If you happen to follow my YouTube channel more than this blog (and why should you d otherwise, as most of the good stuff comes in video format?), you’ll notice I posted a new video demonstrating the Behringer RV600 in combination with Korg’s Volca Keys. If for some odd reason you came across this post before listening to the video, you’ll find the video here:
I have originally reviewed this pedal here, and made an accompanying video for it. Actually, this was the first video I I did demonstrating a pedal, and it is still the most viewed of the Gear Demos playlist. However, this video was done in poor lightning, with an ageing camera and the sound quality, either by personal lack of experience or by bad programming of the synth, did not really came up to par. After more than a year using this pedal in many of my productions, and noticing an ongoing interest about this little reverb unit, I decided it was time I did right by this pedal, and re-do its demo. I also wanted to add in some of my personal notes about its sound and capabilities.
This is an inexpensive guitar pedal. It is not as roughed as many of the top-level pedals, but it is also surprisingly cheap for a reverb pedal. The only ones I can remember in the same price range of about 50€ are either very limited, or made by some lesser known brands. Still, the build quality is fine for the synth player that will keep this pedal on a desk rather than the floor, and use it with his hands rather than his feet. The pedal is rated for keyboards, meaning that it will accept Line Level input. Despite this, there might be some distortion when using a loud synth with a sharp attack transient… I suspect some auto-leveling/compression might be happening at the input stage of the pedal, but can not be sure.
Another interesting quirk is that is is not a full bypass pedal: if you turn your MIX knob all the way up (100% wet signal) and switch the pedal off, no sound will pass the pedal. This might put some people off from this synth, but honestly, when was the last time you had to switch between a 100% dry synth to its 100% derivative in the middle of a live act?
Speaking of the algorithms available. Because this is not a very expensive pedal, you might expect most reverbs not to be the purest and more realistic sounding algorithms available. But if, like me, you are interested in carving new sounds, then this pedal is a great addition to any synthesizer, allowing one to embrace new soundscapes. When I first brought this pedal, I was really interested in the SPACE mode, which adds additional harmonics to the sound. In the right conditions this may somewhat resemble the shimmering reverb of the Polara or even of the Strymon BluSky, but I soon realised that most of the time it sounds more like a broken string machine in a distance. Pushing this mode down at low Mix levels still gives a very bright and long reverb with a long attack phase… interesting for some pad applications, but little else.
On the other side of the spectrum, the lesser known CAVE and ECHO modes really made this pedal shine during the last year (almost year and a half). The ECHO mode can give a nice rhythmic texture to a sustained sound (indeed, with DECAY at max., this mode can deliver the sustained part altogether). As for the CAVE mode, it is mostly a nice, lush and almost shimmer-y reverb, that when almost unnoticed in my first video. Among the other modes, the metal emulations (PLATE, SPRING and ’69) are solid emulations of their respective physical implementations. It is interesting to hear the slight tremolo effect of the PLATE at some settings, as well as the metallic character of the springs in the other two modes. At 100% wet, these algorithms leave the realm of reverb and become excellent for spooky, disconcerting sounds and effects.
At least for now, DUCKING and TILE have been the only modes for which I found little to no use at all. That being said, most of the other modes are perfectly usable reverbs, and, at some extreme settings can add a lot of timbral variation to a synth… even one as basic as the Volca Keys.