PreSonus Blog

Enhance Your Reverb’s Image

First, an announcement: If you own the eBook “How to Record and Mix Great Vocals in Studio One,” you can download the 2.1 update for free from your PreSonus account. This new version, with 10 chapters and over 200 pages, includes the latest features in Studio One 6. New customers can purchase the eBook from the PreSonus Shop. And now, this week’s tip…

Studio One’s Room Reverb creates realistic ambiance, but sometimes “realistic” isn’t the goal. Widening the reverb’s stereo image outward can give more clarity to sounds panned to center, such as kick, snare, and vocals. Expanding the image also gives a greater sense of width.

This tip covers four ways to widen the reverb’s image. All these techniques insert reverb in an FX Channel. The channels you want to process with reverb feed the FX Channel via Send controls.

#1 Easiest Option: Binaural Pan

Version 6 upgraded the mixer’s panpot to do dual panning or binaural panning, in addition to the traditional balance control function. Click on the panpot, select Binaural from the drop-down menu, and turn up the Width control to widen the stereo image (fig. 1).

Figure 1: Studio One 6 upgraded the console’s panpot functionality to include binaural panning.

If you haven’t upgraded to version 6 yet, then insert the Binaural Pan plug-in after the reverb. Turn up the Binaural Pan’s Width parameter for the same widening effect.

#2 Most Flexible: Mid-Side Processing

Mid-side processing separates the mid (center) and side (left and right) audio. (For more about mid-side processing, see Mid-Side Processing Made Easy and Ultra-Easy Mid-Side Processing with Artist.) The advantage compared to the Binaural Pan is that you can process the sides or center audio, as well as adjust their levels. This tip uses the Splitter module in Studio One Professional.

In fig. 2, the Room Reverb feeds a Mixtool. Enabling the Mixtool’s MS Transform function encodes stereo audio so that the mid audio appears on the left channel, and the sides audio on the right. The Splitter is in Channel Split mode, so its Level parameters set the levels for the mid audio (Level 1) and sides audio (Level 2). To widen the stereo effect, set Level 2 higher than Level 1. The final Mixtool, also with MS Transform enabled, decodes the signal back into conventional stereo.

Figure 2: Studio One Professional’s Splitter makes it easy to do mid-side processing.

#3 Most Natural-Sounding: Dual Reverbs and Pre-Delay

This setup requires two FX Channels, each with a reverb inserted (fig. 3).

Figure 3: In this example, two Sends from a drum track feed separate FX Channels.

To create the widening effect:

1. Edit one reverb for the sound you want.

2. Pan its associated FX Channel full left.

3. Copy the reverb into the other channel, and pan its associated FX Channel full right.

4. To widen the stereo image, increase or decrease the pre-delay for one of the reverbs. The sound will be similar to the conventional reverb sound, but with a somewhat wider, yet natural-sounding, stereo image.

Generally, copying audio to two channels and delaying one of them to create a pseudo-doubling effect can be problematic. This is because collapsing a mix to mono thins the sound due to phase cancellation issues. However, the audio generated by reverb is diffuse enough that collapsing to mono doesn’t affect the sound quality much (if at all).

#4 Most Dramatic: Dual Reverbs with Different Algorithms

This provides a different and dramatic sense of width. Use the same setup as the previous tip, but don’t increase the pre-delay on one of the reverbs. Instead, change the Type algorithm (fig. 4).

Figure 4: Copying a reverb, panning the two instances oppositely, and changing the algorithm for one of the reverbs gives a dramatic widening effect.

If you change one of the reverbs to a smaller room size, you’ll probably need to increase the Size and Length to provide a balance with the reverb that has a bigger room size. Conversely, if you change the algorithm to a larger room, decrease Size and Length. You may also need to vary the FX Channel levels if the stereo image tilts to one side.