Review: Spaceman Orion Analog Spring Reverb

 

While this article is arguably a “review” of the Spaceman Orion Analog Spring Reverb pedal, I’m approaching it from a different perspective than a typical pedal review. This article is more of a “showcase” of the Orion pedal. Yes, I’ll be assessing the benefits and features of the pedal as well as critiquing any areas in which its design and functionality could be improved, but I feel that this pedal deserves being approached from a point of view that transcends the goals typically inherent when writing a review. Of the Spaceman pedals released to date, the Orion seems like the builder’s greatest work and is more of a creative statement of artistic expression and the culmination of the builder’s ambition and expertise, and thus it warrants appreciation beyond just the measure of its utility. The Orion is unlike any pedal the world as seen, and that will become more clear as we delve in. So without a space related pun to get things moving…

I first saw the Spaceman Orion when it was unveiled way back at Summer NAMM 2015. It was hands-down the most exciting pedal I saw at the show, and you’ll see the Orion sitting firmly at the top of our Best Pedals of SNAMM ’15 article. In that writeup my hasty introduction to Spaceman mentioned the “master craftsmanship” that the builder is known for although that is something that can’t be fully appreciated simply by exposure to a few descriptive buzz words. I also mentioned how the Orion’s four knob controls exceed the versatility that you’ll typically find in amp-based (or amp-top for that matter) spring reverb units. It’s worth pointing out that at SNAMM I was only able to listen to the Orion through a custom headphone amp that Spaceman brought along to the convention, but the presentation was more than sufficient enough to reveal the Orion as an instrument very deserving of attention.

 

 

When I finally got to spend some time with an actual Orion unit in my studio, I was able to fully appreciate the nuances and intricacies of this remarkable pedal. Facing formidable competition from a host of multi-algorithm digital reverb pedals out there, the Orion still appears at a very respectable placing in our Best Reverb Pedals article. Even though the pedal is currently out of production, the Orion still remains on the top reverb pedals list. Pardon us if the continued exposure contributes to increased second-hand market prices, but the Orion will likely remain on our list until Spaceman decides to release an Orion II… And I really hope they do.

So let’s talk more in-depth about the Orion and why it’s the definitive spring reverb pedal.

Visit Spaceman Effects for more info about the Orion.

 

 

Sound & Performance:

I want to cover three aspects of the Orion reverb that seem to go unnoticed and under-appreciated by people glancing over and discussing this pedal.

 

Deeply Interactive Parameter Control

Perhaps the most favorable aspect of the Orion is how much flexibility it provides through its seemingly simple parameter layout. The pedal’s 4 knobs are neatly arranged across the surface of the pedal and are pretty self explanatory. But what isn’t as apparent without playing the pedal is how interactive and essential each knob is to dialing in the overall sound. This is one of those pedals that can pretty much sound good wherever you set the knobs (as long as the Volume is set high enough to achieve unity gain or add a little boost if you need it); it really just depends on the kind of sound you’re trying to achieve for a given part of a song.

The Blend knob dials in the reverb amount from nearly dry to about 95% wet. Surprisingly, the pedal sounds pretty amazing even when the Blend is maxed out, providing a wide range of wet reverb textures that can suit many needs. The Dwell knob “controls how hard the dual springs are pushed” and essentially drives the signal harder to produce more drip and reverberation. You can adjust the Blend with the Dwell to get the right balance of reverb presence. While the Dwell isn’t exactly a “decay” style knob, how hard the springs are hit can determine how long the reverb sustains. If you’re using lower Dwell settings, you might want to boost the Blend to make sure the lighter reverb is still audible in your mix; if you’re maxing out the Dwell for an ultra drippy spring sound, you might not need as much reverb blended in. In any case a nudge of the Volume will make sure your output volume is consistent in the mix when you activate the pedal.

The Tone knob is extra special and also essential to the Orion’s overall sound. Spring reverb units are typically at least somewhat dark in tonality, and the high-end is often rolled off to attenuate upper frequency noise inherent in the crude, lo-fi process of running a signal into springs and then capturing the spring vibrations. With the Orion’s Tone knob set lower in its range, you’ll be able to achieve the characteristically common frequencies of darker spring reverb units. And if you turn the knob clockwise, you can begin to brighten the tone significantly, boosting the top-end well beyond what is typical of vintage units or the single-knob spring reverb on an amp. If you were to push the Blend and Tone to higher settings, you may experience more pronounced noise (which is due to the nature of spring reverb design and not necessarily a fault of the Orion), but this wider range of parameter control can help dial in some unique sounds that can still find use in song parts and/or in a band setting where added noise would be less noticeable in the mix. The noise is never too distracting for me, but some users who’ve become accustomed to digital reverbs and are less familiar with the drawbacks inherent in actual hardware spring reverb units may need to readjust their expectations to begin appreciating the brighter (and somewhat noisier) tones the Orion offers.

 

Subtle Switching & Spring Suspension

Aside from the superbly interactive parameters, there are a couple interesting aspects of the Orion’s design which emphasize how much attention to detail was paid to ensuring that this pedal would be an ideal spring reverb for general pedalboard use. The foot-switch is of the soft-touch type that triggers a true bypass switching relay. This means that instead of hearing a loud click that causes noisy reverberations when you activate the pedal, you instead get a smooth switching operation that is consistently quiet no matter how hard you stomp on the foot-switch. This is critical for live use when you may activate and bypass the Orion multiple times during a performance.

Another noteworthy design aspect is that Spaceman have managed to suspend the spring reverb tank (with springs!) within the pedal so that stage vibrations don’t transfer to the reverb unit. Booming kick drums and low-frequency bass rumblings are less likely to be heard through your amp in the reverb – which is important if you plan on performing with the Orion.

 

 

These two features may be overlooked but are key aspects that contribute to the Orion’s stageworthiness. A lot of thought went into designing this pedal, and the effort and attention to detail shows. While the premium boutique build quality and collectible scarcity can make Spaceman pedals seem like studio novelties, the Orion has clearly been designed to be a stage ready ‘verb that earns its place on performing guitarists’ pedalboards.

 

Reverb Pan Crashing

So while the carefully suspended reverb module is resistant to external vibrations, you can still get those brash reverb pan crashes by jarring the pedal. Some guitarists may be wary of kicking their pedalboards, but you could always put the Orion in your amp’s effects loop and have a guitar tech by the backline jolt the pedal at key moments in a song performance. Extreme pedal abuse is never recommended, but the Orion seems well enough constructed to be able to withstand some mild force for the sake of performance flair. If anything this is a great trick you could try in the studio to produce some unique reverb sounds, and if you’re feeling extra expressive during the peak of a set, give the Orion a small kick or two.

 

 

Orion vs Full-Size Spring Reverbs

Amps with full-size spring reverb tanks often have just a single “Reverb” knob to dial in the amount of reverb you want. Amp top reverb units may offer some variation of Dwell (decay), Tone, and/or Blend (mix) controls, but they’re bulky, massive units that take up a lot of space. The Orion presents itself as a compelling alternate option as it has a real dual spring reverb tank and 4 parameter controls, yet it’s in the form of a reasonably small pedal which is very compact compared to amp-top reverb units.

It’s important to correct some possible misperceptions and hype-inducing assumptions before we continue. While the Orion does offer excellent spring reverb tones, it shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as attempting to be a superior replacement for your Fender ’63 tube spring reverb unit or the full-size reverb pan in your Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb. Yes, the Orion is a real spring reverb and has plenty of real spring reverb “drip”, but its sounds and character are best measured on their own merits instead of compared for 1:1 sonic accuracy beside vintage reverb units. The Orion uses an Accutronics Blue Reverb spring tank which is much smaller than the massive 16-inch long 2 & 3 spring behemoths associated with “classic” spring reverb tones, and this particular reverb module is part of a machine that aims to share its own voice rather than replicate the sounds of other spring reverb units. Still, considering that the Orion can achieve a respectably long reverb decay that can pass the 4 second threshold and has a wide range of sonic flexibility thanks to its Blend, Tone, and Dwell controls, some users will be able to argue in favor of the Orion offering superior performance in some circumstances. If you want the most accurate sounding spring reverb for classic surf guitar tones, maybe you’ll want to stick with your preferred vintage unit or reissue; if you want a modern spring reverb that produces its own spring reverb sounds and offers greater performance convenience, you may want to seek out an Orion and experience it for yourself.

 

Orion vs Digital Reverb Pedals

It’s really important to understand that since the Orion isn’t meant to be a compact clone of any vintage reverb unit, it isn’t attempting to rehash the sounds that digital reverb pedals try (often in vain) to emulate. Yes, the Orion does have that drippy character that digital reverbs usually have a tough time getting right, and I’m particularly impressed with how the Orion’s response to Dwell knob adjustments changes the feel of the reverb in a more organic and authentic way than I’ve heard from any digital reverb pedal. But there are two key tradeoffs to bring attention to in the Orion vs digital spring reverb debate. Digital reverbs are arguably cleaner and quieter, and multi-algorithm pedals usually give you access to presets which can give you a wider selection of quickly accessible sounds in a live performance situation. The Orion is a 100% analog pedal with real spring characteristics and other elusive qualities that I’ve yet to hear in a digital spring reverb. The analog nature of the Orion also means that, yes, it can be noticeably noisier than the pristine quietness found in a digital spring reverb; however, some guitarists would argue that such sanitized, noise-free spring reverb tones are sterile in comparison to the grittiness of a real spring reverb. I’ve played many of the most notable digital spring reverb pedals available, and I feel that overall, the Orion can hold its own against any digital spring reverb pedal. This owes thanks to the Orion’s authentic analog spring tank, its organic response to your playing dynamics and the nuances of your audio signal, and the wide range of parameter flexibility the Orion provides for affecting the reverb’s sound and response.

