Here is a simple yet useful production trick I picked up earlier in the year when I was re creating a mix of ‘Lost’ by Gary Numan, from ‘Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind)’. There are several moments in this dark and atmospheric production where his voice eerily comes in backwards, bathed in reverb which crescendos before the main melodies are sung. This is an emotive trick that is easy to achieve with a couple of AudioSuite plug-ins.
I strongly recommend you listen to the track ‘Lost’ as hearing this effect in the context of a production should give you ideas of how you can implement it in your own mixes. I am going to explain how to setup this trick using stock plug-ins in Pro Tools.
Keep in mind that this method can be used with any instrument… not just vocals.
1. Audio Clip
Create a new audio track. Create a copy of the clip you want to effect onto the new track.
Highlight the new clip and go to AudioSuite - Other - Reverse and hit Render. You will clearly see the new clip has been reversed.
You need to be sure the length at the end of the reversed clip is long enough to have a reverb tail rendered to it. Use the ‘Selector Tool’ or ‘Multi-Tool’ to highlight the whole reversed clip and be sure to include at least double the space at the end. It is best to highlight more than you need, excess can be trimmed away later.
Open up a Reverb under AudioSuite - Reverb. Select a Reverb that sounds good for you and click Render. You will see a long reverb tail in the waveform.
4. Reverse Back
Simply reverse back the reverb clip with AudioSuite. To get the best from this method try creating a few reversed clips and add different reverb settings so that you can compare between them.
5. Position And Edit
I generally slip the newly effected clip under the original vocal until it sounds right for the song. To adjust the length of the effect I either create a fade with clip gain or automate a volume fade to get my desired amount of time into the moment.
This can also be done with delays.
If there is a name for this method please do share it, if not… let’s name it together.