Say a recording space, such as a simple isolation booth, has a very dead, overly damped sound, so there is little to no reverb trail on recordings made in that space. Is it possible to use a reverb processor such as a plugin or rackmount unit to precisely add the undamped 'life' back into that recording?

I have heard that a recording space with a small amount of reverb (approximately a 300ms to decay 60 dB) is ideal, but why is this? Is it generally accepted as true?

I would think (off the top of my head) that it would be easier to record with minimal reverb, and then control the amount of reverb in the final mix by sending that track to a reverb unit. I can't authoritively say this is the case though, I don't have access to such a recording space to test this out for myself.

2 Answers 2


I think the answer depends heavily on the type of sound source , the style of music and your personal preferences as recording engineer/mixer/producer.

For modern rhythmic music, I see two opposing forces:

  1. as the recording engineer and mixer, I prefer the source be completely free of any reverb or other coloration. That gives me complete freedom to shape the sound as I see fit in the mix. Even a small amount of reverb in the recording means that I have to adjust and compensate for this with the sonic vision I have. In some cases I might not be able to completely mask the effect of the recording environment.
  2. as the performer, listening to your own voice or instrument through headphones is particularly distracting for people new to music recording. Recording in a dead room further amplifies this alienation. If your equipment supports separate monitor sub mixes, then a common technique is to add a small amount of reverb to the performer's monitor, but to record the clean sound. For singing this is often referred to as "confidence reverb."

I've spent a good deal of my youth playing classical percussion (marimba, timpani, etc.) in symphonic settings. If I were to record such a performance today, I would definitely opt to record the music in a room that gives me the sound close to the end result. The effect of playing in a cathedral with a majestic sweet unhurried reverb tail immediately feeds back into the performance. I would go for the same dogma with recording a capella choral performances.


Yes, the reverb can be added back in, after the fact. This technique works very well, and is used in recording studios all the time; it gives you the flexibility of choosing what kind of reverb you want, and how much reverb effect you wish to apply to the sound.

Modern convolution reverbs simulate the sound of an actual room, and provide a very high quality, lifelike reverb effect. At home, you can use convolution reverb plugins with Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software on your computer, and gain access to reverbs that range from a small room to a cathedral.

A small amount of reverb, of the kind you describe, "wets" the sound, and makes it sound more realistic than a dead room recording. Some recording engineers prefer to use a real room for this purpose, and there's nothing wrong with that.

  • I apologize for upvoting because as of this writing your reputation is a cool 666 :)
    – Warrior Bob
    Jan 21, 2011 at 18:50
  • A dead room is a great room when recording vocals. You can do much more with a super dry signal. You can't take reverb away once you've captured it in a track.
    – Ian C.
    Jan 22, 2011 at 13:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.