You are here

Peavey Addverb III

Digital Stereo Effects Processor By Paul Farrer
Published November 1996

Eight true stereo simultaneous effects for £300? In the battle to squeeze the best possible performance from budget digital processors, this charming new multi‑effects unit has some serious power nestling in its coils. Paul Farrer 'snakes' a look at the Addverb 3 and jumps out of his skin with delight...

There's no doubt that there's currently serious competition amongst rival manufacturers of effects processors for the biggest slice of the sub‑£300 market place. Digital effects processors are becoming cheaper, cleaner, and more comprehensive than we could ever have dreamed possible 10 or even five years ago. Nowadays, they form a major part of nearly every studio, and the increase in quality has been matched by their decrease in price, meaning that they now often represent great value for money.

Meet The Addverb

Physically, the Addverb 3 is of rugged 1U rackmounting construction, with three chunky, user‑friendly rubber‑coated data entry knobs. The input and output levels can be set from two smaller, but equally grippable, controllers, and along with the On/Off switch, there are a further six buttons which handle the rest of the editing and storing functions. There is a wonderfully clear and backlit 16‑character, one‑line LCD display and a single, dual‑colour LED which meters the input level. The single LED approach is common practice among budget effect units, and seems to work well enough, but it's worth keeping an eye on, as the LED itself is not as large as it might be, and unwanted peaking may go unnoticed if the unit is confined to a rack full of other, more 'flashy', pieces of equipment.

The effects engine offers healthy 44.1kHz 16‑bit A/D and 18‑bit D/A conversion, with a frequency response of 20Hz to 16.5kHz. The signal‑to‑noise ratio is greater than 89dB and the unit has a total harmonic distortion of less than 0.05% at 1kHz. Turning to the rear of the Addverb, there's a 16.5V A/C socket running to a large (and somewhat clumsy) external power supply. The rest of the back panel is taken up with left and right true stereo quarter‑inch jack sockets for both audio input and output, and two MIDI sockets (MIDI In and MIDI Out/Thru).

For Added Effect

The Addverb 3's effects are split into two banks, each with 128 presets (a preset being defined as a named setting consisting of up to eight simultaneous effects). Both banks ('A' and 'B') come ready‑loaded with exactly the same programs, the difference being that bank A contains all the user‑writable presets, and gives you a respectable 128 locations in which to name (six characters maximum) and store your favourite tweaked and edited effects. Loading up a preset is both quick and easy; the Programme/Preset knob allows you to Scroll through the presets numerically until you find the one you want, and then you just hit the Load button. The screen (although small) never seems cluttered, and a helpful reminder to hit the Load button flashes after a few seconds if you have located the preset, but not actually loaded it up yet. Once loaded, the presets are easily editable, using the two Parameter Select and Parameter Adjust data wheels. These are consistant throughout — in any screen one wheel moves the flashing cursor to a parameter or value, and the other adjusts that value up or down accordingly. After a short while, it's hard to imagine an easier way of moving about internally and scrolling through potentially large amounts of data. As user interfaces go, this is as good as any I've seen, and once you've mastered the basic discipline of the dual‑parameter knobs, nearly all operational functions are extremely easy.

In Use

As with all outboard gear, it's vitally important to set the input and output levels carefully. This is not as easy as it might be given the 'fiddly' single LED, but once set up, the unit didn't give any real problems with extraneous noise or hum. Realising that high‑quality reverb takes up a lot of memory space, Peavey have configured the Addverb 3 to work in two main ways. Firstly, the so‑called multi‑effects chain allows up to eight independent effects (such as Chorus, Delay, Autopan, etc) to be chained together and work as one preset. The other working mode clears the decks of all effects other than an Ultra Reverb, which, as its name suggests, is a reverb of a much higher quality than the other effects. This open‑ended approach is particularly useful for a 'purer' reverb sound that works well on vocals, pianos and acoustic guitars. The Ultra Reverb can be any one of eight different types ranging from hall, to room and gated reverbs. There are also plenty of other relevant edit options, including pre‑delay, low‑pass filters, room size and damping.

The hall and chamber reverbs that appear in the effects chain mode are all respectable enough (if sometimes a little on the dull side) and the spring and plate settings also give you loads of options with regards to room size, pre‑delay and frequency damping. With these 'slimmer' reverbs, there are times when the effect regeneration is quite noticeable, but by and large, the reverbs provided here are tasteful enough, and for most of the time, eminently usable.

