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Hello everyone,

I just recently started producing orchestral tracks and I am struggling a bit with the reverb so I have a few  beginner questions, I'm hoping more experienced composers can enlighten me a bit.

First of all, I'm assuming that using a "large room" type of reverb is the most appropriate choice when using a full orchestra ?

I'm also struggling to create a sense of depth so I'm wondering how I can achieve this. Should I use more reverb on instruments that are sitting more in the back like brass and percussions and less to the instruments sitting in the front ? I've also heard that adjusting the pre-delay for each instrument can also be useful (the further the instrument, the more pre-delay).

Depsite these few tricks I still feel like the depth isn't quite there yet, am I doing something wrong? do you have any more tips ?

Thanks in advance,


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Hello Raymond,

Let's say 1st violins and a horns ensemble as they are in very different spots in the orchestra, this might give me better insight as to how reverb and placement in the orchestra work together.

I use cinematic strings 2 and Cinebrass.( since reverb can be enabled/disabled in the kontakt window, I assume the recording is dry).

As far as reverb, I use the built-in one in ableton for now (it may not be optimal but I'm sure a decent level of depth could be achieved just with this reverb already). I might get a better plugin in the future.

How would you adjust the reverb for these two instruments Raymond ?

Thanks for taking the time

Ray's answer explains something I've wondered about for awhile. When I try to simulate depth by adjusting reverb, I naturally use one level for strings, then a bit more for woods, more for brass, and yet more for percussion. But it doesn't seem to always work out as intended. I find that I may need to sometimes violate this rule for certain instruments. Which tells me that something is missing. That something probably has to do with my using different libraries (GPO, EWSO Gold, VI Special Ed). As well as the fact that I know next to nothing about being a recording engineer. So I just stumble along, slowly making progress by trial and error. It always comes down to your ear above all else. Other than going to school to learn recording technology, I don't see any other way to do it. It's not simple, and it takes a lot of time and effort. There don't seem to be any magic shortcuts. I'm sure it comes easier to some, but most are probably like me, it's going to take years. By the way, I use Spaces reverb from EW, and it is a very good reverb for the money, especially if you wait until it's half-price, when you can get it for 99.00

I do like Michael and have a re-verb set for the different instrument sections. I also saw in a post by Nick Phoenix that this is how he does reverb for his compositions in Two Steps From Hell.

For a newbie like me using a re-verb that is specifically "input recorded" for the different sections really makes sense. This way you can get a really good result, without knowing a lot about sound engineering.

When you use samples from different libraries you do however have to adjust the mic position volumes to get a good result. And here I guess experimenting and getting a feel for it all is the only way to go.

Next on my list is getting Spaces reverb from EWQL, but for now I use the free plugin Reverberate LE ( that also has recorded input responses like Spaces)

Thanks everyone for all the replies, as I was afraid, it is going to take a while to really achieve a nice result but thanks for the recommendations,  the recommendations on mic placement,EQ, reverb, and output levels were very useful. I think I'm going to invest in a really good pair of headphones, I feel like I'm going to need that in order to achieve a good result, before actually buying any expensive reverb plugin.

I just stumbled upon a recommendation from one who makes a living from composing and selling his music. Its a book called Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio

I have not read it myself, but it comes highly recommended. I just thought it was worth mentioning as it seems relevant to the concepts discussed in this thread and might be worth looking into.

Julien, how do you like Cinematic strings? I've been thinking about getting them. Do you find them adequate to your needs, or are you feeling like you need something better?

I've recently read a very interesting book called ¨the composers approach¨ by Mike Novy.It mainly deals with how you can simulate depth and placement in the virtual orchestra by using reverbs and delays, and it has lots of tables with level and time differences between certain posistions in the seating.

As one who is just starting to understand the basics of how to achieve realism in virtual orchestration it has been most informative and I would reccomend it for most beginners/intermediates: 

Yes, but surely som basic theoretical guidelines cannot hurt. In no way do I claim to have acchieved authenticity by using the principles in this book, but as a beginner i do feel that it has pointed me in a very right direction.

I do not doubt the truth of your statement, but I do believe that in the beginning of your composing career it is very helpful to have some sort of theoretical foundation to compensate for a lack of experience and well trained ears.


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