So a few days ago, TC Electronic dropped their version of the EMT250 Digital Reverb unit. It’s software-based and comes with a clever little USB controller:
Released in 1976, the original 250 was a behemoth of a thing with server-sized circuitry (as well as a server-class weight approaching 100 pounds) with incredibly cool shifter-like controls to change reverb times, predelay, and output levels. TC’s version emulates these with ‘lollipop’ bedecked up/down toggle switches and a compliment of buttons for the main effect types and led graphs for reverb input and output levels.
I’ve never used one personally, but have worked on sessions with one and it’s still a useful unit with a ‘classic’ sound that still commands several thousand dollars in the used market (remember, it is *vintage*) 🙂
For a street price of around $350, the TC DVR-250DT is a pretty nice little system, but ultimately leads me to the question of ‘Why?’
Reverbs are abundant in the DAW-sphere. Every one of them includes at least one if not a handful of very usable ones, and you can find hundreds more in every color and flavor either for free or much cheaper than this (granted without a dedicated controller). If you’re part of the Universal Audio ecosystem, they make a stunning replica of the 250 for around $100 less or even cheaper depending on what sale they have running (of which they have a lot over a year).
But this still doesn’t answer the ‘Why?’ question.
If this was an EQ, or a compressor, or some kind of Modulation (Chorus/Flange/Phase/etc.) processor I would understand having a controller box to access the controls. If this was a rack processor (or my computer was not close to a mixer or control surface – and who does that these days?) then I could see wanting a controller box to access the controls.
But truth be told a reverb is not something that is difficult to set up or automate on a computer screen.
Yeah, you might tweak around a bit when creating or mixing, but reverbs are pretty simple processors. You find a time that works with the material you want reverberated, pick a type like Plate or Hall or Room, and maybe poke around with some Predelay or tonality. These are not really parameters that a separate control surface will make easier to use for most modern producers. It’s handy, but ultimately another device fighting for space on your desktop and a spot in the USB Hub.
I might grab one if the prices go down a bit, but if they make one for a great EQ or Multiband Compressor they can have my money yesterday.