Echo Verb: Outlandishly Expensive Tape Reverb
By James Grahame
Back in the old days, adding ambiance to music was a serious challenge. Some creative studio owners built concrete rooms and recorded the output from speakers. Less wealthy musicians relied on electro-mechanical spring reverb units and tape delays. Sadly, the quirky old techniques were obliterated almost overnight by the arrival of low-cost digital effects units.
In an effort to revive and improve upon devices of the past, Unity Audio has unleashed the Echo Verb. This £1880 unit features six playback heads, along with record and erase heads. It sounds like a truly wonderful gadget to own if you're lucky enough to be a retired member of Pink Floyd, but mere mortals will have to do with something a tad more sensible.
The company says, "The aim was to eliminate all the problems associated with early tape echo machines, improving the performance, whilst retaining the unique analogue tape echo sound which has never been achieved through digital devices, be it hardware or software based plug-ins. Modern improvements for example include extremely low noise circuitry and the ability to select any combination of 6 available heads.
Many leading professionals still like the idea of using tape echo, or indeed are still use old existing units, many of which are on their last legs, because nothing has been able to recreate that unique sound and the hands on approach, until now!"
I'm somewhat sad they've attempted to do away with the imperfections of earlier gear -- those quirks gave classic music tracks a personality that's impossible with modern technology.