Pro Audio Review (January 2001)
By Russ Long
Rapid Review – Demeter RV-1 Real Reverb
Following the audio revivals of vintage guitar pedals and ribbon microphones, spring reverb will possibly be the next Big Thing. In addition to Demeter’s RV-1 Real Reverb box, Accutronics and Touched By Sound also have new spring reverb machines targeted at the contemporary studio.
James Demeter’s company, Demeter Amplification, has been manufacturing professional tube-based gear for more than two decades; Demeter’s client list reads like a who’s who in the music business. Now the company has applied its knowledge toward the Real Reverb analog spring reverb.
The rear panel of the two-channel, one-rack-space RV-1 Real Reverb ($699) is equipped with inputs on two F-XLR or two 1/4-inch TRS connectors and outputs on two M-XLR or two 1/4-inch TRS connectors. Each channel is individually shielded with mu metal to reduce noise from stray magnetic fields and features a full-size, six-spring Accutronics reverb tank. The first channel has a short decay time (approximately 1.5 seconds) and the second a bit longer (approximately 3.5 seconds). The unit obtains power through a standard IEC power connector.
Both channels have identical controls. The Phase switch reverses the phase of the effected portion of the sound. When the reverb is being mixed evenly with the dry signal or when the outputs are linked, reversing the phase results in a brighter, sparkling reverb sound. The Filter switch inserts a high-pass filter in the affected portion of the signal. A red LED lights to indicate when the input signal is overloading.
The Input control adjusts the input level to the box. The box is at its quietest when this is set just below the point of clipping. The Mix control adjusts the ratio of dry to wet signals at the output. In addition to these channel controls, the unit features an Input link switch that combines the input signals from both channel inputs and an Output link switch that combines the output signals of both channels. A power switch turns the box on and off.
I put the RV-1 to the test while mixing the new Schfvilkus album and had superb results. I am no stranger to spring reverberation: I regularly use my Master Room Spring Reverb as well as the reverb on my Roland RE501. My first impression was how quiet the RV-1 was compared to my other spring reverbs.
Horns sound fantastic through the RV-1. The Real Reverb creates the perfect reverb tail to follow a solo trumpet or sax or a complete horn section. I also had wonderful results using the reverb on vocals. The reverb has an almost plate-like smoothness.
As is typically true with spring reverbs, the RV-1 doesn’t lend itself to drums. Percussive sounds tend to emphasize the boinginess of the springs rather than the smoothness of their decay. I imagine there might be unique occasions where this sound would be desired, but these situations would be few and far between.
Guitars sound great through the RV-1. The classic guitar amp with built-in spring reverb sound can be duplicated with the ability to change the reverb level from one section of the song to the next.
Although the RV-1 is noisy compared to today’s expensive digital reverbs, it is still extremely quiet compared to traditional spring reverbs (signal-to-noise ratio >90 dB) and it has a unique sonic characteristic that I have not heard equaled in its digital counterparts.
In this day and age of expensive digital reverbs, the Demeter Amplification RV-1 Real Reverb is the perfect piece of equipment to add unique variety to any studio’s reverberation selection.