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Reversed audio file in Ableton Live

Reversed audio file in Ableton Live


Back in the day, open-reel analogue multitrack machines were the way to create reverse effects.

It’s not an effect you will use often, but when used at the right time, it can be spectacular and shits on anything you’ll hear from todays plugins or EFX boxes.

The treatment is particularly good on vocals, but it also shines on guitars and percussion etc. Good reverse reverb lends itself nicely to dance music.

With tape, all you needed to do was flip the tape over so it played backwards, feed the track into a reverb unit and record the result onto a spare track, 
When the the tape is replaced the right way around, the new reverb track would then have a reverse characteristic where it builds up slowly before the sound that created it, then it dies abruptly.

One of my personal favourite reverbs, Breverb2...

One of my personal favourite reverbs, Breverb2…

So how do you do this with today’s modern DAW’s?

Record the audio segment you want to treat, then select it in the audio editor window and reverse it. All DAW’s have a reverse function. Once the dry sound is reversed, apply the reverb, whatever feels right to you. Then bounce that to disk to create your new sound.

Before using the new file, you’ve got to reverse it again to get it playing the right way. If your going to use the original dry track as well, that needs to be re-reversed as well, so it plays back normally.

What you end up with is an effect exactly the same as if you were using old tape.

Definitely give it a go, it sounds nothing like the reverse effects you get in todays DAW/plugin dominated world, all there doing is really just a gated reverb with an envelope that fades up and stops.

It’s a very dramatic effect, so use it sparingly. Works well on vocal intros and bridge sections.


If you like stereo effects, try panning the reverse reverb hard to one side, then add a little normal reverb to the original track and pan that hard to the other side. This way the the sound will build up on one side of the mix, then tail away on the the other side of the mix. This only works if the effect used has reverb or delay elements to it, but there’s no reason why you could not add a bit of pitch shift in there.

You could also do a completely wet reverb so you can combine it with the original dry track and adjust the balance to your liking.

Give it a go, see what comes of it. Let me know how it works out for you.