 

The Analog Difference

It’s really important to emphasize that the Orion is a unique sounding pedal that offers something beyond what can be achieved with most reverb pedals. When I compared it directly to many of the digital algorithms I’ve become accustomed to hearing, I could hear subtle differences in the way the Orion articulates its reverb sounds. This goes beyond the obvious different “types” of reverb I compared it, too. The differences I’m referring to likely stem from the contrast between the precise mathematical calculations of a digital reverb versus the real-world fluctuations of the Orion’s actual springs interacting in an organic way to create its reverberated ambience. The Orion just seems to have a more interactive quality and a character that I didn’t realize I’ve been missing from many of the digital reverbs that I’ve grown to love.

One of the most surprising aspects of dialing in the Orion is how many pleasing textures you can find hidden within its simple parameter layout. It can’t be overstated how crucial the Blend is. Rather than just set it and forget it, notice how the reverb’s droning quality becomes more apparent as you increase the Blend. Adjusting the Dwell then seems to make the reverb sound more or less intense. And since the pedal never quite gets 100% wet, you can play with a super wet signal that still contains the presence of your dry tone. While you can just dial in your ideal spring reverb sound and leave the knobs stationary, the rewarding interactivity of the knobs can inspire all kinds of unique sounds that may make the Orion even more fun to use during a recording session or in a creative jam.

Perhaps my favorite way I’ve come to use the Orion is in tandem with another reverb. As I’ve said the Orion can easily stand on its own, but rather than argue in favor of using this single analog pedal over a multi-algorithm digital reverb, I’ve discovered that the Orion can enhance other reverbs, particularly when placed before other reverbs in my signal chain. I’m very fond of smooth plate reverbs and using room reverbs for ambience, and by placing the Orion in front of another reverb, you can either create a space for the Orion to sit in (as if playing an amp with spring reverb within a room) or augment the reflections of the second reverb with spring-like qualities and extend these beautiful textures with the decay of the second reverb. Basically, if I’m already playing a digital reverb that I’m enjoying, adding the Orion in front of it seems to often create an even more pleasing ambience. This trick even works well when running the mono Orion into a stereo digital reverb.

I only have two seemingly minor criticisms of the Orion, and neither of my issues involve the sound quality of this pedal in any way. For all the efforts made towards design efficiency, I am somewhat disappointed that the Orion has side-mounted audio and power jacks, a particularly glaring annoyance on wider pedals that take up more precious pedalboard real estate. Sure, that’s been the norm on every Spaceman pedal to date, but while it would have involved cramping together some of the components on the Orion’s pair of beautifully arranged PCBs, I think the extra half inch of space reduced on each side of the pedal would have been well worth the change. A more glaring issue for me personally is that I prefer to avoid pedals with “lazy” relay bypass when using an effects loop switcher. Such pedals default to the bypassed state when powered up. I like when relay bypass pedals either remember the previous bypass state when powered up (“smart” relay bypass) or can be manually set to default to “active” when powered up. For guitarists that don’t use effects switchers this is a non-issue though, but for guitarists who buy premium pedals and control their pedalboard from a fancy central switching hub, I’d like to see this detail taken into consideration in the future.

 

 

Summary:

The Spaceman Orion is simply a beautiful sounding and incredibly well-crafted analog spring reverb with a rewarding palette of ambient textures unlike any you’ll find in a digital reverb pedal. Rather than try to emulate the sound of other vintage units, the Orion treats musicians to its own reverb voices and should be celebrated for its own accomplishments. That’s not to say guitarists who prefer classic spring reverb won’t love the mojo and real spring “drip” of the Orion; many will most certainly love it, but this pedal may likely be best appreciated by approaching it from a fresh perspective. If you’ve grown used to playing only the cold and precise digital reverb pedals that have ruled the market for years, the Orion will open your perception to new articulate and responsive reverb textures.

That concludes our Spaceman Orion Analog Spring Reverb review. Thanks for reading.

Meris Mercury7 Reverb Review

 

The Mercury7 Reverb was the first pedal release from Meris, a Southern California based builder currently comprised of only 3 team members. While at a glance the Mercury7 may seem like a pretty standard reverb, it’s actually more of a conceptual reverb instrument. After all, the sounds of the Mercury7 were inspired by the majestic use of reverb found in Vangelis’ original Bladerunner film soundtrack from 1982, and if you’re familiar with the work, that should give you a hint as to the kinds of sprawling cinematic ambience this pedal can produce.

The Mercury7 Reverb pedal was actually derived from Meris’ Mercury7 Reverb 500 Series module, the world’s first 500 Series based algorithmic DSP reverb. When you consider the Mercury7’s inspirational source and the fact that the Mercury7 was originally designed as a studio tool first, you can further imagine the perspective with which it may be best to approach the pedal. Expanding your perceptions in this way will help you see the Mercury7 Reverb as a portal that can open wormholes to uncharted dimensions of reverberant space.

 

Features:

  • Handcrafted Algorithmic Reverbs
  • Analog Mix & Dry Signal Path
  • High & Low Frequency Damping
  • Extensive Modulation Capability
  • Auto Swell Envelope (variable and foot-switchable)
  • Stereo input and output
  • Switchable input output headroom level for Guitar, Synthesizer or Line levels
  • Expression pedal control over all parameters simultaneously
  • Presets available via external 4-Preset switch or MIDI
  • MIDI in/out over TRS via the EXP jack
  • Premium analog signal path and 24-bit AD/DA w/32 bit floating point DSP
  • Premium Analog Devices JFET input section
  • Color – translucent coat of deep blue over brushed aluminum
  • Designed and built in Los Angeles, California U.S.A.

Specs:

  • Premium quality 24 bit A/D and D/A
  • 32 Bit floating point DSP hardware
  • -115 dB Signal to Noise Ratio (typical)
  • Premium low noise Analog signal path throughout
  • Auto Swell Envelope (variable and foot-switchable)
  • Analog Devices JFET input circuitry
  • Wet/Dry signal mix occurs in the Analog domain
  • Selectable True Bypass (Relay) or Analog Buffered Bypass
  • 150 mA total power consumption
  • Durable transparent blue powder coat over brushed aluminum
  • Current draw: <150mA
  • Dimensions: 4.25″ wide, 4.5″ long, 2″ tall

Visit Meris for more info about the Mercury7 Reverb.

 

 

Sound & Performance:

As is the case with the similarly laid-out Polymoon and Ottobit Jr. pedals, the Mercury7 Reverb has a surface arrangement of six knobs, a pair of buttons, and two foot-switches.

The main knob functions are generally self-explanatory, but some of the knobs function a bit differently from what you’ll find on some reverb pedals. For example, while the Space Decay sets the length of your reverb trails (the “decay”), there’s also a change in the way the reverb dissipates depending on where the knob is set. The knob will seem to expand and contract the reverb as you turn it, and the reverb seems to get “bigger” and more dense as you turn the knob clockwise. This makes it highly interactive with other parameters; as the reverb gets bigger and louder, you may need to attenuate the sound with the Mix knob. Likewise, the Lo Frequency and Hi Frequency knobs can help shape the atmosphere of the reverb. You can brighten the high-end to add more sheen to the reverb or dampen the highs for a boxier sound, and you can remove some low-end content for a thinner reverb sound or increase the size of the virtual room.

The two center knobs, Modulate and Pitch Vector, provide a couple extra surface options for augmenting the sound of the reverb. Modulate adds modulation to the reverb ranging from a light, smooth sway to deeper and more hypnotic movements. (We’ll discuss this a bit more when we get to the Alt functions.) The Pitch Vector knob selects between different pitch intervals that shift the pitch of the reverb. It’s worth noting the knob interplay again; when you add a Pitch Vector selection to your sound, you may wish to experiment with changing other knob values to get the perfect sound. With the -Oct setting, boosting the Lo Frequency can help dial in a booming low-end heavy reverb. With the Slight Pitch Down and Slight Pitch Up options, try using the Modulate knob to make an even more dizzying and vertigo inducing sound. With the 5th and Shimmer options use the Hi Frequency to really accentuate or suppress those glistening upper frequencies. You’ll also notice how higher Space Decay values cause the pitches to regenerate and continue cascading in the direction the pitch is shifting.

 

Alt Functions

Each of the Mercury7’s knobs has an Alt function which is accessed by pushing and holding the Alt button while turning any of the knobs. These functions add deeper levels of customization to the reverb.

The Predelay Alt function behaves slightly different from how I expected it to compared to the many other reverbs I’ve used. The maximum time you can insert before the onset of the reverb is relatively short, but it will let you add a little extra space before the reverb so that your pick attack and transients can breathe. Considering how subtle it is, this may be more of a set-and-forget parameter rather than one that’ll have dramatic effect on the placement of the reverb in a mix; however if you’re using the Mercury7 with other instruments besides guitar, you may find the Predelay useful for tweaking the response of the reverb to work well with different audio source(s). The Density Alt function “sets amount of initial build up of echoes before the reverb tank”. To my ears this seems to smooth out the reverb as you raise the Density. With shorter settings more detail of the reflections will be audible, but at higher settings the reverb seems more diffused. It’s worth exploring how this interacts with the Space Decay. If I’m using longer decay settings, I find myself liking to add more Density, but with shorter decay times, I like to keep it low to create a sparsely reflective response that seems more room-like.

