presumption. I've since seen your other thread re. the theft of your computer. I presume that you still have at least one of the license emails? Search your inbox for "Cockos". You will be able to copy the license key from the email to your current REAPER installation.

Last edited by Fex; 11-18-2014 at 07:00 PM. Reason: Llama attack. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
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Old 11-21-2014, 09:52 PM   #21
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I doubt that there's much point unless we had agreed on a free delay VST to use, and even then I'd probably just advise you to go through the presets until you found something you thought appropriate. I'm not the best person to ask about this. I didn't experiment much - the first thing I tried was a 1/4 delay time with subtle tape emulation. It worked, pretty much, and I moved on.
I'll use any free delay that you have, I'll happily download whatever. ReaDelay doesnt have a tape emulation feature., but I just pulled it up, moved the delay to two 1/8th notes, and it sounds better than what I was getting with any reverb!
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Old 11-21-2014, 10:15 PM   #22
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I hereby nominate the Kjaerhus Classic Delay.
You'll need to download the entire Classic series.
You won't be sorry. These are very popular, newbie friendly plugins.
Get them here:
http://www.acoustica.com/plugins/vst-directx.htm
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Old 11-21-2014, 10:30 PM   #23
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Ok I got it! Now what?
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Old 11-21-2014, 11:04 PM   #24
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Quote:
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then I'd probably just advise you to go through the presets until you found something you thought appropriate. I'm not the best person to ask about this. I didn't experiment much - the first thing I tried was a 1/4 delay time with subtle tape emulation. It worked, pretty much, and I moved on.


Seriously - just stick it on a track, send your strings to it and go play with the presets. You have clean digital delay, new tape, old tape.... I can't tell you how your recording should sound!

If you run into any actual problems, I'll try to help.... probably....
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