Louis Electric

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TC Electronic's Nova Series Hits the Floor



Listen: Download an example of the hall reverb, courtesy of TC Electronic
When it comes to ’verbs, people have pretty high expectations for TC Electronic. What was it like designing the Nova Reverb?

It was just a ton of fun. I honestly think we have some of the best reverbs in the entire industry, so it was more of a matter of going through our pretty big, aggregate library of great reverbs and finding the one that is best suited for guitar. And obviously, we already have some great reverbs in some of our multi-effects processors, but we actually chose another one for the Nova Reverb Pedal that I actually, honestly think sounds even better. Apart from the great development team and research team that we have, we also have a few “golden-ear” guys who are real experts in choosing effects and particularly reverbs. So we had one of these guys sit down with some great classic amp reverbs and some old plates and try to mix the sound that you would get from those classic reverb styles. Obviously, we’re known for studio quality reverbs like halls and rooms, but we also wanted to make some really cool springs and plates as well. I honestly think we succeeded.

Some of the new ground you’re breaking with the Nova Reverb is that it’s listening to you and you can control whether it’s staying the same throughout your playing, or whether it kind of dials down with you should your playing intensity decrease. And as if that isn’t cool enough, it can do the reverse, too.

There are a lot of guitar players who don’t like to play with reverb. They have this view that it clutters up their sound. I think it mainly boils down to two things, one is that it’s actually pretty hard to set a reverb so that it really matches the sound that you have. If you just put something on there and choose a large hall, then chances are that it’ll sound pretty bad, there’s a risk of that at least. So there are a lot of guitar players that sort of shy away from reverb because of that. The other thing is very valid - that reverb is basically just a million little delay repeats and it will clog up your sound a bit.

We figured, “Well, we’ve done that already,” with the 2290 Dynamic Delay that sort of became an industry standard effect. You can’t find a lot of multi-effect processors that don’t have that dynamic delay built in there. So then we sort of figured, “Why not do the same for reverb?” because it can add something very, very nice. If you’re going to do the crazy Paul Gilbert speed lick, then you probably don’t want that large hall to sort of interfere with your great picking techniques. So we thought, “All right, well, maybe it works as well for reverb as it does for guitar.” We basically just tried it out and sort of figured that it did, and while we were discussing that, we also figured, “Well, we can do it one way with taking the reverb mix down a bit while you’re playing, so what happens if we do the other thing?” It’s just a matter of doing a little bit of reverse stuff in the algorithm, so we thought, “What happens if we get a lot of reverb while we’re playing and then let it die away, right away after you play?” That’s more of a special effect, but you can create some pretty crazy sounds if you, for example, set the mix to 100 percent, so you’re basically just playing with reverb, and then set the dynamics to some very low settings where you only get the reverb while you’re playing, but that’s more for special effects kind of things.

A lot of people look at a reverb pedal and they pretty much know what it does - it’s just a matter of how lush it can be. But here’s something where you can always flip that sucker backwards and experiment; just have fun.

I really like simple pedals, as you mentioned before, one knob and you just set it where you like it and you can forget about it. But it’s also very cool to have these pedals where you can sort of get that basic sound, but you always have that feeling that if you’re bored one day, or you just want to spend a little time, you get all these unexpected results. That’s one of the things that we wanted to do with all the Nova pedals - get that sort of “ahhh-ha” kind of feeling.


Listen: Download an example of U2-style delay, courtesy of TC Electronic
Let’s get deeper into the delay.

It is our best selling pedal. It’s doing amazingly well and we’re starting to see it on a lot of pro guitar boards as well.

A lot of other delay pedals on the market have these different options. You can get an analog delay, or you can get a tape delay, or you can get a dynamic delay, and it always struck me as a little odd. To me, a dynamic delay is a type of delay…

Yes. It has nothing to do with how the delay sounds.

Yes. So I was always a little bit annoyed that I couldn’t get an analog-sounding dynamic delay, or a tape-sounding modulated delay, something like that. So with the Nova delay, that’s one of the first things we looked at, separating those two things, so we can have all the different delay types: dynamic delay, or reverse delay, ping-pong and so on, and match it with any type of delay sound or tonal character that you want. You can have ping-pong delay that has an analog sound, or a tape sound, or a digital sound, or modulated, so all these things can be mixed and matched to tailor the delay sound that’s right for you.

Talk about the gradual morphing.

It’s going between the basic delay types - digital, analog and tape delay sounds. So, you’re not limited to what TC says is the digital sound, or what TC says is the analog sound or the tape sound. You can actually, gradually morph between the different ones. You can set it in between tape and analog if you feel like the analog setting or the tape setting is too much for you. It allows you to tailor the sound exactly the way you want to.

You guys obviously decided not to put a looper in there. Why not?

There’s a basic reason for that -I think that for a looper to be useful, it really needs to be a separate pedal or something with more control options than, with force, stuffing it into a pedal. We had the technology to do it, but we just couldn’t get the U-wire to work in a way that I felt comfortable with having users actually work with it in any useful kind of way. I’d much rather do a dedicated looper at one point if we’re going to do something like that rather than do a crippled version and stuff it into a delay pedal.

I guess there’s already a lot going on in there.

95 percent of our customers will be using it for a lead basically, not for looping. To do a looper, you have to add more RAM to be able to record at a proper quality, so the pedal would actually be more expensive, too. We’d have to downsample pretty significantly to be able to fit one or two minutes of audio in there. Or we’d have to add an awful lot more RAM and that would make the product more expensive.

It’s not like we’ll announce a looping pedal tomorrow, but you never know what’s coming in the future. It’s definitely on our radar.

I think a lot of players will have a field day experimenting with these pedals, but ya know, they are a different beast. Any advice on how to approach them?

People should go to our website, there’s a ton of information. We have audio samples, and videos, clips from NAMM, Frankfurt Messe and stuff like that. It’s a pretty cool place to start.

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TC Electronic