Here are the main reverb types most commonly added to vocals -says Chris Kennedy
In the studio and on stage, you will often find people like to add a touch of reverb to enhance their vocal sound.
Whether you are using a vocal effects pedal, out-board reverb unit, or computer plug-in, there are 5 common styles of reverb that you will typically come across, each with their own sound and purpose.
Plate reverb units were one of the first man-made reverb devices used in studios and involved using electromechanical transducer (loudspeaker) to create vibration in a large plate of sheet metal. However, these days you are more likely to come across digital versions of this effect. Plate reverbs are particularly useful on vocals as they tend to be fairly bright and can add the effect of added space without vocals making too distant.
Synthetic hall reverbs aim to emulate the sound of an instrument in a large space such as a concert hall. As a result they can be very useful if you want a long and warmer reverb on your voice; however, you have to be careful not to overdo the level of a hall reverb as vocals can easily start to sound “muddy” and “distant”.
Room style reverbs can be particularly useful in the studio when mixing close-mic’d vocals to add the sense that the vocalist is singing in a real room. They are generally short reverbs that are less of a noticeable effect than other reverb types; however, they can make a recording sound more how we hear sound in the real-world – and work well in combination with other reverbs and delays.
Before the days of artificial reverb devices, one common method of adding reverb to a track was to place a microphone and speaker into a particularly reverberant room (often places like stairwells, basements or corridors were used), play back the recorded vocal through the speaker in the room and capture the sound with the natural reverb of the space through the microphone. This could then be blended on the mixing desk with the original vocal to create the effect that the vocals were recorded in a much larger room.
Spring reverbs are commonly found on guitar amps, however they are also useful on vocals if you want a less natural sounding reverb that adds character to the voice. Real spring reverbs work by sending an audio signal down one end of the spring to create waves that travel through the spring. These are then captured at the other end of the spring and converted into an signal which is added to the dry sound.
You can see more writing by Chris Kennedy here.