Rob Papen RP-Verb

Renowned sound designer and soft synth developer Rob Papen isn't scared to stray from the beaten path, as he demonstrated with RG, his 'rhythm guitar synth'. And neither is his company lacking in the sound processing department, with synths like Predator blessed with a huge range of built-in effects.

For this first strictly-effects effort, though, Papen and his coding cohort Jon Ayres have pulled out all the stops to deliver an ultra-modern reverb.

In detail

We won't run through RP-Verb's features 'in order', as the routing is quite versatile, but let's start by looking at the major sections of the interface.

The core is, obviously, the Reverb panel, with Early- and Late-Reflection sections placed either side. All the controls you would expect are on offer, but with additional surprises, such as Side-Wise and Cross controls for early reflections, which affect the amount of signal 'bleed' between the left and right sides, to simulate different room properties.

For the Reverb section's Pre-Delay and Space controls, you also get Disorder controls, which are designed to affect the build-up of early reflections and manipulate the shape of the virtual space.

It's suggested that these work best with Room reverb types, but they can be great for experimenting with. It's a little like having a room full of 'stuff' (as opposed to an empty one) and can give a more complex sound.

But the greatest creative potential comes from the inclusion of processing options that are quite unconventional for a reverb, such as input distortion and ensemble sections. Not only that, but the reverb's size, length and/or volume can be manipulated by an envelope that's triggered by the input signal, allowing for some serious sound-shaping. There's a three-band EQ, too.

"The greatest creative potential comes from the inclusion of processing options that are quite unconventional for a reverb, such as input distortion and ensemble sections."

Another plus point comes in the form of numerous routing options for the various signal paths and connections between the direct and affected signals. This alone is a hugely powerful way to alter the resulting sound. One drawback, though, is that when changing a parameter, it can be quite disorienting to keep looking back and forth between the knob and the main display - a pop-up over the former would help here.

It's also fair to say that RP-Verb often sounds decidedly 'digital', albeit in quite a pleasing manner. Clearly, this is something that's quite subjective and, indeed, it may be exactly what you're after.

Modulation options

We've can't stress enough RP-­Verb's supreme potential for creating unique textures based on modulation. To add real-time modulation, you can draw in automation in your DAW or record your movements as you tweak the parameters. However, this isn't the most hands-on way to work and it's only possible to edit one parameter at a time using on-screen input.

This is where MIDI control comes in. Assigning controls to MIDI in RP-­Verb is as easy as right-clicking a MIDI parameter, selecting Latch To MIDI and moving the desired controller. The same menu is also used to unlatch MIDI controls.

Once you have these sorted, you can save your RP­-Verb MIDI setup preferences as presets, which can be particularly handy if you have different controllers in use at different times. It also gives you the option to swap and download presets designed for specific bits of hardware.

Summary

Hidden strength RP-Verb isn't your everyday utility reverb, then. Rather, its strength lies in its potential for creativity. There are more realistic and easier-to-use reverbs and, arguably, those that offer better value for money, but when it comes to making crazy noises and generating wild sweeps of enveloping sound, there's something about the way this plug-in's parameters and controls are set up that makes it an absolute joy to fiddle with, yielding all manner of crazily futuristic or delightfully distorted sounds.

If you're a serious sound designer who likes doing weird and wonderful things, you'll be able to get some unique textures and effects out of RP-Verb, and there aren't many parameters that don't respond well to real-time modulation. If you're not, you're probably better off opting for one of the many excellent simpler reverberation options on the market.

Listen to the RP-Verb in action:

Big distorted drums

The works

Reverb length automated

Disorderly

Natural room

MusicRadar Rating

4.5 / 5 stars
Pros

Awesomely powerful. Has a unique sound. Rewards real-time tweaks/automation. Clearly laid out. Huge selection of presets.

Cons

Tricky to master. Not ideal for day-to-day use.

Verdict

RP-Verb is a sound design powerhouse, though it's not for the faint-hearted.

Additional Requirements

PC: VST/RTAS host, Mac: VST/AU/RTAS host

OS Requirements

Apple Mac OS X 10.4 or later Microsoft Windows Vista Microsoft Windows XP

Processor Type Required

Intel PowerPC

Plug-in FX Type

reverb

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.

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