Adding Reverb To Drum Samples

2010 March 30

Out of all the effects that can be applied to drum samples, reverb should be up there with the most-used, but it is not, and when it is used, it is often abused by so-called music production professionals and audiophiles. When used correctly, it can help any beat go to that extra level.

When using the reverb on a single drum sample, you need to ask yourself the precise purpose that the particular sound is supposed to serve. Is it to add some spatial characteristics to the loop? If it’s a constant sound: will it drive your audience berserk after a few listens, or is it moderate in nature? Sometimes it is very easy to overuse and ruin an otherwise good song by using reverb incorrectly.

The length of the reverb on any particular cannot really be determined on a global scale, but needs to be adjusted on a project-by-project basis for maximum effect and precision. Some people say that you can use a longer tail on the reverb for samples in a slow-tempo song, and if you’re particularly aiming at one of the drum samples, it will relieve the others from needing to perform for the sake of performing. In a slow tempo song, you can either have many samples triggering all the time, back-and-forth collaboration, or strategic placements with reverb, which fills space effectively.

There are so many practical applications for using this effect with the kinds of samples we’ve got. You can apply special files called IR files (Impulse Responses) which are environment simulators. What this means is that you could make your drum samples sound like they were recorded in a famous museum, like the Louvre, for instance, or anywhere else. IR files even exist for Grand Canyon locations and more spots – your creativity is the limit here. You can also apply the impulse response to other tracks for coherence.

Having offered these tips, though, you can really experiment as much as you want, as there are no limits in electronic music production. Whatever sounds good for you will usually work – you know your audience better than anybody else.

If you experiment and see what works for you, you’ll be well off to a natural instinct for applying effects like reverb to your drum samples in a way that is unobtrusive and even adds character to your tracks. Start by testing out the effects of it on single sample tracks and then to the drums as a unit, before moving on to the whole song in varying degrees of application. Also make sure to try different types, like plate and room reverb, then hall and open spaces. You’ll find that each adds something else and once you know when to use a specific type of patch, you’ll be ready for any beat making situation.

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