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It’s official, Universal Audio have gone all in on the stompbox front, by way of their awesome new UAFX line of DSP-based, instrument level floor units. This is an exciting development in gear land for a variety of reasons.
As most studio savvy instrumentalists would probably be aware, the Californian company are heralded as one of the best, if not the best in creating digital replications of real world analogue hardware units, emerging from the 2010’s as the ubiquitous interface/DSP choice for a whole generation of chin stroking studio types and home recording enthusiasts.
The new UAFX line, takes this same modelling/DSP expertise found in UA’s professional studio products and transplants it into the comparatively traditionalist, low-brow world of pedals, in term bringing the brands incredible understanding of Analog/digital workflow, state of the art gain/dynamic response algorithms and peerless ability to provide uncannily accurate emulations of real world auditory events and distills it all into a hardware unit that you can fit in your hand.
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First cab off the rank is the awesome new Golden Reverberator Pedal, which makes awesome use of UA’s 20+ years in reverb modelling expertise, serving as a kind of style tour of sorts, taking you through some of the most highly coveted reverb units ever assembled.
Straight out of the box, it’s easy to see that the build quality will never be an issue here. All knobs, buttons and connection points are extremely solid and well built. Weighing in at just over half a kilo, with it’s professionally fabricated steel chassis, there is no questioning that it’s built to last.
On first glance, the Golden Reverberator has a reasonably standard layout for a pedal of this type with switches for on/off and preset, pots for decay, pre-delay, eq, dry/wet, modulation as well as a couple of switches to change the style and tone of reverb applied.
There are two inputs and outputs at the rear which allow the pedal to be used in various configurations including mono-mono, mono-stereo and stereo-stereo. The stereo processing is separately run which means you could technically have 2 different input signals with two dedicated outputs.
An indication of their strong ties to the digital audio space, the Golden Reverberator allows you to connect your laptop or phone via the USB-C and Bluetooth connections to register and add new effects as they become available, much in the same way as the brands Apollo and Satellite units serve as the centre of DSP operations/registrations in the plugin domain.
The emulations that come preinstalled are nothing short of beautiful and are based on such classic amp and studio units as the Fender 65 deluxe spring reverb, the EMT plate and the era appropriate Lexicon 224 digital unit of the late 70’s.
These three emulations sound absolutely stunning and UA’s ‘whole amp’ approach (delving into specifics like the subtle effect of the driven tube preamp before the spring reverb stage in the ‘65 and extra harmonics that this draws out are particularly awesome touches.)
Each style has 3 different tone settings which are subtle but definitely alter the sonic character in a noticeable way. On the spring reverb for example there is an alluring character to the A setting which is described as ‘Bright DI’, perfect for an in your face tail, whereas the B setting ‘Smooth Show’ has a more subdued feel indicative of a sound you might want to push back in the mix.
The modulation on this pedal is also quite interesting and performs differently depending on the style of reverb. On the spring setting it introduces wow and flutter while on the plate and hall settings, there is modulation similar to a chorus effect which can be dialed in to taste.
EQ on this device operates as you would expect on the spring and plate settings but UA went the extra mile on the hall setting to more accurately model the fabled Lexicon 224 unit. On this setting, the bass and treble knobs actually affect the decay times of those respective frequency bands while the standard decay knob affects the mid frequency band decay time.
So you found a cool sound you like that you want to come back to later? Save it via the preset function. The Golden Reverberator has one preset which you can store by holding down the middle flick-switch and recall it by the labeled foot-switch. Connecting via the aforementioned ways you can change the bypass setting from ‘true bypass’ which kills the tail instantly to ‘trails bypass’, which lets the reverb tail ring out when you change to your preset or switch the effect off.
While the lack of endless saveable presets might steer you away from using this pedal over the course of an entire set, as a primary reverb for the end of your chain or as a means of introducing studio quality effects into your rig, you would be hard served to find anything with more sonic potential than the Golden Reverberator. The quality of the audio engine and its ability to produce exceptional sound quality across a broad number of reverb categories makes it an extremely powerful tool for the modern musician with an ear for audio quality.
Surprisingly, it also held up extremely well over synths and bass sounds as well, giving that same shimmery quality found on records produced in well equipped studios.
Whether you’re looking for a pedal for home or studio use, the UA Golden Reverberator excels in both. With it’s sharp design, beautiful sounding emulations and with it being a networkable pedal (with the tantalising prospect of future updates and tone libraries at its disposal) the Golden Reverberator could well be the only reverb pedal you ever need moving forward.
Check out some sound examples in this video below.