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Kick & Bass Reverb

Q: I read the Tech Tip from last Friday about panning the kick drum and bass guitar to the center of the mix. I have a similar question: some engineers I’ve talked to say that I shouldn’t put reverb on the kick drum and bass. Is this true?

A: In many cases, adding reverb to the kick drum and bass guitar can add muddiness to the mix. That extra low end ambience can smear attacks and reduce articulation on those instruments, and make the overall bottom end seem mushy and cloudy.

However, if you are going for recreating the sound of the instruments playing in a room, then it may not sound as natural to have the kick and bass dry while the rest of the instruments have reverb. In this case, to strengthen the illusion of the music taking place in a single space, you may want to add some reverb to the kick and the bass. If you do, and the sound gets muddy or mushy, consider adding a highpass/lowcut filter to the signal that is feeding the reverb. This will clean up the bottom end, but the upper frequencies from the kick and bass will still feed the reverb, making the overall mix sound as if it is being heard in one room.

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