Reverb is one of those effects I use all the time—I feel naked without it. It is however, one of those effects where a little goes a long way. Only when it’s turned off do I really notice its absence more than its presence. So what surprised me about the new Boss RV-6—its first new compact reverb pedal since 2002 (how is this possible?)—is how much I enjoyed digging deeper and using reverb as an actual effect, and not as a supplement to my main tone.
The RV-6 offers eight different reverb effects each reviewed below. This latest version from Boss offers an updated algorithm that makes the classic modes—Spring, Plate, Hall, Room and Modulate sound fresh and modern. The only mode from the previous RV-5, the Gate mode, is now gone, but in its place are three new modes; Dynamic, +Delay and Shimmer.
The controls are super easy, with knobs for Effect Level, Tone and Time. The fourth control switches the mode—which I found in a darker setting or on stage a little hard to read. The RV-6 has stereo ins and outs, and an expression pedal input for controlling the amount of the effect, all for under $150. At this price point, there isn’t much to criticize at all. My number one wish would be for Boss to take this reverb pedal, and offer presets and looping capabilities similar to their new DD-500 delay. I found myself wishing I could change from having a touch of lively spring reverb for example, and then via a footswitch toggle to the shimmer mode for a deep, haunting tone. Make it happen, Boss!
While the controls on the RV-6 don’t go too deep into adjusting every parameter imaginable, there is still enough to give a wide range of tones in every mode. Here’s what I found:
Modulate: Probably the most loved setting on the older RV-5. To me, this new mode sounds great. The modulation itself is subtle, definitely not over the top, if anything, I almost expected a little more of a chorus-like effect, but it’s still a gorgeous, deep, warm sounding reverb. It is probably the mode that I used the most as a standalone effect, and not as background presence. It deserves to be cranked up and I’m sure ambient players will still flock to this setting, but more traditional type players will find this immensely enjoyable as well.
Spring: Generally, I’m not a huge fan of spring reverb, which might seem sacrilegious for a reverb fan. I do like it, but usually for just a little bit, and then I switch to a plate or room instead. Not the case here. I found the spring mode very real sounding, and not fake at all. It can take a little time to dial it in, but once accomplished it was very enjoyable and I might have preferred it over the spring reverb tank in my amp. This is a great mode that now has me appreciating springs more than I had previously.
Plate: This is my favorite style of reverb, and what I use most when employing a fair amount of gain—not a lot, just enough to give my notes a little extra bloom and air. At first, I wasn’t a huge fan of this setting, but I tweaked the interaction of the time and effect level, and ended up getting me some very good results. I like a little longer time, maybe 2 or 3 o’clock, with the tone fairly low, and the level set around 9 or 10 o’clock.
Hall: On most multi-reverb type pedals, I pass over the hall setting for plate. But in this case, I actually preferred the hall setting over plate. It worked really well with any amount of gain, and I set it similarly to the plate setting, but I thought it just worked a little better when using additional gain. Overall, there’s nothing earth shattering about it, but it’s one of those modes you can just count on being right with most guitar tones.
Room: Probably my least favorite setting overall—hey, they can’t all be number one. With a shorter time it just sounds odd to me, like notes falling off the side of a cliff. Folks more creative than myself will probably appreciate this mode more. But when I did max out the time control, increased the tone to be a little bit brighter, I did find some useful sounds from this mode.
Dynamic: This was a really interesting and fun mode to experiment with. It works a lot like a dynamic delay setting; when you’re playing a lot of notes or strumming chords quickly, the reverb sound is barely audible. But when you pause or slow down your playing for a moment, then the reverb kicks in, just waiting for that moment to shine. This is a useful mode where you don’t want your reverb to wash over everything, which can get very congested quickly. But pause or slow down, and suddenly the absence of playing becomes a tone all by itself. It’s a really neat use of reverb and worth the time to explore.
Shimmer: All the rage with many diehard reverb fans, is actually a sub-mode Boss invented way back on its 1994 PS-3 Pitch Shifter/Delay pedal, and a pedal that became highly sought after by owners for this very effect, and now Boss has incorporated it into the RV-6. Not familiar with the shimmer effect? Think of it as a wash of smooth reverb effect, with an octave up joined by orchestral instruments (cello, violin, organ) playing in harmony. The longer you set the time and effects level, the more that octave harmony comes into effect. This is another one of those modes that all by itself is the center of your tone, and cannot be relegated as a background type effect. Haunting, beautiful, surreal, the shimmer is awesome.
+Delay: I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. Essentially this turns the RV-6 into a simple delay pedal, with the longer delays controlled by time, the Tone control acts as number of repeats, and the effects level determines how much in the mix you want to hear your delayed notes. There is still a sense of reverb with the delay, so you are essentially getting two types of effects at once in this mode. Pretty cool effect; it sounded good with some added gain just to make the tone pop out a little bit, sort of like how some people use a little added analog delay when using a lot of gain.
What We Like: Just about every mode on the RV-6 has something great to offer. Three new modes will be welcome by those wanting something new from Boss, and the classic modes sound great too. Easy and fun to use, with a wallet friendly price for all of the different modes you get, there isn’t much the RV-6 can’t do. It is now a permanent fixture on my pedalboard.
Concerns: Not a concern, just a wish that Boss takes this pedal and turn it into something bigger that would allow for presets and maybe some looping abilities like the new DD-500 delay. They would sell tons.