Whats with the Reverb???


Im curious if someone can answer why some of the old Disney music releases have.....not just alot of reverb, But EXTREME reverb...Like the singer is singing on the far side of a warehouse?!

Specifically, Im thinking of The Happiest Millionaire and Peter Pan (The elegant Capt Hook is so Distant, ugh)

Does anyone know why these choices were made?

And whats with the reverb in the first place....what does it do to the voices that make them sound better in released recordings??

Thanks for the time!
I think Randy Thornton could probably address this better than anyone, as he has had problems in his restoration work because of the reverb or echo that was added to some of the old film sound tracks for their LP releases. My (uneducated) guess is that this was done as a result of hearing how the reverb improved the quality of voices such as Annette's, so Tutti Camarata simply decided to try it on the older recordings as well. It may also have helped camouflage any deficiencies that arose from having to lift the music from film stock.


This was commonly done to old recordings starting in the 50s as a way of modernizing the sound. Most recordings in the US were done in as dead (ie no reverb) a room as possible until the early 50s, when recording engineers started trying to duplicate the acoustics of a space around the performers, as well as the performance itself. It was Mitch Miller at Columbia who got the idea to take it a step further and use a combination of reverb and tape echo as a special effect, which is why Columbia records of the period are drowning in it. Anyhow, by the mid-50s, reverb was expected, and its absence was considered (by the unwashed masses anyway) to be a sign of a bad recording job. So they started adding it to everything.

When stereo came along, stereo reverb became one of the tricks they used to turn a mono recording into an alleged stereo one (thus being able to charge $1 extra for the LP without incurring any significant production expense).

Disney rarely used fake stereo until the 70s, so its safe to assume that the former explanation is what's going on here, at least on the older recordings.

Broadway cast albums have always tended to have a LOT of reverb (in imitation of the live theater environment), so perhaps they were going for that sound on the "Happiest Millionaire" soundtrack. They did the same on some of the more recent soundtrack CDs as well (Mermaid, Aladdin etc.). It annoys the heck out of me too.