I've always wonder how to create those dense reverbs that you often hear in big cities. The classic example are sirens, car honks, or train whistles really far away. Whenever I listen to recordings that have these distant sounds baked in, they always have a very distinct reverb. But I can't for the life of me recreate these verbs with artificial reverb (e.g. to make a dry car horn seem far away). I assume there are IRs for that, but has anybody ever tried recreating them with "conventional" reverb? What's the trick?

5 Answers 5


It's not just about laying on a load of reverb, you ideally need to EQ and level the various sounds in your soundscape too. The further away something is, the more of the top end you need to remove, 'muffling' the sounds. In addition to playing around with tweaking 'concrete' or 'city' -style reverb presets, try experimenting with a few sounds in your 'environment', filtering off more of the higher frequencies the further away you want that effect to sound.

Edit: Also consider trying out some (multi)delay. In a downtown urban environment there are the many hard reflective surfaces of buildings for sound to bounce around between. Don't go overboard with it, but done right and the result should sound quite natural. Good luck!


Use multitap delays rather than reverbs.


There's a preset on the TC Electronic System 6000 Reverb, which you often see on big dub stages, called "Big City." It is a pretty long reverb mixed with multi-delays. It's also on the VSS3 plug-in. That would be a good one to analyze.


You need to experiment with Altiverb (from Audio Ease). The exterior IRs were created for this very purpose and often you will get stellar results just from the presets.


After recently watching I Am Legend again and listening to the sound design of the opening scene with the Shelby GT driving through the urban landscape, I too wanted to recreate this distinct urban reverb. I'm no expert, but after experimenting with some presets in Adobe Soundbooth (now called Adobe Audition), there is a reverb preset called "Endless Tunnel".

The reverb image that this preset creates is amazing and really reminds me of that scene from I Am Legend. I guess this preset resembles the reverb from the film so much since the infinitely long streets of New York are almost like endless tunnels (of which this reverb preset attempts to recreate). Try and play around with some presets that try to resemble long tunnels or large but narrow spaces.

Anyway, just my two cents. I hope this will help you in some way.

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