At Octave Records studios, as well as just about every other recording studio in the world, there is the ability to add artificial reverb.
Reverb is defined as a slight delay or echo of the original sound. It is what we might naturally hear in a reverberant room or a room with reflective surfaces where the sound is redirected back to us slightly out of time.
Here’s the thing. At any studio, great care and pains are taken to acoustically treat the room so as not to have any added reflections. The idea is to acoustically dampen the room such that only the direct sound from the performers is captured in the microphones without any affectation from the room. A controlled environment.
The problem with such rooms is that they can sound rather sterile—the opposite of how you would want your recording to sound.
What to do?
At Octave, we did two things: first, instead of an acoustically dead room like you find in a lot of studios, we relied instead upon diffusing the sound as opposed to absorbing it. This allows for a lively sound without any specific reflections to worry about. Second, we built 6 high-performance vacuum tube-based reverberation units. These are analog in-and-out devices that we use to add artificial reverb. *(At the time of recording, that reverb is added on a separate recording track so that the original microphone feed from an instrument or singer is perfectly preserved without affectation. This allows us to later add in as much or as little natural reverb as we wish).
It might seem a bit counterintuitive to build a room with no reverberation qualities only to later have to add it back in using artificial means. The answer, of course, is that not every instrument or voice benefits from reverberation. And while it’s relatively easy to add reverb, it’s nearly impossible to remove it once captured.