Music Biz Magazine (May 2001)
By Adam Kagan
The Bottom Line: Demeter RV-1
The task of providing reverb in studios has been taken over by digital reverbs or software plug-in equivalents with all of us becoming very familiar with reverb parameters like: decay time, pre delay, high frequency roll-off and diffusion. How about a reverb that is not digital and has none of these bothersome parameters to adjust? Demeter Amplification, a manufacturer of very high quality tube-based studio equipment ranging from mic preamps and compressors to guitar and power amplifiers, has recently released the RV-1 Real Reverb.
Housed in a single rack space chassis, Real Reverb uses two Accutronics spring reverb tanks, each with its own decay time, for two separate channels of analog reverb. Audio connections on the back panel include both a pair of electronically balanced 1/4 inch TRS jacks and XLR input/output connectors for each channel. The silver front panel sports a power switch, a set of three control knobs for each channel that adjust Input, Output and Wet/Dry mix levels and also, for both channels, phase reverse switches that subtly change the frequency response of the reverb. There are also low cut filter buttons (100Hz) for each channel that remove unwanted rumble from the reverb input. Mode switches select mono or stereo inputs and mono or stereo linked outputs while indicator LEDs show power for the unit and input signal overload for either channel.
Analog reverbs in most studios have typically been very large and delicate plate units or noisy and inconsistent sounding rack-mounted spring reverb units. By utilizing very high quality electronics and careful circuit design, Demeter has produced an extremely quiet and excellent sounding spring reverb. The unit's two separate channels have fixed decay times of 1.5 seconds and 3.5 seconds. However, there is the ability to route or mix both inputs to both channels for a stereophonic reverb with left and right outputs. For stereo uses, I found the best way to match left and right reverb levels was to reduce the output level of the longer channel until the left and right reverbs sounded balanced.
In my mixes I really enjoyed the character and depth of the Real Reverb. A spring reverb produces a very dense, ringy sound that is reminiscent of the onboard reverb of most guitar amplifiers. In the studio this sound works very well on electric guitars, nylon guitars and certain vocal and drum tracks. Many percussive sounds accentuate the metallic character of the reverb, a cool effect and not a conventional reverb sound. I like to use dense reverbs in mono for guitar solos and certain percussion instruments and this unit provides two different reverbs at the same time! In the stereo linked mode, the unit has a very dense and smooth stereo field that makes instruments and vocals sound larger than life. None of my digital effects or plug-ins produce the organic sound of this reverb.
If it's time for a fresh reverb sound for your rack, then the Real Reverb at a $699 list price is a great choice. Demeter has certainly come up with a well built analog unit that will compete for a long time with my growing arsenal of digital effects.