EQs, Reverbs, and Virtual Instrument Recording

To expound upon my previous post about recording your written parts with virtual instruments, it is best to deactivate release tails (trails), and leave off reverb, and EQ, but it is also a good idea to have a “room sound” in mind before you begin recording.

Think in terms of small, medium, and large spaces for orchestral scores.

Small = A studio, or small film scoring stage meant for smaller ensembles. Check out Desplat’s “Rise of the Guardians” score for an example.

Medium = A modestly-sized auditorium, or medium-sized scoring stage. Medium-sized scoring stages are frequently employed for films that don’t require a bombastic, epic sound. Many of Elfman’s more current scores are recorded on stages this size. The sound they create isn’t as dry as a small stage, but it isn’t swamped with reverb, either.

Large = Symphonic concert hall, or large film scoring stage, such as Todd AO, The Streisand Stage at Sony, Air Lyndhurst, etc. These spaces produce a more standard, large-scale sound for orchestral music, perfect for epic stuff like comic book movies, fantasy, sci-fi, and the like.

My process:

Before recording a single note with virtual instruments, I locate an existing score that has the overall sound I will be aiming for. If you don’t own copies of many film scores, check YouTube, or Spotify. Many complete scores are available through both services.

I avoid adding varying amounts of reverb to individual instrument sections, or soloists, and instead apply one instance of Quantum Leap Spaces to the master channel. This helps me avoid doing any real mixing during the recording process, yet gives me a general impression of what my final sound will be.

I then record parts with the master reverb off, and when I’m happy with the recording, I turn the reverb on to check how things are blending within that space.

This method is most efficient for me, as it allows for quick A/B comparison, and conserves system resources.

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