Last week’s tip covered using the Mixverb to create the 80s gated reverb effects with drums. This week, we’ll present a more universal solution. But also, we’ll do some cool tricks with gated delay (there’s nothing like a dotted eighth-note delay, right?).
Compared to last week’s tip, the main difference this week is that it’s not limited to using individual drum sounds (although that remains the most flexible approach). Because the gate following the reverb has a sidechain, it works with drum loops or a mixed drum bus. Fig. 1 shows the mixer setup for a drum loop.
The drum (or loop, or bus) track has two sends. One goes to an FX Channel with Open Air reverb followed by Gate. The Pro EQ2 before the reverb is optional—it’s there to keep low frequencies, where the kick lives, out of the reverb. The other send controls the Gate’s sidechain.
For Open Air, I prefer reverb sounds that don’t have a lot of early reflections, with a long, consistent tail. Try different reverbs, because the results vary greatly depending on the reverb itself. My go-to is using a 4.00 or 8.00 second “Balanced” impulse from my Surreal Reverb Impulse Reponses sample pack, tweaked with the Open Air EQ. In the audio example, using this particular impulse imparts a sort of melodic component as well as space. However, most long, smooth reverbs will work.
First off, a “gotcha”: When you assign a sidechain to the Gate, it assumes you want Duck mode. You don’t! Make sure you turn off Ducking, or you’ll wonder why the gating doesn’t work as expected.
The Gate’s Hold parameter plays an important role. You can set the Threshold to pick up as much of the drum dynamics as you want, and then use Hold to set a specific amount of time that the Gate is open. Release tailors the sound further by setting the way the Gate cuts off, from no time to a bit of a decay. For example, 250 ms adds a bit more of a reverberant character if you want a less drastic gating effect.
Audio examples? Sure! Let’s start with gated reverb on drums. The first half is dry drums. The second half has gated reverb, and uses the parameters shown in fig. 1.
The final audio example gates a dotted eight-note delay from the Analog Delay. In some ways, I think this is a better application than traditional reverb…but maybe that’s just because I haven’t heard it a zillion times before. This example has only the processed sound, since you already heard the dry sound in the previous audio example.