MXR 01a Update
MXR have recently introduced a new version of their highly successful 01 digital reverb. The original 01 was reviewed in the May issue of HSR and readers who require a detailed explanation of the unit's operation may find additional information there.
The new 01a offers all the facilities of the original plus some rather exciting updates. In common with much of today's microprocessor controlled equipment, the technology allows the user to simply update the software with little or no changes required to the hardware. MXR have in keeping with this philosophy released the new 01a but also made available the new software for installation in the original 01 digital reverb; so readers who already possess the first unit don't need to worry because an easily installed set of chips are available. No more built-in obsolescence these days.
The new MXR 01a comes with version 2.1 software and provides three new features along with the option of a remote control unit. Appearance-wise, the unit is visually identical to the 01 except for some additional names printed in red on the front panel.
The optional remote control unit is installed by removing the lid of the case and inserting the ribbon connector into the specified socket. Once the lid has been replaced the cable is held firmly in place without any fear of it working loose. The beauty of this particular remote control unit unlike those of other equipment manufacturers is that it will actually let you vary every parameter on the 01a's front panel and comes supplied with up to 30 feet of ribbon cable. The sheer generosity of the cable's length should be adequate for even the largest of studios and allows the 01a to be rackmounted well away from the mixing desk and the cable run up to the desk where the remote control unit can sit close at hand.
The new features on offer from the 2.1 version software are: Diffusion, and two new room types described as having "finite impulse response". By using the Page Two select function the Blend, Min Decay and new Diffusion parameters become available to the user and may be changed at will in real time. The Blend function, previously unspecified on the original 01, is displayed in what is normally the Pre-Delay Time window and as the name implies the amount of direct, untreated sound and effected reverb sound can be blended together in varying proportions. Diffusion is displayed in the High Frequency Damping window and offers seven different diffusion characteristics numbered 0 to 6. This diffusion parameter is a little difficult to describe in words though the effect is obvious when heard. Perhaps the simplest explanation is to instill in your mind the idea that the room size you are listening to is produced by a series of complex and closely spaced echoes; what the diffusion control alters is the richness or density of additional lower level reflection detail within the main reflections. In simple terms, it's like adding or removing objects to and from an empty room to change the complexity of the reflections.
The remaining two new features are artificial environments which don't exist in reality: Room Types 8 and 9. Described as Finite Impulse Response, Room 8 is like natural reverberation where the output decreases in level with time, but unlike natural reverb the sound comes to a complete stop when the decay time setting has fully elapsed. This gives the effect of a gated reverb sound so often heard on contemporary drum sounds and produces reverb effects without resulting in an over-cluttered sound.
Room Type 9 is perhaps the most arresting effect and sounds like backwards reverb, starting off quietly and building up to it's maximum level before abruptly stopping. This particular setting can produce some wonderful sound effects and is best utilised on percussive or short duration sounds such as guitars and voice.
It's good to see that MXR have made some small but valuable changes to the names of various front panel functions, several of which were un-named on the original 01. Previously you could have been forgiven for not knowing about the existence of certain features when approaching the unit for the first time, without its instruction manual.
To help identify Page Two functions these parameter names have now been printed in red on the front panel. On the previous MXR 01 the preset memory display window at the far right hand end of the front panel was unnamed. This has now been called Preset, whilst at the far left hand end what was previously called Program is now re-named Room Type. These two name changes have cleared up any confusion between thinking the program selected was in fact a different memory. Dampening is now referred to as High Frequency Dampening, again a more accurate description and the inclusion of the name Min Decay in red print identifies the readout on the decay time window when in the Page Two mode.
All the new features mentioned are available when the 2.1 software is installed in the original 01, except for the Pre-Delay time which is incremented in 20ms steps on the 01a to a maximum of 120ms. Unfortunately, this remains fixed at the original 10ms steps with a maximum of only 90ms pre-delay on the 01. A small concession to pay when you consider the advantages of all the other useful features.
MXR 01a £2182, Remote Control unit £250, software retrofit for 01, £52. All prices include VAT.
Further information from Atlantex Music Ltd, (Contact Details).