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What Exactly is Reverb?

Music, like any other area of human specialization, has its own language and it’s not always easy to understand what the technical terms mean the first time you hear them.

After all, when you hear the word “reverb” there’s nothing else to connect it to in your life is there?

So, What Is Reverb?


Reverb is the reflection of sound in any given space. 

Sound is a wave, when sound is generated it travels in a straight (but slowly decaying line), when it hits a surface and is reflected back, reverb occurs. 

Now, each time sound hits a surface and is reflected back into the space, more reverb occurs, but, of course, more energy is lost from the wave until eventually the wave dies. 

We hear reverb as a single continuous sound rather than as a bunch of different sounds. 

That means reverb can be used to enhance music and music production. 

How Is Reverb Added To Music Productions

digital audio

It would be pretty challenging to add reverb to a music production by changing the size of the space the music was performed in each time. 

So, instead of doing that, you can use a plug in for a digital audio workstation (DAW) to add the right amount of reverb to a given sound or you can use a hardware unit that is combined with an instrument to add reverb. 

This can create either “algorithmic reverb” (that is reverb that is created by using a mathematical formula applied to the sound wave) or “convolution reverb” (this is a form of reverb which is modelled on a specific real world space and it requires someone to visit that space and model it). 

The Common Types Of Reverb Sound

Room reverb

This might all sound a bit confusing, still, until you realize that most reverb sounds are modelled on specific rooms so you get:

  • Room reverb. Reverb that has the quality of a small room such as your living room or a studio.
  • Hall reverb. The kind of reverb that reminds the listener of being in a concert hall.
  • Chamber reverb. The kind of chamber that an orchestra might play in or stairwell or corridor, maybe. 
  • Plate reverb. This reverb is created by suspending a metal plate and then bouncing sound off it to introduce reverb to a space that wasn’t there before. 

So, reverb is just the reflection of a sound off of any nearby surfaces until it dissipates and it makes a single continuous sound. 

Of course, while reverb can be great for music production, it’s terrible when it’s produced by your speakers unintentionally.