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  • Writer's pictureTina Van

What Is Reverb? The 3 Things to Know

Ahhh the glorious reverb! Everyone loves reverb, myself included, but why is reverb so popular and used so much in music? Can’t we do without it? Maybe you already use reverb in your tracks but don’t know what types you should be choosing or what the different settings mean because there are so many knobs – like what even is pre-delay and decay right?!

Maybe you already use reverb but aren’t exactly sure how it works and how much of it should be used. Maybe all you know is it sounds good and that’s why it’s your tracks. If this is you, that is completely cool because I can tell you right now, that that was definitely me before I knew anything about using reverb.

So let’s dive into this topic further shall we?


Whether we think about it or not, reverb exists all around us and in every space we are in. A crowded shopping mall, a big church, your bathroom (we all love how we sound in the shower right?) ALL these spaces have reverb in them and their own unique characteristics.

What you are actually hearing are the reflections of sound waves bouncing around and hitting different surfaces. Depending on what material those surfaces are made out of (wood, glass, tile, etc.) they will all sound different. Without even thinking our brain automatically associates different spaces depending on their reverb characteristics.

So why do we use reverb in music? We use it because it helps place a track such as an acoustic guitar or vocal in a space that sounds more natural and pleasing to our ears.


There are three main settings to keep in mind when it comes to reverb. Let’s take a look at a basic reverb plug in shall we?


Screen Capture from Valhalla Vintage Verb

There are different spaces you’ll notice here such as a halls, plate, spring, room and larger reverbs like chambers. All of these spaces have their own characteristics and tones. Keep this in mind when choosing the type of reverb you want to use.

What space are you wanting your instrument to be in? What tone are you trying to create? This will help with choosing the type of reverb to use. Halls, room, and chamber reverbs will sound the most natural because they are supposed to emulate those actual spaces. On the other hand, plate and spring reverbs are different. They are artificial reverbs so they do not resemble a particular space and are generally brighter in sound but can make things like vocals pop in a mix.

#2 – Pre-Delay

This parameter essentially controls the delay between the direct sound source and the reverb. For example: Let’s say you hit a snare drum on stage in an empty concert hall. After some time, you will hear the delayed sound coming back to your ears. Pre-delay will control how long it takes for you to hear that delayed sound.

The shorter the pre-delay, the less time it will take for the reverb to be heard after the sound source starts. This in a sense will make the reverb sound more obvious. You might want this for things like background vocals, ambient guitars or strings, and things that don’t really need to be upfront in a mix.

The longer the pre-delay, the more of the direct sound you will hear and the more the reverb will take a back seat. This is good for things like vocals, where we want that to remain clear and upfront throughout a track but still have dimension and depth.

#3 – DECAY

Decay is the other parameter to keep in mind. It could also be called length or time. This determines how long the reverb effect is going to last and die out. The longer the decay, the bigger the reverb space is going to sound. The shorter the decay the smaller the reverb space is going to sound.

I will go over techniques on using reverb on different things like drums, guitar, and vocals in future posts but for now, these are the three main parameters to understand when it comes to reverb.


Whenever possible, always put reverbs on their own aux or bus tracks. This will give you a greater amount of control and will allow you to use that same reverb for multiple tracks – which also helps with not using too much computer processing. These types of plugins tend to hog A LOT of CPU power.

Once the reverb is on its own aux or bus track, set the wet level all the way up or at 100%. This means that only the reverb sound will be going out.

Next, we will use the send knob to send some of the track’s signal to the reverb without affecting the original track. This is what sends are for. We will turn this knob up until enough of the dry signal is coming through or until the reverb sound is to your liking.

Once you have your Aux track set up with the reverb of your choosing you can now use that same Aux track for multiple tracks by simply selecting the same bus number that the Aux is on.

In this case, since the reverb is on “Bus 3”, we will select “Bus 3” on our send to use that same reverb on another track.


Whew! Hopefully that wasn’t too much info and if it was, hopefully it was helpful info. As you can see it helps to know how to best use reverb in your tracks and why it is a great effect. Reverb is your friend and will help take your tracks to the next level by adding the dimension and depth that it needs.

If you need help with another helpful tool you can start using to take your tracks to the next level, then I have included my FREE Quick Start Guide to Compression below:


Compression is another great tool when used wisely and I know it can be a tricky subject so I’ve created this guide to dissect everything and give you a cheat sheet to make using compression a whole lot easier. 

Thanks for stopping by today! Let me know what topics you’d like to see in the future or things you might be struggling on with your music and I will try my best to make sure I create content geared towards those topics.

That’s it for now, have fun recording – cheers!

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