Try mono reverb
I was at the movies this afternoon, and I was noticing a big difference between the trailers and the advertisements: the way they use reverb on voiceovers.
Voiceovers in movies (and therefore in trailers) are generally focused strictly up the center. There might be ambience — there often is — but it has no width: they sound like a voice in a room of some shape and size, recorded with a single microphone.
(I don’t mean that’s literally what they are — presumably they’re recorded dry and the ambience is added later with a reverb plugin, for greater control.)
And, by contrast, a number of the ads I heard had a stereo reverb of some width on the voice — which, by contrast, made them sound lacking in specificity and directionality.
This ties in with how I think about space and ambience generally. I don’t always or even generally want my sounds going into reverbs with the width set to the default of 100% wide. I want my sound design to be specific and intentional and focused.
So something I’ll do a lot is I’ll take a stereo reverb, and I’ll focus it tightly around the source. I’ve talked about this on the list before. So for example, if the source is panned <17, I might pan the return for its reverb at <22 12>. 5% to either side. So, it’s got a stereo feel to it, but it’s extremely narrow.
But sometimes even that is too much width! And in situations like that, I’ll use a mono reverb. And I wanted to encourage you to try that also.
Mono reverb is excellent for when you want to add strictly depth and no width. It’s the ultimate for creating a sense of space while maintaining precision and focus.
Many reverbs will instantiate in mono, which makes it easy. But what about if you have a reverb that you really want to use, and it doesn’t have a mono instantiation? Like Valhalla VintageVerb, the one essential reverb that everyone should have and that I recommend constantly? Here’s a good trick for that:
Send your signal to a stereo reverb aux, and create a stereo reverb return with your stereo reverb on it.
Instead of having the output of the stereo reverb return go to the master bus, send it to a second stereo aux.
Create a mono return, and have its input be one of the channels of the second stereo aux! Voila — mono reverb.
Moving in mono — jamie