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After listening to a number of NI (Native Instruments) synth patches on their official website, it got me curious as to how they sculpt their sounds to feel so distant, but yet present and full (if that makes any sense)?

Often times, if I try to make my own with a reverb Send-FX (or Insert-FX even), it can flood the track way too easily or washes-up the chords too much. For example, if I play keys from a totally different chords, it doesn't always harmonically blend nicely with the previous chord's Reverb "residues".

Is there no way to avoid using Reverb units for this? Or is this type of sound achieved by also using the ADSR (Attack / Decay / Sustain / Release) for the Amplitude and/or Filter?

I don't have the above mentioned software / patches - so it is very hard for me to see how the NI team done it themselves, but I would think there's a few general tricks that can serve as a guide to achieve this in any Sound Generating software out there (ex: Reason, Ableton Live, FL Studio, etc).

Thanks!

EDIT 1: Here's a link to the Absynth 5 instrument from NI. You can click the 4th link (the Demo tracks) in their right-pane navigation. (Flash Player required)

http://www.native-instruments.com/#/en/products/producer/absynth-5/?content=939

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Could you please link to a specific example of this effect on the NI website? We need to have some frame of reference in order to post an effective answer. –  Shane Kilkelly Sep 2 '11 at 18:40
    
@Shane Kilkelly: Certainly! I will edit my post and include the link right-away. –  bigp Sep 2 '11 at 18:48
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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think there are a few reasons why the NI demo material sounds so good, and it's not just because of the reverb. Let me explain:

  • First, the demos on the NI site are very, very well produced, in every way. What you're hearing is not any one particular effect that "makes it". We're talking world-class engineers carefully producing a world-class demo for a world-class product.
    This is, by definition, hard to match.

  • Second, for most of the demos I hear both Delay and Reverb being used to give a sense of space to the sound. This is important. As you've already found out, simply cranking up a Reverb tends to ruin the sound more than it helps. A well chosen Delay effect will give a sense of space without "drowning" the instrument itself. For a very quick example, go listen to a Rhianna song. Her songs usually have a decent sense of space but there is very little Reverb in use. Listen carefully to the vocals and you'll find they are absolutely caked in Delay, usually multiple Delay chains firing off in all directions.

  • Third, Reverb is inherently difficult to work with. It's just quite hard to get it right, and so easy to over-do it. My advice is to practice using different types of reverb on different material. Play with the settings, test out what happens when you set the pre-delay higher, or lower. Or what differece the reverb time makes.

Try loading up a clean session in your DAW, put on a few snare hits in a loop and experiment with a few different Reverb plugins. Listen to the reverb channel in isolation, and mixed in with the original snare track. Pay careful attention to how each parameter works and what it does to the sound.

With a little practice you will be much better able to use Reverb effectively in your mixes.

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Hey @Shane Kilkelly, Thanks a lot for the interesting answer! I will take a closer listen to some of Rihanna's tracks :) –  bigp Sep 6 '11 at 13:33
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You can create 2 layers of the same PAD.

PAD #1 leave as it, but route PAD #1 to a new audio track/insert which we'll call PAD #2.

With PAD #2, you can use a stereo widening + reverb, while keeping PAD #1 untouched.

You can then blend PAD #2 with the stereo and reverb into PAD #1 to get that extra wideness.

Note, you can also change the EQ on PAD #2 and PAD #1 will still be untouched.

Here's a video regarding widening!

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Welcome to AVP. Great answer. Please add a quick disclaimer when linking to your own videos per the FAQ. –  Friend Of George Apr 22 '13 at 11:48
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The sample "Fried Napthalin" sounds like it uses filter sweeps, chorus/vibrato (which seems to slightly tweak the pitch as well) and maybe some reverb.

You do need to try different types of reverbs. Not all types sound the same or are appropriate for a particular sound or mix. Remember, less is more.

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