Not only does Electro-Harmonix’s Oceans 11 reverb pedal offer you the classic Hall, Plate and Spring options, but there are also modulated reverbs, pitch-shifted reverb, reverb/delay, reverse reverb and a Shimmer patch. There’s also an infinite reverb mode, and they’ve even added an option to recreate the twang of a kicked spring reverb by double-tapping the footswitch! If that wasn’t enough, the pedal boasts up to three operational modes (indicated by the LED colour) for each reverb type, plus a separate control jack allowing you to engage the infinite reverb using an external switch. A 9.6V, 200mA power supply is included — if running from a pedalboard PSU make sure it can deliver 150mA and 9V DC, or you’ll experience muting and glitching.
The 11-way reverb-type switch is joined by three other rotary controls: Time, FX Level and Tone, and some knobs control different functions depending on the selected reverb type and pedal mode. Inside the case is another switch that determines whether the reverb tails continue when the unit’s bypassed, or are killed immediately.
The Hall and Plate reverb settings sound familiar enough, but Spring uses a new algorithm that aims to replicate a 1962 Fender 6G15 reverb — as the Time knob controls this reverb’s ‘dwell’, infinite reverb is unavailable. Reverse produces the usual reverse-envelope reverb tail. Echo combines a basic digital delay with a plate (both the Time knob and the footswitch can be used to set the time between echoes, while Tone adjusts the delay feedback). Trem adds a familiar LFO-driven amplitude modulation to both the dry and wet elements of a hall reverb, with Time controlling the LFO’s rate, and Tone its depth. Mod creates a modulated reverb tail, with Time and Tone changing function according to the current mode. Dyna offers dynamic reverb that operates as swell, gate or ducking, depending on the mode, and Time likewise controls different parameters in each mode. Auto-Inf is a kind of automatic infinite reverb that crossfades to a lush reverb wash when a new note attack is detected. Shimmer, of course, is a wash of reverb shifted up an octave, and Poly is similar but with two user-defined pitch-shifts.
The Mode button cycles through the three modes for the reverb types that support this. The first mode utilises the default panel control functions, but the other two vary in function with the selected reverb type. Usefully, when you switch to a different reverb type the last mode used for that type is also recalled.If you press and hold the Mode knob for one second you enter secondary knobs mode where the Time and Tone knobs are assigned to a different editing function according to which reverb type is selected. Once you’ve set up the basic controls for an effect, you can opt to leave the controls set to their secondary functions and this will be remembered next time the pedal is powered up. Secondary control functions include such things as reverb pre-delay time, spring length and so on.
So what do these modes do? If Echo is selected, Mode selects one of three tap-tempo note divisions. For Trem it defines the LFO wave shape, and for Mod it chooses chorus, flanging or a mix of both. For the Dyna reverb, Mode selects a controlled fade-in for swell effects, a gate for adding reverb only to loud notes or ducking. For Poly, the mode button cycles through two sets of parameters to allow for more creative effect editing; when the LED is green the secondary knobs control the intervals of the two pitch-shifts, and when it’s Red they balance the dry and shifted signals.
All this might sound a bit confusing — and it could be if you had to deal with it while performing. But it’s more about customising the various reverb types, and EHX have provided an easy-to-understand data sheet that lets you know what to expect in each case. This is a vital piece of paper to have on hand when making modifications to the basic effects at a deeper level than the one-dial, three-knob control panel allows in its default mode, but once you’ve made your tweaks, the pedal remembers them on power-up.
On a subjective level, the Hall and Plate reverbs sound pretty much as you’d expect, giving no cause for complaint, and the Spring is particularly good, offering just the right degree of ‘twang’. The more esoteric offerings provide plenty of variety. Shimmer is a favourite of mine — the octave reverb seems to come in smoothly, and though the effect can’t quite match the mellifluous quality of something like the (far more costly) Strymon Big Sky for creating ambient washes, it punches well above its price. The other less common options, such as tremolo reverb, echo-reverb and preset customisation, are also to be welcomed.
It seems that, once again, Electro-Harmonix have managed to exceed my expectations. If you have a bigger budget, the Source Audio Ventris, The Strymon Big Sky, The Eventide H9 and the Boss RV-500 also offer multiple reverb types and are worth investigating, but this pedal delivers great value for money — I can’t think of any direct alternatives of comparable quality at or around its price.
£120 including VAT.