A bit of spring reverb is all well and good, but there are plenty of players who lust after just a little bit more.
From maximalist ambient textures to modulated, filtered, horror soundtrack-like oddness, the boutique pedal revolution has brought with it a reverb pedal for every taste imaginable, especially as powerful dedicated delay ICs have been successfully deployed by boutique builders.
Today, we’re digging a little deeper into several compact units that are ideal for characterful, ambient soundscapes. From the slapback and long decay of Paris metro tunnels to the event horizon of a black hole, these lean, mean reverb machines can do it all...
EarthQuaker Devices Transmisser
Based on the venerable Spin FV1 delay chip, a favourite of boutique builders, the Transmisser weirds it up by adding two filters on top of a modulation and pitch shift to the core reverb sound.
With a fair bit of tweaking, there are some more standard-type digital reverb sounds on offer here, but in general, the Transmisser shines when you try to exploit its strangeness, and then blend the ideas it helps you create into your playing.
With the Rate down, and both Freq and Darkness pulled back, there are some truly unique alien whale sounds to be enjoyed - and isn’t that what we all need from time to time?
4 out of 5
Built around the ever-popular Accutronics reverb belton brick, this unit has more of a spring-like feel to it, delivered by a range of controls that allow fine-grained control over the tone, decay, pre-delay and dirt put out by this gritty beast.
The short slapback pre-delay helps separate the reverb from your dry signal and really does evoke a series of reflections in a subway tunnel - hence the name.
The Havok control allows for gorgeous runaway oscillations to be conjured, which certainly add to the expressiveness of the unit. As a lo-fi reverb it lives up to its name - pristine this isn’t, for better or worse.
4 out of 5
Another FV1 offering, this multi-featured unit boasts a powerful delay with several subdivision modes, as well as a reverb run in series after the delay block.
With the processing power being divided between the two effects; the Ethereal is best when both circuits are blended together in a more washy mix; although the delay can stand on its own; the reverb can’t to the same degree.
Still, the fine-grained control over the delay and overall tone means ambient, textural washes are easily attained. The only real criticism is that the toggle switch for selecting subdivisions feels vulnerable to a misaimed boot.
4 out of 5
Rainger FX Reverb-X
A comparatively tiny contender, the Rainger FX is a fully-featured oddball. Like the Météore, it doesn’t seek to provide pristine, studio reverb sounds, but instead seeks to tread darker and dirtier sonic territory.
In addition to a distortion circuit, there’s also an input gain control, which can be used to musically overload the input, and drive the reverb hard into a hurricane of noise. Unlike the Météore, it can clean up if desired for more traditional reverb sounds.
With the pressure-sensitive Igor footswitch it also shines, delivering dynamic swells of guitar or synthesiser with the mix fully wet.
5 out of 5