I may be one of those who 'crank' up the reverb. I'm glad you said something about this, George. I will do some tests with this in mind next time I record..
Monica, it is very tempting to get carried away with reverb as we've all done it. Upon initial listening, reverb seems to conceal some undesirable effects, but always introduces other artifacts that was never present in the original recording, e.g. loss of clarity, immediacy, texture, changes in timbre, and tonality.
Music has been described as the space or "silence" between the notes. We can all appreciate that something must be happening between these notes, and my belief is that reverb is what predominantly occupies this space. It perpetuates and sustains the inherent energy in the sound over time, much like savoring a fine wine. Our psychoacoustic perception of reverb in music is alluring, hypnotic, evocative, and that is why I think most can easily get carried away in this intoxicating "elixir of sound." Recording a performance involves a 3-way union: The instrument is what makes the sound, the pianist evokes the music, and the acoustics is the communicative pathway. So reverb forms an important part in the communication of the music, and is a physical part of the acoustics that alters our perception of a recording. I feel that it's important to treat the amount and type of reverb very delicately.
How much reverb should one use? For a particular space, it will subjectively depend on the genre of music, dynamics, complexity of sound, rapidity of notes in succession, and individual taste. The characteristics of reverb includes the attack (timbre and tone of sound) and decay (tail, sustain over time). Reverb is like make up (I don't wear any, thanks)
- it should be used sparingly to complement and highlight what's already there in the recording. In general, you should only add enough reverb so that you can barely notice it. Sometimes, none at all. You have to be careful so that the reverb tail doesn't drown the next note in succession in a faster piece, otherwise you'll get a mush of notes. When you experiment next time, you'll notice that each piece will need a slightly different amount. Depending on your software, I find the amount can lie between 5-8% of wet reverb. It should always sound realistic, and never encroach on the immediacy and clarity of the performance.
BTW - Whenever editing or adding effects to a recording, never alter the original recording - always archive the original recording onto a gold archival CD or a separate external hard drive. This way you'll you can always refer to the original whenever you change your mind over a particular edit or effect. I've learned the hard way, believe me!
As always, share your findings, as every recording is a learning experience for me too...