Korg DRV-2000 Reverb
Phil South discovers that room simulation is not incurable these days, thanks in part to this latest combined digital reverb and multi-effects processor from Korg.
Phil South discovers that room simulation is not incurable these days, thanks to Korg's latest combined digital reverb and multi-effects processor.
I tell you what, I never thought I'd see the day when a true reverb could be bought for under a couple of grand. But as you are no doubt aware, very realistic sounding digital reverb units are within almost everybody's reach now. The same goes for studio quality effects units too. It was only a matter of time before the manufacturers realised they could combine the talents of both these units in the one 19-inch box. First, the industrial strength Yamaha SPX90 and Alesis MIDIVERB, and now this sibling to the Korg DRV-3000, the DRV-2000.
The surprising thing to note about all these units is the sheer ear-stroking quality of their programs. How to make your recordings sound like a million bucks for slightly less than five hundred quid! With devices like this, making the most shockingly edited samples sound like Simon Rattle and his big band, or glorifying the most ratty timbres from your synths is childsplay, and getting a good vocal sound is as simple as punching up the right number on the display. It sounds like a musician's dream, but it's a technological reality.
The DRV-2000 sits comfortably in an unremarkable 19-inch rackmount box, and looking at it from the front you notice that it has a backlit LCD display, two recessed knobs at one end, and a row of flat selector buttons and power switch at the other.
At the back of the unit there are five quarter-inch jack sockets: Input (switchable between -20dB and +4dB, corresponding to mic and line input levels), L/Mono and R Outputs, and two footswitch sockets marked SW-1 and SW-2. There are also two DIN sockets; one for MIDI In and another which is switchable between MIDI Out and Thru, depending on your need.
The seven buttons covering the right-hand side of the unit are concerned with program selection, editing and storage. The DRV-2000 has four distinct operating modes - Program, Parameter, Utility, and Multi-Modulation modes - plus one submode: Write. (Write is only used as a sub-mode of Program or Parameter modes, incidentally.) There is also a Cancel button, which 'defeats' or kills a signal, sending the dry sound through with no treatment, and two buttons marked Up and Down. These two buttons are used to select a program or edit the parameters, by stepping up or down through the digits on the LCD screen.
In Program mode you can punch up reverb or effect programs from the unit's memory for use or for editing and saving under a different name in the user area of memory. To step through programs you press the desired Up or Down key, holding it down to cycle through the programs continuously, or by pressing the opposite key at the same time to 'fast forward', as it were. There are 1-96 numbered programs to select from, 1-16 being presets, and 17-96 being user-definable programs. Incidentally, you can also change programs with a footswitch, but we'll cover that in a minute.
Parameter mode, also called Edit mode, lets you examine and alter the parameters that make up each effect. All alterations made in Parameter mode can be saved with Write. If you don't save an altered program and step up to another and back again, you'll find that the one you altered has reverted to its original settings. Although you can edit and modify programs 1-16, you can't save them in those locations, but rather you have to store them in memory locations 17-96. You select Parameter mode by pressing the Parameter button (and you thought you had to peel a banana and press the light switch!), then pressing it repeatedly to step through the various parameters attached to any one sound. Then you can alter the parameter you select by stepping up or down using the Up or Down keys, or both together for speed. (These keys operate in this manner on all settings, so I won't bother to say it again!)
Now seems like a good time to slot in a mention of Write mode. To save a program, you simply call it up on the LCD screen, and press Write. Then you are asked which user memory you wish to save it in, and you dutifully step through them with Up/Down until you reach the one you want, then press Write again to confirm your choice. The machine responds with COMPLETE!, and there you have it. Oh yes, if you press Write accidentally, which is entirely possible with those nice sexy flush buttons, then simply press Program, Utility or Parameter, and you will be returned to whatever you were doing, after a message appears saying ESCAPED!.
Utility mode is a trifle more complex to explain, but basically it holds certain less musical and more technical parameters: Title Edit, MIDI Control Channel and Program Change, MIDI Note Program Change, Program Change Range, Switch 1 and 2 Assign, Peak Hold and Data Dump Save (for use with Korg's MEX-8000 Memory Expander). One interesting function in this mode is Title Edit. Using the Up/Down keys in combination with the Parameter key (to give you left and right movement across the LCD screen), you can change the titles of your own programs to anything you like using a selection of 147 letters and symbols from the English, German and Japanese alphabets. This is a nice touch, enabling all us 'weird filename' junkies to vent our creative talents on yet another LCD. (They're fun, cheap, non-fattening... and they'll look good on the menus of any computer-based librarian/editor programs that are sure to turn up, sooner or later!)
Finally, we have Multi-Modulation mode. Now this is possibly the 'unique selling point' that Korg would like me to point out to you, but who cares? It's a good idea and I'm going to tell you anyway!
