A reversed reverberating effect in 5 steps

by Sebastien Caron-Roy

In this tutorial, I will explain how to create a reversed reverberating effect in 5 steps on any source using any DAW and any reverb plugin. Reversed reverb is a fairly common effect, but this has been of particular interest to me as it is an effect that can not exist in natural conditions. This is due to the fact that all audio processing occurs after the source has been played or captured. For example, traditional reverberation is the delay and diffusion of a signal after it has been generated. With the case of a reversed reverb, the processed sound (the diffused “wet” signal) is heard before one hears the direct source (the “dry” signal). This makes it impossible of an effect to use live, as either the reverb algorithm would need to know what’s going to be played before the performer even plays anything, or the signal would need to be delayed an amount of time at least equivalent to the reverb’s decay time. This is what causes the effect to sound particularly ethereal, as it transcends the linearity of time itself, and implies that the source exists outside of the constraints of time. Of course, the nature of digitalized audio removes these physical limitations and allows us to create such an effect.

1. The first step of this process is to ensure that whatever source one wishes to process is an audio file. This technique will not work with MIDI tracks, so if the source is a software synthesizer or sampler, one will need to bounce the track to an audio file.

2. The next step is to reverse the source that one wishes to process. This is why step one is necessary, as one can only reverse audio files. Nearly all DAWs have an easily accessible function for this.

3. Once one has a reversed source, apply a reverb to the reversed track. The parameters of the reverb can be adjusted to taste, but the reverb needs to be set to “100% wet” so that one can only hear the reverberated sound and none of the original reversed source.

4. Next, bounce the reverberated reversed source to a new audio track. Once this is done, you can remove or bypass the reverb on the original reversed source, so that one is left with a dry source and a wet source.

5. Once this is complete, reverse the audio files for both the dry and the wet tracks. This will cause the dry source to return to it’s normal un-reversed state, and will cause the wet track to reverberate before the the dry source plays. Depending on the bounds of the audio files, it is likely that you will have to experiment with the timing of the wet track relative to the dry track in order for them to overlap properly. Simply drag the wet track left or right until you feel that the two tracks have merged into a single sound.

I hope this tutorial has been an informative inspirational launching pad for even greater ideas. I highly recommend experimenting with layering several different reverb algorithms together (one short, one longer for example), or processing the wet track even further by applying effects such as a chorus or a phaser on it.


Author: dndrew

Orchestral, chamber and interactive music composer Digital musical instrumentalist Real-time software systems designer Computer music educator

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