The Alesis Microverb is a black satin-finished metal box, with four knobs and a single LED. It's small enough for three to fit across a rack (Alesis thoughtfully make an adaptor), and is a straightforward digital reverb unit, with an input control to help you make the LED change from orange to green (and to stop it going red), a mix to... er... mix the dry and reverbed signals, and output to adjust the overall level. So simple.
There are no frills at all to the Microverb. It will accept either mono (left channel) or stereo inputs, and put them both out in excellent, bright, clear stereo. Jack sockets are provided for all connections. It has no MIDI, no Cancel button (though a socket is provided for an optional footswitch), and the 16 non-adjustable preset programs are selectable by turning a knob — effectery most basic. This is not necessarily it bad thing.
The 16 programs are subdivided into four types: six Small, seven Large, two Gates, and one Reverse. The Small progs begin with what sounds like a smallish living room (One), then move up to an uncarpeted classroom (Two). The third is a larger classroom with carpets and curtains (Three), and Four is a brighter version of the same which is particularly good for vocals. Program Five is boxy sounding, and almost school-hall in size, while Six is larger still, and warmer - nice for languid lead breaks.
According to the small but informative manual, the Large settings all have the brief, early echo associated with 'hall' reverbs. This pre-delay, as it is known, gives the Large settings a slightly rougher sound. They start with a warm and surprisingly small sounding room (One again), with a narrow stereo spread, Prog Two sounds similar, but with a wider stereo image, and Three has roughly the same length of reverb but brighter tone. Four is deeper, almost sweet sounding, good for blending backing keyboards into the track. Five brings the initial signal back to the front of your attention, letting the reverb die away rapidly at first, then sustaining it at a lower level. Six is an enormous whooshy cathedral setting, while Seven is what passes for 'infinite' on the Microverb - around 10 seconds of decay time. Very impressive. Gate Two is longer than Gate One, and Reverse is just sdrawkcab. Rarely a vital setting.
The Microverb looks and feels more robust than its Midiverb progenitor. And it sounds cleaner, lacking the digital encoding noise (admittedly minimal) that was occasionally apparent on the Midiverb. The 16 reverbs in this new machine are diverse enough to satisfy any home recordist, and parry any possible complaints about lack of choice. The Microverb is a hugely useable machine which works easily and usefully - just what technology is for.
The manual describes the Microverb as "part of the Alesis Micro Series"; let's hope the new products we're promised by Alesis are as good as this.
Feature by Jon Lewin
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