Reverb Revealed

Ever felt like you’re just not getting the whole picture when it comes to using reverbs? What’s that plate preset really contributing to the mix, anyway?

Revealing the Reverb

This is a really useful trick I learned from Paul Stavrou in Mixing with Your Mind.

With this signal routing set-up you’ll send a pulse of pink noise through any reverb plug-in you have and at whatever tempo you want.

Using Pink Noise will help to reveal how the reverb responds to each octave of the frequency spectrum. While the tempo control aspect is handy because it let’s you hear the time-domain aspects of the reverb at various tempos.

This is a great way to hear reverb tone and time characteristics that are often hard to discern in the context of a music mix.

If you’re short on time and just want to get right into it, you can download my Pro Tools session file here. (Control+Click -or- Right-Click > Save As).

Setting it up in the Mix Window

Step 1: Creating and naming the tracks.

In a new Pro Tools session create two Mono Aux Inputs and one Stereo Aux input. Name the new tracks, left to right:

  • First Aux In (mono): Click
  • Second Aux In (mono): Noise
  • Third Aux In (stereo): Reverb
Three tracks named in Pro Tools mixer window

Three Aux Input Tracks Setup

Step 2: The Click Track

  1. On the track called Click, Insert the Click plug-in
  2. Route the output of this track to “bus 1″ (a mono bus)

Step 3: The Noise track.

  1. Insert the Signal Generator plug-in at the top insert tab.(It’s a stock Digi plug-in that usually resides in the ‘Other’ folder in your plug-ins menu).
  2. Set Signal Generator to generate Pink Noise at a volume of -6.0dB (see image)
  3. Insert the Expander/Gate Dyn 3 plug-in at the second insert tab. (This plug-in should be in the Dynamics folder in your plug-in menu.)
  4. Create a Stereo Send using Bus 3-4
  5. Click on the pre/post button so it’s highlighted white (set to Pre-fader)

Step 4: Setting up the Expander/Gate Plug-In.

  1. Set the Key Input to Bus 1. The Key Input is in the top left area of the plug-in controls. It has a little key icon beside it
  2. Click the Side Chain Key Input button on the right-hand side of the plug-in, at the top
  3. Set the Range control to “-80dB”
  4. You’ll probably want to tweak the Attack, Release, and Hold parameters to your liking as you go. But for starters, I usually set my Attack to 10ms, Release to about 70ms and Hold at about 50ms
Key Input

Set the Key Input to Bus 1 inside the Gate Plugin

SideChain Switch Digi Dynamics 3

Remeber to Enable the Key Input too!

Step 5: The Stereo Aux In / Reverb return

  1. Insert your favorite reverb plug-in at the first insert point on this track
  2. Assign Bus 3-4 to the Input of the track

Be aware of your volumes before pressing Play. If you need to, turn everything down all the way first, then slowly bring it all back up until you have a comfortable volume.

Ready to Rock! Now, press play. You should hear short, timed bursts of pink noise through your reverb plug-in. Start playing with the various parameters on the plug-in and notice how obvious every little adjustment is.

You might also try muting the Noise Track so that you’re only hearing the reverb signal – not the direct. Of course, make sure that if you’re testing out pre-delay settings, that you un-mute the Noise track.

Put the Tempo control into Manual mode on the Transport so you can easily try out this experiment at different tempos.

As mentioned at the top, this idea came to me from Paul Stavrou. He has written an amazing book called Mixing with Your Mind. It’s a real unique find. Get it directly from his website.


  1. Steven Elliott says:

    RE: Reverb Revealed. Unable to download session file. Keep getting a 404 message? My Computer: Mac G5 tower.

    Many thanks for the tips and you’re “QuickStart” guide.