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I'm confused about the subject of Early Reflections. I am trying to learn how to mix for film, and I have recently learned how insanely important creating the right space with reverb, EQ and delay is.

What do you guys use to create early reflections? I used to think that you did this with the pre delay setting in your reverb, but now I'm not sure.

Do you use delay plugins to do this? The concept keeps slipping away from me.

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Personally, i use the pre-delay settings in reverb plugs, as that's what they're designed to replicate. From my experience (YMMV), pre-delay acts in the same way as a delay plug would, if it came before your reverb in the chain. It delays your first reflection, and the diffuse reflections that follow.

So, for a large space, you want to set an appropriately long pre-delay. You could work out the time it would take for the sound to travel to the nearest reflective surface and back again and use that as your setting, or you could go with your intuition and see what feels natural.

I'm not sure if anyone out there has found an advantage to using a separate delay plug in, and i'd be keen to hear of any. For now, i'd stick with using pre-delay as it keeps things simple, and doesn't needlessly use up processing power.

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  • A separate delay plug-in may have more flexible parameter values. That's about it, for just pre-delay usage. Of course with feedback (and the mix amount of the delay) one can also tune and extend the reverb and add a bit more density to it. – Internet Human Dec 7 '12 at 16:24
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This diagram helps explain pre delay and early reflections.

http://www.torgny.biz/images/Reflextionsmonstret.jpg

Some reverbs have a pre delay before the ER section and another before the reverb section. The pre delay helps determine the size of the space you're in, since the longer it takes for the first reflected sounds to get to your ears, the larger the space must be.

Early reflections are built into most natural sounding reverb plugins. It's an essential component of the natural sound. It tells your ears what size the room is and what kind of surfaces it is made of. You can use a multitap delay to get a similar effect, but it would be harder and wouldn't sound as good as the early reflection section built into a good reverb unit.

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  • @Douglas - Thanks Douglas! That makes more sense now. If you have a good IR (or reverb) early reflections are built in. I got into all this because I don't have Altiverb or Waves IR and I've been trying to 'fake it' with delays and standard verbs. Although I've recently been getting A TONE of use out of the UAD Lexicon 224. Which is what brought up the question of Pre Delay for me since it's a main parameter on the 224. I also have TL labs, but I find their IR library to be completely useless. Maybe I'm mis-using it.... – Jake Dec 8 '12 at 18:14
  • welcome to to the site, douglas! – Shaun Farley Dec 8 '12 at 21:41
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Pre-delay and early reflections are not the same thing. Pre-delay is the time of dry signal that exists before early reflections arrive. A lot of reverb plug ins allow you to control all this without the need of anything else.

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I want to add some thing what others said:

Basically, the best way to understand early reflections are to hear them. Record the driest possible signal, like record some words with speaking closely to your microphone. Then use a plugin where you can switch early reflections on and reverb off. I would use Waves TrueVerb for that.

Example:

When you are what the effect does, you can hear much easier how proffessional mixes, videos use reverb and early reflections. And by that, you can develop an instict for using the right reverb settings.

One other note: it's totally normal to overuse reverb/early reflections, as we always want to hear very clearly that we had added something. But this is wrong. Using too much of them masks the direct signal and it is very tiresome to listen to music, as your brain has to constantly decode the signal from the mud.

Not using any reverb, on the other hand, would sound like you put cotton balls in to your ears.

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