Monday, 31 May 2010

Guitar Pedal Reviews - Electro-Harmonix Cathedral Reverb

EHX Cathedral

EHX Cathedral - this one was promised to be the mother of reverb and indeed it is! As ever, EHX have a really interesting and unique sound that I've found before in the Memory Boy delay pedal. EHX just does things differently and in a good way! The pedal has already won a few awards for its sounds, such as from Guitar Player.

So what does it contain? Well stereo input and output for one, to create a swirling stereo sound. The unit itself is fairly heftily built (although I must admit the finish on the edges and underside left a lot to be desired). The knobs are plastic and probably not breakable, but not overly strong!

Types of reverb (from top to bottom) are Grail Spring, Accu Spring, Hall, Room, Plate, Reverse, Grail Flerb and then an Echo, which is a nice addition. Along the of the unit are the controls (from left to right) -

Blend (dry through to wet mix - a 'dry' sound being the original unaltered and dry guitar sound - a 'wet' sound being fully reverb and no dry sound). This gives a huge amount of blend into the sounds so you can go to a fully wet sound for those ethereal or shoegaze style moments.

Reverb Time - exactly what it says. This affects how long the reverb releases for.

Damping Tone - is effectively a graphic eq style thing, altering the highs and lows of the sound. Interestingly when it's used with the echo sound, it will filter your echos according to how its set - so it echos only higher frequencies or lower frequencies.

Feedback - how long the sound trails, so a higher feedback sound means a longer amount of 'trails' or a longer echo.

Pre-delay - this impacts when the reverb sound kicks in, so a short pre-delay means the reverb attacks pretty much instantly, whereas as you increase the pre-delay time, there is a pause before you hear the reverb kick in to your sound.

Top right knob on the unit scrolls the effects listed above.

As for the effects, they are different and unique. The flerb adds a chorus style oscillation which is interesting. The hall is large and with long feedback times creates an eerie electronic sound. All the other reverbs are convincing. The reverse can give some crazy sounds as well, and could be a lot of fun for many players.

The echo has a tap tempo function, which is a great addition. This tap tempo can also impact most of the reverbs too, which is great.

The great other extra is the infinite reverb in which you hold the tap tempo switch down after you've played the reverb and it just keeps swirling and reverb-ing! This will appeal to the shoegaze and infinite reverb crowd. Great touch.

The unit itself is fairly large at around about 50cm wide, 12cm depth and about 6cm high. You will need a fair bit of room for this on your pedalboard if you have one.

As for power, it comes with a 9v supply. The manual tells you to only use this one (UK users will have to plug the 3 pin adapter into the US style 2 pin) but I just ran through my regular 9v daisychain supply.

Now for the conclusion - I'm sure this pedal will appeal to many players. It's true bypass so absolutely no tone suck or volume loss at all. It does a lot. It is unique sounding. However, I returned my pedal as I just couldn't get on with it. It just sounded bland and character-less to me. It was extremely digital and didn't sound any nicer than the £40 Behringer RV600.

It also has some horrendous digital artefacts when the feedback is turned up. Another review on the web said the reverbs sometimes sounded like a digital echo and this is spot on. The echo with tap tempo is great but it was simply too digital, too regular and just too ordinary.

If you want to go digital and love reverbs, this is your pedal. If you want infinite style reverb, this is your pedal. If you want a reverb and echo with tap all-in-one, this may be your pedal.

Otherwise my recommendation is to buy the Digitech Hardwire RV7 or try other reverb pedals with a much warmer and analogue style. I'm no pedal snob, but the EHX Cathedral just didn't cut it at all, which was gutting. But there you go - live and learn.

1 comment:

  1. Fully agree.
    Not a good choice for analogue synths, as well. I suggest to find Butler Tube Stereo Reverb, night and day difference in quality (bit few more bux)


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