My long-awaited QuadraVerb showed up over the weekend. Here's some initial impressions, I only played with it for a few hours. I don't work for Alesis, etc, I'm just a regular guy. Feel free to repost this elsewhere if you feel it's worthwhile, but don't take what I say for granted -- I might be wrong. Finally, my dealer said he didn't think he'd see more units for about a month.
Executive Summary: Fantastic. Alesis has done it again.
I'm not sure where to start. OK, how about an overview:
The Alesis QuadraVerb is a 16Hz-20kHz bandwidth stereo programmable effects box with four digital effects (EQ, Pitch Change, Delay, Reverb). The effects can be used in parallel or in serial (or a combination). Specs say the dynamic range is 85dB, less than .1% distortion. Processor speed is 24 MIPS (no Z80 in this baby!). Conversion scheme is 16-bit linear PCM. It's fully MIDI-fied.
In the following description, 'program' could mean 'patch'. I would say 'effect' but there are multiple effects in a program...
dry signal --> EQ --> Pitch --> Delay --> Reverb --> outputI'm not going to draw in all the possible signal routes, so I'll tell you: Each output can be routed to just about any input. For Pitch input, you can select either Pre- or Post-EQ. Any amount of Pitch output can be fed back into its input. For Delay input, you can select select either Pre- or Post-EQ, and mix it with as much or as little of the Pitch output as you want. Any amount of Delay output can be fed back into its input. There are two Reverb inputs: One is switchable: Pre-EQ, Post-EQ, Post-Pitch or Pre-Delay (the Pre-Delay is after the Delay Mix). The second Reverb input is either the Post-Delay or the Post-Pitch. These two inputs can be mixed before being sent to the reverb.
The unit has five preset 'Configurations' which are variations on the above theme. They are:
Config 1: QuadMode(tm): 3-bandEQ->Pitch->Delay->Reverb
Config 2: Leslie->Delay->Reverb
Config 3: GraphicEQ->Delay
Config 4: 5-bandEQ->Pitch->Delay
Config 5: 5-bandEQ->Reverb
You don't really need to grok configurations to understand the rest of this description, and these five configurations don't make the QuadraVerb as limited as it might look at first glance.
Each effect is impressive by itself. All are full bandwidth. A rundown:
EQ - Usually an (almost) three-band parametric. The low and high bands are modified shelf-type EQs (you can't adjust the bandwidth, just the frequency) while the mid-band EQ is truly parametric (bandwidth adjustable from .2 to 2.55 octaves). Everything is +/-14db.
You can also get a five-band parametric. In config 4, you lose the Reverb but almost double the Delay time. In config 5 you lose the Delay but you can still get a chorus out of the Pitch section. Again, the low and high bands don't have bandwidth controls, but the middle three do. All are frequency adjustable, like the 3-band EQ.
You can also get an 11-band graphic EQ with delay (you lose Pitch and Reverb, however, the delay time is just about doubled from 'normal' operation). The EQ really is graphic! They use 11 line segments that can each move up and down on the LCD.
PITCH - The pitch can be either a Mono/Stereo Chorus, Mono/Stereo Flange, Pitch Detune or a Phase Shifter. You can vary the depth, speed and waveshape (triangle or square) of the LFO. The waveshape is only available in Chorus mode. You can also adjust the feedback, except in detune mode. It is possible to retrigger the flange at every new input signal event; good for drums and other percussive input sources.
DELAY - Usually 800ms delay in mono. In stereo, it's 400ms each channel. If you use the 5-band or graphic EQ you get 1500ms/750ms mono/stereo. There's also a ping-pong delay, where the delay bounces between the left and right channels.
REVERB - In addition to the two mixed inputs I already discussed, you can set and mix the amount of pre-delay - you can hear some of the reverb before the loudest part of the reverb. You can also adjust the decay time, as well as the separate controls for the low and high frequency decay (for shaping the reverb envelope). There are controls for adjusting the reverb diffusion and density (the manual has some nice graphs to show what these do). Finally, you can have the reverb gated and adjust the gate's hold rate, release rate and release level.
LESLIE - a Leslie simulator is built in. If you use it, you lose EQ and pitch controls, but keep delay and reverb. You can control stereo separation, motor control (on/off), speed (slow/fast), and the level of the high rotor in case you want the treble a little louder/softer than the bass. If you shut the motor off, the Leslie slows down until it stops!
MIX - each effect has its own level control, and there are Effects & Direct (dry) level controls, all programmable from 0-99, per program. This is in addition to the potentiometer on the front panel, which is not programmable.
MODULATION - as I said before, you can control just about everything via real-time MIDI controllers. Up to eight params can be controlled per program. For example, you can control LFO depth via aftertouch, Reverb High Decay via pitch bend, Mid EQ Bandwidth via note number, Leslie speed by an on/off switch, etc. You get the idea.
MIDI - you can assign channel (1-16 or omni, in omni mode it transmits on channel 1), turn program change on/off, SysEx on/off, start bulk or individual dump, etc. The usual stuff. In addition it has a program table, so you can map any of the 128 possible MIDI program numbers to any of the 100 available programs. Possible use would be to leave 0-99 alone and map 100-127 to various programs.
There are MIDI IN and MIDI THRU jacks. If you disable the MIDI THRU jack, it acts as a MIDI OUT only. Like the HR-16, The MIDI THRU never passes SysEx info.
And the sound? Wondferful. Clean. Relatively free of digital aliasing. Studio quality stuff here, folks.
Some minor complaints or wishes:
Anyway, I'm glad I waited. I already love this unit. The sound is fantastic. This thing is as versatile as a synthesizer, and it's one of those units you have to 'get to know' to exploit the power beyond the factory programs.
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