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Author Topic: Is reverb bad?  (Read 7599 times)
Cliff
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« on: November 25, 2008, 01:29:06 pm »

An unnamed individual ( who I like to give a hard time to  Grin ) recently mentioned that he "hates" reverb. This brings up a great topic.

I've read people on the net warn against "sound editing" ... particularly from those who sell ocarinas... that they artificially make their recordings sound good by adding stuff like reverb and other post-processing. There is certainly some good things to consider in line of thought but I think the topic is a little more complicated than that.

A few thoughts to consider:

1. Recording studios are often artificially "sound dead." When this is done it is done so that the environment can be controlled. Sound dead sounds horrible for musical instruments. It would sound artificially bad if post-production wasn't done on the audio.

2. There are natural environments, both indoors and outdoors that have extremely flattering acoustics for instruments like the ocarina. Echo is natural, and varies from place to place. I've played in parking structures, caves and valleys, all of which have tremendous echo. That sounds great for slow haunting tunes. Not so great for lively stuff.

3. Sitting in an indoor room in front of a web cam usually doesn't have great acoustics.

4. Many of the famous musical venues have great natural acoustics

5. Adding reverb can be done well or not as well

6. Audio engineering is a real art. I know because that is one thing I am *not*

7. What does an ocarina "really" sound like? I think it is difficult to answer that question in a vacuum. Doesn't it depend on where the ocarina is being played?

8. You can have a spectacular performance that are terrible recordings. I think of some old recordings of Heifitz that although certainly weren't terrible, were old and not so great compared with modern recordings.

9. You can have very nice sound from not so great performances.

10. I tend to think of reverb as artificial echo.

11. What would electric guitar sound like without pedals?

12. Is natural, unprocessed sound better?


Just wanted to plant some seed for thought...

Thoughts???



« Last Edit: November 25, 2008, 01:50:59 pm by cliff » Logged

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ubizmo
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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2008, 03:17:45 pm »

As a former busker, I am very aware the truth of the real estate sales slogan: "location, location, location."  Some locations swallow up sound, or deaden it.  Some make it sound too hollow.  As a general thing, I agree with our reverb-hater, when the reverb is strong enough to be obvious and unnatural.

I also agree with those who disapprove of reverb when an instrument is being demonstrated or reviewed.  The proper way to do that is to play it in an environment that is acoustically decent, and let people hear the "raw" sound, since that's what they hear when they buy it and play it themselves.

But demonstration is one thing; performance is another.  In my case, I mostly make my videos in a small study, with a lot of books in it.  There is no natural reverb at all.  In fact, I think it's pretty close to "sound dead."  So what I'd like is to add enough reverb to make it sound like I'm playing in a more favorable space.  In this whistle video, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05I45hk5e3M), I used Audacity Gverb using the "Quick Fix" settings from the wiki page.  I'm satisfied with the result.  I tried the other settings in that article and they were all way too much for this.  I don't want to sound like I'm playing in the Roman catacombs when I'm obviously in a room in my house.  I just want to make that room sound a little better.  If I didn't say that I was using reverb, I don't think it would be obvious.  Now if I could just do something about the distortion in the upper register....I know, I need to get a real microphone.

ubi


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Secretagentdan
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« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2008, 07:32:12 pm »

All my videos are done with my microsoft lifecam 5000 (45 bucks I think)..no extra mics, no effects, and as you prolly can see on the video i'm in the living room of my house/my work desk/office! All hardwood floors but no echo/reverb present. Pretty blank slate to hear the ocarina unaltered. The room is maybe 15 by 20 ft I think. Smiley


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Spatolo
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« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2008, 11:10:09 pm »

An unnamed individual ( who I like to give a hard time to  Grin ) recently mentioned that he "hates" reverb.

shame on him.

7. What does an ocarina "really" sound like? I think it is difficult to answer that question in a vacuum. Doesn't it depend on where the ocarina is being played?

