Seymour Duncan Silver Lake Review
Dynamic response makes a dynamite reverb.
Excellent sounds ranging from conventional to otherworldly.
It’s big. Slight learning curve if you want to really get the most out of the pedal.
Seymour Duncan Silver Lake
Ease of Use:
Seymour Duncan is known best as a pickup titan. But unless you’ve been really tuned out to news from the pedal sphere, you’re probably aware that his company has built a bunch of excellent effects in recent years. And in the wake of their superb Andromeda Dynamic Delay, they’ve released the Silver Lake, a programmable reverb workstation with dynamic expression capabilities.
The Silver Lake features eight preset reverb types: room, hall, plate, spring, shimmer, gated, swell, and delay/verb. But as its feature-packed control panel suggests, Silver Lake is really about how you can manipulate those eight voices. There are knobs for mix, pre-delay, decay, grit, damp, function, and tweak (which works in conjunction with the function knob to modify modulation depth, modulation rate, and high- and low-pass filtering).
There are also mini buttons for trails mode, and a small display screen with two mini-buttons: bank and preset. A micro USB jack on the side lets you update the firmware as needed. The Silver Lake’s dynamic expression section has a threshold knob and mini buttons for hard/soft/off and mix/mod/damp, which we’ll explain later. Yeah—there’s a lot of ways to shape Silver Lake’s signal flow.
As you might guess, given its complexity, the Silver Lake relies on presets to manage the many reverb colors you’ll create. The 128 presets can be organized as 32 banks of four presets. The presets footswitch serves several functions. Press it once and you go to the next preset in a bank. Hold it down until the bank of LED lights is solid, then tap quickly, and it goes up to the next bank. To go backwards in banks, you just keep the footswitch depressed.
If you just need basic reverbs, the Silver Lake offers excellent, studio-quality sounds. But that would be a massive underutilization of the Silver Lake’s capabilities. Shimmer delay adds octave-up content to the reverbed signal. Using it with a mix that slightly favored the effected signal, I generated interstellar organ-like sounds for chords and harp-like timbres for scalar passages. The grit control enabled me to effectively adjust the upper octave blend. There’s a lot of sonic ground to explore between zero effect and the seasick wobbliness you get when the knob is maxed, and the range (and subtler possibilities) are welcome given how bold some of the effects can be.
While the Silver Lake’s basic sounds are solid, the pedal is really distinguished by its dynamic expression controls. Choosing “hard” or “soft” regulates how the pedal responds to your picking. In soft mode, quiet picking foregrounds the effect, while harder picking places the dry signal out in front. In hard mode, the opposite applies. Meanwhile the dynamic response can be assigned to specific parameters including mix, damp, or modulation. The threshold knob also lights up brighter depending on how much of the selected parameter is being mixed in, giving clear visual response to your playing.
The Silver Lake’s dynamic response can have unexpected and musically complex results. In the “mod room” preset, I set the dynamic expression threshold knob at noon and set it up for soft response and a variable mix (meaning soft picking would render the reverb effect more present). This inspired me to play call-and-response type phrases where I played loud, dry single-note figures against softly played chords blooming with reverb overtones. When I reversed the dynamic expression setting to hard, I played single-note passages softly—generating almost no effect—and built to a crescendo of double stops and chords swimming in a wash of reverberation. Such phrasing is unusual for me. But the Silver Lake pushed me to explore beyond my own creative boundaries.
The Silver Lake is capable of many beautiful sounding reverbs—from familiar to fantastic. But the magic of this pedal lies in its capacity for real-time interaction with a player’s dynamics. In this capacity, the Silver Lake almost becomes a unique instrument—one that, in the hands of a creative musician, could lead to unusual and original sounds.
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