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Fender Reflecting Pool review

A big-ticket reverb and delay from Fender to add some depth and space to your tone

  • £259
  • €259
  • $299.99
Fender Reflecting Pool review
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Our Verdict

An all-in-one solution for pedalboard ambience, the Reflecting Pool is a well-considered and practical unit that's got some very smart features indeed.

Pros

  • Intuitive setup.
  • It's a good old-fashioned two-fer!
  • Second delay offers more options.
  • Tap tempo has a variety of subdivisions.
  • You can tweak the delay repeat quality.
  • Optional LED-lit controls make it stage-friendly.

Cons

  • No dedicated spring reverb emulation.

What is it?

Pedalboard space is one of the most precious commodities for any guitar player living through this golden age of guitar effects pedals, and so when Fender combine reverb and its close friend delay on one pedal it's got to be worth further inspection.

The Reflecting Pool is really to effects pedals jammed together in one enclosure and told to get on with it. You can use the reverb or delay separately or together, with the delay going into the reverb. There are footswitches for both sides with a tap tempo switch in the middle. 

There is mono or full stereo operation. On the reverb side of the pedal you've got controls for Decay, Damp, Level and Extra, the latter working in tandem with the Type and Variation switches to adjust a parameter specific to one of the special reverb types. Extra also controls the level of bass in both Hall and Reverb settings.

Altogether there are nine reverb types, accessed via the Type and Variation switches. Choose from Small, Medium and Large Halls and Rooms, plus Shimmer, Gated/Reverse and Modulated reverbs. Disappointingly, and not very Fender, if we are being brutally honest, there is no dedicated spring reverb, but you can work around this with the controls on offer should you need the occasional moment of drip.

On the delay side you'll find controls for Time, Rate, Feedback, Mix, Level and Depth, plus switches for Type, Subd (setting the timing of the second delay tap in relation to the main delay), and Quality, the latter allowing you to degrade the fidelity of your repeats. 

The side of the Reflecting Pool gives you an idea of how versatile it is. There are stereo I/O jacks, connections for an external tap tempo footswitch, USB, switchable buffered bypass and you can turn the LED lights on the controls on and off. (Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Performance and Verdict

The Reflecting Pool has a lot going on under the surface, perhaps more so on the delay side. The tap tempo and Subd control allows you to really take control of your repeats, no matter what type you have engaged.

If you are not using the tap tempo, turn the Time knob to set how long you want your delay – it runs from 10ms to a full second. Feedback and Level works as you would expect, setting the number of repeats and the ration of wet to dry, and you can dial in some very musical modulation via the Rate and Depth knobs.

The Mix control is where things get really interesting, and it makes a convincing case for choosing the Reflecting Pool over other units. Like Fender's superlative Mirror Image, you can add a secondary repeat related to your main repeat, but with this Mix control you can control the volume of this secondary repeat and sculpt a rhythmically complex set of echo.

Also consider...

(Image credit: Boss)

Boss RV-500
There’s plenty to be explored in this immensely practical pedal that brings reverb and delay together. With all that memory and the various footswitching options it’s the perfect tool if you need different ambiences for different songs. 

Strymon BigSky
This kind of quality doesn't come cheap, but reverbs don't get much better than this – a superlative stompbox in every way.

It is very cool. The Edge would approve, and it opens up another avenue of exploration – which, after all, is one of the best aspects about delay. It is both a utility for adding depth and space, but also for transcending the normal bounds of performance. 

With these secondary repeats, you can choose the subdivisions from can be 50 per cent (eighth note), 66 per cent (quarter note triplet) or 75 per cent (dotted eighth note).

Delay-wise, there is plenty of choice. You can go straight with a pristine digital delay, analogue bucket-brigade style, or tape echo emulation. The 3-way Quality switch, which again lets you adjust the fidelity of each repeat, is really something else, changing the character of each of the three delay modes.

The reverb side is similarly tweakable. The Shimmer reverb is properly celestial, with the Mix control adjusting its octave level. In the Gated/Reverse reverb mode, the Mix sets the reverb's tail shape, in the modulated, it sets the depth of modulated reverb.

It is easy enough to get to grips with. And you can use it for quotidian settings of Hall and Room reverbs, just to add a bit of life to your sound if playing in a dead space, or go all out seeking more outré tones. 

MusicRadar verdict: An all-in-one solution for pedalboard ambience, the Reflecting Pool is a well-considered and practical unit that's got some very smart features indeed.

The web says

"As long as you’re not after old-school spring effects, it’s hard to think of a reverb sound that isn’t available here. The halls are huge, and for anything less than a full-on ambient wash you’ll need to keep the level and decay time low in this mode; but if you do want sheer scale – and especially if you have two amps handy – shimmer offers some bewitchingly intergalactic textures."
Guitar

Hands-on demos

Fender

PMT TV

Chords of Orion

Specifications

  • ORIGIN: USA 
  • TYPE: Reverb & delay pedal 
  • FEATURES: True or Trails bypass, 10ms to 1,000ms delay range, tap tempo, firmware updates via USB, LED markers on control knobs 
  • CONTROLS: Reverb Decay, Reverb Damp, Reverb Level, Reverb Extra, Reverb Type switch, Reverb Variation switch, Delay Time, Delay Feedback, Delay Mix, Delay Rate, Delay Depth, Delay Type switch, Delay Subdivision switch, Delay Quality switch, True/Trails bypass switch, LEDs on/off switch, Reverb footswitch, Tap footswitch, Delay footswitch 
  • EFFECTS TYPES: Hall Reverb, Room Reverb, Special Reverb, Digital Delay, Analog Delay, Tape Delay 
  • CONNECTIONS: Standard inputs (Left/Mono, Right), standard outputs (Left/Mono, Right), Tap footswitch, USB  
  • POWER: 9V DC adaptor (not supplied) 250mA 
  • DIMENSIONS: 170 (w) x 125 (d) x 63mm (h)
  • CONTACT: Fender