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Review Reverb for Guitar

TC Electronic Hall of Fame Mini Review

Mini Mini Mini... "...must be a midget's woooorld". It's probably what ABBA would've sung if they had started their career in 2013. Indeed, this year has seen the appearance of a good number of bonsai-sized and more-or-less useful pedals. read more…

User reviews on Reverb for Guitar products

From Simple Reverbs to Amazing and Unique Soundscapes (Dr. Scientist - The Atmosphere)

By MGR/Brian Johnston, 03/06/2019
Sound-wise, there are two aspects to consider. First, the quality and clarity of sound of The Atmosphere is superb (24 Bit A/D converters at 33.2kHz sample rate); and second, the effects produced are amazing and unique.

If we consider something traditional and basic, the Plate reverb sounds like any other plate reverb in some respects (if kept subdued), but as you tweak the controls to affect pre-delay, bass, resolution, tone and decay, it no longer sounds like a plate reverb. It may have plate characteristics, but it morphs into something on a grand scale. Couple in the fact that you can ‘freeze’ the reverb into a drone (as you continue to play, or not) and you would be hard pressed to think of it as a simple plate reverb. The latter aspect is what makes The Atmosphere so usable, as you can have a hint of reverb to fill out your sound (even the crazy ones sound apropos when low in the mix), but can create enormous and flowering sweeps that go far beyond the typical canyon and space reverbs currently on the market. Some of the bizarre and utterly fascinating sound-scapes on The Atmosphere include Smear, Swell, Filter Mod FX, React, Aether and Alias (at least those stood out for me as being more unusual and original, but hats off to all the algorithms… not a stinker in the bunch). And to make these sounds even more dynamic is being able to include an Expression Pedal so that you can affect the reverb’s volume, mix, decay, etc., as well as the two elements controlled by the Ctrl knobs (e.g., controlling the low-pass and high-pass filters with the Filter algorithm). As stated, although The Atmosphere’s Multi footswitch can be assigned to do several things, you would be hard-pressed not to assign the ‘freeze’ function – nothing like a mesmerizing spaced-out drone to play a melody over.

The Atmosphere is not a budget pedal at $399 USD, but the tones, sounds, and flexibility (besides many of the original algorithms and MIDI capability) make The Atmosphere a must have. The best way to think of The Atmosphere is not as a traditional pedal, but a computerized multi-effects unit (this may be a ‘reverb’ unit, but there are modulations, delays and other effect elements involved). There are some basic industry standards here, including Spring, Hall, Room and Plate reverb, but even then there are some unique features that turn those basics into massive and spacey reverberations. And then you have some unique ‘atmospheres,’ including Alias, React, Swell and Smear. In total you have access to 16 fantastic algorithms, each being a Preset that you can edit and save (if so desired); as well, you can take an algorithm/preset and manipulate any of the elements on the fly to produce sweeping sounds, glitches and anything between. Two of the more entertaining functions include using the Multi footswitch as a Freeze button, so that you can create a drone that you can play over, and adding an Expression Pedal to produce unusual life into compositions. This is such a high-end effects unit (producing awesome sounds) that the only thing lacking is a stereo out. Nonetheless, the uniqueness of reverbs and soundscapes will make The Atmosphere a much desired addition for any ethereal artist.

