Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

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HideawayStudio
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Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

Post by HideawayStudio » Fri Mar 06, 2009 7:04 pm

Having noted the Michael Jackson is on the comeback I've listened to Billie Jean for the first time in ages (it still sounds great & I yes... I want a CS-80!). What I noticed though is that athough there is a lot of great movement in the mix the sound is very dry with actually very little reverb. Now compair this with just about any modern trance mix and you will hear the most gratuitous use of reverb on anything other than bass and kicks. What is also of note is that many soft synth presets seem to be awash with reverb too. Although I adore a good reverb in the right place I can't help feeling many are adding far too much "sugar" to their mixes these days in a desperate move to make them sound interesting or hide shortcomings in the raw instruments.

Much of Jackson's work of the era has a very focused, punchy (sometimes itimate/close) sound about it (so typical of the 80's) - quite unlike Neil Tennant's massively over verb'd (distant) vocals a decade later on a depressingly large number of PSB tracks - I always thought it sounded like he was singing in Paddington station!

So am I just imagining things or maybe I'm just getting old/deaf. They are not all doing it though - Goldfrapp seem to know how to make fantastic synthetic textures and movement... without washing everything in reverb! :D

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Re: Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

Post by Hair » Fri Mar 06, 2009 7:27 pm

I think reverb has always been a staple of trance, it's just how the genre sounds (that and delays) - most of the most "cutting edge" electronic stuff these days is abusing compression more than anything else, especially on old drum machine samples if not EVERYTHING - I'm pretty sure most of the Justice sounds come from 707 samples smashed to all h**l.

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Re: Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

Post by HideawayStudio » Fri Mar 06, 2009 7:32 pm

Hair wrote:I think reverb has always been a staple of trance, it's just how the genre sounds (that and delays) - most of the most "cutting edge" electronic stuff these days is abusing compression more than anything else, especially on old drum machine samples if not EVERYTHING - I'm pretty sure most of the Justice sounds come from 707 samples smashed to all h**l.
As in the mad side chain pumping effects you hear so much these days?



BTW I've just noticed you're from NJ!, although I'm now in GB/UK I'm originally from Summit, NJ :)

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Re: Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

Post by Alex Hamilton » Fri Mar 06, 2009 7:51 pm

It seems to work both ways - vocals are usually pretty dry now, as are drums. Don't know much trance so can't really comment on that, I guess it's just the trend for things trying to sound 'epic'.
HideawayStudio wrote:I always thought it sounded like he was singing in Paddington station!
You'd know if he was - there'd be loads of people in the background, swearing at all the delays :wink: .

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Re: Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

Post by Hair » Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:10 pm

HideawayStudio wrote:As in the mad side chain pumping effects you hear so much these days?
Something of that, but also just making things really, really loud. Like I said, taking old drum machine samples and driving them hard, as well as similar treatment for basses. In this thread over on the Ableton forums, someone who seems to have the hang of it explains what he does on page 3, his myspace having a lot of examples of "the sound": http://www.myspace.com/robbedbyrobots

BTW I've just noticed you're from NJ!, although I'm now in GB/UK I'm originally from Summit, NJ :)
Oh cool! I used to shoot archery up around there for a while at South Mountain Reservation :D

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Re: Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

Post by rockmanrock » Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:40 pm

Alex Hamilton wrote:It seems to work both ways - vocals are usually pretty dry now, as are drums. Don't know much trance so can't really comment on that, I guess it's just the trend for things trying to sound 'epic'.
HideawayStudio wrote:I always thought it sounded like he was singing in Paddington station!
You'd know if he was - there'd be loads of people in the background, swearing at all the delays :wink: .
They did use recordings of street ambience and so on in their early stuff (Please), sounds great to me!

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Re: Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

Post by meatballfulton » Fri Mar 06, 2009 9:06 pm

If you think reverb is overused now, I guess you haven't heard any pop music from the 1950s or a Phil Spector record :shock:
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Re: Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

Post by pricklyrobot » Fri Mar 06, 2009 9:29 pm

meatballfulton wrote:If you think reverb is overused now, I guess you haven't heard any pop music from the 1950s or a Phil Spector record :shock:
I thought they just recorded all those inside of a roller rink, after hours.:wink:

Now I've got a hankering to go listen to The Crystals.
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Re: Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

Post by Phollop Willing PA » Fri Mar 06, 2009 9:42 pm

I remember when digital reverb came out in the 80s and the next thing I knew, every recording seemed to be drenched with reverb and later the 'chorus' effect. I tend to use reverb very sparsly myself, perhaps a tad on the voice and a bit on the snare drum sound.

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Re: Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

Post by HideawayStudio » Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:00 am

meatballfulton wrote:If you think reverb is overused now, I guess you haven't heard any pop music from the 1950s or a Phil Spector record :shock:
Yes... this had ocurred to me too - those pesky plate reverbs were definitely overused in the 50's - Domenico Modugno's original recording of Volare was great but it sounded like he was singing in the bath! :)

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Re: Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

Post by sensorium » Sat Mar 07, 2009 2:00 am

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Last edited by sensorium on Sat Mar 07, 2009 2:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

Post by sensorium » Sat Mar 07, 2009 2:02 am

Comparing trance tracks to 80's pop is hardly evidence that reverb overuse has hit new highs. As others have stated, larger-than-life spaces are a staple of the trance sound (not ALL genres). Trance aims to create alien spaces of vast proportions, and compression "pumping" is used as an effect to give the dance track some sort of pulsating drive similar to ancient tribal rhythms.

I for one like tracks that push the boundries of what can be considered "real". If we don't use our digital equipment to create things that otherwise would have never existed, then what's the point of having them? If it wasn't for artists doing this, I would never have known what an alien orgy in a steel cathedral the size of Texas would have sounded like!

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Re: Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

Post by Christopher Winkels » Sat Mar 07, 2009 2:47 am

I think reverb is generally overused.

There are a few reverb-heavy albums that work (Love and Rockets' Express album is the best example), but I've always been of the general opinion that if I can perceive the reverb it's too much.

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Re: Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

Post by dr.sine » Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:41 am

i'm a fan a reverb. i guess that why i like old stuff like from the 50's
i use reverb alot on guitars, vocals and cymbals. i dont over do it by any means though. i am a huge fan of delay, however. to me there is just so much you can do with delay. again i try not to over use it but if used right, in some cases you may not even realize it's there until you take it away.
that's an easy way to get peoples attention on a track, in my opinion.
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Re: Is it me or has the overuse of reverb hit new highs?

Post by Johnny Lenin » Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:50 am

HideawayStudio wrote:BTW I've just noticed you're from NJ!, although I'm now in GB/UK I'm originally from Summit, NJ :)
Hey Summit! Ice-T's old 'hood! [I teach at Rutgers Newark for my Jersey bona fides.]

The dry synth sound was very much the sound of the 80s, don't you think? Like dr. sine, I also use a fair bit of reverb and delay -- the later more as a phrasing effect a la Terry Riley than as a spatial effect. Sometimes it's to help a really present track like a shredding guitar sit a bit deeper in the mix, and sometimes it's for the fuzzy ambience.

It's not an ideological thing, though, it's just another tool.

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