There are a couple different modulation Alt parameters. The Mod Speed option sets the “dominant” speed of the modulation. I mentioned that you can dial in a range of modulation textures with the Modulate knob. As you increase the Mod Speed and raise the Modulate knob’s surface value, you’ll notice that there’s all kinds of gargling modulation happening. It sounds like the Mercury7 is using well more than one LFO to generate the movement, and it can go from subtle to sea-sickening as you increase both of these parameters. And if you add in the Vibrato Depth Alt function, you have yet even more modulation to add to your reverb, this time in the form of more subtle sine wave based pitch modulation. The vibrato has a set speed, perhaps a drawback for those wish for more from the vibrato function. You’ll probably not notice the counter-movement of the set vibrato speed if the Vibrato Depth is set low and if you’re using both of the modulation options at once; things will just get more interesting with all the movement going on.

The Pitch Vector Mix Alt parameter adjusts the mix between the normal reverb sound and the pitch-shifted reverb. It essentially lets you balance out how much of the pitch-shifting is in your wet reverberated signal. It can be tempting to just max it out so that when you activate the Pitch Vector you get a full-on pitch-shifted reverb, but it can be more effective to carefully set the Pitch Vector Mix by ear while the Mix and Space Decay are set to levels at which you generally use them. I personally went through a phase of feeling like I didn’t like the Mercury7’s pitch-shifting effects that much until I realized how critical it is to be mindful of how much Pitch Vector signal is blended into the virtual reverb tank. For me a Pitch Vector Mix setting around 11 o’clock generally works well for getting a nice Shimmer effect that is present without being overly prominent.

The Attack Time Alt parameter sets the onset time for the Swell effect. Let’s talk about that in detail…

 

Swell

The auto swell function has it’s own dedicated foot-switch. When activated the reverb will swell from silence to full volume in response to your playing. It’s good to set the Attack Time Alt parameter to get a response that suits the feel you want to accompany your playing. This function also works really well with the Mix cranked up for a fully wet reverb signal. Generous amounts of Space Decay will also help create a huge cloud of reverb, and you can hold down the Swell foot-switch to max the Space Decay to keep the reverb going while you auto-swell in more of your playing. This adds some extra performance flexibility to the Mercury7.

 

Cathedra & Ultraplate

It’s finally time to talk about the Mercury7’s two reverb modes. While some pedals come loaded with maybe a half-dozen, dozen, or even more reverbs, this pedal has only two. Is that a drawback? Well, if you just want a spring reverb sound, the Mercury7 definitely won’t be your first choice, but the two modes on tap do cover a lot of ground. Let’s discuss.

I’m a big fan of plate reverbs, and I like to try every plate emulation I can get access to. In short, the Mercury7 Reverb’s Ultraplate algorithm is my personal favorite plate reverb for using with a short pre-delay. In fact, the stereo spread of the Ultraplate is so appealing to me that I’ve been using the Ultraplate as my default “always-on” reverb for light to moderate ambience for the past six months. While the sound of the reverb may be more artificial than a room-modeled reverb, it does what I need it to do, and when compared to algorithms from other noteworthy pedals, I keep going back to the Mercury7. Since I literally just leave it on nearly all the time, if I want to use another reverb, I may stack another reverb that has a less impressive stereo sound in front of the Ultraplate. The Mercury7 Reverb creates the space for all the other pedals to sit in.

The Cathedra is arguably the Mercury7’s flagship reverb that really magnifies all of the sound design possibilities on tap. If you want something more restrained, you’ll probably stick with the Ultraplate. But if you want see how far you can travel, the Cathedra will take you beyond the horizon. The Cathedra has way more complexity in its sound and can absolutely dominate the frequency spectrum with its massive presence and extra long reverb decay. It you’re creating music with sparse instrumentation but want to create a mood through evocative use of reverb, you’ll find plenty of expressive nuance in using the Cathedra. The knobs beg to be turned while you feel audio into the pedal, and you’ll probably find it worthwhile to consider using an expression pedal to control multiple parameters at once.

 

 

Get Connected

I already mentioned how impressed I’ve been by how good the Mercury7’s Ultraplate sounds in stereo. (The Cathedra is awesome in stereo, too, by the way.) If you haven’t noticed yet, I can’t stress enough how highly I recommend trying this pedal in stereo. And running the Polymoon & Mercury7 together in stereo is the stuff dreams are made of. The Mercury7 and other Meris pedals also let you select between Line and Instrument level signals. This makes it easier to integrate the Mercury7 in a synthesizer based rig. You can also take full control of the pedal’s adjustable parameters with MIDI, allowing control of the pedal from a MIDI controller or sequencer. Meris recently released their long-awaited MIDI I/O adapter, and for my testing the Chase Bliss Audio Midibox worked perfectly fine.

 

Ups & Downs

I really want to find some faults with this pedal, but I can’t really find anything that is a deal-breaker. I will say that I’m starting to wish more reverb pedals would include a High Pass Filter to help make space for other low-frequency instruments rather than being able to do it only in post processing. It’s essential to separate elements in an audio mix, and a huge reverb can dominate the audio frequency spectrum. The Lo Frequency can tame the lows pretty well, but I usually like to just cut out all low frequencies below a certain point. Also, I have noticed that I wish the Alt parameters on all Meris pedals were labeled in small font beneath the main parameters. While I don’t spend much time adjusting them once things are set, that’s also the reason why Alt labels would be helpful – to help users remember which parameters are where for the occasion when users do need to make a quick tweak and aren’t sure which Alt parameter hides under what knob. The only other issue I can think of is that you will need a separate device (like the Meris Preset Switch) if you want to save and recall presets. I personally have all the Meris pedals set up with MIDI and find that to be my preferred way of interfacing with and controlling the Mercury7 (and other Meris pedals). The Mercury7 may not be as flashy seeming or “wow-ing” at first, but it sounds amazing and is easily among the great reverb pedals available today. And like I said, the Mercury7 has become the one reverb pedal I can’t turn off.

 

 

The Meris Mercury7 Reverb is a masterpiece of sophisticated reverb sound design, and the versatility of its two interstellar algorithms helps the pedal hold its own against reverb pedals that contain many more. The pedal’s two humble algorithms boast an incredible range of possibility thanks to a wide range of carefully calibrated parameter controls. It’s amazing how the Mercury7 (and other Meris pedals for that matter) can seem very simple to use yet house such a breadth of potential. Rather than be filled to the brim with different types of reverb (with many of them failing to inspire), the Mercury7’s Ultraplate and Cathedra are exceptionally well crafted, and the interactive parameter controls make it possible for these two modes to cover a lot of ground. The Mercury7 alone could inspire the atmosphere of whole albums, and this pedal will no doubt be used to score some cinematic masterpieces to come in the ensuing years.

That concludes our Meris Mercury7 Reverb review. Thanks for reading.

Adventure Audio Whateverb Review – Best Compact Multi-Reverb Pedal?

Adventure-Audio-Whateverb-Review-Best-Compact-Multi-Reverb-Pedal-01

Before the dual realities that I have virtually no hands-on electronics experience and extremely shaky hands had set in, it was a personal and far off dream of mine to build effects tailored to my exact guitar needs in the hopes that someday I could tailor effects to the needs of others. I haven’t quite given up the shadow of this dream, but I’m not salty about not having attained it yet either. There’s so much to appreciate about the effects market today that I can’t help but just be grateful for the people who invent the building blocks for the sounds we make, even if those people aren’t me. The collective consciousness that permeates the atmosphere of effects building is so strongly amplified by the Internet that I can practically have a fever dream about a particular sound or pedal concept and it’ll be available for purchase within months. If you need one example of a company making pedals that sound like distortion from the dream realm, check out Adventure Audio.

Adventure Audio is a relatively new pedal company founded in Philadelphia, PA and now based out of Rochester, NY, both harboring incredible music scenes, the latter of which being only about an hour and a half from where I live. Given my proximity, I can guess with some semblance of certainty that this builder has likely been sculpted by Central New York’s harsh winters and deep talent pool and inspired to develop products for the ultimate indoor past time: riffs. They’re only four pedals deep in their musical journey, but the pedals they’ve created so far aren’t just well-developed experimentations and variations on unexpected effects; they’re quickly earning their place as some of the highest quality and sonically inspired pieces available today. Also, judging only by the headshots on their “About me” page, I can already tell I want to be their friend. Their simple vision is to inspire the world, and that’s just what they’ve done with their latest release, the Whateverb. Guess what kind of effect it is!

Features:

  • 5 knobs, with backlit LED trim pots for the Warp and Blend knobs (2 are variable control Knobs)
    Blend controls the wet/dry blend
    Decay determines the length of the reverb trail
    Warp controls the pitch and overall potential length of the reverb
  • 3 Voices:
    This is a reverb with controls for the speed and depth of a flange effect.
    That emulates room reverb with high and low-pass filter controls.
    Otherb is a shimmer with controls over the dissonance and volume of the shimmer.
  • Soft Touch Relay Bypass
  • Top-Mounted Power and I/O
  • Buffered Bypass
  • 9V DC Power

The first thing you notice when you plug in the Whateverb is the fact the clear Blend and Warp trim pots illuminate a brilliant cool-white upon activation. That is one memorable way to say hello! The sparkling white chassis sports blue text and a light grey line pattern; for size reference, the Whateverb is about the size of standard EarthQuaker Devices’ pedals. There is a comically tall voicing switch in the center that controls the voices which I was initially afraid would break, but so far it’s proven to be very sturdy. The Buffered-Bypass nature of the Whateverb implies that the trails of the reverb will continue long after you have disabled it. This is a matter of taste for most guitarists, but I could see how some might want a switch to toggle between active and non-active post-bypass tails. Personally, I love letting my reverb trail die out naturally, so the lack of flexibility here means very little to me. Founder and facial hair doyen Christian Terjesen was originally inspired to build the Whateverb by the Roland Space Echo, which as we know is the industry-defining tape echo that has time and time again produced unique progeny in the pedals inspired by it. It seems there is still a little bit of juice, somehow exempt from the more derivative works that have cropped up in the past, to be wrung out of the Space Echo.

