Skip to main content

Create Better Mixes: Reverb in Music Explained

December 20, 2023 | Tero Potila

Man mixing music in Soundtrap while on the couch

Reverb is an essential audio effect in music production that adds depth and richness to your tracks by simulating the natural ambiance of various spaces. 

From the warmth of your living room to the lush resonance of a grand cathedral, reverb can help create a sense of space and atmosphere, shaping the overall sound of your mix.

To understand the basics of reverb, imagine your instrument or voice's sound waves as they travel through the air and bounce off surfaces such as walls, ceilings, and floors. These reflections, alongside the original sound, create a complex pattern of echoes that decay over time, distinguishing the acoustics of the environment. 

As a music producer or audio engineer, you can use reverb to replicate this phenomenon, giving you greater control over the sonic properties of your music.

Various reverb devices and plugins are available in music production to achieve your desired ambiance. From analog hardware to digital algorithms, these tools allow you to manipulate the characteristics of the reverb effect, such as the room size, decay time, and diffusion. 

Experimenting with reverb in your tracks helps shape the overall sound and adds emotional depth and coherence to your music. In Soundtrap, you have access to various reverb effects in the online studio, from small plate reverbs to big church reverbs. Add the reverb effect to your track and explore the different settings to your liking. Sign up now for free to enter the world of reverb mixing.

The Fundamentals of Reverb

Natural vs Artificial Reverb

Reverberation is the persistence of sound after it has been produced. In real-life situations, you always experience natural reverb; The sound reflecting off surfaces around you, such as walls and floors, creates a sense of your space. 

In music production, however, we often use artificial reverb to simulate these natural reflections and create a desired ambiance.

Artificial reverb is typically created using digital algorithms or by capturing the characteristics of real spaces using impulse responses. By carefully adjusting the reverb settings, you can perfectly balance the dry signal (the original audio) and the wet signal (the reverberated audio) to achieve the desired effect.

How Reverb Is Used in Music Production

In music production, reverb is used to:

  1. Create a sense of space: Reverb can give the illusion of depth and dimension, providing a more immersive listening experience.

  2. Position instruments: Reverb can help you place instruments closer or further away from the listener by adjusting the amount of reverb applied to each element in your mix.

  3. Enhance vocals and instruments: Sometimes, applying reverb can make elements of your mix feel more polished and professional.

To achieve these goals, consider the following factors when using reverb:

  • Type of reverb: Plate, hall, room, and spring are some common reverb types, each with unique characteristics.

  • Size of the space: The size of the virtual space will affect the sound of the reverb. Bigger spaces produce longer reflections and reverb tails.

  • Reverb time: It takes for the reverb to decay or fade away, which influences the sense of space in your mix.

Reverbs, delays, and echos are all time-based effects that should be added only after the volume balancing, panning, EQ, and compression are done; Tine-based effects can make it harder to hear and make the necessary mix decisions after they introduce the feel of space into your mix.

Reverb in Soundtrap

Understanding Early Reflections and Reverb Tail

When working with reverb, it's essential to understand two critical components: early reflections and the reverb tail.

Early reflections are the initial echoes that reach your ears after bouncing off nearby surfaces. These reflections can help you perceive the size and shape of a virtual space. 

Adjusting the time it takes for these early reflections to reach your ears can create the impression of a larger or smaller space.

The reverb tail refers to the series of gradually decaying echoes that follow the early reflections. This tail determines how long the reverberant sound takes to fade completely. 

In general, larger spaces have longer reverb tails, while smaller spaces have shorter tails.

Types of Reverb and Their Characteristics

Soundtrap comes with a Reverb plugin that includes many sizes and reverb types. 

There's a full range from Close Room to a Church hall reverb, two spring reverbs, and a selection of different types of Plate reverbs. Each reverb has controls for Amount, Low Cut, High Cut, and Mix, and they all have their own sound characteristics.

Room and Chamber Reverb

Room and chamber reverbs are designed to simulate the sound of real rooms and chambers. They capture the natural reverb and reflections that occur in various-sized spaces. 

In a room reverb, the size of the space can dramatically alter the sound you hear. Smaller rooms produce short reverberation tails and less character, while larger spaces result in more pronounced sound reflections.

Chamber reverbs are similar to room reverbs in that they simulate acoustic spaces, but they typically represent larger, specialized rooms designed to create specific reverb characteristics. These reverbs are often used to add depth and warmth to the sound in music production.

Plate and Spring Reverb

Plate reverbs were one of the first types of artificial reverb created. They involve using a magnetic driver similar to a speaker coil to stimulate vibrations in a large metal plate. The vibrations are then captured and used to create the reverb effect. This type of reverb offers a unique sound that can provide body and richness to a mix.

Spring reverbs utilize coils of metal springs to generate reverb. An audio signal sent through the spring creates vibrations that produce the desired reverb effect. Spring reverbs are commonly found in vintage guitar amplifiers and provide an iconic, retro sound.

Hall Reverb and Large Spaces

As the name suggests, hall reverbs are designed to mimic the spaciousness and long decay times of large concert halls or cathedrals. They offer an expansive and grand sound that can add depth and dimension to your music. These reverbs are especially popular for adding density to orchestral, choral, or acoustic music. The long, echoing tails can fill a mix, creating an immersive listening experience.

Digital and Convolution Reverb

Digital reverbs are software-based processors that recreate various types of reverb effects algorithmically. They offer tremendous flexibility and control over the characteristics of the reverb, making them popular choices for modern music production. You can easily adjust parameters like size, decay time, and frequency response to shape the sound to your liking.

