I’m a big fan of spring reverbs. I own the Accutronics AccuVerb and Master Room XL-210 Spring Reverbs, and it’s rare for a mix to leave my studio that doesn’t incorporate one if not both of the boxes. I regularly utilize the spring reverb on my Roland RE-501 and I’m also a frequent user of the Softube Spring Reverb and Universal Audio BX20 spring reverb plug-ins as they both do an exceptional job of creating a convincing in-the-box spring reverb.
I reviewed Demeter’s RV-1 back in 2005, loved it and couldn’t wait to get my hands on Demeter’s Real Reverb RV-1D ($720), the updated version of the box that was released last year. Since plugging it in last fall, I’ve used it non-stop.
The RV-1D is a 1U, two-channel box. Each channel has identical controls (phase, high-pass filter, input level, mix and output level) as well as a dedicated, custom-made six-spring reverb tank. The first channel has a short decay time (1.5 seconds) and the second a longer decay time (3.5 seconds). Each channel can be linked or used independently. When the inputs are linked, input signals from both channels are combined. If only one input is being used, Input Link distributes the signal to both channels. When the outputs are linked, the output signals of both channels are combined resulting in a more complex reverb sound. A red LED illuminates to indicate when the input signal is overloading—quite useful, as I’ve found the reverb performs best just before overloading occurs.
The inputs and outputs are fully balanced and the redesigned digital transformerless power supply provides universal input voltage. It uses a custom-built, shielded toroidal transformer for low noise (the box is 6 dB quieter than the previous version). Each reverb tank is individually shielded to reduce noise and only the best components (such as high-quality Burr-Brown chips) are used throughout.
In comparison to the AccuVerb and the Master Room reverbs, the RV-1D is significantly smoother, more natural and less boingy. I have found that it works well in most situations but truly shines on vocals, horns and guitars. On vocals and horns, it is rich, lush and warm, with an almost “platelike” sound. Electric and acoustic guitars both sound wonderful through the RV-1D. Guitars bring out a bit more of the spring character while still sounding warm and smooth.
In this day and age of often-pricey reverb plug-ins, the Demeter Amplification RV-1D Real Spring Reverb is the perfect box to add unique sonic color to any studio’s effects stash.