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reverb (reverberation)

Reverb (short for reverberation) is the acoustic environment that surrounds a sound. Natural reverb exists everywhere. Whether the space being described is a bathroom or a gymnasium, the essential characteristics remain the same.

Reverb is composed of a series of tightly-spaced echoes. The number of echoes and the way that they decay play a major role in shaping the sound that you hear. Many other factors influence the sound of a reverberant space. These include the dimensions of the actual space (length, width, and height), the construction of the space (such as whether the walls are hard or soft and whether the floor is carpeted), and diffusion (what the sound bounces off of).

In addition to natural reverb, software synthesis of reverberation is also possible. Many audio card s, synthesizer s, dedicated effects processors, and digital audio applications can create reverb, simulating both natural and supernatural environments. For example, one could create the reverb for a room fifty feet long, five feet wide, with a four-foot ceiling, lined with carpet.

The synthesis of reverb by a digital signal processing ( DSP ) algorithm usually attempts to mimic the way a real acoustic space works. The algorithm designers simulate the early reflections, the compounding of echoes, and the decay of high versus low frequencies when designing their product. Of course, the more processing power and speed available, the more complex and potentially realistic a reverb signal can be created.

This was last updated in March 2011

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