Check out Adventure Audio for more details about the Whateverb!

SOUND & PERFORMANCE:

Let’s dive into these voices.

This

On the left of the voice-select toggle we have This, which is a clean reverb paired with flangey chorus, or chorusy flange, depending on your perspective on which direction the tone leans. To my ear, it’s the former. The top left knob controls the depth of the modulation, which can range from non-existent to whistling. In this voicing the Warp knob seems to bear more control over the tonal nature of the chorus, as opposed to pitchshifting; though there is a just noticeable almost-pitchshift when we change the warp knob’s positioning, what I hear most are the peaks of the comb filter getting farther apart, essentially changing range of the Rate knob on the top right.

That

The center of the voicing switch opens the door to a room whose size is variable in accordance to your will via the Warp and Decay knob. Though That is the most tame of the three voices, it is still an amazingly lively space to be inside of, the depths of which I was eager to find. I was not left wanting. The High Tide and Low Tide knobs are high and low frequency controls to tweak the tone of the reverb, which sounds super rudimentary but actually makes for overtone-dense, beautifully spacious bliss. With the Warp set toward full-clockwise, I was rewarded with sweet slap-backy vibes that were made much more prominent with the High-tide cranked. The opposite configuration yielded massive, hall-like wash that was truly massive with the Low Tide cranked. Though that seems dichotomous, the Low Tide and High Tide actually work well together no matter how high you set one in relation to the other.

Otherb

Welcome to… the Otherb. An atmospheric ‘board is not complete without a good Shimmer, and the pristine sonic crystals generated by this voicing push the Whateverb way past the threshold of “Good Shimmer.” The top left knob controls how thick the harmonies that are generated by the shimmer are; the top right knob controls how high the volume of the shimmer is. With the Shimmer knob maxed, the octaves are almost unbearable, but dialing the volume back makes this shrill keening not just tolerable, but a sonic tool to add to swells and sparse strumming. This voicing is where the Warp knob really shines; rolling clockwise sounds like a carnival melting in a fry-oil fire. I really would have liked to see an expression pedal out on the Whateverb for the sole purpose of manipulating the Warp in realtime.

I just reviewed the EarthQuaker Transmisser, which also features a “Warp” knob that serves as a system slew to pitch-shift and tighten/mellow out the tone of the overall effect. While I won’t draw any further direct comparisons between the two pedals, as they are distinctly different units, I will say that it would be easy to draw parallels between the Warp knob on the Transmisser and the Warp knob on the Whateverb, which prompts me to predict that we’ll see similar features start to crop up elsewhere in the industry. In my mind, the Warp knob as it applies to the Transmisser and the Whateverb is really the “Time” knob, determining the amount of time we’re working with to create whicheverb effect the Whateverb is generating at the time. (I had to.) The pitchshifts we’re hearing when the time knob is rolled are actually time changes, much like the pitchshifts we hear when changing the tempo on an analog delay. When we’re working with effects like this, it’s important to remember that Reverb and Chorus/Flange are time-based effects, being that it is fundamentally several delays colluding in a way that simulates space. The Whateverb maximizes this relationship in creative ways that flatter the more atmospheric shades of the Roland Space Echo, its spiritual catalyst.

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Overall-Rating-4.5

The Adventure Audio Whateverb is evidence of the democratic nature of the effects pedal world; we’ve all wanted something like it, and here it is. Like I said, I really would have loved an expression input on this bad boy, but the Whateverb makes for a perfect addition to round out Adventure’s otherwise distortion-heavy catalogue. It could replace a single mode reverb pedal you own, or it could add it to your already burgeoning collection of weird noise makers; I’ll likely be keeping this on my pedalboard despite already having a dedicated reverb simply because the flavor is so unique from most of the reverbs on the market today. If you haven’t seen Adventure Audio’s work and you’re looking for an escape from a musical rut, I highly recommend the Whateverb. You won’t be disappointed… everb.

That concludes our Adventure Audio Whateverb review. Thanks for reading!

Top 20 Best Reverb Pedals for 2019

Welcome to Best Guitar Effects’ long awaited Top 20 Best Reverb Pedals. The purpose of this article is to explain what reverb is, what it’s for, and help you decide if you need a reverb pedal in your guitar effects arsenal. (Spoiler: you probably do.) We’ve also rounded up the 20 best reverb pedals and will provide some insights to help you decide which one is best for you.

 

What Is Reverb?

Reverb is the persistence of a sound after it occurs as it reflects off of surfaces in the environment until its amplitude (audio volume) reaches zero. Think of it as the sound that lingers in the air after it originally occurs. I like to say that Reverb is the sound of space.

 

Do I Need A Reverb Pedal?

Reverb is an essential tool for creating a “space” for your guitar to exist within a mix, live or in the studio. While stereo panning moves your guitar placement on a horizontal field of left and right, reverb creates a sense of depth by moving your guitar closer or further away in a mix. A dry guitar sound will be up close and have an “in your face” presence; adding reverb will create an ambient atmosphere and a sense of your guitar being pushed to the back of the mix.

 

Reverb Vs Delay

A delay pedal produces repeats of your guitar playing. A reverb pedal produces ambient reflections of your guitar playing. These effects are similar in application as they’re both typically used at the end of a signal chain or in an effects loop to create an ambient guitar sound that has more presence in a mix.

 

Using Reverb With Delay

It’s common to use reverb & delay pedals together, typically with delay coming first and being fed into the reverb. This combo will create repeats of your playing while the reverb creates a space for it all. However, interesting results can be achieved by reversing the order to reverb then delay. Try a digital delay pedal after a reverb pedal to delay your reverb trails and extend the reverb decay even further. Or use an analog delay pedal with modulation to add warmth and movement to the reverberated delay trails. You could even place a reverb before a fuzz pedal and bath your guitar in noise. There are no rules, so experiment!

 

Types of Reverb

There are many different types of reverb, each having different applications. These are some of the common reverb types found in guitar pedals.

  • Spring – Spring reverb is created naturally by a mechanical system that uses a transducer and pickup at opposite ends of a spring to create and capture vibrations within the spring. Many guitar amps have included spring reverb, most notably the Fender Twin Reverb, and cumbersome amp-top spring reverb units are also available. There are many reverb pedals offering digital emulations of spring reverb, and a few companies have even released real analog spring reverb pedals.
    Best for: surf/rockabilly tones, vintage amp style reverb, “boingy” sounds
  • Room – Room reverbs are used to simulate the natural sound of an acoustic space, typically a small room. These reverbs generally have short reflections that dissipate quickly. Room reverb can be used as a substitute for a slap-back echo type sound or in conjunction with a slap-back delay to further enhance the effect.
    Best for: short/moderate reverb, slap-back echoes
  • Hall – Hall reverb is used to simulate the kind of reverberation found in large concert halls (not the hallway in your home). Hall reverbs are generally much bigger sounding than room reverbs with more reflections and much longer decay times. You’ll sometimes find variations of hall style reverbs with names like “cathedral”.
    Best for: long/very long decay, complex reflections, large sounding reverb
  • Plate Reverb – Plate reverb units were huge machines that fed audio into large hanging sheets of metal to produce a reverb sound that is more focused than a hall reverb while still capable of very long decay times. The EMT 140, a 600lb monstrosity, is the most famous plate reverb. As plate reverb was primarily a studio effect, engineers could apply a delay before the reverb for a pre-delay effect as well as fine-tuning its frequencies with EQ.
    Best for: short to long reverbs, focused reverb
  • Pitch-Shifted aka Shimmer – Shimmer, or pitch-shifted, reverb effects have become very common in guitar pedals in recent years. These reverbs add harmonies to the reverb for otherworldly sounds. Octave up intervals (1 and/or 2) on the wet guitar signal are commonly used to produce an ethereal, halo-like aura in the upper frequencies of the reverberated signal. Other musical intervals including an octave down are also common.
    Best for: “heavenly” reverbs, unnatural ambience, pitch-shifted reverb
  • Other Types of Reverb – There are many less common types of reverb that are worth mentioning. Reverse Reverb was created in the studio by recording the reverb trails and reversing them so that they lead into the sound source; some pedals create interesting variations of this with simulated reversed trails. A Gated Reverb will silence or reduce the level of the reverb when your guitar’s volume drops below a certain threshold; this creates a bigger sound while you’re playing but doesn’t muddy up the mix with reverb between your playing. Convolution Reverb uses audio samples and complex algorithms to simulate real acoustic spaces. I’m aware of one pedal that’s attempted this (with limited options); there’s certainly room for a pedal builder to innovate here. Other reverbs may add bit-crushing, modulation, delay, and other effects for unique hybrid reverb sounds.

The reverb pedals on this list aren’t necessarily in order from best to worst, but we’ve put a few standout pedals towards the top of the list that are pushing the boundaries of what a dedicated reverb pedal is capable of. Each of the pedals listed will cater to guitarists with different needs, and there should be something here that will be right for you.

Now here are the Top 20 Best Reverb Pedals for 2019!

 

Dr. Scientist The Atmosphere

Builder: Dr. Scientist, Pedal: The Atmosphere, Reverb Types: Multi-Reverb

We’ve got to give a big shout-out to The Atmosphere by Dr. Scientist. This pedal made 2018’s Pedals of the Year list, and it’s one of the more visionary pedals released in recent years. A lot of builders kind of rest on their laurels a bit, and they sometimes make improvements in small steps, not big strides. For Dr. Scientist, The Atmosphere draws on their past experience and makes big pushes toward a future where musicians will experience new ways to interact with their pedals.