Of course. But overall, by far most places where one could catch the ocarina and play it does NOT have any reverb, or better, not any noticeable reverb. At least this is my personal experience (and I think I tried pretty many places, at least for owning the ocarina for such a short time).
OK, me too I could have some fun to play in a place where there's reverb seldomly from time to time if I happen to be in such a place, but I can't presonally see any reason to introduce reverb artificially (nor to search for a place like that intentionally). I usually prefer the clean sound of the instruments as they are listened in most situations. Once I was playing in a gallery along a path and I wanted to get out to play because I was annoyed by the reverb...


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Karl B
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« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2008, 03:29:23 am »

I like the reverb.  If not overdone it adds a little character to the piece.  In general there is always some echo coming at you from all around so in a "dead room" it's got to sound odd. ??  We would naturally have some echo coming back to us even in small amounts off a wall, bookcase, window, etc.

I was at a house we remodeled for some punch out before the owners moved in.  I just happened to have my ocarina with me (on person).  When I played in this open room with tile floors and glass sliders I got real nice echo coming back at me.  If I wasn't on the clock, I could have played for a while just to hear the sounds.

Karl B


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Secretagentdan
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« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2008, 03:55:50 am »

Karl B,
   Sounds cool, get a portable digital recorder and you can have a studio to record in at these places! Smiley 5 minutes here and there!


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Ric
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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2009, 06:23:02 am »

I like to play in the stairwell at San Francisco International Airport.....3 stories of stone steps make for a great 'reverb' effect.  (Since I am VERY new to playing music, I hide halfway between floors, but I've never been interrupted.)

As to the original question..... I really enjoy Karl's recordings, but that led to some disapointment with my own sound even after figuring out how to cover all the toneholes.  My practice sessions at the airport are fun, but if that's the sound I'm looking for I'll never be able to perform for others.

Perhaps a few 'on location' recordings mixed in to please everyone?


« Last Edit: January 17, 2009, 06:30:06 am by Ric » Logged
armisis
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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2009, 08:49:26 pm »

The London Underground Is amazing for music, I havent been down there to play yet myself but (its 400miles away), but when I have been there, there is always people playing something or another throughout the underground its awesome!

Dave


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David D. Stanton
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« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2009, 12:30:13 pm »

I don't think adding reverb is "bad".
If it makes your recording sound better for you, no one should discourage that Cheesy

I personally choose not to add reverb to any of my recordings because it just doesn't sound "like me" once I do add it.
Just a personal thing. I prefer listening to the raw sound straight off the mic for some reason. It just feels more honest and real to me.

The only potential problem I see with using reverb is that promoting ocarinas in recordings with reverb used can sometimes be perceived as misleading.
I think people should at least be educated about the differences between a recording with added reverb and without. It was mentioned that many places, like bedrooms have flattening acoustics for ocarinas. IMO, a good ocarina should sound good even in these kinds of places. There aren't many occasions where most of us can play our ocarinas in concert halls where the acoustics are ideal.

Especially for recordings that are apparently recorded in a bedroom using a webcam... reverb kinda seems out of place.
I prefer the raw, unedited sound straight into the mic from my room Smiley


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ubizmo
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« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2009, 02:37:00 pm »

I've added reverb to a couple of videos now.  The results haven't been so wonderful that I've wanted to keep doing it.  Cliff is certainly correct to point out that musicians do seek out locations with good acoustics, and instruments don't sound their best in sound-dead spaces.  But I'm not a sound engineer, and when I've experimented with reverb, more often than not I just don't get pleasing results.  A bigger problem with "small room" recording is the tendency to pick up resonant frequencies and then get distortion.  I've had the same problem playing in the car.  Spaces like that also tend to preserve little breath noises and that sort of thing.  A good sound engineer, with good equipment, can get rid of that stuff.  Another solution is to play outdoors.  I've done this once, and the results were okay.  When the weather warms up I'll do more.  In an open space there are no resonant frequencies, and things like breath noises don't get reflected back to the mic.  My impression is that the higher-pitched ocarinas hold up better outdoors.

ubi


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