Review of: Red Panda Context
Reviewed by: Gabriel TanakaRating:4.5On May 22, 2015Last modified:October 8, 2016
The Context is an anomaly in Red Panda’s current guitar pedal lineup. Considering their other offerings such as the Particle and Bitmap, the Context is perhaps the most accessible pedal in the company’s roster with a potential wide appeal to many guitarists seeking great ambient reverb sounds. If you’re familiar with their other releases, the thought of a reverb pedal from Red Panda may have you pondering what sort of reality-distorting, mind-warping reverb algorithms the Context contains. But this pedal is more about creating a space, or “context”, for your guitar to sit in, making it an interesting candidate for guitarists seeking a versatile reverb pedal for a wide range of applications.
While the Red Panda Context isn’t quite traditional enough to have a “spring” setting, you’ll still find familiar reverb types such as Room, Hall, Plate, and a few other surprises, including a Delay mode with modulated reverb. The Context also features a very minimalist parameter layout compared to some of the more complicated reverb pedals out there. It’s mono only, but let’s face it, most guitarists don’t play through 2 amps or even bother to use effects loops. The Context is surprisingly minimalist in its execution but with a diverse collection of reverb sounds that may just warrant your attention. Let’s find out if this is the best digital reverb pedal in our Red Panda Context review.
- blend adjusts wet/dry blend, up to 100% wet.
- delay sets pre-delay, to simulate natural spaces or increase presence.
- decay adjusts reverb time, from very tight to massive.
- damping adjusts high-frequency response, to keep the reverb from taking over other instruments’ space or create dark ambience.
- Room – fast buildup.
- Hall – slow buildup with moderate diffusion.
- Cathedral – bright reverb with extended response.
- Gated – adjustable gate time with nonlinear decay.
- Plate – bright and dense reverb with adjustable reverb time, low- and high-frequency response.
- Delay – adjustable delay time, repeats, and reverb amount.
- True bypass switching or trails, selectable via internal switch.
- Minimal signal path.
- Mono in/out.
- 4.7″ x 3.7″ x 2.4″ with top-mounted jacks.
- 24 bit A/D and D/A converters.
- High quality components (Burr-Brown op amps, WIMA poly film caps, Neutrik jacks).
- Requires 9V center negative 100 mA power supply (not included). Does not take batteries.
- Made in USA, from circuit boards to final assembly.
Sound & Performance:
Here are my general impressions before digging in with the different reverb modes available. The Context is an excellent reverb pedal. I expected it to be solid, but my expectations were greatly exceeded. If higher costs or fear of menu-diving have kept you from more expensive multi-algorithm reverb pedals, the Red Panda Context is probably exactly what you need. Sometimes reverb can be intimidating to use because there are so many parameters that can have subtle or dramatic effects on the overall sound. The Context covers a lot of ground yet remains remarkably simple to use. Even without reading the manual you can select any mode and find usable sounds instantly. It’s nearly impossible to make this pedal sound bad. But understanding the different modes and how to use them is especially rewarding as all 6 reverbs offer top quality sounds that are worth exploring.
The Room mode provides an expected sound for reverb with a quick onset. This is typically used when you want a short, snappy reverb that simply adds a touch of presence and dimension to your sound. If you push the Delay up past noon, you can get a noticeable echo as if your guitar was bouncing off a wall. Pushing up the Decay will muffle and extend the reflections for a more dissipated sound. If it’s too bright you can push up the Damping to roll of the high-end from the reverb. It doesn’t get much easier. The Room mode also provides plenty of infinite reverb ambience if you crank the Decay. The one mode could be all you ever need. But the Context is only just getting started.
The Hall mode picks up where Room leaves off, providing a more extensive corridor for your guitar to travel down. When l