For my money, however, one of the strongest elements of the Addverb 3 is its multi‑effect presets. Often shamelessly over the top and 'in yer face', some of these programmes are triumphantly nasty. There is nothing even remotely subtle or sensitive about preset B15 'Flang!' or A114 'Tooned', but for a big brash effect ideal for the next techno‑hippy album, they are both real winners. Preset A115 'Talkbox' is another good example: instant Pink Floyd‑ability that doubles up very neatly as a sort of pseudo‑vocoder if you add the pitch‑shifting parameter. Peavey have really gone for gold in providing a selection of great effects that continually inspire and surprise. They also seem to have adopted a real 'plug‑in and play' approach to this module too, something that guitar players in particular will appreciate. There are a large number of presets specifically designed with guitarists in mind, one of the best examples being preset A122 'Liquid', a gloriously mellow chorused delay setting. The overdrive and distortion effects are a worthwhile and welcome inclusion, if a little two‑dimensional and cloudy at times, but in all honesty, guitarists will have more than enough to keep them happy with the excellent flange, wah‑wah and 'classic' sweepable‑mid EQ features.

The Leslie, Exciter and Drum Room presets are all as usable as they are well programmed, and although many of these effects are good enough to use straight away, it's worth taking the time to get to know your way around the comprehensive edit pages.


The first of the edit screens displays a string of the different effects used in that particular preset. Using reasonably logical abbreviations (DS for distortion, DL for Delay, SS for speaker simulator and so on), you can see up to five effects at a time before the screen scrolls across to reveal any others. The signal routing between the different effects in the multi‑effect chain is intelligently thought out, allowing individual effects to be 'routed' in series or parallel, and their mix levels to be easily adjusted. Adding or deleting an effect from the chain is easy enough, and from this page it's a simple procedure moving up through the edit parameters for each effect. There are a good number of edit algorithms for each, but never enough to encourage you to spend too long tinkering needlessly.

The Addverb offers three types of delay: Mono, True Stereo and Tapped (ie. creating a stereo delay from a mono source). All three of these have the ability to sync to MIDI Clock messages sent from a sequencer. In mono or tapped mode, the delay time will go as high as 724ms, and with a true stereo delay, this time is roughly halved to 361ms. All of these delay types have adjustable feedback algorithms, as well as an interesting tape simulator effect, which uses a low‑pass filter within the feedback circuits to create a slightly warmer room sound.

One further incentive that Peavey have thrown into the bargain is a highly comprehensive MIDI‑controllable dump facility. This allows not only single presets or entire banks to be backed up to a MIDI sequencer or librarian, but also gives you the usual programme change and MIDI mapping options, should you need them.

Adding It Up

Peavey can feel rightly proud of the Addverb 3. The sheer number of usable effect types (see separate box for full list) is astonishing considering the unit's relatively low cost. Although the built‑in noise gate and compressors work well enough, they are unlikely to woo as many potential customers as the other generally excellent effects, such as the stereo simulator, parametric EQ, pitch‑shifter or envelope filters. The Addverb is amazingly easy to use, and unlike other machines that require a few hours of serious programming before they sound half‑decent, Peavey seem to have done most of the work for us, and all credit to them. If, however, you are a stickler for in‑depth tweaking, there is still more than enough to keep you happy for quite a while. The target market for this kind of processor is unlikely to be considering something like a top‑flight Lexicon as an alternative, and such comparisons would be unfair, but in terms of sound quality, the Addverb 3 compares favourably with other units well above its price range. At this price, it will undoubtedly be a winner with studios working to a tight budget, but with its flexibility and ease of use, I can also see a number of 'pro' outfits snapping these units up like hot cakes. For almost any studio,the Addverb 3 represents a user‑friendly and versatile effects processor that you'd be foolish to miss.

Add Enough?: Effect Types


CHORUS 1 & 2


PITCSHIFT 1 & 2 (+/‑ 1 octave)


  • Plate
  • Spring
  • Tunnel
  • Room
  • Stage
  • Hall
  • Gated
  • Reverse Gated



  • 5‑band graphic EQ
  • 3‑band sweep mid EQ
  • 4‑band parametric EQ








  • Pre‑delay feedback and mix control
  • 5‑band EQ
  • 8 room



  • Fantastic value for money.
  • Good range of usable effects.
  • Excellent editing facilities.
  • Good MIDI spec.


  • Not all reverbs as clean or exciting as they could be.
  • 'Cheesy'‑sounding compressor.


A great all‑rounder, perfect for weird and harsh effects as well as more tasteful reverbs and delays.