If you ever wanted that vocal sound that Tony Visconti got for David Bowie on the 1977 classic hit, “Heroes,” you won’t need a fine German recording studio and all the gear to get it. Luckily for all us, Eventide has released Tverb, designed in conjunction with Visconti himself.
Working in Hansa Tonstudio in Berlin, Visconti had only one mono track left for Bowie’s vocal performance on the “Heroes” cut. In the spacious Studio 2, which was designed for classical music concerts, he set up a three-mic system where the two room mics basically only opened up when Bowie increased his dynamics. This new Eventide plug-in recreates that room, the mics and gear used to get that unique sound.
It’s an easy-to-use interface that presents a visual representation of the actual room (Meistersall hall), along with three microphones; one fixed in the middle (where Bowie stood) and two moveable mics. While Mic 1 can’t be moved, you can hover over the mic and select omni, cardioid, figure 8 and Low/Hi cut. Mics 2 and 3 can be moved anywhere in the room, except exactly in the same spot. There is something called Inverse TVerb where you type in the same values to the two mics, and engaging the invert switch causes 100 percent phase cancellation. With this effect, the reverb appears when a gate closes rather than opens.
The console section is inspired by the ‘70s Neve from the session, where Mic 1 has a compressor module and Mics 2 and 3 feature linkable gates, all with the expected controls. The Room module lets you adjust the sound of the room, controlling the decay, diffusion and EQ settings. Below that sits the Levels Modules, with the Master Channel summing the three mic channels and everything occurring post-gate/compressor and post-reverb. There is a balance knob available only on the stereo versions (the original technique was all mono), output level fader, Mute, Solo and phase for each mic channel. There are also meters for each channel as well as the Master. While you may think this is just for that vocal sound, it’s not at all.
I used it on drums, percussion, guitars, strings and even bass (stereo bass has its place in the world sometimes!). I liked it especially on guitar, where I had placed it directly as an insert on a mono Telecaster, and panned it to around 10 o’clock. Then I set the right-hand mic to open up only when I hit loud notes, and boosted up the channel volume while darkening the overall tone of the room. What a cool, useful sound—reminiscent of Billy Gibbons’ old ZZ Top vibe. To push it further, I automated the mic to move back in distance later in the song, and created more space for the instrument. To me, TVerb is great-sounding, easy-to-use reverb meets room tool, with a lot of creative options.