Let us talk Ambient and let us explore. Shall we?!
It is finished! This is the six tune session using my old school rack reverb units from the 80’s and 90’s. You listened to the same long meditative sequences with different sounding reverb units during the last days on Bandcamp and hopefully enjoyed what you have discovered… Just for the record if I can get my hands on another old reverb unit I’ll let you know. The recording of it will be added to this session…
Please note that each reverb algorithm has its own mojo and flavour and I have not recreated the same sound for all units. You hear what I liked at the very moment. And for the record, «Of shadows and light» is my final track (read and listen below). Here we go…
Alesis Midiverb (1986)
This is Midiverb sounding. You are hearing the Digitone by Elektron playing a few notes constantly and generatevely feeded into the Midiverb. Preset: 50 (20sec, Dark & Large), 75% wet. Into the Oto Machines Boum into H5 (line in). The only thing I did to this recording was adding a bit of EQ by Kush. Not too much. You need to hear the unit.
Midiverb, a surprisingly good sounding 16-bit reverb. Manufactured in 1986 by Alesis, it was introduced as the world’s first mainstream 16-bit digital reverb. And the first of the Alesis series, followed by the notable Midiverb II (used in the past by Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin), QudraVerb (currently by Hainbach) and the Nanoverb (currently by GusGus). Yes, the midiverb is a bit noisy but offers nice lofi and mojo, which I think is trumped by my favorite Midiverb II. If you can get your hands on these Alesis Reverb units, do so. Thanks Stan Pete for fixing the unit (by the way).
Alesis Midiverb 2 (1987)
This devil in 19-inch clothing comes from the people who brought you the MIDIVERB and Microverb, two outstanding products in a market where the words ‘cheap’ and ‘quality’ are rarely mentioned in the same sentence, let alone about the same product. It’s the sign of a smart company when, instead of building a reputation on a couple of products and then sitting back for a round of applause, they proceed to make something better and cheaper than ever before.
Lurking on the PCB inside the MIDIVERB II is a 16-bit linear PCM convertor, running in a RISC environment with a custom-built VLSI chip (clocked at a snappy 8MHz) which, unless you’ve got ears like a bat, is as clean as you’re likely to need, buddy. Seriously though, although anything you can’t hear won’t hurt you, having as little as 0.1% distortion isn’t bad, and it gives you that ultra-clean, digital sound that people love so well. Some other interesting spec is: this unit used to be used by Boards of Canada and Apex Twin.
There are 99 preset effects supplied (plus defeat), featuring 29 very natural sounding reverbs, 10 gated reverbs, 10 reverse reverbs, 20 echoes, 10 flanges, 10 choruses and 10 miscellaneous effects. That’s a lot of stuff, and it’s all as easy to use as the remote control on your video. Okay, so you can’t alter any of the programs, stepping the reverb up and down in infinitessimal graduations… but there are more different room sizes than you’ll ever really use here, so who needs to, hmm?
The dynamic range, a statistic so frequently bandied about by audio salespersons, is a whopping 85dB. Right, so much for the physics of the situation, how does it sound?
This is the Midiverb 2 sounding. On the foto it is the 2nd in the row. You are hearing the Digitone by Elektron playing a few notes constantly and generatevely feeded into the MV2. I have used the preset number 29 at ca. 45-50% wet, XLarge Warm (15sec.). Midiverb2 into the Oto Machines Boum into H5 (line in). The only thing I did to this recording was adding a bit of EQ by Kush. Not too much. You need to hear the unit. I think the MV2 sounds beautiful. It offers a lovely, lovely lofi and mojo. I love it.
Lexicon LXP-1 (1988)
There can be few effects devices around as prestigious and as desirable as those made by Lexicon. Now, with the release in 1988 of the LXP1 16-bit processor, the classic Lexicon sound became truly affordable.
This is the LXP-1 sounding. On the foto it is the 3rd in the row. You are hearing the Digitone by Elektron playing a few notes constantly and generatevely feeded into the Lexicon. I have used the Plate D preset at ca. 45-50% wet, decay at maximum (6sec.) and Delay at maximum as well (246ms). You might hear it bounce a little. Reverb into the Oto Machines Boum into H5 (line in). The only thing I did to this recording was adding a bit of EQ by Kush. Not too much. You need to hear the unit. I think the low-mids are beautiful. The LXP-1 offers a lovely lofi and mojo. I love it.
Alesis Quadraverb (1989)
The Alesis Quadraverb is a 16 bit programmable stereo effects box processor utilizing four digital effects, originally released in 1989. This rack mount unit is arguably better for electric instruments like guitar, being a product of the late 80’s and early 90’s.
This effects unit and many effects units like it can be heard all over rock, metal and alternative rock records from the 90’s. It really gives electric guitars that 90’s sound. For the people familiar with the sound, it will become recognizable almost instantly when you hear it.
This rack was used as reverb on lots of classic hip-hop and boom bap records from the early 90’s. It was a definite go-to for reverb for a lot of hip-hop producers using machines like the SP 1200 and the Akai S950. Ask anyone who knows and they will look at you funny if you mention the SP 1200 + S950 + Quadraverb when talking about drums. Part of one of the formulas for snares that knock.
Alesis reverb effects processors can also be heard a lot on 90’s trance and dancehall music as well. For the vintage factor alone, the uses to this day are fairly obvious for those who are after a certain sound. A vintage unit will never be out of play… As long as people value the sounds from the past these machines will always hold some value.
