After hitting the streets a couple of years ago, the Bricasti Model 7 (M7) Digital Reverb Processor continues to earn its reputation as the top hardware reverberation unit in production today.
Designed by former Lexicon employees, the M7 uses an innovative new reverb algorithm — the "True Stereo Reverb Process" — that creates believable yet totally controllable sonic spaces and is rapidly becoming the go-to reverb box for top mixers around the world. Bricasti followed the release of the M7 a year later with the Model 10 (M10) remote control that allows up to 8-M7s to be driven from a single device.
The single-space, 9 lb. M7 is beautifully crafted in a non-corrosive stainless steel chassis and top cover. The box features milled, anodized, aluminum knobs, button caps and front panel that make for a visually stunning piece of equipment. All of the M7's controls are located on the front panel as well as level meters and a two-line, bright-red LED display (that looks great in both dim and brightly lit situations) for program name and edit/system parameters. The rear panel includes all analog and AES/EBU digital connectors, RS422 serial ports and MIDI in and out connectors (MIDI I/O is currently not used but is included for future developments). Touting an impressive 116 dB dynamic range and a frequency response of 10 Hz to 20 kHz ± 0.05 dB, the M7 has a pair of converters that sound better than most standalone converters available today. Just like my Mac, the M7 has a quiet, low-speed fan that is heat-sensor-controlled and automatically speeds up if the box is overheating due to poor ventilation, insuring that the box keeps cool.
The Model 10 is the M7's dedicated hardware remote controller, and it has been designed with the same criteria as the M7 utilizing a case manufactured and milled from solid, anodized aluminum ensuring a long life and stunning look. The M10 interfaces with the M7 via a standard RS422 serial interface that provides power to the M10 and control of up to eight M7s. The M10 includes a 10-meter cable that is Lexicon 480L-compatible, making it easy to replace an outdated LARC with a new Bricasti box.
The M7 presets utilize three different independently adjustable reverb engines. The first covers the early reverberation (early reflections); the second, the late decay tail; and the third, the early reverberation below 80 Hz. All three engines integrate perfectly creating the authentic sound of a single sonic space.
The box includes 100 factory presets and 100 user registers. The handy Favorites function — available via the M7's front panel or on the M10 — allows instant access to four different memories. I store my go-to registers in these locations, keeping my favorite settings a button-push away. The selected program is stored as a favorite by holding one of the favorite buttons down for a couple of seconds. Each program features 12 parameter adjustments that provide extreme control without option overload. As with most reverberation boxes, Presets and Registers are organized according to application and desired effect, making it possible to find the best setting as quickly as possible.
I found the controls of the M7 to be intuitive. I dove right in and started using it right out of the box, only occasionally having to refer to the manual. After several days of use, the first thing I noticed about the M7 is that it doesn't have an obvious sound of its own, like other reverbs; rather, it puts sound sources in controllable and realistic-sounding spaces. If I build a mix ground up using the 480L, I hear the 480 in the mix, but if I build a mix around the M7, I don't hear the reverb at all, I just hear everything sounding great. If I mute the M7, the entire mix falls apart.
One of the M7's strengths is that it sounds amazingly real. The parameters can be tweaked from one extreme to another, and the result is always a truthful-sounding space. Other reverbs have a margin of realism, but once a parameter is adjusted in either direction beyond that margin, the result is an artificial-sounding space. This doesn't mean you don't have extreme control of the M7 — you do — but the difference is that the Bricasti brains have developed algorithms that sound real even when adjusted to extremes.
I'm mostly mixing in the box these days, so my typical setup with the M7 has been to digitally loop it into my Pro Tools rig — it works perfectly in this situation. To accurately evaluate the box, I needed to use the analog ins and outs; after spending several hours mixing through my Amek/Langley BIG desk, I've become an even bigger fan of the M7.
I've found the M10 to be the perfect complement to the M7, allowing me to adjust the reverberation parameters quickly and easily while remaining in the sonic sweet spot. While $2,100 is a hefty price tag for a remote, it's so useful that I don't think I'd contemplate buying the M7 without it.
I was initially surprised that the M7 has no support for surround but after discussing it with Bricasti's Brian Zolner, I agree that a surround unit would increase the price of the M7 to the extent that the already pricey box would be nearly out of reach for most potential buyers. Bricasti's approach is to allow users to configure systems for any application including surround by using multiple M7s with the M10 controller.
I would love to see a plug-in style software controller added to the Bricasti product line, one that shows up looking like a plugin in your Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase, or other DAW. It would ideally store all of the M7's parameters, allowing me to e-mail a Pro Tools session that I've been working on in Nashville (using half a dozen M7s) around the globe where a collaborator automatically recalls my M7 presets by opening the session. This would eliminate the need for the M10 for in-the-box mixers.
After two months with the Bricasti Design Model 7, I'm convinced it's the best-sounding reverb I've heard to date. It sounds real regardless of the extremity of the parameters settings, and it is easy to use. While it's a bit pricey by project studio standards, the M7 is built to last for decades and is a worthwhile investment for any studio, engineer or post-production facility.
Russ Long, a Nashville-based producer/engineer, owns the Carport recording studio. He is a regular contributor to Pro Audio Review. www.russlong.ws.