From a design standpoint, the most eye-catching aspect of The Atmosphere (besides its beautiful blue gradient sparkle finish) is its large color screen. This shows you which of the pedal’s 16 modes you’re using and identifies a few key parameters including the CTRL 1 & 2 functions which are different in each reverb mode. An array of 8 knobs, dedicated EXP & MIDI Inputs, and a programmable Multi foot-switch give you numerous ways to interact with the pedal.

When it comes to sounds, The Atmosphere offers plenty of classic styles of reverb such as Room, Hall, Spring, & Plate and more. And there are plenty of hybrid types (various Modulation & Delay, Bit-Crushed, Filtered, Pitch, etc.) as well as a few inspired creations including Smear and Aether. (Check out the in-depth Pedals of the Year article for more info.) And what’s really interesting is that the character of any of the reverb modes can be drastically influenced by the setting of the Res knob. This parameter changes the resolution of the FV-1 chip from 16kHz to 32kHz, making the reverb sound more lo-fi or detailed. It’s also incredibly fun to adjust this parameter with an expression pedal to warp the reverb sound in real-time.

One curious aspect of The Atmosphere’s design is that the Tone control is an all-analog active Treble circuit, letting you boost or cut the high-end as needed. The setting isn’t saved with the user presets; instead, it acts more like a Master Tone control. This might seem strange to the bedroom shoegazer, but guitarists who gig regularly will likely be aware of how room ambience can change. Factors from wall surface materials to audience density can affect the top-end of your sound. Having a Master Tone knob on The Atmosphere lets you dial in the pedal to the sound of the room you’re playing in. While I’d generally prefer to have my tone settings saved with my presets, this design “drawback” could actually be a boon for performing musicians. Not to mention the Tone knob actually sounds pretty good when boosted (if you like brighter reverbs) and adds more of a hi-fi sheen rather than adding unwanted hiss and noise.

Also, big kudos to Dr. Scientist for adding in MIDI and 16 user presets (1 for each mode). Presets can be recalled via MIDI or by the onboard Multi foot-switch if you prefer to keep your rig simpler. The Atmosphere is a bold step forward for Dr. Scientist and just like how Dr. Scientist pioneered boutique pedal design with their early adoption of top-mounted I/O jacks and relay bypass foot-switches, I expect more of their subtle influence to resonate through the pedal world thanks to the successful execution of this ground-breaking reverb pedal.

 

Source Audio Ventris Dual Reverb

Builder: Source Audio, Pedal: Ventris, Reverb Types: Multi-Reverb

Source Audio found themselves in the limelight after releasing their smash hit Nemesis Delay pedal. And the follow-up to their powerhouse compact multi-delay pedal is none other than a dual reverb pedal. Rather than just release a standard reverb pedal that lets you recall one algorithm at a time, the Ventris Dual Reverb uses two high-powered 56-bit DSP processors to generate one or two incredibly complex reverb models of real and artificial spaces.

The main benefits of having twin reverb processors are that this approach offers unique possibilities that are unlikely to be found in most pedals. Even if you just want to use one reverb at a time, the “preset spillover” that having two processors allows may be enticing enough for some reverb obsessed musicians. And of course there’s the ability to run two reverbs at once in series or parallel variations that is probably the biggest draw of the Ventris.

It’s really worth mentioning how good the algorithms sound. The convenient mode selector knob gives you quick access to 12 different reverb types, and these default algorithms are already incredibly inspiring. Source Audio’s Neuro app offers even more reverb modes, and you can overwrite a few of your favorites to any of the Mode knob’s 12 positions in case there are a few must-haves that you want quick access to. A few of my personal favorite reverbs are the Plate, Lo-Fi, and the Hall (and the many variations of these modes). And of course Source Audio’s True Spring and Outboard Spring are arguably the best digital spring reverb algorithms currently available; the builder’s impeccable work in this area even led to the builder releasing the standalone True Spring Reverb pedal.

The Ventris is simply a monster reverb pedal. You can get set up and going out of the box which will be fine if you run a standard rig consistently, but if you really want to get the most out of the pedal, I’d recommend digging in with the desktop Neuro Editor for much deeper customization of the Ventris’ many sounds and parameters. If you want the widest range of ultra high quality reverb sounds in a pedal, the Ventris is hard to beat.

 

Line 6 HX Stomp

Builder: Line 6, Pedal: HX Stomp, Reverb Types: Multi-Reverb (+ Delay, & Much More)

Okay, I don’t usually include “multi-effects” pedals in these roundups, but the Line 6 HX Stomp is such a game changer that it absolutely must be included here. While this pedal offers a ton of effects spanning all categories, I’m going to focus on what it offers to musicians seeking a new a reverb pedal.

First, know that the HX Stomp lets users chain together up to 6 effects in “blocks” which are clearly visible on its big illuminated LCD screen. These blocks can be linked in series or routed in parallel. Reverb (& Delay) blocks also have Trails On/Off options, so switching between two reverbs within a preset and achieving spillover is possible. Things get more interesting when you layer reverbs and delays. You can create massive ambient sounds very easily that no other pedal comes close to matching. Delay into Reverb? Easy. Reverb into Delay? Yep. Both in series? Uh-huh. Delay into Reverb into more Delay or Reverb? You get the idea. And that’s not to mention what else you could do by adding in Modulation effects and other effects types.

As for the reverb effect sounds, the HX Stomp has all the legacy stereo reverb models from the discontinued Verbzilla pedal. While some of those models still hold up pretty well, the bigger draw in terms of reverb are the 5 new Helix quality algorithms: Glitz, Ganymede, Searchlights, Plateaux, and Double Tank. Their descriptions aren’t in the current manual revision, but from what I’ve gathered the sounds are as follows: Glitz is a big diffused reverb; Ganymede is a modulated hall-ish style reverb; Searchlights is a big ambient style reverb comparable to the BigSky’s “Cloud” mode; Double Tank seems to be a plate reverb (not a spring mode as I guessed); And Plateaux is a pitched reverb with shimmer (not a simple plate mode as I expected). Each of these modes has been meticulously crafted, and they’re on par with other top-tier algorithms from various reputable builders. And on a side note, some of the Helix reverbs have low-cut filtering which really adds to the studio-grade feature set; cutting low-end is critical to maintaining a clean mix, and most reverb pedals skimp on this essential feature. With the HX Stomp you can have big reverb ambiance while not sacrificing a tight bottom end in your recordings and live mixes.

While I’m focusing on the reverb sounds here, the bigger picture features of the HX Stomp also contribute to why it’s one of the best reverb pedals around. Having amp & cab modeling and a dedicated stereo send & return FX Loop also add to the utility. You can stack other pedals in your effects chain before or after reverbs, and you can place the reverb before or after your amp & cab models. This routing versatility is unmatched in a triple foot-switch stompbox. For my personal rig lately, the HX Stomp has become a staple while I’ve been switching other reverb and delay pedals in and out of rotation. The HX Stomp has become the baseline standard, and another pedals have to demonstrate enough utility on their own to earn a place beside this remarkable pedal. Try it for yourself, and you’ll likely agree that the staggering amount of options and sound quality are very impressive.

 

Eventide Space & H9

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Builder: Eventide, Pedals: Space/H9, Reverb Type: Multi-Reverb

Space… the final frontier… of reverb. We’ve gotta talk about the Eventide Space and give a shoutout to the H9 Harmonizer as well. Everyone knows that Eventide has been in the business for decades making highly regarding rack effects processors. The company made a big splash in the guitar pedal game with their “Factor” series stompboxes. Eventide’s Space evolved from those pedals, expanding the digital display with a huge panel that can show 12 characters, handy when using presets. This pedal also marked a release of such high quality reverb effects that Space may arguably be considered the best pre-H9 pedal from Eventide.

What makes Space such a landmark release? In a word: BlackHole. This algorithm alone be may worth the price of admission for the endless amount of inspiration it brings. It’s a vast wormhole of tone, a hall blasted to infinity. When you’re ready to come back from your voyage to the stars and gaze at them from our terrestrial domain, try the Shimmer algorithm. It’s probably the best I’ve heard, not surprising considering Eventide’s long-held dominance in the pitch-shifting arena with their Harmonizer products. Space’s Reverse reverb is also one of the best of that reverb type I’ve heard, delivering backwards and forwards reverb and delay-like repeats. The Spring algorithm is surprisingly good and has plenty of parameters for constructing a pretty convincing digital spring reverb. The classic Room, Hall, and Plate modes are all great with Plate being a personal favorite. ModEchoVerb combines chorus or flange with reverb and echo; feed it some distortion drenched guitar and go nuts. DualVerb gives you 2 independently controllable reverbs. MangledVerb is an overdriven/distorted reverb with detuning. And TremoloVerb takes a massive reverb and applies tremolo to the trails; plenty of waveform options (and dynamic control!) make this one a lot of fun. DynaVerb applies a model of Eventide’s Omnipressor for an adaptable, dynamically processed reverb with gating qualities.

Space has stereo I/O (and sounds amazing in stereo), an Amp/Line Output Level switch and Guitar/Line Input Level switch, MIDI I/O, Expression Pedal & Aux Switch inputs, a programmable HotSwitch for onboard expression, true analog bypass, 100 presets (nameable with 16 characters), and tap tempo with MIDI Clock Sync/Generate.

The Eventide H9 Harmonizer features all of Space’s algorithms plus the H9 exclusive SpaceTime which combines chorus-like modulation with twin delays based on TimeFactor’s Vintage Delay algorithm and a reverb inspired by Space’s Plate algorithm and Eventide’s UltraReverb native plugin. It sounds awesome, and you’ll find a demo of SpaceTime in our Eventide H9 Review. While Space is still a particularly formidable pedal thanks to its tactile knob control, guitarists who want a diverse array of Eventide’s effects, the SpaceTime algorithm, and the smaller form-factor of the H9 may find that pedal to be an even better fit for their setup.