When turning on The Atmosphere, it picks up where you left off (when it was turned off last). There are 16 Presets that you scroll through, each being a different algorithm or ‘atmosphere’ (scrolling can be done via the Preset knob or the Multi footswitch). For instance, the first preset is Spring (spring reverb), and you can be in preset mode (as created by the factory) or you can tweak any of the elements (e.g., mix, decay, etc.), which takes you automatically in default/editing mode. And you see all this information live and on the LED screen (it takes mere minutes to learn how to use The Atmosphere effectively). You can save your changes as a new preset of that algorithm if desired (and there’s also a function to restore the pedal to factory default). With any of the reverbs you can adjust the resolution (slower, longer and grainer reverb vs. smooth and refined), the overall mix (wet/dry), the volume, tone (more bass vs. treble), decay (how long the reverb lasts) and then two other elements. Those other elements are set by the Ctrl knobs, and the two elements differ from one preset/algorithm to the next. For example, and with the Hall reverb, Ctrl 1 affects the amount of pre-delay, whereas Ctrl 2 affects the amount of bass. With the Smear reverb Ctrl 1 affects the diffusion, whereas Ctrl 2 affects delay time. Any of these can be manipulated to produce real-time changes and effects, done either by hand or via Expression Pedal (you can assign things like mix, decay, resolution, volume and the elements associated with the two Ctrl knobs). The Multi footswitch also can take on different roles, whether you assign it to select different presets, used as a ‘freeze’ switch, a tap tempo, etc. Two roles can be assigned to the Multi, whether you hold the footswitch or click it once.

A standard sized pedal, The Atmosphere measures about 120 mm (L) x 65mm (W) x 65mm (H) with knobs (4.7 x 2.6 x 2.6 inches). The heavy-duty metal chassis has powder coated and textured blue that blends/shades from dark to light. You can feel the paint texture of the graphics, indicating a good paint thickness. The eight knobs (Res, Mix, Vol, Tone, Decay, Ctrl1, Ctrl2 and Patch) feel of heavy plastic and will withstand normal use and abuse (they are far removed from the two footswitches). All knobs have good quality pots (smooth and very solid when turned without any static or noise, although the Patch knob has a ‘click’ factor when turned and when choosing patches). The two soft footswitches (Multi and Bypass) are solid in feel with a good spring to them. The LED screen is near the footswitches, which is inconsequential since the switches sit well above the screen. The cable input/output and power supply are located in the back, keeping any small cable inserts away from a stomping foot. The MIDI output is located near the front end on the left side, which may eat up a bit of pedalboard space (no way of having it in the back due to the pedal’s size). The Atmosphere does not run on batteries and requires a 9VDC 300mA power supply, which is included.

Cold, Shimmering and Haunting best describes this Reverb (JPTR FX - Kaleidoscope)

By MGR/Brian Johnston, 07/05/2019
JPTR FX’s Kaleidoscope is glassy, cold and haunting. There is something very distinct about this reverb that I have not heard in other reverbs, and so if you prefer a warm reverb the Kaleidoscope is not for you.

However, if you want a reverb that allows you to see your frosty breath as you play then consider the Kaleidoscope. The demo video accompanying this review makes the Kaleidoscope’s sound obvious, but another good descriptor is that the reverb sound is icy and somewhat industrial – yet not harsh or shrill. There are some nice ‘tone’ features with this pedal, besides its frigid sound, including Feedback, which gives a resonating effect that can be a slight shimmer to a nasty reverberation that is suitable for an outer-space horror movie. The degree of this feature is relative to the Reverb knob (how deep you want the reverb) – the more Reverb the more prominent the Feedback. The Swell knob determines how quickly the Reverb reaches full bloom. The Gain & Compression knob increases both aspects as you turn it up, to the point that you get some white noise-type distortion mixed into the Reverb (besides increasing volume and modest compression). And if you want nothing but Reverb, for a volume pedal or synth-type effect, just click on the Kill switch and you get nothing but wet… and if you want to disengage the Kaleidoscope then the Bypass switch will do the trick.

At 199 Euro the Kaleidoscope is pricey enough, but it stands out as a very unique contribution to strange and ambient music. The Kaleidoscope has a beautiful eeriness to its tone – cold, icy and industrial. The Feedback produces modest to intense shimmering and modulation that can sound subtle when turned low to robust in how it builds tension in what you play, or as JPTR FX suggests “in a liquid swirl of overtones.” The Gain/Compressor works very well in adding both volume and boldness in the tone, but also creates white-noise fuzz that adds a unique character to the Reverb without touching your guitar’s tone (it needs to be turned up quite a bit for this to occur). Its hardcore look, built one at a time in Germany, is something reminiscent of a 1950s mad scientist laboratory control box and while being ideal for many instruments – guitar, drums, synth and even vocals. Combined with an acoustic guitar you can produce some of the loneliest sounding music, as though sitting and playing in a large abandoned factory. The sounds from the Kaleidoscope become even more ambient and ethereal when Killing the dry signal – tones that seem to float in the air. The Kaleidoscope truly is a ‘Time Reflector Unit.’

