How To Create Reverse Reverb

In our latest how-to guide, Erin Barra explores how you can easily create that authentic, classic reverse reverb sound in your DAW…

How To Create Reverse Reverb
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Reverse reverb is a vibe. It gives audio tracks an eerie sort of psychedelic halo that can be very cool in the right context. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin seems to have developed the technique and you can hear it on the Yardbirds 1967 track Ten Little Indians.

Reverse reverb, or reverse echo, was originally done using tape machines through a process of printing things that were effects and then turning the tape over for playback. Today you can duplicate this signature sound inside of your DAW with a little file management and routing magic. Follow these simple steps to achieve a similar result…

I’ll be demoing the technique on a small piece of audio here so you can follow along. Here’s the audio of the vocal as is.

1. Reverse the audio file you want to add reverse reverb too. The process for this is different in each DAW so you’ll need to figure out how to do it in whatever program you’re working in. Here’s the vocal, now reversed, which sounds a tad demonic at this point.

2. From there you want to route 100% of the track to a reverb on an aux track which is 100% wet. Dialling in the right reverb is another conversation, but generally speaking this is not the time to hold back. Go big – but not too big.

3. Create an audio track that has an input that’s receiving audio from the aux track with the reverb on it. Arm the track and record a pass of only the reverb into it. This will sound even more like it’s about time to call a priest.

4. Take that new audio file or the reverb, and reverse it. Not you should be hearing all of the reverb tails on the front end of the file as opposed to the back end.

That file right there is your reverse reverb. If you look at the two audio files side by side, you can see the reverse reverb slightly ahead of the original audio file.

How To Create Reverse Reverb - Example 1

The next step is to mix it in appropriately and write in any automation necessary to fit your track and arrangement. As with most things, if you do it too much it will lose its effect, so use it sparingly and at the right moments for maximum impact.

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