Asbjoern Andersen

Randy Thom shares his thoughts on getting reverb right. This post originally appeared on Randy Thom's blog and has been republished here with his kind permission.
Written by Randy Thom
Please share:

In the almost forty years I’ve been mixing films I’ve seen and heard and tried all kinds of approaches to processing sounds. As I’ve said elsewhere, including my little piece on “Tools,” it’s been my impression that the longer one mixes, the less processing one does. When you’re young and infatuated with the tech tools, they seem to call out to you and beg you to give them a shot.

Mixers, especially dialog mixers but not only dialog mixers, often get themselves into trouble with clients by using two kinds of processing a bit too much: reverb and noise reduction. I’ll save noise reduction for another day. Let’s talk about reverb.

Falling short of the ideal match makes the mixer feel like a failure to some degree, so he/she vows silently to at least make sure it’s clear that an effort has been made to do that match.

Obviously, sound bounces around. In almost every place in the known universe whenever a sound moves through air, or any other medium, it also gets reflected by all kinds of objects and surfaces. It’s natural. So, when a mixer is trying to fit an ADR line as seamlessly as possible into a sequence where noisy, reveberant production dialog precedes and follows that ADR line, the inclination is to add a bit of reverb to the line which mimics as closely as possible that of the production material. The problem is… it’s extremely difficult to match the production reverb exactly. Actually, it’s impossible. I’ve never heard it done perfectly (the good news is that perfection isn’t necessary). Falling short of the ideal match makes the mixer feel like a failure to some degree, so he/she vows silently to at least make sure it’s clear that an effort has been made to do that match. The result is very often too much reverb, at least according to the director or the picture editor, and once either of them has made the comment the other will usually agree.

The same thing happens with adding reverb to foley and hard effects, but in general the more “realistic” and less stylized a sound is supposed to be, the less artificial reverb will be tolerated by the typical director or editor. At one end of the spectrum is a straightforward dialog line (very little reverb tolerated), and at the other end would be something like an off-screen magical aura sound (quite a bit of reverb tolerated).

I think another natural tendency of ours also drives us to over-reverb: humans are innately fascinated by reverb. It’s why so few of us can resist blowing our car horns when we drive through a tunnel. It’s why the voices of the clergy seem all the more holy in the echo-y environment of a typical place of worship. Maybe it comes from our distant ancestors (maybe not so distant in my case 😉) inhabiting caves. We associate reverberation with seductive mystery, and it makes us mixers feel the power of a shaman to call forth that mystery, that transcendence. To quote my good friend Gary Summers: “Why is the past always so echo-y?”

In any case, we can rarely resist sprinkling reverb here and there, and it tends to get us into trouble. In all the years I’ve worked in movies I’ve rarely heard a client ask for MORE reverb… sometimes a different kind of reverb… but not more reverb. But I’ve heard many, many, many ask for less reverb. There has been a bit of an aesthetic trend away from reverb in the last decade or so among many directors. More and more of them seem to feel that any overt use of it is a cliché. Maybe the pendulum will swing back, but for now my advice is to get your kicks honking your horn in tunnels rather than dubbing stages.


A big thanks to Randy Thom for letting us share this insightful post from his blog on A Sound Effect!


Please share this:


A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
  • In 1979, bells from more than 100 countries were brought together for a communist event which had the purpose to promote world peace.
    Kids from most countries gathered for the occasion bringing along with them bells from each of their respective country.
    A monument was built for this occasion which is still standing nowadays, situated in the suburb of Sofia.
    This monument encompasses what is known to be the largest drum instrument in the world, as it contains hundreds of bells from all over the world.
    We meticulously recorded each of those bells.
    We were blessed to get clean close sounds of these bells with some variations, isolated takes but also sequence of ringing.
    In this library. you’ll find a selection of 30 of these countries which have bells that have “church-like” sonic characteristics.

    Learn more about these recordings:

    70 %
    Add to cart
  • Drones & Moods Darkscapes Play Track 30 sounds included, 35 mins total $14.99 $7.99

    DARKSCAPES is a collection of 30, seamlessly looping, dark, horror-inducing soundscapes and ambiences with total run time of 35 minutes.

    All sound effects have been created using real field recordings in order to add organic feel to them and trick your brain into
    perceiving them as something realistic and later edited with top of a line outboard and plugins to add dark, horror-inducing depth to them.

    All SFX have baked-in Soundminer’s meta data

    RECORDED WITH: Sound Devices MixPre 6 + Senhheiser MKH8060, DPA4060, PCM D100
    EDITED WITH: iZotope RX, Wormhole, Adaptiverb, Modular, FabFilter, Waves, TC Electronics, Pro Tools.

