Reverb: What's Up With It

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Gelid
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Reverb: What's Up With It

Post by Gelid » 06 Jan 2019 08:59

A question for those in-the-know of the technical aspects of recording:

Is it possible that reverb fades with age or use, or disappears totally, from old analog audio
tape? Does it maybe disappear as a result of digitally remastering?

I had read somewhere, at sometime, that reverb dissipates. I don't know exactly what the writer
meant by that.

I ask, as I have noticed two instances where there originally was reverb, but on much later
releases it has disappeared.

"Summertime Blues" - Eddie Cochran (1956)

The deep voice that says "I'd like to help you son, but you're too young to vote." had a
pronounced echo that I remember hearing on my parent's '50's compilation record when I was a
child in the 1970's. Fast-forward to the late 1980's and early 1990's and I'm buying these
compilation tapes & CD's with that song on them, as well as hearing it on the radio, and there is
no echo on the deep voice... it is just as dry as can be. I now own an original 7" 45 of this
song, and the reverb is there.

"See Emily Play" - The Pink Floyd (1967)

I only knew this song by the Pink Floyd compilation CD "Works" until I bought an early US pressing
of the LP "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" a few years ago. While the vocal tracks are dry on
the CD version, I was stunned by the rich reverb that is on the LP. I at first thought it may be
an alternate recording of it, but it's not.

These songs are the reason why I seek out the earliest pressing I can find of songs / albums from
the age-of-analog... lest the original sound be gone forever.

Here's a link to a Flickr! album I made with tracks of old and new (that I made) for comparison:

https://flic.kr/s/aHskLKc7xP

analogaudio
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Re: Reverb: What's Up With It

Post by analogaudio » 07 Jan 2019 01:41

One possibility is that the original was mono and the re-release stereo, the perception of reverb is slightly different in each case.

No, reverb doesn't "fade away" with playing. Some treble sounds (very high frequencies for example violin harmonics, brass harmonics, some percussion sounds) can be slightly lost due to wear with some analog media.

Converting to digital and back again (when done correctly) does not cause loss of reverb or treble sounds.

Gelid
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Re: Reverb: What's Up With It

Post by Gelid » 07 Jan 2019 02:58

Thanks! I know some qualities diminish with use, so I thought that could have been the answer. Thanks for setting me straight.

The Pink Floyd song is stereo on my early pressing LP, but I don't know the source of the CD version (mono or stereo). I do know that reverb was used extensively recording the album, specifically to create a unique sound for the band.

Now that I'm thinking about it again, since See Emily Play was recorded before the album, it may have gotten the reverb treatment for the album. That makes sense, so it didn't sound out of place with the rest of the songs.

For Summertime Blues, my 7" 45 is in mono, but who knows what has been done to it for inclusion on any other collection.

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Re: Reverb: What's Up With It

Post by noisefreq » 09 Jan 2019 14:06

Just for my own home recording experience, reverb sounds more distant when the highs are rolled off and closer with top end present.

A dry signal sounds like it's right next to you in the room and a signal with reverb sounds like it has some distance from you.

The reverb is as present on the tape as any other signal (like guitar, vocals, etc.) but could be adjusted if it had its own separate channel.

As recordings are "remastered" and "remixed" through the years, an engineer could make changes to the effects on the master tape (or digital recording, which ever the case may be) either increasing the signal in volume or equalization, or reducing the level of the effect to make the signal sound more dry.

An example of this might be The Beatles "Let It Be Naked" remix.

Perhaps someone felt the original version sounded dated and wanted to "clean it up in the remix", who knows.

Whereas, I like the Let It Be Naked album, I tend to error on the side of the artists and their original vision.

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Re: Reverb: What's Up With It

Post by RockerFrank » 09 Jan 2019 14:48

Gelid wrote:
06 Jan 2019 08:59
"Summertime Blues" - Eddie Cochran (1956)
Actually from 1958, the US single version has the reverb but the UK single doesn't. Also the UK version doesn't have a fadeout in the end.

Gelid
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Re: Reverb: What's Up With It

Post by Gelid » 10 Jan 2019 06:51

RockerFrank wrote:
09 Jan 2019 14:48
Gelid wrote:
06 Jan 2019 08:59
"Summertime Blues" - Eddie Cochran (1956)
Actually from 1958, the US single version has the reverb but the UK single doesn't. Also the UK version doesn't have a fadeout in the end.
Right! Thanks for the correction.

Interesting about the differences in the UK version.

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Re: Reverb: What's Up With It

Post by RockerFrank » 10 Jan 2019 07:16

Gelid wrote:
10 Jan 2019 06:51
RockerFrank wrote:
09 Jan 2019 14:48
Actually from 1958, the US single version has the reverb but the UK single doesn't. Also the UK version doesn't have a fadeout in the end.
Right! Thanks for the correction.

Interesting about the differences in the UK version.
So the answer to your question could be simply that those cassette/CD comps used the reverb-free mix from the UK single.

Gelid
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Re: Reverb: What's Up With It

Post by Gelid » 10 Jan 2019 07:45

RockerFrank wrote:
10 Jan 2019 07:16
Gelid wrote:
10 Jan 2019 06:51
RockerFrank wrote:
09 Jan 2019 14:48
Actually from 1958, the US single version has the reverb but the UK single doesn't. Also the UK version doesn't have a fadeout in the end.
Right! Thanks for the correction.

Interesting about the differences in the UK version.
So the answer to your question could be simply that those cassette/CD comps used the reverb-free mix from the UK single.
Right again! :D

And the Pink Floyd song more-than-likely appears as it's single "radio-version" on all the known compilations that I am aware of. It is a fact that they recorded "See Emily Play" as their second single, and not at EMI (Abbey Road) like the rest of the album was. "See Emily Play" was recorded at Sound Techniques studio, presumably after the album recording wrapped up at EMI. It was not intended for the album in the UK, though it did make it on the US release.

I'll have to try and pick up an original 45 to be certain; I'm thinking the UK 7" 45rpm contains the dry vocal, unlike the reverb-rich vocal found on the US album.

Incidently, the 4-track master for "See Emily Play" has never been mixed into true stereo. The original master had been erased, or got misplaced or lost.

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Re: Reverb: What's Up With It

Post by philbrown » 11 Jan 2019 19:59

While not common, reverb was sometimes added to records during mastering.
Phil Brown

Gelid
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Re: Reverb: What's Up With It

Post by Gelid » 12 Jan 2019 06:32

philbrown wrote:
11 Jan 2019 19:59
While not common, reverb was sometimes added to records during mastering.
Phil Brown
I suspect that is what was done in this case; prob to make it fit in with the sound of the rest of the US release of the album.

PF didn't want it on the album, and by their agreement with EMI they were obligated to record the album at EMI (Abbey Road). Thus, "Emily" was recorded after, where PF wanted to do it.

I don't pretend to know anything about these recording methods... I just know what I have read and try to figure out why this is so.

I'm crazy that way, but that's that.

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