Some coordination of the controls is required since once aspect can affect another. The Master Volume obviously controls how loud the signal is, but as you increase the Gain/Compression you will need to adjust the Master Volume. Likewise, a little Feedback goes a long way when the Reverb is very high (sounding very cavernous), whereas you can increase the Feedback as the Reverb reduces (down to ‘room’ level type reverb). The Feedback produces a shimmer to the Reverb sound, but it’s not like a typical shimmer you hear with reverb pedals (e.g., a crystal shimmer)… it can be subtle, but when turned up it produces more of a throbbing or pulsating shimmer modulation that becomes very dramatic in the background (and even overpowering if preferred and dialed in as such). The Swell knob is the most subtle of the bunch and it controls how quickly or slowly the Reverb blossoms toward its ultimate conclusion. There are three switches and since they are close together it may be prudent to add a Barefoot Button Tall Boy to the middle switch, which is a control that Holds or freezes the reverb – a fantastic feature if you enjoy drone-like background tones while playing overtop. The two outside switches including Kill, which removes the dry signal so that you have nothing but wet reverb, whereas the other footswitch Bypasses the Kaleidoscope so there is no reverb. Both Kill and Bypass have their own LED lights to indicate on and off.

A medium sized pedal made of heavy duty, lightweight aluminum with a very industrial looking graphics and knobs, the Kaleidoscope may be considered an ‘Ugly Sound Device,’ at least according to JPTR FX, but I think it looks both unique and modern hardcore. Measuring 140 mm (L) x 120mm (W) x 40mm (H – excluding knobs) (5.5 x 4.7 x 1.57 inches), there are three footswitches. The Kill and Bypass switches are hard switches that produce a solid click when pressed. The middle footswitch (Hold) is a soft-switch, which means it does not ‘click’ when engaged or disengaged. The five knobs may be plastic, but they could very well be aluminum based on the feel and looks (they remind me of the old television sets from the 1970s). All five knobs have good quality pots (smooth and solid when turned). The cable input, cable output and power input are located in the back, which saves pedalboard space, but also prevents accidental stepping and damage when stomping. The two LEDs (that indicate when the Kill or Bypass switches are initiated) have bevels around them, both located at the top of the pedal. The Kaleidoscope does not work on batteries and requires a standard 9VDC (center -) power supply, while consuming 100mA of power.

Plenty of features in a micro-sized pedal (Rainger FX - Reverb-X)

By MGR/Brian Johnston, 16/07/2018
The Reverb-X by Rainger FX is is very basic in terms of the reverb ‘sound,’ as well as being clear and obvious (certainly not muddy). Some reverbs can be too much and necessitate a clean guitar signal – otherwise, the tone gets lost. Reverb-X can work with dirty and high-gain signals as well as clean. Below is a demonstration video of the Reverb-X, including an instrumental composition in the second half that puts together many different settings, from a snappy drum-room to a large cavern.

As stated, this is a straight forward reverb insofar as the ‘sound,’ while offering up to 6-seconds of reverb time. To explain, some reverbs offer an ‘icy’ quality, whereas others cascade notes for an arpeggio-type effect. The Reverb-X is very bare bones in that you get one particular reverb quality, although it can be manipulated very nicely. When dialed down low you have a snappy drum room reverb (great for that spanky 50’s guitar sound) that can escalate all the way to a large cathedral or cave. And then you can customize it even further.

There is a push button at the bottom front of the pedal that allows for either a ‘bright’ or ‘dark’ reverb. And then there’s a Distortion knob that makes the reverb signal (not the guitar signal) gritty, which is a very unique feature. And there is a Gate function (a second button on the bottom front of the pedal) that produces a cool effect by cutting off both the guitar signal and the reverb mix signal once you stop playing (working a chug or choppy chords sound pretty cool with this feature). And then there’s Igor, a pressure-sensitive pad that, when connected, controls the reverb signal – this means you can play a chord or pick some notes and you will not hear the reverb unless you step on the pad (and then the reverb trails off once you step off the pad).