    47 %
    Add to cart
  • The ‘Universal Emotes’ sound library is the largest collection of human voice reactions and emotions spanning across all ages and sexes.

    Ubiquitous Variety

    This comprehensive bundle totalizes 8771 files, more than 2850 unique sounds, recorded by 20 actors through more than 40 various actions and emotions.

    These sounds are meant to be as ubiquitous as possible, with no speech or actual wordings (only interjections and grunts).

    Meticulous edit and embedded metadatas

    Each of the 8771 files included are thoroughly edited, named and metatagged, making them easy to retrieve and ready to use!


    The meticulous categorization of the emotions follows the work of the professor/psychologist Robert Plutchik on the theory of emotions and its famous wheel helping us to distinguish and classify the variety of human being emotions.

    Thanks to “The Audioville” and “Vincent Fliniaux” for their support on the Edit and Metadata.

    This library comes with 2 download options included : the simple version 96KHz (1 simple file per sound), and the full version 192 Khz with 2 mics variations (2 files) per sound.

    What’s inside:
    • 20 folders, one for each actor
    • Women and men from 7 to 77 years old: children, teen, adult, elderly
    • Various grunts and efforts sounds: fight, strike, attack, ninja, hurt, pain, jump, lift, push, pull, choke, fall, die, …
    • +20 different emotions/reactions well-categorized : fear, happiness, anger, trust, agreement/disagreement, surprise, joy, disgust, sadness, admiration…
    • Miscellaneous actions: sneeze, gargle, eat, shiver, sip, cough, smack, slurp, hail,…
    • Thorough metadatas: precise description with each sound onomatopoeia (written pronunciation)
    24 %
    Add to cart
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
  • Here is a simple sound library that can prove to be useful.
    These are close perspective recordings of small click button of the real world (or some would say “analog” in differentiation from the digital world)
    Only small machines button, switch, press,… see file list for details.
    These sounds are well edited and ready to be used.

  • Welcome to a sound effects library dedicated to the sound of cows, outdoors in the field, as well as in the cowshed and more. The Cow SFX library was recorded at various distances and captures an abundance of mooing and cow movement, as well the sounds of equipment such as milking machines, metal grates and more.

    30 %
    Ends 1594332000
  • Grand prix circuit (a motorsport race track) FX sound library with sounds of the race and ambiance of the race including: near, mid and far field recordings as well as backstage/boxes ambiance etc.. Recorded in Automotodrom Grobnik, Croatia.

    Metadata tagged with detail description of the mic placement/orientation, mic and mic technique used and object of recording. Check the track list for additional info.

    38 %
    Ends 1594331999
  • A compelling collection of ambiences captured in the cultural epicenter of Bali.

    Rural life, with various courtyards and soundscapes of this famed and splendid town.

  • Sonomar Collection: Abandoned is a sound effects library of 346 haunting atmospheres and location-specific recordings. Add authentic textures to your projects steeped in the acoustic properties of desolation and emptiness, or take advantage of the 96kHz sample rate to manipulate as source material for creative sound design.

    Armed with a wide array of stereo and Ambisonic microphones, sound designer and recordist Martin Pinsonnault (Big Little Lies, Dallas Buyers Club) and the team at Sonomar bravely ventured into the darkness, capturing sounds from three distinct abandoned buildings throughout Canada including an asylum, prison, and hospital.

    Abandoned Asylum contains 56 sounds including room tones, eerie footsteps and scattered debris movements.

    Abandoned Prison contains 118 sounds featuring jarring metallic impacts, prison door squeals and bleak ambiences.

    Abandoned Hospital contains 131 recordings of resonant ambiences, foley elements such as hospital bed rattles and surgeon’s tools, and haunting designs “”worldized”” through a guitar amp and re-recorded to capture the powerful essence of the location. This collection includes 24 ambisonic recordings that are also available in stereo, as well as 17 additional 5.1 surround sound files created from the source content.

    Each sound file is embedded with diligent metadata to help you find the exact sound effect you need with fast, pinpoint search. Enable creativity with detailed descriptions of each recording encompassing both literal sonic qualities as well as the images they invoke. Advanced metadata fields include translated French descriptions and additional info to ensure compatibility across any database search platform such as Soundminer, BaseHead, Netmix, Workspace (Pro Tools), Find Tool (Media Composer), Media Bay (Nuendo), Reaper, Adobe Premiere, and beyond.

    Key Features:

    • 346 sound effects (42.4GB)
    • 24-bit/96kHz broadcast .wav files
    • Descriptive embedded metadata
    • 100% Royalty-Free
The A Sound Effect newsletter gets you a wealth of exclusive stories and insights
+ free sounds with every issue:
Subscribe here for free SFX with every issue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.