A significantly prolonged reverb may be highly effective in creating a feeling of space on a vocal or synth stab when there is a long silence between phrases in a song. However, a reverb that ‘ducks’ while a particular signal plays but comes back to life when that signal is silent is a better option. Having this in mind, I will show you how to use a ducking reverb effect in your tracks.

I’ve created a short sequence in SoundBridge that contains common elements found in a full mix, including a simple synth chord stab. Let us listen to the whole mix first, then the synth chord stab solo.

This is a screenshot of my mix in SoundBridge: DAW before applying the ducking reverb technique

~Full Mix – Synth Chord Stab (Unprocessed)

~Synth Chord Stab Solo (Unprocessed)

As we can hear from the audio examples above, we intentionally left the synth chord stab dry so we could implement a ducking reverb technique.

Create a Long Reverb

This technique’s first step is to select your favorite reverb and place it on a new return track within SoundBridge. If you look at the mixer window below, you will notice that I have increased the reverb send amount on the synth chord stab channel to about 50%.

In this particular instance, we chose to use MeldaProduction’s MCharmVerb. The reverb parameters: size and time should be pretty long (as we want ample space), and the reverb mix is set to 100%. Let us listen to it now.

This is a screenshot of SoundBridge: DAW mixer window and reverb effect settings.

~Synth Chord Stab Solo (Processed With Reverb)

Create a Ducking Reverb Effect

Once I’m pleased with the reverb sound, I’ll move on to a ducking effect. I’ll then place a compressor on the same effect chain as the reverb effect within the return track. The most crucial step in this process is to assign the synth chord stab as the compressor’s sidechain input. I chose RoughRider3 by Audio Damage, but there are myriad other options.

This is a screenshot of the side chain input window within for the compressor effect.

The compressor settings are critical for practical ducking to happen. For example, you need a relatively low threshold and a high ratio to create an audible gain reduction. The threshold is one thing to keep an eye (and an ear) on because it relates to the level of the side chain signal rather than the reverb itself.

The release control is also essential in shaping the reverb sound for this case. The compressor is ducking the reverb (reducing its gain), and consequently, its release will effectively control the attack time of the reverb.

Since everything is set regarding the compressor, let us listen to the synth chord stab solo and then in the context of the whole mix.

This is a screenshot of the compressor effect and its settings.

~Synth Chord Stab Solo (Processed With Reverb & Compressor)

~Full Mix – Synth Chord Stab (Processed With Reverb & Compressor)


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