Sound Out of Space

When I started recording in my house I realized quickly that I really needed some acoustic treatment. I started slowly applying absorptive panels to the space (my office). Eventually, one of my friends noted, that just being in my office sounds kinda weird. You see, there’s enough dampening that you just don’t get the same kind of reflections (sound bouncing off of surfaces) you normally get. Even though you might not be able to pick out why exactly, it just doesn’t sound quite right.

I have to say, I don’t really love the raw sound that comes out of synths most of the time. It’s can be a bit lacking. And I think this gets to the strangeness of my office. It is abnormal to hear a sound without hearing it interact with the environment around us. But when we record the output direct from our synths that’s what we get. We get sound out of space.

How do we resolve this? There are two classic tools that can really help give our sound a sense of space, delay and reverb. Both of these are tools which we use to emulate, or perhaps we might dare say, synthesize, the effects of space on sound. Of course, where this whole analogy falls apart is that these effects can be employed to create alien and otherworldly effects, that are none the less, pleasing to listen to.

One of the great things about modular is that it interacts rather easily with effects pedals. They’re great end of line effects, and with a little more work you can integrate them more thoroughly, if you like. And taking a look at just one company I shop around at, there are over a hundred delay and reverb pedals to be had. Prices range from rather inexpensive to “great googly moogly.” And without particular experience I have heard reports of good sounding verbs and delays throughout the price range.

If you’re not already playing around with delays and reverbs, it’s time to get your sound into space. And, if you’re feeling brave you can try mic’ing up an amp inside a bathroom and get hands-on with your verb!