Death By Audio Room Review
Unique, complex reverb tones lurk in a fun and imaginative stomp that’s an ergonomic and utilitarian delight.
Recorded via Apogee Duet to Garage Band with Fender Jazzmaster, and Fender Vibro Champ.
Drum machine recorded with room mode reverb.
Rhythm track uses room setting at 20-30% FX level, and modest modulation rate and depth.
The lead track moves through room, digital, peak, and gate reverbs in that order.
At 1:28 the gong reverb appears on a separate track along with the wave reverb set to high depth and modulation rates.
Scads of unusual, vast-to-tasteful reverb tones. Thoughtful, ergonomic, flow-oriented design. Great contrasts between modes. Fun!
Doesn't do super-accurate spring or plate sounds. Some digital artifacts. Expensive.
Death By Audio Rooms Stereo Reverberator
Ease of Use:
As wild as reverb pedals can be in this digital epoch, I find many of them a little same sounding—even in their spaciest incarnations. Leave it to Death By Audio to shake that up with Rooms. The digital Rooms makes many unusual and unpredictable sounds—but it's not so quirky that you can't dive in intuitively and fearlessly. It's just as capable of beautiful, subtle-to-lush reverbs. It's forgiving. And it's potent and varied in ways that transcend guitar use. In fact, Rooms sometimes feels and functions like outboard studio gear. It's also incredibly fun and sends you along many unexpected creative trajectories. If you can't have fun with Rooms, you might just be a zombie.
Rooms was designed with little concern for the miniaturization trend. In my humble opinion, it's a better, more useful pedal for it. The controls are easy to identify, and there is great ergonomic satisfaction in being able to move assuredly among the controls, confident in the function and the results. The critical bypass and “alt" switches, which enable movement between two very different settings, are far enough apart to avoid accidental activation. The powerful, expressive time knob is outsized and situated prominently so you can make adjustments with your toe. (There is also an expression-pedal jack for controlling the time or frequency in the alt mode.) The independent effects mix and dry controls, meanwhile, open up endless possibilities for foregrounding, backgrounding, or adding clarity to the most radical sounds. (Both controls also function effectively as boosts.)
Individual controls have huge range, and the resulting sound-crafting potential is immense. Given Rooms' lack of presets (unless you count the single “alt" setting), that range and sensitivity may give control freaks fits. But I returned to near-identical or approximate settings with ease, and was happy to be unburdened by preset recall functions. Switching between primary and alt settings can also generate transitionary sounds like pitch swoops and slides that could become killer song hooks.
To the Valley Below…and Spaces Above
Rooms is overflowing with tasteful-to-powerful sounds. And in each mode the function of the frequency and depth controls shifts to suit the mode. Room reverb mode is capable of subtle and cosmic-scale sounds that are well suited to volume swells. Digital mode sounds are less colored by overtones at equivalent settings, but can still go positively interstellar. The peak mode is awesome—particularly if you've wearied of high-octave-emphasized “choral" verbs. Peak mode achieves the less cheesy side of that ambience, but the filter frequency function in this mode also enables you to emphasize heavy low-frequency reverberations to awesome ends. Applied to detuned guitars, the effect yields massive, ominous, deep-Earth tones.
Gated mode helps create solo and chord textures that have the attack and mood of super-splashy ambience, but won't bury everything else with dense, runaway reverb trails. The modulating wave mode generates a range of undulating textures that can be shaped into dry, in-your-face '80s Brit-chorus (Cure, New Order) or super-spacious, high-speed vibrato sounds. (Another awesome possible contrast you can exploit with the alt switch.) The ultra-fun gong mode, meanwhile, creates unorthodox near-fuzz tones at settings with quick decays and low-mid frequency emphasis, or—at the right frequency and time settings—ring modulated colors that sound like a gamelan-and-sitar duo lost in the bowels of an endless cavern.
Impressively, the many possibilities described merely scratch the surface of Rooms' capabilities. In fact, the only vaguely crappy thing about Rooms is the price. For me, the $395 sticker price is justifiable: First, because much thought, labor, and development went into this circuit, but also because I can imagine using it with other instruments, in composition, or, more intriguingly, in mixing, where the bounty of unexpected sounds and stereo output functionality could yield truly unique outcomes. If you're strictly a gigging player who likes occasional extreme-reverb colors but generally sticks to simpler fare, there are cheaper options. But if you're fascinated with the outer limits of pedal reverb and sound design, you have to try it. Rooms isn't for everyone, and it favors an impressionistic, not-too-precious approach to sound creation. But for those who relate to its quirks, the fresh ideas it inspires are likely to flow hard and fast.
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