Consider the Reverb in BOTH Ears

I learned this trick from a good friend and relative named Ryan Staples. He worked at Ocean Way Studios alongside Jack Joseph Puig (JJP). He had a lot of useful information and tips and tricks he picked up from various engineers he had run into. This was one that stuck out to me.

I had asked him a few questions about reverb. I was struggling to get my vocal and synths to sound big. He had mentioned a few EQ tricks (which work wonders but didn’t help quite help out here). He talked about distortion. Tried it. Didn't quite work. Then he said something along the lines of, "have you tried different reverbs in the left and the right?"

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I'd never heard anything like that. Two different reverbs in each ear?? Wouldn't that send earth spinning out of the solar system? Corrupt patterns established millions of years ago? I was fascinated at the idea. I always thought to have one, two, maybe three different reverbs on my whole mix. I would send different things to random ones depending on the instrument and glue my mix that way. But by specifically shoving certain types of reverbs in different ears, you FORCE your mix to create a certain type of depth that only comes from isolating different reverbs in different channels.

Why does this happen? Well let's look at how a reverb (stereo) behaves when you send something to it. If I have something like drums sending to a bus with room verb, the reverb will react a certain way, dispersing the sound in a "natural room reverb" way. Let's say we take that same drum track, send the left channel to a room reverb, and send the right to a huge hall. All of a sudden you're getting this huge, wide sound.

This works in kind of the same way that a ping-pong delay works. By making your ear hear a sound in one channel first, you create more depth and space. By creating these different reverb responses, you are making your ear hear a "drier" sound first (room) followed by a more distant sound (hall), making yourself think it's a lot bigger than it is.

Now obviously this is something you have to play with. You don't want to cause fatigue on your listener by having 2 extreme reverbs in different ears. A room and a hall might be extreme, but you get the idea. It's about trying something outside of the same old boring stereo bus reverb. GIVERRRASHOT!


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