Reverb on a song is a lot like salt on a meal: The right amount can make it exponentially better, but add too much and it's ruined. So which songs offer the best examples of the perfect pinch of reverb? The LANDR Journal recently rounded up their list of eight songs that belong in the "reverb hall of fame."
The selections cover a wide range of eras and genres, but in each instance, the mixing engineer struck the right balance of utility and style. For the former, reverb gives each sound a certain sonic space and can help organize disparate elements by placing certain instruments closer up or farther back in the mix. For the latter, style, reverb can be heavily manipulated and experimented with to create a signature sound.
Such is the case with perhaps the most famous example on LANDR's list, Led Zeppelin's 1971 classic "When The Levee Breaks" from Led Zeppelin IV. John Bonham's drums for this song were famously recorded in the hallway of a three-story staircase with microphones placed all the way at the top of the stairwell, giving the drums a massive sound that engineers have referenced (and tried to duplicate) ever since.
Other notables on the list include Phil Collins' signature use of gated reverb in his 1981 hit "In The Air Tonight," and more recent examples like Grimes' ethereally angelic vocal sound on 2010's "Venus In Fleurs" and inventive artist/producer Blake Mills' convincing and tasteful room sounds on his 2014 instrumental "Shed Your Head."
The next time you're working on a song and need to choose a tracking room or reach for your favorite DAW plug-in, Lexicon 480L or EMT-250, remember to use reverb responsibly but don't be afraid to experiment.