Back in olden times before digital anything other than fingers, there was only three ways to add reverberation to vocals or instruments. You would use an echo chamber, essentially a large reverberant room with a loudspeaker playing and microphones picking up the echos; a plate, a long piece of sheet metal that was energized at one end with the reverberating vibrations picked up by a transducer at the other; and lastly, using the same principle as the plate, the much cheaper and smaller reverb spring.
Ease of Use: 5
Not your Father's Boing Box!
Spring reverbs are a big part of the sound of Hammond organs and Fender guitar reverb amps and essential to certain musical styles such as Surf and dreamy mood music. Previous attempts at making the spring a viable, professional studio effect have been met with mixed results since the springs and surrounding components have so many inherent mechanical and electronic problems that are not easily fixed. James Demeter took a long look at solving the problems and came up with the all-analog, RV-1 Real Reverb spring reverb.
The Real Reverb is a one rack space unit with two Accutronics, classic, full-size, six spring reverb tanks. One problem solved was the huge sound difference between each and every spring tank manufactured. Demeter tests each and every tank that goes into his units so that only closely matched pairs are used. (I saw a pile of rejected tanks at the Demeter factory) Another problem was the poor frequency response of the drive and receiving transducers at each end of the spring units. Demeter solved this problem by using Analog Devices' OP176 operational amplifiers, in "constant-current mode," for the transducer drive amplifiers. This "flattens" out the frequency response of the transducers revealing the full sound of the spring tank.
Another good feature that adds to the superior sound of this unit is the fully regulated + and - 18 volt power supply that insures maximum audio headroom and +28dBv output. Analog Devices 2142 and 2143 chips are used for input/output line amplifers. The age-old noise problem with "boing boxes" has been taken care of by careful circuit design, component layout and the extensive use of mu metal shielding for both the tanks and the custom, toroidal power supply transformer. In use within a 24-bit digital mix, I immediately noticed how quiet this unit was. I had no extra noise or hum even during the quietest moments in my mixes...moments that would surely reveal any noise problems.
The two channels, Channel 1 and Channel 2, are identical except for decay times. Channel 1 is around 1.5 seconds while Channel 2 is longer at about 3 seconds. You can operate the RV-1 as two separate mono reverbs or tie the inputs together with the Input Link control so that signals coming into either channel are mixed and sent to both springs. In this mode, the two outputs would be panned left and right in your mix. Instead of wanting to adjust reverb length, (which is not possible with spring reverbs) I lowered the level of the right side, longer channel a little to match the length and level of the shorter left side channel. This is the usual mode for full stereo operation and the way electromechanical reverberators are set up.
The Output Link switch mixes the two outputs together for an extra thick mono reverb. I used this mode when I wanted the richest possible sound in mono only. If you are monitoring in stereo, with the two outputs split left and right, you'll hear the sound image swing to the center...a dramatic effect.
Other controls include the Input control for setting the input level using the red LED overload indicator. The manual says that this indicator should blink a bit to get maximum level in and out. Both channels also have a high pass Filter switch for rolling off rumble and low frequencies below 100 Hz. I used this when adding reverb to bassy instruments to prevent muddiness. The Mix control is for mixing the ratio of wet to dry sound...important when using the Real Reverb as an insert effect. I found the Phase switch a clever feature not seen before on reverb units. The Phase switch flips the phase of the reverb signal output. You might think that since all reverb is out of phase anyway, what difference could it make? There is an actual change to the overall reverb sound: pushing in the Phase switch adds a bright sparkle to the overall sound.
I tried the Real Reverb in all cases where I would use reverb...even places where I usually would not. The best sounds came with guitars, keyboards and voice. I liked that I had a couple of reverb channels to place in specifically panned positions. In one mix, I used Channel 1 panned hard left for a guitar track whose sound "image" I wanted fixed as opposed to spread out across the speakers. The longer Channel 2 was panned dead center for the lead vocal. Using a mono reverb "locks" the singer's sound in a defined space without the dissipation effect you'll get when using stereo effects. If you like surf guitar sounds, you'll have the ultimate reverb with a much fatter, smoother and cleaner sound than any old Fisher Space Expander or Fender reverb would give you. You also get a real stereophonic reverb instead of just mono reverb like those older units.
Some specifications include: 10kohms input impedance, signal-to-noise ratio of greater than 90dB (good and quiet made for digital recordings), THD (that's Total Harmonic Distortion) rated at 0.1% and frequency response measured at 20Hz to 20kHz. A great addition to any studio where a good alternative to digital reverb is desired, the Real Reverb sells for $699 MSRP. For much more, contact Demeter Amplification at 15730 Stagg Street, Van Nuys, CA 91406. Phone them at: 818-986-7103, FAX to: 818-994-0647. Web to: www.demeteramps.com