Read the full article
This article was originally published in issue #38
To read the article in its entirety, view the digital magazine
Ask any guitar player since the late '70s if they’ve ever owned a Boss pedal and the answer is likely to be a yes in almost every case. The Boss brand has become so synonymous with the compact FX pedal that even non guitar players can often recognise the look of these iconic pedals. Unfortunately, even though the company has released some amazing sounding pedals over the years such as the CE-1 Chorus Ensemble and DD series of delay units, the brand also gets quite a bit of stick in this age where high priced boutique pedals have become the be all and end all of tonal nirvana. Which is a shame because right now Boss are producing some of the best FX pedals they’ve ever designed and their latest reverb unit, the RV-6 is a prime example of this.
The RV-6 is the company’s attempt at a ‘do-it-all’ reverb pedal at a very affordable price point and it certainly packs a ton of features into its small, classic Boss footprint. The unit comes with eight extremely usable reverb modes – Hall, Plate, Room, Spring, Modulate, +Delay, Shimmer and Dynamic - and a simple control layout with Effect Level, Tone and Time controls for shaping your reverb effects. The pedal has true stereo operation via a pair of A/B input and output jacks but can also work in mono, mono to stereo and even a 100% wet mode when only using the B jacks. Power is provided by a standard centre negative 9v port, something that will greatly please those looking for great tones from a smaller power supply and Boss has included an expression pedal input for controlling the level of the effect, for which we used the Boss EV-5 pedal.
Tonal purists will be delighted to hear that the dry signal remains 100% analogue throughout the signal chain and that the DSP and converters are all very high quality with no extra noise or colouration of the signal other than the actual reverb effects themselves. Boss has really worked to keep the effort of dialling in quality reverbs as simple as possible by mapping the time and tone controls to a much deeper system of parameters within the pedal, specific to each reverb and designed to always maintain the best settings for each mode. For players who don’t understand things such as high and low pass filters, decay times, pre-delay and spread, the RV-6 works behind the scenes setting these parameters for you so that you always have the optimum settings for each situation. In practice this works exceptionally well and makes editing sounds incredibly fast and simple. If you need the ultimate in tweakable reverbs, the RV-6 may not be for you (although you’d be missing out on some lovely sounds), but for those requiring great reverbs quickly and with the minimum fuss it’s a superb solution.
The reverbs themselves are stunning and lush with a great deal of depth, reacting beautifully to dynamics and pick attack and have real sense of space. With the eight modes you can dial in a vast array of different sounds that range from huge, cavernous reverbs with long, complex tails to short room sounds that add a splash of ambience to an otherwise dead tone. At all times the sounds are totally convincing with no cheapness in the high end, or fake sounding tails. These are as good as many studio based convolution reverbs I’ve heard and it’s very impressive what Boss has achieved at this price point. The essential Shimmer mode is simply stunning and sounds every bit as good as that found on pedals costing three times as much as the RV-6. Combined with an expression pedal you can achieve some truly jaw dropping results that make you play entirely differently and with a much more dynamic feel.
The EV-5 is Roland’s own expression pedal solution and pairs very well with the RV-6. Although the case is entirely plastic it is well built, solid and very light in weight. The actual pedal mechanism has a good throw on it and a decent resistance so that accurate movements of the pedal are easy to achieve, although some users may prefer a guitar based expression pedal where the range of motion is increased over the EV-5, which is aimed primarily at keyboard players. Roland has textured the top surface with a grip pattern so that you won’t slip off the pedal and the actual footprint of the pedal is very modest compared to some of the other behemoth expression units on the market. The only concern would be that the TRS cable is hardwired to the inside of the unit so if this were to break it becomes a little tricky to fix for the average user and you are stuck with a specific 2m cable length which is a fair old amount of cable to hide under the average pedal board!
The RV-6 is a superb accomplishment for Boss and represents exceptional value for money considering the quality of the reverbs on offer. It’s a shame that some of the tone snobbery out there will prevent some people from checking this pedal out, because tonally it is as good as many of the high priced, boutique alternatives on the market, but at a far more affordable price and is incredibly easy and quick to dial in. Some will miss the ability to save and recall presets and lack of MIDI functionality but at this price that’s to be expected. The RV-6 is a must buy in this reviewers opinion.