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Microphone Month

Comfort Reverb With No Latency

Many of us like to track with a bit of “comfort” reverb or delay in our headphones when recording with a DAW — the comfort reverb or delay isn’t recorded, it’s simply there to make the singer more comfortable.

The problem is, unless your audio interface has DSP onboard and can supply onboard effects, we have to rely on reverb plug-ins in our DAW — and this can result in noticeable latency since you’re monitoring the vocal as it passes through the DAW along with the reverb.

Here’s a quick workaround you can try that allows you to monitor with reverb from a DAW plug-in without unacceptable latency on the vocal track. The only requirement is that your audio interface have a method (either software or hardware) for monitoring its inputs without latency.

1. Set up your vocal mic for recording through the interface, into a track in your DAW.

2. Set up monitoring on your interface or in the “console” application that came with the interface so that there is no latency in your headphones.

At this point, you should be able to sing along with the backing tracks from your DAW and hear your voice without any latency. Now let’s add the reverb.

3. In the DAW, set up your reverb on an aux track. Feed it with a send from your vocal track.

4. Route the reverb track with the backing tracks into your headphones.

At this point, you should hear reverb, but you may also hear a delayed version of your vocal that is passing through the DAW.

5. Ensure that the send that is feeding your reverb track is pre-fader. Now, mute the output of the vocal track in the DAW so that you don’t hear that track in your phones — you should only hear the vocal directly through your interface’s monitoring setup.

The idea is, you monitor your vocal using the low-latency technology or software in your interface, but you monitor the reverb after it is fed from the vocal track you are recording in your DAW. The only latency will be on the reverb return to your headphones, but in this case, that latency will simply translate to a slightly longer pre-delay time.

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