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Reverb: From Experiment to Standard

Being the most used effect used in audio nowadays, adding reverb is a standard procedure to any mixing, recording, and even live environments.


It can be used to create ambience to give a recorded instrument a more natural feel, it can be used as a tool to create stereo images, and it can even be used to create texture and color to a certain sound to give it a lush or atmospheric characteristic, between so many other uses for this powerful tool.


Today you can find the reverb tone that suits you the best in almost any audio unit: an amplifier, a mixing console, a plug-in, a native reverb effect that can come with a DAW, a guitar pedal, or even a Bluetooth speaker.

But adding reverb specially to recordings, was not always such an easy task.


The natural reverb is everywhere, which is the natural sound reflections of a certain place or space: a bedroom, a church hall, a studio booth, or even a bathroom.

And creating artificial reverb used to be a challenging task before all the infinite possibilities in plug-ins, knobs and displays.


Harmonicats (1947)

The first known recording to ever use artificial adding of reverb as an effect, would be Peg O ‘My Heart by the Harmonicats, released in 1947.


This effect was achieved when producer and audio engineer Bill Putnam used a reverb chamber, by placing a loudspeaker and a microphone in the studio bathroom and playing back the dry signal already recorded to the loudspeaker placed in the bathroom.


As an experiment, the first reverb chamber was created, that would later lead to the creation of several types of reverbs (Spring, Plate, Digital, etc.)



Reverb Chamber

These kinds of experiments contributed to the easy, standard ways we understand effects and production methods we use today, so it is always important to know the story and the pioneering behind the ways of audio engineering, not just for knowledge but also to have a better understanding on how to use these tools.


You can find a full detailed video about the entire story, and how to use it, on this video by Recording Studio Forum:




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