The Sleeping Green Giant
Over the last year or two, the reverb pedal has seen a huge resurgence in popularity. Where not too long ago your choices were pretty much limited to the BOSS RV and EHX Holy Grail offerings, now you have boutique spring-emulators, octave shimmers and just about every shade of reverb one can imagine to choose from. Arguably, at the top of the heap stand the mighty Strymon Big Sky and Eventide Space, but there is a certain little green box that packs a vast amount of incredibly lush reverbs into a menu-less, pedalboard-friendly enclosure. Source Audio’s Dimension Reverb isn’t brand new on the market like most of the products we review, but it is definitely a sleeping reverb giant that needs to be awoken.
Unlike its competitors with their menus and large enclosures, the Dimension Reverb goes for a streamlined 5-knob form factor that allows you to tweak dials on the fly for more immediate tone tailoring. In typical Source Audio style, they have managed to perfectly straddle the line of rack parameter adjustment flexibility and stompbox interaction immediacy. Though you are only able to store two presets at a time, I don’t see this being a problem with reverb, because every room you play in will most likely require some adjustment to sit right in a mix. Take some time to read the manual and you will be able to dial up any type of reverb you wish with minimal fuss.
Dimensional Tone Transportation
Reverb algorithms are incredibly complex to design and the appeal of each is entirely subjective. While some yearn for hyper-realistic rooms and halls, others look for a pedal that will perfectly reproduce the mechanical reverberations of a plate or springs. Then, there are sonic adventurists who crave lush, modulated soundscapes that transcend the boundaries of tradition. To satisfy all of these demands in one box is a huge undertaking and Source Audio’s Chief Scientist Bob Chidlaw has done a remarkable job cramming his decades of reverb design experience into one small enclosure.
The first five presets on the center dial offer varying room sizes in which to integrate your tone. The first thing I did with the Room setting was to roll the Treble control back a touch. I was rewarded with a smoky wooden reflection that reminded me of Marc Ribot’s signature room-slap-back that is so subtly effective on those Tom Waits records. Moving out of subtle territory, the rooms get bigger as you go from Club, Stage, Arena and then finally, the acoustically immense E-Dome. This is where titanic solos reside and loom like thunderstorm clouds. If you dial in a healthy dose of pre-delay you can make it rain hard without drowning your picking nuances. Epic. For those with more traditional reverb taste, the plate settings are simply world class. The diffusion rates on these pristine plates are set just right and in my opinion they stand toe-to-toe with the mighty Strymon plate algorithms in an AB test. The Spring settings are where things become a little more subjective. They are very lively and respond well to your pick attack, but they do not include the signature splash of their real-world counterparts. Some will love the spring-zing without the drip artifact we all know so well, while others will feel it is missing something when they want to get their Dick Dale on. For my money, the Modverb and Metal Box are worth the price of admission alone. You can leave your 80’s rack reverbs in storage next time you want to bathe your tone in huge modulated reverb. On longer decay settings with a slow moving, heavy modulation dialed in you can bask in Disintegration-era Cure soundscapes or do some serious shoegazing if you feel so inclined. The Metal Box shares the heavily modulated delay lines of the Modverb and if you are clever you can get a seriously cool chorus-flanger-verb for post-punk ruminations. I, of course, took the time to mimic Keith Levene’s triangle-wave madness that can be heard on Public Image LTD’s own Metal Box.
The Dimension of Digital Delay
One selling point that isn’t glaringly obvious about the Dimension Reverb is the excellent digital delay device that is hiding within the Echo setting. With some slight tweaking, you can mimic some classic rack delays that fetch big bucks on eBay. If you set the Diffusion to the minimum and roll of the Treble slightly, you can get the warm, elastic repeats of a sought-after Lexicon PCM-41. Increase the Treble and dial in some modulation and you can approximate a glassy sheen of a TC Electronic 2290! Hook up an expression pedal, assign it to the Pre-Delay function and enjoy controlling delay time on the fly. The Echo setting is a serious bonus and with 24-bit audio conversion and a 56-bit digital data path, it even smokes some dedicated digi-delays on the market.
What we like: The ability to compare to reverb units costing four times more with handcrafted algorithms from a reverb design godfather is something very special. Throw in an excellent delay device and the ability to function as a modulation machine and you have more bang for your buck than a two-for-Tuesday.
Concerns: The only thing I wish the Dimension Reverb had was a kill-dry function for parallel effects loops. It sounds perfect in my series looped amp, but I am sure there are a few out there that would consider this a deal breaker.