The Greater True Reverb is of course natural room ambience, with a hardwood floor for choice, and recorded with Sennheisers if God has granted you the wherewithal to buy or rent a few. The Lesser True Reverb is spring reverb or plate reverb (Tom Verlaine is fond of plate reverb, btw, and it comes as no surprise), made with analog circuitry and electromechanical transducers using the Lord's own laws of nature.

The False Reverb is Digital Reverb, an abomination and a sin against sound.

This is why: As sound waves bounce around a room, they progressively break up; the attack blurs, they become muddy, they lose high-end definition. When Steve Kilbey sings of "echo drenched inside reverb rain" ("Warm Spell", The Church, originally a flexi-disc but since reissued on an odds'n'sods compilation which is well worth digging up), he's unwittingly cutting very close to the heart of the matter: Digital reverb sounds like rain because the attack of the original sound is preserved intact unto the nth generation; you're hearing the same "tick tick tick" over and over again instead of a proper softening and mellowing of the signal in successive generations. Analog circuitry -- or better yet an electromechanical device like a spring or plate -- cannot reproduce a sound perfectly; with each generation, the signal naturally degrades further, and the ear is pleased. Digital signal processors can attempt to emulate this degeneration (though most don't bother), but it will always be a lifeless and reductive imitation of an infinitely complicated natural process.

Recording is not about perfection; perfection is for God alone. Rather, the art of recording lies in properly-marshalled imperfection, a living, decaying organic worldlet constructed in miniature on the tape. Therein lies the closest approach to true "perfection" that is granted to us desperate and distorted mortals on our sorrowful Earth.

So the next time you drool over one of those fancy-shmancy rackmounted Alesis units in a store, shun temptation! Just say "Get thee behind me, digital signal processing!", asperse the bastard, shake the dust off your sandals, and go.

The young man below is naiïve and thoughtless. I am perfectly capable of distinquishing between delay and reverb. Digital reverb sounds bad. In fact, it sounds just like I describe it above. If you can't tell the difference (or if you don't give a damn), you'll be condemned to listeners as useless as you are. This incoherent leftist jabber about "thickening agents" is wholly beside the point. If you describe what you're doing as "thickening", does that make it okay for it to sound like crap? No. That's ludicrous.

For the uninformed (including our young friend): "Delay" is when you have a single echo going; "reverb" is when you have several with slightly different periods. If a single echo has an excessively sharp attack, adding more of the same won't change anything. This becomes obvious when you actually listen to the gear we're discussing.
Something to keep in mind is that many, if not most, musicians use reverb simply as a thickening agent, not to simulate room acoustics.

Something else to keep in mind is that the people who name the patches on poor quality effects processors often don't differentiate between reverb and simple delay (echo). A delay effect exhibits in the tick-tick-tick of which theonomist speaks; reverb generally does not.

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