This mode refers to the DRV-2000's ability to accept real-time external control of program parameters through one of three inroads: footswitches, MIDI devices or audio input. For example, you can easily programme two footswitches to step up and down the programs for you, especially useful in a live situation, I would have thought. Or, through MIDI, you can sense how hard a synth key is hit and produce a longer echo or delay effect. You can even assign the movement of a pitch-bend wheel to directly control the depth of flanging or chorus (say), thereby giving yourself remote control of the effects from your MIDI instrument. So, just because the DRV-2000 is in a rack, doesn't mean that it can't follow you on stage!
So the basic programs you'll want to edit and use are couched in programs 1-16. These comprehensive presets fall into seven groups: six reverb, two gated reverb, two stereo echo, one stereo flanger, one stereo chorus, one 'Space Pan', and a couple of 'Combinations'.
The reverb programs consist of five linear and one non-linear reverb envelopes, so the parameters you can set are - Rev Time (linear), Ambience (non-linear), Pre-Delay, Early Reflection Level, High Frequency Damping, and Input/Output Level. This gives a very sure control over the tone and size of room you wish to design, allowing such simulated nuances as rooms with drapes, warehouses with or without boxes in them, or stadiums with their multiple reflective surfaces. Early reflections make a room sound more 'live', damping the high frequencies makes it sound warmer, and pre-delay gives you that feeling of space, like you could go out and grab a bite and be back before the early reflections start! (Grand Canyon with a lid on, anybody?)
The two gated reverb programs give you basically the same things as the straight ones, but when the sound stops, so does the reverb - so you get the fullness of the reverb effect with none of the mushy reflections after. You can set the Gate Size, and even Gate Shape!
The DRV-2000's stereo echo programs are real charmers, giving you new access to the kind of ping-pong echo effects only previously possible if your mate could twist the pan pot on the mixer round in between repeats!
Here you have control over the Delay Time, Feedback, and Input/Output levels on both the left and right channels, making it easily possible to create irregular echo repeats, like 'duh-dum, duh-dum', instead of the usual 'dum dum dum...' etc. Very Trevor Horn.
The stereo flanging and chorus programs are similar in operation to the stereo echo programs, allowing adjustment of Mod Depth, Mod Frequency, Mod Delay, and Feedback, but they also allow separate setting of left and right delay and level. A real studio flanger! Just think of all the Motown drum breaks you can do, using the Multi-Modulation facility to vary the sweep of the flanger.
To really create the hippy classic of all time, what you really need is the Space Pan program. The panning occurs not only between the left and right, but back and forth in the stereo picture as well, producing a cyclic motion. The movement of this panning is controllable by Pan Depth, Tremolo, and Phase, which sets the angle and therefore direction of the autopan.
The Combination programs are merely a reverb/echo and a reverb/chorus, each containing parameters from the individual programs.
Now then, which of these parameters on all these fine programs can you control with your footswitch or MIDI device? The answer is all of them, and here's a table of all the possibilities to prove it:
|REV (1-8)||REV TIME (or AMBIENCE). E/R LVL, INPUT, OUTPUT|
|GATE REVERB (7,8)||GATE SHAPE, INPUT, OUTPUT|
|STEREO ECHO (9-11)||Lch F.B, Rch F.B (or L->R GAIN, R->L GAIN), Lch INPUT, Rch INPUT, Lch OUT, Rch OUT|
|FLANGER (12)||MOD FREQ. MOD DEPTH, F.B GAIN, Lch 1 LVL, Rch 1 LVL, INPUT, OUTPUT|
|CHORUS (13)||MOD FREQ, MOD DEPTH, INPUT, OUTPUT|
In conclusion, this is a very classy product with a lot of professional features to recommend it to studio users who find themselves in need of a cheap, versatile, but good sounding multi-effects unit. The home user, or live band, could also benefit from the Multi-Modulation options, which put studio effects under real-time control. Especially handy if you have a limited recording set-up and need to record a lot of things at once to get the most mileage out of your mixdowns.
On the downside, it's not the cheapest multi-effects unit available, and it isn't very easy to just plug something into the DRV-2000 and use it like a guitar (or vocals) effects pedal. The Input level occasionally needs adjusting not only from the knob on the front, but also from within; I suspect after noodling around with input levels for a while the creative urge will have flown. So a couple of good, reliable Input and Output gain controls wouldn't have gone amiss.
Stereo outputs are already provided, but stereo inputs might have been nice, too - but I guess all budget reverbs can't be Alesis! The tiny selector switches on the back which alter input gain and MIDI Thru/Out selection were completely inaccessible once the unit was screwed into my 19-inch rack, so perhaps these functions should have been put on the front?
But these few gripes aside, for many people the DRV-2000 is likely to prove the right tool for a number of interesting jobs and, as such, is an admirable addition to the Korg range.
Price: £499 inc VAT.
Contact your local dealer or Korg UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
Review by Phil South
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