Reverb techniques used often in EDM lead sounds

Author: sleepfreaks

Using sidechain to create a unique reverb sound

In this article, we will take a look at a reverb technique thats often used on lead synths in EDM.
The characteristic lies in having just reverb sound during the open spaces in the lead synths playing.

Lets first compare a DRY, regular reverb, and edited reverb signal.
(First 2 bars lead synth only, last 2 bars lead synth + beat)

DRY (no reverb)

Regular reverb applied

Edited reverb applied

To achieve this effect, we must utilize the previously mentioned technique of「side chain」.

Routing settings

The set up is easy if you have a basic knowledge of send/return tracks and side chain.
First, set up the routing as shown below.

  • 1. Edit reverb on the lead via send
  • 2. Insert a side chain comp after the reverb on the AUX track
  • 3. Set the side chain comp to trigger to the lead synth, and edit to a setting you like

Send & return tracks by DAW

Applying side chain by DAW

Compressor settings

Next, we will set up the compressor used to side chain.


    • RATIO set as high as possible
    • ATTACK set fastest
    • Release set to the BPM or lead phrase timing

※ In the sample picture, it’s set to around 100ms(1/16 in BPM128), but this is just an example.
Listen to your track and feel it out while trying this.

In addition, the type of compressor you select is important.
A compressor that comes with your DAW,
with a default settings sometimes lacks the attack to hit the sound quickly.
Here, we recommend using a FET type
fast attack response compressor that recently comes with many DAWs.

Below, we attached some sounds comparing basic DAW compressors, and DAW FET type compressors.
You can probably hear a little bit of reverb still remaining on the head of a lead synth sound (for the basic comp).

Basic compressor

FET type compressor

Key point

You can create a unique type of effect with a reverb that has a reverse function.