DyVision Reverb Remover

One of my recording students who owns a home studio recently asked me if there was any way he could remove some of the “reverb” from recordings he had made of some classroom lectures.  In his case, “reverb” meant the ambient reflections from the room in which the recordings were made, but what I’m about to describe here could be applied to recordings to which reverb effects have been added as well.

Fortunately, I had come across this situation a few years ago while I was mixing and mastering the audiobook version of a client’s autobiography.

My client had hired a voiceover artist to do the narration for the audiobook.  The voiceover artist did a good job with the narration, but the recording had been made in a small, less-than-ideal space, with the mic a little too far away. So there were a lot of background reflections in the audio, making the narration sound a bit like it had been recorded in a tiled bathroom – not intimate at all.  As it turned out, I was able to remove most of the room ambience and save the recording.

While completely inconceivable a few years ago, audio technology has advanced to the point where removing these background reflections after the fact is not only possible, but can also be very effective, depending on the characteristics of the original audio.  There are several approaches to doing it, but I’ll cover two of the most straightforward ones here.

The first way to remove reverb or room ambience from a recording is to use a type of audio plug-in that has become quite common in recent years, generally called a transient designer (it goes by other terms, but that’s the most common).  The idea behind a transient designer is that it enables you to manipulate the time immediately before and the time immediately after the arrival of a sound.  Transient designers have many, many possible uses on audio tracks for producing all kinds of interesting results, but a very common use in modern mixes is with drum tracks, particularly snare drum.  The transient designer allows you to finely control the duration of the ring of the snare that occurs after the initial hit of the stick on the drumhead.  You can make the ring shorter than it actually was when recorded, to get a very snappy, “tight” snare sound.  Conversely, you can make the ring longer than it actually was when recorded, to get a big, hollow, “roomy” snare sound.  Transient designers work particularly well on single, mono tracks, where the sound you’re working with is fairly discrete, i.e., there’s not a lot of sound from other instruments “bleeding” into the track.

The same technique can be applied to the reflections coming off a room’s walls and other surfaces in a spoken-word track like a book narration or classroom lecture.  Using the transient designer, you can shorten the duration of those reflections at the ends of words or phrases, so the audio sounds closer and less like it’s bouncing off the walls.  You can also use this technique on an electric guitar track, where you might have used a little too much reverb on the amp when you recorded it.

Sometimes this transient designer trick is all you need, and can be very effective depending on the source material and the degree of ambient reflections.  At other times, it just doesn’t give you enough control, and can even make the audio sound really weird (and unusable).  Fortunately, there’s a new class of more sophisticated “reverb removal” (or “de-reverberation”) plug-ins that use a combination of audio techniques like phase cancellation in addition to transient manipulation.  I happen to like this class of plug-ins because they get me the results I want much faster and with less trial and error on my part.

There are a number of transient designer plug-ins available, probably the most popular being the SPL Transient Designer (available in several native versions, as well as part of Universal Audio’s UAD series).  Another example is the Transient Master from Native Instruments.  My DAW of choice, Steinberg’s Cubase, comes with its own, built-in transient designer plug-in called the Envelope Shaper, as do some other DAWs like Apple’s Logic.

As for the more sophisticated “reverb removal” or “de-reverberation” versions, there are several to choose from.  SPL’s version is, not surprisingly, called De-Verb.  Zynaptiq makes one called Unveil.  My favorite (and the one I used on that spoken-word narration project I mentioned above) is DyVision’s Reverb Remover.  I like it for several reasons: it’s very effective (at least on the material I’ve used it on – your mileage may vary); it’s dead-simple to use (only 3 knobs – yay!); and it’s really well priced (only $49.37 as a no-hassle, instant download).  It also has a demo version that you can try out before you buy.

The next time you need to take a little “wetness” out of a track, consider using a transient designer or reverb removal plug-in.  You just might find that you’ve saved a recording that you thought was toast!  🙂

Have you used a transient designer or reverb removal plug-in before? Have another one to recommend? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

About the Author


is an independent music producer and engineer, published author, music career coach, and co-founder of the Azalea Music Group in Nashville. He helps artists and songwriters reach their fullest sonic and emotional impact with the recordings he produces, and also teaches them how to do it themselves. His diverse list of clients includes Davy Jones of the Monkees, Grammy-winning songwriter Don Henry, and international guitar virtuosos Tommy Emmanuel and Muriel Anderson.

14 Responses to Recording Tip: Removing Reverb or Room Ambience from an Existing Recording
  1. This is such great news! I’m psyched that there’s a trial so I can try it out. I’ll post with results!

