Five Upscale Ambient Reverb Voices, One Very Entry-Level Price
This Spin FV-1-driven stomp from Italy delivers expansive sounds for just over a Benjamin. The PG Foxgear Rainbow review.
Solid reverb sounds. Low price.
Lightweight construction. Generic tones.
Ease of Use:
The Rainbow is the latest release from Foxgear, a stompbox line that’s a collaboration between two Italian brands, Gurus and Baroni Labs. It’s a compact, solid-sounding, and unusually low-priced pedal made in China.
Even if you haven’t yet heard the Rainbow, you’ve probably heard its sounds. Its tones come courtesy of a Spin FV-1 reverb integrated circuit, the same part used in many other reverb, delay, and modulation pedals. It was the brainchild of the late Keith Barr, who changed music technology at least three times: first as the co-founder of MXR, and later as founder of Alesis, whose ADAT made digital recording affordable. The FV-1 was Barr’s final gift to musicians before passing in 2010.
Five Ambient Flavors
The FV-1 component is highly customizable, with the potential to generate many unconventional colors. However, the Rainbow focuses on familiar Spin sounds. You get five flavors of mono digital reverb: a simulated spring, a simulated room, reverb with a quasi-rotary speaker effect, and a pair of shimmery pitch-shifted ’verbs.
The Rainbow resides in an unusual enclosure devised by Foxgear. In lieu of the usual box with a removable back plate, the components sit within a five-sided, trough-shaped housing made from lightweight metal. The colorful top plate is plastic, held in place by the nuts that secure the pots, footswitch, and plastic jacks. The Rainbow feels lighter and less substantial than most comparable pedals, but I wouldn’t call it flimsy. The plastic top plate is recessed within the metal housing and protected by the knobs. Who’s to say it won’t outlive some pedals with seemingly tougher enclosures?
Meanwhile, the pedal’s 2.3" x 4.7" x 1.1" dimensions are slightly more compact than your usual B-sized enclosure. Between its petite proportions and top-mounted jacks, the Rainbow may be a good fit for overpopulated pedalboards. The pedal runs on standard 9V power supplies (adapter not included) and has no battery compartment.
The Rainbow’s lightweight build may be in line with its lightweight price, but the pedal’s tones are relatively upscale. More specifically, they’re the same sounds heard in any number of pricier boutique stompboxes. The controls are straightforward: There’s a wet/dry blend that maxes out at 50 percent. A global tone control filters out highs. A 5-position rotary switch selects from the available algorithms. The “deep” control usually sets the reverb length/room size, while the “multi” knob’s role varies from program to program.
The FV-1’s spring reverb simulation never sounds truly spring-like, but it’s a rich, smooth tone that works great in many contexts. Here the multi control provides high-frequency damping. The longest settings sound artificial and “loopy,” but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The church setting is a big, thick hall sound, and the multi knob sets the pre-delay time. The results range from naturalistic to sounds not-found-in-nature.
In rotary mode, the multi knob regulates the modulation speed. Since the modulation only affects the wet signal, the resulting tones never sound like a real rotating speaker. Still, the effect can add interesting animation to otherwise straight reverb tones. The final two settings, celestial and shimmer, apply octave pitch shifting to the reverb signal. These modes excel at generating long drones and pads. The deep and multi knobs provide several variations on the basic flavors.
Foxgear’s Rainbow offers a collection of solid reverb effects perfectly suitable for most gigging and recording. Its compact dimensions are a balm for overcrowded boards. The pedal’s construction is on the light side, and its tones are a bit generic. But the tradeoff is a remarkably modest price tag.
Watch the First Look: