In Firmware Version 16.03 the reverb algorithm has been thoroughly reworked – in fact so thoroughly and simultaneously so brilliantly that we are devoting a whole article to it.
RUBBING SHOULDERS WITH THE WORLD’S BEST
Now, nobody ever said that the existing reverb algorithm wasn’t already very good. Indeed, it belonged to the very best the market had to offer and was up there with any other dedicated guitar effects processor you could care to mention. And this tried and tested reverb remains as the ‘Normal Mode’ in the new Reverb block. But where there is light, there is sometimes even more light and this is exactly the case here, as the new Reverb can now also operate in a ‘High Definition’ mode. This does use a little more CPU, but the results are well worth it. In order to make clear what sort of reverb quality we are talking about here we really have to introduce you to the who-is-who of the world’s best standalone reverb processors.
TRICKY ROOM ACOUSTICS
But why do we need reverb at all? Simply and briefly: microphones have a very strong proximity effect, meaning they record sound coming from a nearby source much louder than sound coming from far away. Because of this, much of the natural acoustics of the room are lost when recording, resulting in a sound that is rather unnatural and flat. This physical limitation of the microphone meant it was necessary to look for ways of artificially reproducing the lost room acoustics.
PLATE REVERB & ECHO CHAMBERS
This problem was solved in the beginning with the use of ‘proper’ reverb rooms or echo chambers, which unfortunately were not only extremely expensive but also needed lots of space. The plate reverb devices that subsequently became common were also relatively large, though they came close to reproducing natural room acoustics. Analogue echo and reverb devices must also be mentioned here, if only for the sake of completeness.
QUANTEC ROOM ACOUSTICS
Way back in 1982 a digital device burst onto the scene. It was the Quantec Room Simulator and, though still enormously expensive it was far easier to transport than a bricks-and-mortar reverb chamber. And the results it offered were so good that many big-name artists embraced it very quickly, with Mike Oldfield even giving it a place in the credits on his album covers.
FROM LEXICON TO BRICASTI
Later, people such as David Griesinger came onto the scene with Lexicon and new algorithms that soon became popular due to the naturalness of their sound. At the very top of the tree there has up to now been Bricasti – founded by two ex-Lexicon employees – with a high-end reverb that has found its place in many top studio setups.
FRACTAL DOES IT AGAIN
And now, thanks to its new Reverb block, the Axe-Fx II has also entered this territory. Comparison with a dedicated reverb unit may seem a little unfair at first, but the Axe-Fx II really does come off very well indeed, even in this exalted company. And when you take into account the fact that for the price of the top dog, which is limited to reverb, you can have an Axe-Fx II, with all the other amazing things such as unprecedented cabinet simulations and countless other effects in absolute top quality, plus an MFC-101 and still have enough spare change to try out a few Michelin restaurants with you band-mates, well, that really is pretty good, isn’t it?
At any rate, we are definitely more than happy that the best ever Axe-Fx II has once again become even better.