Space: See the lowest price on Amazon.

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H9: See the lowest price on Amazon.

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Empress Effects Reverb

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Builder: Empress Effects, Pedal: Reverb, Reverb Type: Multi-Reverb

The Empress Effects Reverb is a different kind of multi-algorithm reverb pedal. It looks deceptively standard with its type selector knob and 12 algorithms, but the RGB LEDs next to each type will light up in different colors to select from multiple variations under each reverb type. At the time of this writing there are at least 29 different reverb algorithms available in the Empress Reverb.

What’s more interesting is that while Empress Effects launched the Reverb with over 20 reverb effects, many of the new reverbs are being created in collaboration with users of the Empress Reverb pedal via the Empress Reverb New Features Voting Forum. Empress is also working on an integrated Looper (yes, a looper in a reverb pedal) that’s being developed with feedback from the community being taken into consideration. Basically, this pedal offers a lot of room for expansion, so if you own the pedal and have an interesting idea you’d like to see implemented in the pedal, share your idea and be part of the collaborative process of expanding this pedal.

When I first hear the Empress Reverb at Winter NAMM 2016, it was the Ghost mode that really stood out for me. It’s a resonant reverb that creates haunting ambience. The new “Glummer” reverb under the Sparkle type adds +1 and -2 octave voices and is a standout mode. The Gate mode under the Beer type is front runner for the best gated reverb I’ve found in a pedal. I also fell in love with the Glitch reverb Beer mode. Plenty of strange sounds in here for guitarists looking for something a little… different.

There’s also an array of more traditional Hall, Plate, Spring, and Room reverbs and several Modulation reverb types with the flange reverb and tremolo reverb being a couple of my favorites. The Delay + Reverb modes are all worth exploring. Ambient Swell is excellent. The Reverse sounds are great. And the Lo-Fi settings offer expectedly brittle, filtered reverbs. Stereo I/O, 35 presets, and the expression/MIDI input round out this exceptionally versatile reverb pedal.

Read the Empress Effects Reverb review.

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Meris Mercury7 Reverb

Builder: Meris, Pedal: Mercury7, Reverb Types: Plate & Hall

The Meris Mercury7 Reverb is a pedal that offers musicians a cinematic reverb experience. It’s not really fair to classify the Mecury7’s two algorithms as simply plate and hall inspired reverbs. Meris approached the creation of the Mercury7’s reverbs with inspiration from Vangelis’ original soundtrack to the film, Bladerunner. There’s an almost otherworldly aspect to the conception of this pedal, and you can get there by approaching the pedal with appreciation for what it aims to accomplish. Admittedly, I wasn’t as excited at first by the Mercury7 as I should have been mainly because I was skeptical of the pedal having only 2 reverb modes. But there are levels to be explored and ascended to realize the greatness it has to offer. When I finally got to hear it myself and play it first-hand, things clicked for me, and I came to appreciate what this exceptional instrument is capable of.

The Cathedra algorithm is the bigger, more expansive and slow-building ambient hall-ish reverb. It’s particularly impressive with copious amounts of Space Decay, and it’s really fun to explore with the Swell function. The Ultraplate reverb is a plate style style reverb and is a personal favorite plate reverb of mine, particularly thanks to its incredible sound in stereo. Even with just a hint of this reverb applied to my signal in stereo, I feel that it just makes everything I feed into it sound better. I’ve had a lot of fun stacking reverbs with the Mercury7 adding the finishing touches to any other mono or stereo reverb in my signal chain.

What adds to the sonic versatility of this pedal aside from the two reverb modes are the few extra ways it allows you to customize your reverb sound. The Modulate knob adds in some swaying modulation which creates movement and interest. The Pitch Vector can adding rising and falling pitch effects as well as -oct, +5th, and shimmer effects. Be sure to experiment with the Pitch Mix alt parameter to dial this in for best results. There’s also optional Vibrato if you want even more modulation.

This isn’t the flashiest pedal of the Meris lineup (currently at 4 releases as of this writing), but the Mercury7 is my personal favorite Meris pedal released to date particularly for how great it sounds and how well it integrates in a pedalboard setup. But like the rest of the Meris lineup, this pedal also excels if you approach like a rack processor to be used in the studio. It’s simply high-end in every way.

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Strymon BigSky

Builder: Strymon, Pedal: BigSky, Reverb Type: Multi-Reverb

Rounding out the “big 3” of dedicated multi-algorithm reverb pedals is the Strymon BigSky. Aside from the stunning sounds (which we’ll discuss in a moment), this pedal is a big winner if you have a MIDI based rig or used a MIDI effects switcher. It’s the easiest MIDI enabled reverb pedal to integrate in your rig and Strymon has a full list of MIDI functionality and commands in their BigSky reference manual.

But even if you have no interest in MIDI and just need a multi-algorithm reverb pedal to use “as is”, the BigSky has more than enough sounds and options available to make it a worthwhile investment. The 12 included reverb machines span the history of reverb with Spring, Hall, Room, & Plate modes. The BigSky has become arguably the most popular modern ambient reverb pedal thanks to its Swell, Bloom, & Cloud reverb machines. The Chorale reverb adds resonant vocal-like qualities to the ‘verb. The BigSky’s Shimmer has 2 voices each tunable to intervals ranging from -1 octave to +2 octaves. The Magneto machine is an exciting Delay/Reverb that could have been found in the Strymon TimeLine; it uses 3, 4, or 6 simulated playback heads to create its rhythmic echoes. The Nonlinear machine features a few distinct reverb types including reverse reverb sounds and gated reverbs. The Reflections machine is a “psycho-acoustically accurate small-space reverb” according to Strymon. It lets you position your amp anywhere within its virtual space and creates its reverb sounds in accordance with the reflections within that space. You’ve gotta hear this in stereo to fully appreciate it. Actually, every single one of these reverbs sounds amazing in stereo.

The pedal’s 300 presets are easy to select via the foot-switches. You can also name your original reverb creations. Even if you don’t dive into the menus, the surface controls make it easy to get usable sounds or search for a usable preset on the fly. It’s extremely low noise. The dry signal stays 100% analog. It’s got buffered or true bypass. There’s also a Cab Filter switch for simulating the sound of playing through a guitar speaker cabinet (I’ve personally used it for gigs with satisfactory results). And there’s an expression pedal input for controlling parameters in real-time. The Strymon BigSky will be a staple on this list until the day Strymon releases its successor.

Read the Strymon BigSky review.

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GFI System Specular Tempus

Builder: GFI System, Pedal: Specular Tempus, Reverb Types: Multi-Reverb & Multi-Delay

The GFI System Specular Tempus is a sleeper hit pedal that combines 16 reverb algorithms AND 16 delay algorithms in one reasonably small stompbox. It’s probably the ultimate “either/or” reverb & delay. If you need a new ambient pedal at the end of your signal chain and aren’t sure whether to get a new delay or a new reverb, the Specular Tempus is essentially two pedals in one. Also, It has 3 Hybrid reverb modes with delays and 3 Hybrid “Diffuse” delay modes with a reverb-like sound.

As far as the reverbs go, there’s plenty of great sounds to cover most ground with types including Room, Tile Room, 70’s Plate, and Spring. The Spatium setting is the pedal’s signature reverb; it’s impressive and big sounding, yet it leaves your instrument room to breathe. There are plenty of algorithms that get into more ambient and experimental territory with Modulated, Shimmer, and Swell offering solid variations of the expected types of reverb they produce. The Vortex mode is a resonant reverb. Voices adds pitch-shifted voices to a Spatium style reverb. The Anti-Shimmer is a really cool reverb that provides earth rumbling low-end reverb sounds. Tremble is a tremolo-verb. And Infinity is GFI System’s take on an infinitely sustaining reverb that lets you layer textual ambience for big pad-like reverb effects. The 3 Reverb + Delay Hybrid options give you a Spatium style reverb with up to 800mS of either Digital, Analog, or Echo. And that’s not even counting the 16 impressive delay modes (see our Top Delay Pedals article for more info).

GFI System has spared no attention to detail with the Specular Tempus. Its top-mounted stereo I/O keeps it compact, taking up little pedalboard space. It has 32 onboard preset slots. You can use a 1, 2, or 3-button foot-switch to gain additional control of the pedal’s functions. It even has an Aux Out which can either send its tap tempo signal to another pedal or control remote switching on your amp. And of course it has deep MIDI functionality if you want even more control. GFI System even created a dedicated SpecLab application for Mac & Windows that allows you to further customize (and save) your sounds.
The Specular Tempus is simply an incredible value and a brilliantly designed pedal that more guitarists should experience first-hand. It’s capable enough to cover plenty of ground whether you want quality reverb and/or delay sounds.

 

Chase Bliss Audio Dark World

Builder: Chase Bliss Audio, Pedal: Dark World, Reveb Types: Dual Reverb

It seems like Chase Bliss Audio can do no wrong when it comes to releasing smash hit guitar pedals. Fans have been clammoring for a reverb for years, but musicians didn’t expect that the builder would break with their “Digital Brain, Analog Heart” tradition by releasing an all-digital reverb pedal. What’s more, they teamed up with Cooper FX and Keeley Electronics to make a dual reverb pedal with both of those builders contributing 3 & 3 algorithms, respectively, to create an inspiring work horse reverb pedal that offers some surprisingly creative and inspiring options.

