With all of our fancy plug-ins and processors we sometimes forget what a great tool natural reverb can be. You have got to check out this youtube clip below from the Wikidrummer. It not only effectively demonstrates the power of natural reverb to paint sound in unique and interesting ways, it is just plain fun to watch!
I found one of my favorite natural reverb locations in the bottom floor of a parking garage at a museum in Southern California. On my first visit I had gotten out of the car and slammed the door, then I opened the door and slammed it again, over and over and over and over. It sounded terrific bouncing off all that concrete. What could I do with this sound? What things could I sneak in and record? Maybe I could ask the museum permission to come in after hours with a truck full of bricks to smash, drums to hit, and glass to break? (OK, probably not.) After awhile my wife made me stop slamming the door – people were staring. I have not gone back and recorded there (yet) but that hasn’t stopped me from using and experimenting with natural reverb.
If you have a home studio or even work in a professionally designed mega studio try some natural reverb. It is there somewhere in the building for the taking. For example, In my studio I like to skip the booth and run a microphone to my step down bathtub when recording acoustic guitar. Once when working on a film, I placed a 416 at the far end of the hall facing the other direction and yelled obscenities for prison walla. Another time, I put a speaker in an empty closet with the door closed and played back the dialogue as I recorded it with a cheap mic outside the door for an ADR sound I was chasing. Of course, we can have lots of fun with artificial reverb both as a spacial placement tool and a sound design tool, especially with the onset of convulsion reverbs. But don’t forget to get out there and experiment with natural reverb. It is all around us, it makes for great original sound design and it is free.
I love to take 150 feet of XLR and run a microphone out to my garage and throw chains at metal barrels and see what happens. Doesn’t everybody?