DigiTech Polara Reverb

  • By Phillip Dodge @tonereport
  • January 23, 2015

Over the years, DigiTech has released plenty of great reverbs. From rack units to pedals, there’s a long line of spatial goodness. Built around seven Lexicon reverbs (and picking up where the Supernatural left off), the Polara is the new heir to the DigiTech reverb throne. With options for Room, Plate, Reverse, Modulated, Halo, Hall, and Spring, the Polara should be able to cover all of your reverb needs.

The Polara offers proof of DigiTech's dedication to innovation and attention to detail and is the first pedal offered in their new, smaller, rugged housing. The Polara also offers a revised version of the Stomp Lock, which DigiTech first introduced on its Hardwire line of pedals. In short, the Stomp Lock is a piece of hard rubber that fits over the controls of the Polara to protect the potentiometers and keep the settings from getting bumped during transit or when you go to stomp on the pedal. While we're discussing design and amenities, I should point out the stellar paint job of the Polara. The pedal is painted in a really cool green with a purple and yellow graphic which I find really “groovy.” The labels for reverb type could be larger or better contrasted, but that's a nitpicky detail in a design this cool.

Moving ahead to controls: The Polara offers four potentiometers, one stomp switch, and one toggle switch. The pots cover reverb type, Level, Liveliness, and Decay. The toggle switch is labeled as turning reverb tails off and on. In essence, it's switching between true bypass operation and a great sounding buffered bypass. This feature is great because it allows you to place the Polara at varying spots in your signal chain and still get the best performance out of it. This feature also allows you to experiment in real time with how buffered versus true-bypass switching impacts various other pedals in your rig. While it's not a reason to buy the Polara, I had a blast listening to the impact a buffer can have on fuzz and other dirt pedals.

Getting back to the point at hand, the reverbs within the Polara are simply great. I fell instantly in love with the Plate setting. It's everything you want a plate reverb to be—it's rich, warm and natural (at least as natural as something based on a metal transducer can be). At short decay settings and with the Level set low, it sounds perfect for early rock ‘n’ roll and country sounds. It adds just the right amount of ambience—not too much, but enough to hide minor imperfections in playing technique and make you sound better. It's a confidence booster in pedal form. As you crank the Decay, Liveliness, and Level it becomes an instrument in and of itself. The Plate sounds are so good, that I used it to process vocals on a demo recording. I wish my vocal effects processor had a plate setting this good!

Next let's explore the Spring setting. It doesn't have quite the mojo of an old Fender reverb unit, but the Spring setting in the Polara is surftastic! At modest settings, it sounds like a good approximation of built-in amp reverb. As your crank it up, you get into Dick Dale or even Ennio Morricone territory. Even better, it sounds great going into a dirty amp or an overdrive pedal. That's how players used the old Fender reverb units (amps didn't yet have effects loops) and it's the secret of that vintage surf tone. Running the Polara on the Spring setting into my Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive with a Jazzmaster was a blast.

Yes, the Spring and the Plate settings are great. But if you want one setting alone to justify the purchase of the Polara, let me introduce you to Halo: the "shimmer" effect. According to DigiTech, the Halo setting "intersperses cascading reverbs amongst the reverb decays." I don't fully understand what this means, but I can say that the Halo setting is one of the more pleasant shimmer effects I've encountered. It offers just the right amount of upper octave harmonics without becoming shrill or cloying. Unlike many shimmer sounds that are fine for a song or two, but quickly start to sound gimmicky, the Halo is subtle enough that it can be used for song after song. It adds a smooth pad under rhythm parts that isn't overbearing when it's on and leaves a hole when you turn it off. It does what an effect should do—support a guitar part, not obscure it.

The Hall and Room settings are everything you'd want them to be, adding a natural ambience to your guitar. The Modulated setting is really cool for clean, arpeggiated rhythm parts (especially when following a delay pedal). The Reverse setting is crazy. It takes practice and precise rhythm to use it well, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty freaking awesome. Reverse is also the only setting that affords a 100 percent wet signal. This is great for ambient sounds or extreme effects (especially running the reverb into fuzz).

What we like: All in all, the Polara is a best of both worlds reverb pedal with settings for excellent classic tones and more extreme options as well.

Concerns: The artwork might be busy for guitarists who prefer a simpler looking pedal. The labels for the controls are very small and low in contrast which can make reading them difficult in low light situations.

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  1. Dan S.

    How does the spring setting on the Polara compare to the Topanga pedal?  Which is better for spring reverb sounds?

  2. Lui Sutil

    I’ve never used or heard the topanga… But I have to say that the speing reverb is the one mode I use the least… When I had the Holy Grail I almost always used the spring reverb… But only because I think that the plate, modulated, room, halo and of course my favorite Hall settings sound way better than the spring. And that is just my opinion…  If your style of playing requieres spring reverb I think you would be more than pleased… This is the best reverb I’ve used in this size and price range…  The only other unit I would preffer would be a Strymon, but the smaller of the two is twice as much as the polara and twice as big…. I always run it in stereo and it sounds freaking amazing!!! Lush, subtle ambiance ... I also own the much more expensive and experimental Afterneath , but that’s another beast that I wouldn’t even consider it a traditional reverb machine…. Anyways…. I really think this is the best pedal size reverb on the market… The graphics are gorgeous, the built wuality feels so amazing and rugged that you know it will last you a lifetime… Very heavy metal case, metal knobs… Love it!
    And since I’m a pedal junky… Having it at the end of my chain with the buffer on is a plus… And I have about 5 fuzz pedals in my signal and I can truly say that I do not hear any difference at all on true bypass or with the tails on…
    For 150 bucks is the best reverb option for sure! If you want the absolute best and money and size is not an object the obvious choice would be the strymon big sky or blue sky…. But I’m in love with my polara and also their obscura delay… Both are top notch… It’s digitechs answer to the boutique pedal demand ... And they hit a home run in my opinion… I haven’t seen anybody else usong these units so I hope digitech is doing well on sales with these because it would be a shame if not….
    True Lexicon algorithms , true stereo makes this my reverb of choice and I don’t see that changing any time soon… I ise the afterneath as well, but the Polara is an always on pedal for me smile

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