  2. Hey Fett and Nancy, Good article and great looking website. Miss you at SongU Fett. You’re sessions are always the best. Hope to see you on campus soon! All the best to both of you!
    Keep Smilin’ 🙂
    Benn

  3. By gosh, I just learned something – one of many tricks of the trade I’ve learned from Studio Master Fett (or SMF as we call him) over the years. Rock on!

  4. Fellow producer pal Ronan Chris Murphy just informed me that the Plug-in Alliance is selling the SPL De-verb plug-in for just $39 right now! You can find out more at http://plugin-alliance.com/en/plugins/detail/spl_de-verb.html.

  5. Hey Fett and Nancy, long time no see or hear. Love your new page. Ya’ll gonna be at the Road Rally? Stupid question of the month. Lol
    See ya rhere!

  6. Does this plugin work for Premiere Pro CC? How do I enable/install it?

    • Hey Andrew. Premiere Pro CC supports the VST plug-in format, so as long as the version of the plug-in(s) you get is VST, you should be fine. Installation is usually as simple as adding the plug-in to your “VST path” (the location on your system drive where all of your VST plug-ins reside, for example, under Windows it would be \Steinberg\VstPlugins under either \Program Files(x86) for 32-bit systems or \Program Files for 64-bit systems). After installation, you would most likely need to do a “refresh” or “reload” of your plug-in list in Premiere Pro CC to have the plug-in(s) show up. The entire process takes about a minute to do. Hope this helps!

  7. Hey mate, I’ve recorded a demo of my song on my laptop. I ve written it, sung and produced by myself. I just feel smthng is missing, would you mind hearing it? And one more favour, I am want to do sound engineering, would you tell me best schools in Nashville?

    • Hey Tejas! Thanks for the note. I’d be happy to give your song a quick listen. Reply with a link to it. As for audio engineering schools in Nashville, we’ve got a TON of them! And they come in all shapes, sizes and formats (up to and including full college degrees). I’ve taught at a few of them myself (SAE, Belmont, Art Institute, etc.) over the years. There’s a lot of great ones here. Here’s a link to get you started: https://www.google.com/?ion=1&espv=2#q=audio%20engineering%20schools%20nashville. FYI, if you want a more fast-paced track, I also teach online, video-based intensive courses in Recording, Mixing and Mastering. You can find out more about them here: http://azaleamusic.com/programs/. Best of luck in your studies! 🙂

  8. I have another type of problem. An audio speaking tape was recorded with the Automatic Volume Level (AVL) switched on. wherewith when the speaker took a dramatic pause, the AVL apparently immediately cut in, boosted the recording level, and obviously increased the hiss, and only reducing ed it when the speaker started talking into the microphone again.
    I tried to record the output of the tape deck to digital using computer with audio card and the TotalRecorder software, but the hiss became even more evident, giving a generally poor quality, unacceptable to the typical listener.
    I tried editing out the hiss in the pauses, but the result was unsatisfactory. Is there a method to put a negative operator on the unwanted AVL effect?
    The speaker has now passed on, and to me and others the unique recording is very special, and I would like to present an accepitable audio file/CDA disk.
    (I found this effect out because it occurred with my digital voice recorder when I had the AVL switched on. I no longer use AVLt at all for normal recording.:)
    Thank you so much.

    • Hi Carlyle, and thanks for your inquiry. Never fear — there’s always a way to address these things in the audio world! 🙂 There are two methods that come to mind (after the audio has been transferred to a digital file)…

      The first would be to use a GATE PLUG-IN, which is a compressor that has the ability to reduce the signal when the audio drops below the threshold (rather than above the threshold, as with a traditional compressor). I’m assuming that the speaker’s voice is significantly higher in volume than the noise, even when the noise comes up in the pauses, and a gate could be just the right thing for this task. Most of today’s gate plug-ins allow you to adjust how quickly the gate kicks in, whether it kicks in gradually or abruptly, by how much it reduces the volume of the audio, how long it holds once it kicks in, and how quickly it releases. By adjusting these parameters, you can get the gate to sound fairly natural with the audio.

      The second method would be to use a NOISE REDUCTION PLUG-IN, which can take a “footprint” or “signature” of just the noise, and take it out whenever it encounters it in the audio. There are many parameters, including frequency bands to be affected/ignored, that you can adjust on a noise reduction plug-in to make it sound natural. In this specific case, a combination of gate and noise reduction plug-ins might be the perfect solution.

      I use these tools all the time in the audio restoration and forensics work I do, and if you’re willing to take a little time to adjust them well, they can produce dramatically good results.

      Hope you find this helpful. If you get really stuck and would like to hire a pro to do this for you, just let me know here.

  9. Great article Fett…I can always count on you for the
    answers…


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