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Using natural room reverb for effects

I regularly use digital effects on mixes, both for MIDI instruments and guitar tracks. More often than not, I'll layer reverb effects to get a richer sound. At times, it can sound too muddy, but at others, experimentation can bring a more realistic sound to synthesizer tracks.

When listening to a recording, I slowed the wave file down from 44.1 kHz to 16 kHz. While the original recording was made using a small room reverb setting, the slowed down version sounded more like it was made in a large hall. That’s when the idea struck me.

I made a simple piano recording at 22.5 kHz, using a dry mix with no effects. Then, using Sound Forge, I set it to play back at 96 kHz with no filtering applied to the change.

Setting the monitor speakers to face one wall, I set up a Shure SM-58 microphone on the other side of the room, facing the opposite wall. While recording, I played the 96 kHz file back so that the sound would bounce off of the wall, travel across the room, and bounce off of the far wall back to the mic.

The process was completed for the left and right channels separately. I combined the stereo tracks and set the recording back to 22.5 kHz.

The resulting reverb was deep, full of bass, and had a very eerie cathedral quality that I have never heard out of any digital or analog electronic reverb unit. The reverb was so deep, in fact, that I mixed it with the original dry piano mix at about a 20% effect, 80% dry ratio.

If you are tired of your existing reverb effects, I strongly suggest attempting this method. Experiment with how much you change the speed of your recording, speaker and microphone placement, and EQ. It’s a lot of fun to hear what the acoustics of an ordinary room become at different playback speeds.

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