How to create a reverse reverb in Ableton

In this Ableton Live tutorial, I will quickly walk you through the process of how to make a special reverb effect called Reverse Reverb. This is a commonly used effect that goes back to the days when studios used DAT. This effect is still often used to introduce a new motif or vocal.

It was originally achieved by reversing the tape and then re-recording it, but it is fairly simple to do in Ableton with a bit of creative routing and editing.

The first thing we need to do is set up a reverb on a send channel, simply drop a Reverb onto Return A. It should be 100% wet with a long decay time.

Create a Reverse Reverb - Ableton Tutorial

Ableton Tutorials EffectsI’ve made sure that both the input and diffusion network has the low end cut out. Reverb lows are nothing but mud, it’s generally a good idea to avoid it as much as possible.

Turn up the tracks send to Return A so that it is full, you want the complete audio signal coming through.

Now create a new mixer track, and set it to use Return A as its input.

Now for the most important step: Reverse the audio you are sampling from by double-clicking on the clip and choosing Rev.

Make sure your recording arms are enabled then play your sample, let it play for longer so that you get the reverb tail too.
Ableton Reverb Tutorial
The easiest way to use the sample you’ve just created is to make a new audio track, then drop the clip down onto it. If you’re happy with the sound then you can delete the recording track. Don’t forget to turn down the send to Return A. You don’t need all that reverb anymore.

Now you simply reverse the reverb tail you’ve just recorded (and don’t forget to reverse the original vocal clip back to its original state again). Right click on the reverb tail clip and choose “Show Fades” and you’ll be able to cut out the end of the clip. All you want to keep is the beginning build up.

Show Fades is a quick and easy way to fine-tune the crossover from reverb to audio clip. Line them both up and try different placements until you find something you like the sound of.

Ableton Using Effects Tutorials
And it sounds like so:

What you’ve essentially done is create a reverb tail that leads up to the sound instead of away from it. It’s a great way to introduce new things or stop things from feeling too abrupt. And the best part is they will always gel well since they’re basically the same sample.

You can use this trick to make reverse delays too. Experiment a bit, find something you like.

Comments are welcome!

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