I really like the small size of the Reverb-X is and that it still has a host of features (Rainger FX also produces other pedal effects of this size, which means being able to fully equip a pedal board with about 10-inches or 30 cm of space). It’s not much larger than one of those ‘door stopper’ wedges you buy at a hardware store, and it actually reminds me of that.

For its size there are so many features on the Reverb-X including the ability to have a bright or dark sounding reverb; and the ability to add some distortion or grit directly to the reverb signal (which adds to the dirt when playing with some gain or distortion). The Gate feature is very cool, stopping both guitar and reverb signal on a dime. The ‘on’ light is an unusually large LED (the largest I’ve seen on any pedal and definitely large looking on this ‘wedge’). There is an overload light that indicates when you should reduce your input signal (for a cleaner sound), and all inputs are in the back to save on pedal board space.

Now, because of its small size, the Reverb-X may be a bit cumbersome to use on stage if you like tweaking or changing settings often, and due to the small knobs, although the Gate and Dark/Bright buttons push in and out rather quickly and are easy to locate. Nonetheless, the ability to tweak quickly during a gig is relative to how familiar you are with your equipment and whether you need to make change to your reverb, and so that may not be much of an issue.

The Reverb-X is easy enough to use, although there are several tonal differences at your disposal and you will have fun tweaking and experimenting. Insofar as setting the input and output correctly, the Reverb-X has an overload LED that indicates when the sound is clipping, which means reducing the input. Obviously the output level coordinates with the gear you’re pumping your signal through.

Common with any reverb, there’s some fiddling with the Level (mix) and Room Size. Maxing both gives you that large cavernous sound, whereas keeping the mix low with the Size up gives a nice spacey or ambient quality without being too distractive or ‘out there.’ Conversely, a modest amount of Size with a lot of Level gives that classic slap-back type reverb effect so common with guitar instrumentals of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The Distortion knob always is ‘on,’ although when turned all the way down you don’t hear it. This knob produces a gain effect on the reverb signal only, described best as a sizzling grit. It can sound very different when mixed with a clean guitar signal, but also adds to the dirt when using distortion or drive. I found I had to have it around 12-noon for it to be audible (for it to be apparent in the mix), whereas all the way definitely made the effect well defined.

Likely the trickiest part of Reverb-X is Igor – not that it’s hard to use, but compared to the rest of the Reverb-X it takes a few minutes of practice. Igor triggers the reverb signal, so that you can play dry and then kick in reverb when you want it by stepping on the pressure-pad – a very unique effect in its own right. The harder the stomp or more weight on the pad the louder the reverb response, which trails off once you step off. This produces an effect similar to a volume pedal in that there is a swelling of the reverb. And so, if you pump your foot on-and-off Igor, you can produce a nice pulsating reverb, which is very cool.

The Reverb-X is a solid micro pedal, consisting of steel casing with a sturdy foot switch. The knobs are plastic, but they are set much lower than the foot switch. I also like the angled shape of the pedal, making it more ergonomic for stomping. What makes the Reverb-X very functional, which increases its reliability and durability is that all the inputs are in the back… the guitar input, the output, the power input and Igor’s input. This keeps all the cables out of the way, besides saving on pedal board real estate.

News Reverb for Guitar

Empress Effects releases Reverb stompbox

Published on 05/31/16
Empress Effects has announced their Reverb pedal has started shipping, and requests customer inputs for next feature to be added in a free update.

Feature Articles Reverb for Guitar

A Look at the Best Digital Reverb Guitar Pedals

Published on 05/05/14
A Look at the Best Digital Reverb Guitar Pedals
Indispensable on the pedalboard of any guitarist — right next to the overdrive/distortion — the reverb pedal allows you to add some ambient or to modify the position of a sound in a mix. Naturally, i…

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