Natural and artificial reverb.
I had several questions about the use of reverb on our recordings; is it purely from the hall or is it artificial?
These factors have a big influence on the final result.
We do all of our recordings in the legendary Studio 2 in the building of the ‘Music Center of the Broadcasters’ (MCO). The studio has remained in its original form since it was built in 1929.
The studio was designed for music as well as for spoken word. The reverb is short enough that speech remains clearly defined, but also helps instruments get a beautiful definition.
The studio has a deep warm sound with a beautiful natural decay, perfect for chamber music and jazz ensembles. In my 30 years as an active recording engineer I don’t think I have ever heard a better suited room for recording music with a rhythmic element.
To that sound I add a bit of artificial ‘long reverb’ to help emphasize the space and depth of the recording. Most of us like to listen to music with this added spaciousness, maybe also because we are used to it from the great recordings made in the end of the 50’s. Take a listen to Miles Davis’s ‘Kind of Blue’ or ‘Ascenseur pour l'échafaud’, on these recordings you hear a big amount of reverb added to the mix. And even more so on Elvis Presley’s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ or Gene Vincent’s ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula' here you have the classic EMT plate reverb added.
It can be problematic to add artificial reverb to a recording that has been recorded with a lot of room sound. In many modern recordings the instruments have been recorded as dry as possible in order to be able to add the artificial reverb without side effects.
But this is yet another reason why I am so happy with studio 2, this hall responds and blends well with artificial reverb, it’s as it was made for it. It’s truly magical. Added reverberation is a matter of taste, like adding spices to your cooking.