The left side of this pedal is the “Dark” side, offering 3 otherworldly algorithms that offer something a little different from the norm. The Dark World’s biggest draw is certainly the Mod mode which is inspired by the Cooper FX Generation Loss, a gritty, lo-fi, modulated VHS inspired reverb mode. Then there’s the Shim mode that provides a unique take on shimmer style reverbs. The Black mode an infinite reverb responds to your playing samples to sample and layer reverb texture behind your playing. On the right side of the pedal are 3 solid modes that are inspiring by real-world reverb sounds. The Plate and Hall are similar in use yet offer different shades of tonality and reflection response. The Spring mode has a heavy “drip” sound, and the unconventional Pre-Delay for this algorithm lets you offset it for a slapback style echo of reverb.

Things get even more interesting when you route the reverbs in series and parallel. Running 2 reverbs at once provides new sounds that wouldn’t be available otherwise. And when you find a combination of sounds you like, you can save your creations as presets. The Dark World also has all the other expected Chase Bliss Audio features such as Ramping, EXP/CV control, MIDI functionality with 122 MIDI selectable presets, and compatibility with the builder’s “Faves” foot-switch for easier access to 6 presets.

The Dark World is yet another unique pedal that further solidifies Chase Bliss Audio’s endearing reputation with their devoted following and gives newcomers an inspiring introduction to this distinguished brand.

 

Neunaber Immerse MKII

Builder: Neunaber, Pedal: Immerse MKII, Reverb Types: Multi-Reverb

The Neunaber Immerse MKII features some of the best reverb algorithms you’ll hear in a compact stompbox, and you’ll often hear musicians comparing Neunaber’s algorithms to those in pedals that cost twice as much or more. It’s not surprising either when you consider the fact that Brian Neunaber, the engineer behind the algorithms, is able to draw upon a programming expertise and critical attention to sonic detail honed by nearly three decades of experience in this field.

While I briefly discuss the sounds this pedal offers, be aware that you should hear these sounds first-hand to understand why they’re different from those of any other pedal in its class. The W3T algorithm is the 3rd iteration of Neunaber’s signature “WET” reverb. It offers a big, smooth ambience that is detailed and “more three-dimensional sounding”. In stereo this is even more apparent. Optional pre-delay of up to 200mS gives your guitar even more room in the mix. The Plate and Hall modes both offer stellar takes on their respective styles of ambience with the Plate mode providing up to 200mS of pre-delay and the Hall offering optional Modulation. Spring is a solid algorithm that captures the “drip” characteristics of real spring reverb pretty well. The Sustain mode, built off the W3T reverb, is a favorite for infinite reverb sounds and lets you adjust the hold and release of the layered reverb textures. Echo is a solid reverb + delay algorithm with 50-700mS of delay echo available. The “↓tune” reverb adds a detuned chorus-like aspect to the reverb. And finally, the Shim is the latest iteration of Neunaber’s stellar shimmer reverb, arguably among the very best in this class of reverb among any notable pedals you could compare it to.

Perhaps most impressive is that the Immerse MKII’s algorithms are running on the widely used Spin Semiconductor FV-1 chip, yet this pedal sounds incredibly more rich and detailed than any other pedal I’ve heard using this chip. And the Immerse MKII can run in full stereo, delivering incredibly impressive reverb sounds that greatly exceed the sonic detail musicians are used to hearing from pedals that use the FV-1 chip. It’s really all in the algorithms, and Neunaber’s efforts show that beautiful and detailed new reverb sounds can still be coaxed from the aging FV-1.

The pedal also has a Kill Dry switch on the top side and a Trails On/Off switch, and since the Immerse MKII has no menus, no external control options, and no presets, what you see labeled on the surface is what you get. Considering how great it sounds, the Immerse MKII will likely be one of those “secret weapon” pedals that would be amazing to use in the studio. If you’re putting it on your gigging ‘board and just need one great sound in mono or stereo, just dial in your sound quickly and easily, and you’ll be good to go. If sound quality is paramount to you, with cost and value being taken into consideration as well, the Immerse MKII’s humble appearance belies amazing sounds and exceptional value that are hard to top.

 

Electro Harmonix Oceans 11 Reverb

Builder: EHX, Pedal: Oceans 11, Reveb Types: Multi-Reverb

Hot off the runaway success of their Canyon delay pedal, Electro Harmonix released a similarly styled compact reverb pedal: the Oceans 11 Reverb. With 11 different reverb modes, EHX has made an exceptional and affordable compact reverb pedal. Here’s why…

The Oceans 11 impresses with algorithms that seem far more detailed and inspiring than many pedals in this price range. The Hall & Plate modes are great for long lingering trails, and both modes sound surprisingly smooth. Electro Harmonix also put some extra time in with the Spring mode, giving it some of that “drip” and adjustable Spring Length, and a quick double-tap on the foot-switch (while in Trails mode) triggers a “kick” to the string tank which is novel and fun. Reverse mode is a pretty solid variation of this type of reverb, sounding like a diffused delay played backwards; the Time knob sets how quickly the reversed trail rises and is quite easily to dial in with good results. Echo is a prominent digital delay with plate reverb combo. Trem is a standout, applying a tremolo to both a wet Hall reverb and your dry signal; three different waveshapes (sine, triangle, and square) are available, and it has super fast speeds for ring-mod effects. This mode is awesome when applied to just a dry guitar – even without reverb! Mod applies either a chorus/vibrato or flanger to your reverb (EHX Flerb, anyone?), and you can even use both at once. Dyna offers swell effects, ducking reverb, and gated reverb options. Auto-Inf is an infinite reverb that draws upon EHX’s Freeze and Superego in how it sustains and crossfades to build layers of reverb. The Shim is a standout shimmer algorithm which I prefer over several other pedals costing two to four times more. The Poly mode added twin harmonies to the reverb and tracks incredibly fast. You can select harmonies in semitones, and it’s a lot of fun with 5ths and octave harmonies, even acting as an alternative to the shimmer mode when you set the intervals to +1 octaves.

There are multiple options available for some modes (tap divisions, pre-delay, etc.), offering maybe different possibilities for dialing in the perfect reverb sound for nearly any situation. It makes me wish that Electro Harmonix would release a larger version with presets and MIDI connectivity, but for now, this pedal gives guitarists a pleasing taste of how far EHX’s reverb development has progressed over the years. With plenty of solid reverb sounds and an incredible price, the Oceans 11 Reverb is a standout reverb in the low-cost category.

 

Old Blood Noise Endeavors Dark Star V2

Builder: Old Blood Noise, Pedal: Dark Star V2, Reverb Type: Pitch-Shifting/Other

The Old Blood Noise Endeavors Dark Star V2 takes their cult hit reverb pedal and adds expression pedal control. The awesome sounds of this pedal make it one of the more interesting experimental reverbs out there. OBNE calls it a “pad reverb”, meaning it’s meant for big atmospheric, textural effects, the kind that invoke emotions from the soundscapes you weave with it.

There are 3 reverb modes in the Dark Star V2: Pitch, Delay, & Crush. The Pitch setting gives you dual pitch-shifted voices each of which can be manually dialed in to any interval from -1 octave to +1 octave. The Delay mode brings in a delay line after the reverb to extend the ambience into the empty void of space. The Crush reverb adds a single pitch-shifted voice from the Pitch mode along with a sample rate reduction control that reduces your signal to bits.

The Dark Star V2 does bring back the handy Hold function which will spike the CTRL 1 parameter to its maximum, great for wild pitch jumps, but plugging in an expression pedal is where things really get fun as you can shift the pitch through its range for surreal reverb sounds. Everything about this pedal from its sounds to its beautiful artwork make it a modern masterpiece of experimental reverb greatness

Read the Old Blood Noise Dark Star V2 review.

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Free The Tone Ambi Space

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Builder: Free The Tone, Pedal: AS-1R, Reverb Type: Multi

The Free The Tone Ambi Space was destined to be a solid reverb pedal considering the impeccable sound quality of the company’s Flight Time Digital Delay & Tri Avatar Stereo Chorus, but the Ambi Space surpassed my expectations for several reasons. First, it’s definitely the easiest to use multi-algorithm reverb pedal with presets. The interface is simple, making it a dream for performing guitarists who need only a few (up to 4) different reverb sounds but don’t want to spend all day tweaking to find the perfect setting.

The 6 available reverb modes all sound great. I actually love the Spring mode which is rare. I rarely use the Spring settings of any multi-algorithm reverb pedal, but I really like the feel of this one even though it’s more of a pristine hybrid spring reverb sound as opposed to a 100% accurate emulation of a real spring reverb tank. The Plate, Room, & Hall settings are all function workhorse reverbs that perform their duties well. The Cave & Serene are unique takes on a hall-style reverb that have unique reflection patterns and density. Cave has a dynamic sound in its reflections that I really like, and Serene is my favorite Ambi Space reverb for lingering atmospheric sounds.

The Ambi Space’s surprisingly small size makes it a great travel board ‘verb for gigging guitarists who need great sounds, a few presets, and yes, stereo ins & outs. The Ambi Space is excellent in stereo. There’s even a Kill-Dry switch for wet/dry guitar rigs and an Input Level switch for line or instrument sources. Kudos to Free The Tone for the MIDI in jack that allows preset selection, activating/bypassing the pedal, and CC control of parameters. Also, the absolutely silent switching ensures zero noise when activating/bypassing the pedal. It’s no surprise that the Ambi Space is such a great performance reverb pedal considering Free The Tone’s background in building systems for professional musicians. This one is highly recommended for performing guitarists who just want a few reverb sounds while still keeping their compact pedalboard setup as simple as possible.

Read the Free The Tone Ambi Space review.