Many love the Alesis Quadraverb for the countless options and tweaks that you can play with due to the programming. Like many of its counterparts of the time, this rack mount box will take on full MIDI capabilities widening the range of use from studio to stage. As far as vocal effects go, there are a lot better options to go with for mixing plugins and applications.
The Quadraverb is an analog piece of music equipment and does not exist in digital VST form. I would recommend finding the real thing if you are trying to recreate that sound because it’s never been cheaper to do so. However, the ValhallaRoom is a very, very good VST to check out that can produce similar reverb without the metallic drawbacks of the Quadraverb.
This is the Quadraverb sounding. On the foto it is the 1st in the row. My Quadraverb is made in 1992. Could be one of the last units… You are hearing the Digitone by Elektron playing a few notes constantly and generatevely feeded into the QV. I have used the Taj Mahal preset at ca. 48% wet. I have been curious about this preset since Hainbach speaks a lot about it. For the record, I have bought this unit last year from a Balkan Beats producer here in Zürich and did not change anything on it except repairing the LED-screen (Thx Joel for that). So, I really do not have a clue until now what this unit is really capable of! Simply because it’s not my «to go for» reverb device… But who knows… Alright, let’s move on, reverb into the Oto Machines Boom in H5 (Line In). The only thing I did to this recording was adding a bit of EQ by Kush. Not too much. You need to hear the unit. Yes, the Quadraverb is a bit noisy but offers nice lofi and nostalgia mentioned above. Sorry for the clipped tones here and there. I just didn’t notice it during the recording session 🤷♂️. If you can get your hands on this reverb unit, do so!
Zoom 9030 (1991)
Zoom introduced the 9030 with a 16-bit processor as a smaller version of the 9010 multi effects processor. Although the Zoom 9030 is easy to use and the effects easy to edit, you still have to wonder if the effects are any good. After all, this is a fairly cheap unit compared with the mighty Zoom 9010 which was sold for over a grand back in the 90’s. Before I make any comments I have to stress that assessing any effects unit is a very subjective matter and you must try out the unit and make your own judgments. As usual. There is no doubt that all effects processors are built of a good quality and the effects have their own mojo, but whether they suit your needs is something only you can decide. That’s how it is with the Zoom products and in general. Well, my very first effects pedal was a Zoom BFX-708 bass effects processor that I bought in 1998. It was a heck of a lot of money for me, but it paid off and served me well. Still works by the way. That piece of plastic. I used it especially during my 1999-2001 support shows for Whitney Huston, Marla Glen or Joe Cocker (as the dedicated bass player for the opening acts. How time flies! This was more than 20 years ago!!! Please excuse my digression…). All in all, the 9030 used to be used by Trent Raznor. Well, you might say, this is the famous effects processor that provided the distortion for the Nine Inch Nails albums Broken and The Downwards Spiral. The unit supports up to 99 patches and has a wide range of effects from various distortions to wah, pitch, flange and much more. But I went here for the longest Reverb patch available…
This is the Zoom 9030 sounding. As usual, you are hearing the Digitone by Elektron playing a few notes constantly and generatevely feeded into the 9030. I have used the Cathedral preset at 41% wet, 7.7 sec., Pre-delay 230msec. The 9030 into the Oto Machines Boum into H5 (line in). The only thing I did to this recording was adding a bit of EQ by Kush. Not too much. You need to hear the unit. I think the 9030 sounds very noisy and digital. Very! Well, if you like it offers a lofi-lofi and digi-mojo. Sounds interesting! In a way… But I would not use this reverb for sound design…
Yamaha A3000 (1997)
The Yamaha A3000 is a professional hardware sampler released by the company in 1997. Back then the company was barely known for sampling, so the release of the A3000 was an unexpected one. The goal of Yamaha with the A3000 was to make a break-beat machine and phrase sampler that could be used for a wide variety of recording as well as performance applications.
Although the A3000 is a capable machine, it is one that takes a lot of time and dedication to master. Right out of the box you are faced with an almost 400 page manual to introduce you to all the features and functions of the A3000. Although the A3000 only shipped with 2 megabytes of memory, it can accept expansion memory in the form of single in-line memory modules up to a maximum of 128MB. The A3000 handles sample processing with three independent effects blocks that can handle all the usual delay, reverb and chorus style effects. Everything recorded to floppy disks. This unit was used extensively by Junkie XL. This unit was used extensively by Junkie XL. He loves the bass sounds on the A3000. I explored the side of the reverb and did not sample anything…
This is the A3000 sounding. As usual, you are hearing the Digitone by Elektron playing a few notes constantly and generatevely feeded into the 9030. I have used the Canyon preset at even D=W. The manual says I am able to go up to 30sec reverb time but to be honest I failed reading the manual! So the reverb time is long. The A3000 into the Oto Machines Boum into H5 (line in). The only thing I did to this recording was adding a bit of EQ by Kush. Not too much. You need to hear the unit. I think the A3000 sounds noisy and digital. Sorry for the clipped tones here and there. I just didn’t notice it during the recording session 🤷♂️. Well, if you like it offers an interesting lofi and digi-mojo as well as the Zoom 9030. Sounds interesting but I would not use this unit for its reverb sound.
Of shadows and light
This is the last piece of the session using my old school rack reverb units from the 80’s and 90’s. You have listened to long meditative sequences in which various reverb units sounded. «Of shadows and light» is the finale of it. You will now hear the sequence of Midiverb and Lexicon reverb superimposed. Did not change a thing. Added a bit of saturation only. Very beautiful sounding!
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Music by me
Cover Art by Sana Vahdati