Despite its comparatively low profile on the music software landscape, the audio processing creations of Philippe Decuyper, aka eaReckon, rank among the finest plugin effects money can buy.
Joining EAReverb 2, TransReckon, EARebound and Analog 87 Series, EARevolve combines a dual chorus and a rotary speaker emulation on steroids, imbuing mono and stereo source signals of all kinds with thickness, width and/or binaural motion.
With the Chorus and Mixer sections stacked up on the left hand side, the vast majority of the GUI is taken up by the rotary speaker’s separate Horn and Drum sections, the overall speaker rotation and microphone controls (see Microphones and motion), and a hugely informative display visualising the movement and sizing of the speaker, the horn and drum within, and the room in which they live.
The Chorus and Rotary Speaker sections are activated/deactivated by clicking their names, and clicking the XT button toggles between basic and advanced editing modes, the former simply concealing the ‘deeper’ control panels at the bottom of the Chorus, Horn and Drum sections. The option is superfluous, truth be told - at no point did we feel the need to switch out of XT mode.
The Chorus and Rotary Speaker are arranged in parallel, each levelled individually in the Mixer, where the overall Dry/Wet mix and Input/Output levels are also tweaked. A brickwall limiter is available on the output, and +6dB buttons on the Chorus and Speaker channels provide at-a-click boosting should the +6dB throw of the faders themselves not prove enough.
In to the chorus
The Chorus section comprises two independent stereo chorus modules. These share Rate (0.01- 20Hz), Depth, LFO shape (sine or triangle) and Rate/Depth Randomise controls, and are blended with the Mix knob. The XT panel is where the real action takes place, though, enabling the modulation speed of the second chorus to be set as a percentage of the Rate (0-200%), and frequency-based separation of the two using a high-pass filter on Chorus 1 and a low-pass on Chorus 2. The left and right LFOs for each chorus can each be delayed by up to 40ms, and both right-side LFOs are phase- adjustable.
As well as providing possibly the most versatile rotary speaker model we’ve ever seen, EARevolve also lets you get hands-on with the microphones picking it up, alter the size of the speaker as a whole, and throw it around within a virtual room.
The speaker is scalable from a tiny 1mm to a surreal 20m in diameter, as an absolute value or a percentage of the (square) Room Size, which ranges from 1-20m on all four sides, as represented by the main display. The Room emulation is an operationally straightforward reverb algorithm, offering control of Early Reflection amount and the degree to which the distance of the speaker from the mics reduces volume.
The two mics (Left or Mid and Right or Side) are highly configurable, with adjustable parameters including horizontal spacing, angles, front and rear response patterns, and directivity (omnidirectional to tightly focused).
The speaker can be moved manually within the room by dragging it around, or rotated automatically along the circular or elliptical path defined using the Position section’s X/Y Depth and Center knobs, at the speed set by the Rate knob (up to 400rpm/6.67Hz). All of this is visualised perfectly in the display, along with the mic patterns.
To reduce audible stereo movement (the generation of which is what the rotary speaker is for, after all), Chorus 1’s Crossmix knob increasingly mixes its left and right channels into each other for everything above 500Hz - anything below that won’t be perceptibly moving much. This proves very useful for centring the chorus effect, whether or not the speaker is brought into play alongside it.
As the name implies, EARevolve’s Rotary Speaker section is the headline feature, offering a great degree of control over the movement of its virtual horn and drum. For starters, complete freedom is given over adjustment of the frequency crossovers between the unprocessed lowest frequencies, Horn and Drum. Then, as well as setting the usual ‘slow’ and ‘fast’ speeds for each of the two components (up to 10Hz/600rpm, or synced from 1/16 to 16/1), and their respective Acceleration and Deceleration times (0-5s) for stepping between them via eight intermediate steps, you can also automate the Park Angles (the radial position in ‘stop’ mode) of both components, for totally customisable non-cyclical rotations.
The Rotary Speaker ‘XT’ controls enable alteration of the maximum amount of gain reduction and low-pass filter cutoff modulation dependent on the Drum/Horn angles and microphone positioning (see Microphones and motion), for tailoring the intensity of dropoff and deadening as the two swing round. With the Drum or Horn pointing directly at either mic, no gain reduction or cutoff modulation is applied; when pointing directly away from the mic, the full set reduction/modulation is applied.
Both components also include a Saturation knob for dialling in subtle valve amp distortion, and on/off switches for the all-important Doppler effect - the pitchbending that occurs as the speaker moves towards and away from the mic. Exclusive to the Horn, however, is the Peak Filter, which allows boosting of a single frequency band by up to 10dB for emphasis.
It all adds up to a powerful setup for detailed and independent manipulation of horn and drum, and one that’s expanded exponentially by the ability to mess with the mics and move the entire speaker around within the virtual room, as discussed in Microphones and motion.
EARevolve elaborates on the rotary speaker concept to create a playground of binaural spatialising. From traditional Leslie-style effects to far more reality-defying stereo animations, its liberating toolset and well calibrated controls let you get hands-on with a beautifully modelled rotary speaker on two levels, and the endless multi-orbital, multiband possibilities are as fun to explore as they are creatively rewarding.
And let’s not forget the similarly flexible and wonderfully analogue-sounding chorus, the silky smooth pitching and rich, luscious sound of which bring another layer of sonic activity to the party. It’s a brilliant combination and another must-have from eaReckon.