Date: (around June 1995)

Several folks were interested in a review of the Alesis QuadraVerb 2 so I am providing my initial impressions. I only had last night to get it setup in my rack and run thru the basic "tests" and factory programs.

Bottom line, this is a very good processor at any price and an excellent buy for the money ($799.00 list, I paid $559.00 at Guitar Center in Arlington Heights, IL).

I have a large rack system that I use for a variety of "conventional" sounds, not art rock or Nine Inch Nails stuff. I was looking for excellent quality Reverbs, Chorus and Delays. Diatonic harmonizing or even parallel harmonizing are not of interest to me. A list of what's in my rack is listed at the end of this post. Style wise, I use a lot of LA Pop/Fusion tones like the Clean Chorused Strat sound on many contemporary jazz records, a crunchy Marshall tone like early AC/DC and high gain distortion stuff for hard rock/metal like Green Day "When I come around" and lead stuff for pop ballads.

Transparency. One of the problems I have had with other processors is the transparency of the A/D and D/A conversion and what happens to your direct sound inside the processor. I operate all my effects thru a Rocktron Patchmate so you can do an A/B test of taking the effect in and out of the chain. I run 2 separate digital effects processors in series without a submixer so the cumulative degradation can be very noticeable. The Q2 is totally transparent in this regard. Set to unity gain, you only hear the effect but no compression or frequency loss. Rocktron makes this claim about the Intellifex (which I owned previously) and it is not true from my experiences.

Effects. There are 4 types of block; pitch, reverberation, EQ and delay. Within each of these 4 groups are dozens of variations. From there, you are allowed to hook any of these variations in ANY order and with LOTS of routing options including serial, parallel, mono and stereo. Needless to say, there are thousands of possible combinations. Unlike many processors that have lots of effects, you are able to use many of these effects together. ART in particular shows you the extensive list of effects but when it comes to using several in one program, you quickly run out of memory.

Factory Patches. Many of the processors come with a complete set of factory patches that are generally most applicable to making 1950's sci-fi movies. I have spent untold hours making my own useful programs using reverb, chorus and delay. The Q2 has 200 total programs with 100 factory programs and 100 user programs. All 200 programs have sounds in them and the second 100 IS NOT a duplicate of the first 100 like some other manufacturers. Further, most of these are usable right out of the chute. The programs are arranged in groups with 15 or so different reverbs, 15 different delays, 10 choruses, etc. The Q2 is targeted towards the studio so there are also many sweetening programs for vocals, keyboards, guitar etc.

Besides the standard reverbs, delays and chorus, Alesis included some tremolo and Leslie simulators that aren't bad at all. There is even a spring reverb choice for the Fender lovers.

Editing. I'm not afraid of menus and choices but the options here are staggering. The routing possibilities alone are huge. Still, I found my way around fairly quickly. The Q2 doesn't have a separate edit/run modes like most processors. The large data dial is dual function - for changing the value selected as well as a push button switch for incrementing thru the menus. One of the big features is the large backlit LCD. It shows each block used in the particular program selected and its routing. To edit a particular block, you use the block button and switch to the one you want. Pretty simple.

Manual. Also pretty good. It is thick at approximately 100 pages but has lots of explanation on what each effect does via graphs (for EQ) and block diagrams. The parameter list in the appendix is very useful for a quick look at the range of values for each parameter.

Sound. This is the bottom line regardless of features. It sounds great. The delays are very transparent. The reverbs have very clear tails. The chorus can be very full and thick depending on the one you pick. The 6 voice chorus (6 independent LFO's) was the reason I bought the Intellifex in the first place. The Q2 is just as thick but doesn't dork with the direct signal.

One gripe I have had with many manufacturers digital delays is the bucket size. While they have adequate memory to do delay for say 2 seconds, the length of the phrase they will hold is usually very short. This is one of the reasons I have kept my Roland DEP-5 for nearly 10 years. The Alesis Q2 has a even greater bucket. I played with the program called "5 second delay". Not only did you get ridiculous lengths of time to play, you could add more information back onto the phrase as it played like a looped sample. The noise floor stay very low for some time.

Gripes. I understand all the reasons for the power supply adapter but this one is HUGE. While not one of the ones that has the transformer right on the prongs that go into the socket, it is still about 3" x 2.5" x 1.5" deep. How I'm going to mount this monster in the rack is an unknown at this point.

Addendum: March 1996

I'd like to add one additional "addendum" to my original post. It's more of a bug and affects mainly guitar players which weren't the original target audience of Alesis.

Generally, most studio processors are run on a bus with 100% wet mix of the effect and no original signal on the return. In guitar amps with serial loops, you get some blend of the original mixed with the "effected" signal. When running longer delays with 4 or 5 repeats, you hear a wierd phasing/flanging sound of the regenerated signal that gets worse as there's more repeats. This is probably caused by a time delay of the "reinserted" signal in the feedback circuit of the unit. It can be very annoying. This problem is not readily apparent and I have never heard another digital delay do this (out of dozens owned).

As usual, any attempts to reach Alesis by phone or e-mail were in vain.

To the QuadraVerb main page

Gary Watts
Hewlett-Packard--Ink Jet Components Division
1040 NE Circle Blvd
Corvallis, OR 97330
(503)715-3130 voice
gwatts -at-