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EarthQuaker Devices Avalance Run V2

Builder: EQD, Pedal: Avalanche Run V2, Effects Types: Delay & Reverb

When people think about the Avalanche Run, they’re probably more so thinking about it as a delay pedal with reverb thrown in. That’s kind of what it is, but the reverb is a central aspect to why the pedal is unique in the first place, and approaching it with that in mind makes this pedal a compelling choice if you need a solid reverb pedal with some impressive delay options as well. The original Avalanche Run had a solid reverb, but it was mono only. The Avalance Run V2 has upgraded the reverb to be full stereo, so the pedal now has a much fuller and more spatious stereo spread.

The reverb itself seems pretty basic. It’s a plate style reverb with a hint of modulation. It can be short and sparse or huge and cavernous; it’s all dependant on how your set the Decay & Mix knobs. What makes this pedal a great reverb is approaching it more like a Delay+Reverb hybrid effect. The ambience produced by the reverb itself is solid on its own, but when you add in the perfect delay (via Normal, Reverse, & Swell options), the pedal comes alive and reveals itself as a beautiful ambience machine that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

I’d recommend running it in Tails mode for spillover when you bypass the pedal. Also, you can press and hold the Bypass with “Flexi-Switch” to add momentary bursts of reverb and delay that will only apply to your signal while the foot-switch is pressed. This adds more creative potential. And while the Normal delay mode works well with the reverb, the Swell mode is really worth exploring for more interactive ambience. The Reverse mode is also one of my favorite reverse delay modes, particularly when used with the Reverb for surreal reverberated atmosphere. And be sure to try pressing and holding the Tap foot-switch (or using an expression pedal) to alternate between forwards and backwards delays feeding into some big reverb. The sounds of the Avalanche Run V2 are mesmerizing and completely unique to this pedal.

 

Red Panda Context

Builder: Red Panda, Pedal: Context, Reverb Type: Multi

The Red Panda Context is arguably the most conventional pedal released from this builder, yet no other compact reverb pedal sounds quite like it. While Red Panda pedals like the Particle & Bitmap venture into bizarre sonic frontiers, the Context contains reverb effects that will appeal to a wider audience of guitarists. But don’t assume that the Context is a run of the mill reverb pedal. The 6 reverb algorithms included are each bold and musical in their own ways and can still venture into uncharted spatial territories.

The Room effect has the typical shallow reflections and snappy reverb you’d expect to find, but as you push up the Decay the walls of this room collapse, leaving you floating in space. The Hall mode is similar to the Room with a bigger cluster of early reflections. You can get shorter room-like sounds and send your guitar out the airlock when you max the Decay. The Cathedral setting is like a bigger, brighter hall. The Cathedral’s decay also seems to have a mild modulation on the trails. It’s a great variation of a hall-like theme, and if it’s a bit bright at first, Damping the sound helps. The Gated reverb seems more like a variation of a Room reverb in it sounds and how it’s controlled. The Decay controls the Gate Time, to cut off the reverb after you’d quite playing, but the smaller sound of the reverb is dissimilar to how it would sound to gate a hall reverb, for example. The Plate is another great reverb for long washes of trails. This one sounds greatly fully wet with long decay (controlled by Delay on this mode). The Delay knob combines a standard digital delay (the most “normal” delay Red Panda’s ever created) and reverb, an essential combination and adds extra utility to the Context. Yes, you can control the reverb length and delay feedback separately for shallow or huge sounds. This pedal is massive far beyond its humble size.

Read the Red Panda Context review.

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EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath/Transmisser

Builder: EarthQuaker Devices, Pedals: Afterneath/Transmisser, Reverb Type: Other

I have to mention the EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath & Transmisser at the same time as they’re both similarly messed up pedals although they produce quite different sonic results. It’s important to point out their similarities and differences to help you get an idea of which one might be suited for your reverb explorations.

The Afterneath takes your guitar signal and multiplies it like a multi-tap delay-ish effect, replicating your playing with a ping-pong like series of delay taps. This is fed into a huge, cavernous reverb that can linger for eternity if you crank the Length knob. The Drag knob sets the spacing of those delay taps and can warp the pitch of the reverb trails by turning it in either direction while the reverb is sustaining. This pedal is one of the best EarthQuaker Devices pedals and is quite unlike anything else out there. Well, except maybe the Transmisser…

The Transmisser may seem like the new Afterneath at first, but you’ll see that it’s actually its own unique flavor of reverb once you look closer and have a listen. The Transmisser does big reverb, too, but it’s not quite as over the top huge sounding as the Afterneath. But where it does go off the rails is with the Freq knob that controls the frequency peak of a resonant filter placed after the reverb. This is also expression pedal controllable for extra sweepy fun. There’s a strange modulation that’s always present, the speed of which is controlled by the Rate knob. It’s slightly modulating the reverb and the Freq & Darkness parameters depending on where the Warp knob is set. Sound confusing? It’s easier to get the hang of when using it. The Warp knob can also mangle the pitch of the reverb in a somewhat similar way to the Afterneath’s Drag control. While the Afterneath is still my personal favorite of the two, you gotta hand it to EarthQuaker Devices for again pushing reverb into new outlandish territories.

Read the EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath review.

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Catalinbread Talisman

Builder: Catalinbread, Pedal: Talisman, Reverb Type: Plate

The Catalinbread Talisman might be this builder’s best kept secret, and more guitarists need to experience this awesome plate reverb. Why does this pedal rock? While hall reverbs are great for big ambience and long decays, their complexity often clutters up a mix and takes over the frequency spectrum. Plate reverbs have a more focused and refined sound; they’re more dense for a reverb that’s more like an extension of the sound(s) they’re applied to. The Talisman creates a focused extension of your guitar sound as well as a long sustaining ambience.

If you’re using a plate reverb in the studio, you might want to roll-off the low frequencies to keep the low-end from getting muddy. The Talisman’s High Pass knob does this very well, keeping the low end in a band mix very clean. You might also apply some delay on a mixer’s aux send to stagger the reverb’s timing. The Pre Delay knob functions in a similar way, providing up to around 100mS of delay before the reverb is heard.

The Mix, Time, & Vol knobs round out the Talisman’s parameter set. Mix is your wet/dry blend. The Talisman can extend the reverb decay to infinity via the Time knob. In the default buffered bypass mode (true bypass is an internal option), the trails spillover when you disengage the pedal. You can let huge trails sustain while you play over them. The Vol knob controls an analog preamp that can give a substantial amount of volume boost. This remains active in buffered mode and can add to your overall sound and push your amp harder if you crank it. It cleans up with your guitar’s volume knob, too. Don’t let the Talisman being just a plate reverb fool you into thinking it’s a one-trick-pony. There’s a powerful amount of versatility housed in this amulet of great reverb tone.

Read the Catalinbread Talisman review.

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Caroline Guitar Company Météore

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Builder: Caroline Guitar Company, Pedal: Météore, Reverb Type: Other

When I first saw this pedal I mistook for a lo-fi reverb in the vein of the company’s Kilobyte Lo-Fi Delay. But the Caroline Guitar Company Météore (pronounced “May-Tay-Or”) was inspired by a tiled train tunnel in France. Weird, right? Wait till you hear how it sounds. It has a bright, crashy tonality with jagged reflections that somehow manage to blossom into a beautiful mess of wonderful noise. I mean that in the best possible way. There’s also an integrated drive circuit that further trashes up the sound in amazing ways. Even at full on settings, it doesn’t get overwhelming and remains remarkably playable. The Havoc foot-switch creates infinite decay when pressed and held, further fueling this pedal’s desire to be on your live pedalboard. Bedroom guitarists will still dig the Météore, but this pedal is begging to be played on stage. But fear not… if you’re not shopping for a reverb for your live ‘board. Get out there. Start a band. Get a Météore. And rock out like you mean it. \m/

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Spaceman Orion

Builder: Spaceman Effects, Pedal: Orion, Reverb Type: Analog Spring

So unfortunately this pedal is discontinued, but I’m including it in hopes that it’ll see an MKII update at some point. Track on down on the second-hand market if you  need to. It’s a damn great pedal.

I got to hear the Spaceman Orion when it was unveiled back at Summer NAMM 2015. Even through a little custom made headphone amp, I knew this 100% analog spring reverb pedal was going to be something very special. A few builders have attempted putting real spring reverb into a pedal, but the Orion stands out for several reasons.

The Orion is much smaller than your old amp-top spring reverb unit. That’s due to the reverb coming from an Accutronics Blue Reverb 2-spring module. The spring reverb is suspended inside the pedal (by springs of course) so that it doesn’t create jarring noise artifacts when engaging and disengaging the pedal. Also, the soft-touch foot-switch is relay controlled for quiet switching. Essentially, this design is optimized for stage performance, and even loud rumbling and stage noise will have minimal impact on the spring unit. Very cool. Still want a spring reverb pan crash? Give the pedal a mild kick. But if kicking your pedalboard is too risky for you, put the Orion in your amp’s effects loop and have your guitar tech give it a light bump against a hard surface to rattle those springs.

A simple and usable control setup includes a wet/dry Blend, Tone for brightening and darkening the reverb, and Dwell for expending the decay time of the reverb. The Volume knob sets your makeup gain for ensuring a consistent output level (or providing a little boost), handy when dialing in a lot of reverb.

It’s worth noting that being a real analog spring reverb pedal, the Spaceman Orion isn’t as pristinely quiet as modern digital reverb emulations. However, if real analog tone and mojo is what you’re going for, this pedal has plenty of it. The Orion shouldn’t be mistaken for a clone of a particular vintage spring reverb unit. Instead, it offers an all new spring reverb sound in a stage friendly pedal that spring reverb fans and analog gear lovers will find pleasing and musical.

Read the Spaceman Orion review.

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That concludes our Top 20 Reverb Pedals for 2019, but if any exciting new reverb pedals come out in 2019, we may update the list. If you have a favorite reverb pedal suggestion, let us know in the comments!