Rack ‘Em Up, Part 7: Effects
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Allen & Heath requisitioned its iLive effects for the Qu-Pac. There are four engines to play with, but a few different starting points to choose from. Spatial Modelling Reverberator houses the main reverbs, which can take you through everything from halls, EMT plate styles to small rooms and chambers. 2-Tap Delay allows you to tap in different times for left and right or link the two. There’s a width control, frequency controls, feedback and a Scatter function which ramps down the delay time as the echo progresses. ADT Doubler is a very usable widener if you’re running your PA in stereo, it gives that classic width without getting phasey. There’s also a Chorus with some simple LFO adjustments, width and multi-voice switches. Other modulation tools include a Flanger, Phaser and Symphonic Chorus, which give you some really daring effect options. And the Gated Verb is for those open and shut ’verbs, the classic snare preset beckons.
Like its compressor section, Behringer has a whole lot of emulations on hand: from Lexicon-style Halls that don’t quite have the top-end tail, to vintage digital delays with the bit-reduction built in, to a really nice vintage plate reverb. On top of that, there’s a host of modulation effects including choruses, stereo exciters, pitch manipulators, tube stages, transient shapers, tremolos, even a guitar amp modeller to go along with the twin Hi-Z inputs on inputs one and two.
Trickling down from the Harman family tree, Soundcraft’s effects are particularly nice, with Lexicon chipping in some ace reverb, delay and chorus algorithms. The effect presets load really quickly, with some great results coming from the five parameters: Reverb Time, HF Damping, Bass Gain, Lowpass Filter and Highpass Filter. The delay gives you control over delay time, length subdivision (with a dropdown list), feedback amount and low-pass filter. With a little top end rolled off, it had the richness of an analogue delay. The Chorus is tasteful, and useful on things like acoustic guitar to enhance its separation in the mix. And like the rest of the GUI, all the controls are on long faders to make parameter adjustment a breeze.
Presonus’s four effects engines are divided by type; Engines A and B reserved for reverbs, and C and D for delays. There are nine reverb and four delay types to choose between, with different settings and preset starting points for each. The parameter spread changes for each type, with Ambience reverb only having a decay slider, and the different Hall types (Small, Bright, Warm, Gated, Large) giving you a bit more control. There’s also a Plate option and a couple of Rooms. The delay choices are Mono, Filter, Stereo and Ping Pong. The filter delay had a nice band-passed decay to it that was a unique option among the crowd.
The effects on Mackie’s Master Fader were probably my least favourite. The reverbs had a resonant, band-passed ring out to them that just felt metallic, no matter the setting. The delay on the other hand was better, but still had a quality that again didn’t let it rise above the ranks. It was very usable, but just felt a little digital, even the Tape Echo didn’t quite have that analogue degradation quality to it.
The Rub: Outside of Mackie’s offerings, which could do with an update, the rest of the field cover the basics well. Though there was less variety on hand, Soundcraft’s Lexicon effects never sounded bad, and the other three all had some unique offerings that are worth exploring. Hard to pick a winner.