Convolution reverb is a digital reverb that uses impulse response (IR) technology to simulate the acoustic properties of real spaces. By capturing the impulse response of a real space or an existing piece of gear, convolution reverb can accurately reproduce the reverb characteristics of that environment or device. This allows for incredibly realistic and natural-sounding reverb emulation that can transport your listener to a specific acoustic space.

A female songwriter writing a song on a piano with Soundtrap in the background

When working with reverb, early reflections and the reverb tail are critical settings.

Applying Reverb in Recording and Mixing

Reverb on Vocals and Instruments

Reverb is essential in making a mix more spacious and natural. Finding the right balance is crucial when applying reverb to vocals and instruments. 

You should use a slightly longer reverb tail to create a lush atmosphere for vocals. Adjust the reverb low cut and amount applied to find the sweet spot without muddying the vocal track. 

For recordings of guitars and guitar amps, a room or spring reverb is typically more appropriate to capture the essence of the performance.

To enhance your mix, apply reverb to different elements at varying levels. This will help create depth, with more reverb making an instrument seem further away.

Mixing with Reverb Plugins

Reverb plugins are an essential tool for music producers, allowing you to craft the perfect ambiance for your mix. 

Some industry-standard reverb plugins include ValhallaDSP, FabFilter Pro-R, and Lexicon PCM Native Reverb. You should experiment with different plugins to find one that suits your needs and workflow.

When using reverb plugins, it's important to manage the balance between the dry (unprocessed) signal and the wet (processed) signal. You can control this balance with the send level when using an aux track or the mix level on the reverb plugin when using it on the track.

Controlling Reverb Parameters

To make the most of your reverb, it's important to understand how to control its parameters effectively.

You should experiment with all the different settings like size, decay, response, high- and low-pass filter, and mix. These all control the size, shape, and other properties of the spatial effect the reverb will create.

Adjusting the high-pass filter (often also called low cut) is great for reducing low frequencies in the reverb tail and preventing a muddy sound. 

The low-pass filter (also called high cut) helps on the high-end; it helps to tame higher frequencies, creating a smoother and more natural reverb tail.

When applying reverb to your mix, consider how the settings relate to the other elements in your mix. A well-crafted reverb setting can help create depth and space, making your recordings sound more polished and professional. It's important to keep experimenting and fine-tuning your settings to achieve the desired effect in your music productions.

Reverb in Different Musical Contexts

Reverb in Popular and Classical Music

Reverb plays a significant role in shaping music, affecting the atmosphere and ambiance. 

In popular music, reverb is often used to create depth, giving a sense of space and achieving a unique sound.

In classical music, reverb serves to replicate the natural acoustics of concert halls, adding a sense of realism to recordings. This enhances listeners' experiences and lends a sense of richness to the sound.

Iconic Reverberated Sounds in Music History

Reverb has contributed significantly to sound design, leading to unforgettable moments in music history. 

Here are two examples of iconic reverberated sounds:

  1. Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight": Collins' famous drum fill utilizes gated reverb, producing a powerful and memorable sound that has become a defining characteristic of the song.

  2. Abbey Road Studios' Echo Chambers: The Beatles' recordings at Abbey Road Studios employed innovative echo chambers, exemplifying the use of reverb in creating a distinct and timeless sound.

Choosing the Right Reverb for Your Project

When selecting the perfect reverb for your music project, it's essential to understand the various types of reverb and their individual characteristics. 

The most common types of reverb and their ideal applications today are:

  • Room Reverb helps emulate the natural ambiance of smaller spaces. This type is great for adding subtle depth and character to your mix without overwhelming the original sound source.

  • Hall Reverb is perfect for simulating the acoustics of large concert halls. With its longer decay times and grandiose dimensions, hall reverb can provide space and depth, especially suitable for orchestral or cinematic productions.

  • Chamber Reverb lies somewhere between room and hall reverb. It offers unique characteristics ideal for creating a lush, intimate sound or an elegant vocal performance.

  • Plate Reverb uses a metal plate to simulate reverb and is known for its smooth, even decay. This type of reverb is a good idea for vocals, drums, and guitars, providing a rich, full-bodied sound.

  • Spring Reverb utilizes a spring to create a unique, resonant reverb effect. It is commonly found in guitar amplifiers and works well for achieving a vintage, lo-fi sound.


Reverb is a cornerstone in music production. It can enhance mixes by simulating different spaces, from small rooms to large halls. 

Understanding the nuances of reverb, such as early reflections and long tails, is vital in creating the desired auditory landscape. 

The history of reverb spans from natural echo rooms to advanced digital technology, offering a range of options, including room, hall, plate, and non-linear reverbs. Each type has unique sound characteristics, influenced by factors like room size, reflections of sound waves, decay times, and high damping values. 

In practice, the most important thing is not just about adding a lot of reverb to a mix; it's about using it in different ways to achieve the right balance. For instance, short reverbs might be used for a tight, direct sound on individual tracks, while longer reverbs with a lush tail can be applied to a lead vocal or a full piece of music. 

With the advent of digital technology, reverb plug-ins have become an industry standard, allowing for precise control over reverb parameters and making them an integral part of the recording process.

Soundtrap takes this to another level with its online platform that offers a full range of time-based effects, including a full suite of reverbs.

A good reverb plugin can replicate real-world acoustics, adding depth and atmosphere to an audio track, making it an indispensable tool in the arsenal of any music producer.

About the author

Tero Potila is a professional music composer and producer. His career combining knowledge and experience from music, TV, film, ad, and game industries gives him a unique perspective that he shares through posts on

Get started with Soundtrap today!