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Princeton Digital 2016 Reverb plug-in

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Eventide/Princeton Digital 2016 Reverb plug-in

The Princeton Digital 2016 reverb plug-in is based on Princeton Digital's hardware 2016 Reverberation unit--a modern-built version of the original Eventide SP2016 Reverb unit introduced in 1982. The original Eventide SP 2016 units ran a 16-bit/40kHz engine and amazingly, most still operate today. Despite their primitive (in comparison to today's) electronics, 2016s are highly prized for their unique lush and rich sound character.

From the beginning the SP2016 (SP stands for Signal Processor) was a reverb only--it possessed enough processing power to run complex algorithms that fully simulate the natural reverberations occurring in real echo chambers or large rooms. With this new level of power available, the 2016 went on to spawned effects like BandDelays, choruses, tapped delays and vocoders. In 1982 the 2016 exceeded the capabilities of other digital reverb processors whose insufficient processing "horsepower" produced comb filtering of the sound and low echo density (the number of reflections in a given space) and/or the unnatural change of reverb density over the time of the reverb's decay.

Princeton Digital's 2016 plug-in follows the tradition of being a reverb only processor but the bundle has three separate plug-ins each running its own unique reverb algorithm. Each algorithm, along with the choices of delay lengths, interconnection, filter placement, early reflections type and amount, contribute to the differences in their overall sound. Running as a TDM plug-in (PC and Mac) only for Pro Tools HD, VST for PCs and supporting up to 96kHz sample rates, the three reverbs in the bundle are: the by now "classic" Stereo Room and two mono reverbs called RoomVerb and PlateVerb.

My own long and memorable relationship with the original SP2016 came back to life the first time I inserted the Stereo Room plug-in into my Pro Tools mix. I had always used the Stereo Room in the SP2016 hardware reverb for mid-range track elements--vocals, guitars, keyboards and synths. And it's no different with this new plug-in.

Stereo Room and the other two excellent mono reverbs share a distinctive sound: a present reverb that cuts through any track without having to be made overly loud. Other reverbs can sound good but "distant" in the sense that they tend towards providing an indistinct "wash" when used in sufficient amounts to be heard. The 2016 sounds closer to a very live room such as an auditorium, car park, small hall, tiled echo chamber or, when set with a very short decay time, a bathroom.

Controls on the 2016 are split into three sections called Levels, Reverb, and EQ. The Levels section has a stereo (or mono in the case of the two mono verbs) VU meter with a Clip indicator. In general, I found the input difficult to clip--it'll take just about any level input. This section also has a Wet/Dry control good when inserting it on an individual track as oppose to sending and returning it globally for your mix.

The "Kill" button mutes the input signal to the reverb allowing the tail of the reverb to continue and play out but precluding any further reverberation processing. This is a more natural way to stop reverberation rather than muting the outputs or going to the trouble to properly record an automated fade out to sound natural--better and easier to just automate the Kill button.

The Reverb section has Predelay for up to 999ms of delay; Decay time (RT60) goes from 200ms to 9.99 seconds; the Diffusion control sets the nature of the reflections in a space from Low, as if bouncing off flat and hard surfaces, to High for more diffuse reflections from different and irregular surfaces.

The section called EQ consists of high and low frequency-shelving equalizers with continuously variable boost/cut and frequency range. The high shelf's frequency range is 1 to 8kHz while the low frequency EQ's corner frequency ranges from 50 to 500Hz. The high frequency gain control ranges from -8dB to 0dB and the low frequency has boost/cut from -8dB to +4dB.

On a big voiced and deep male vocal I found rolling some of the low frequencies out with the EQ section disallowed low frequencies in the reverb helping to better "stage" the vocal over the track. Since I prefer an overall bright sound, I generally didn't have to roll off high frequencies on most sources. The exception was for a triangle hit I wanted to swim in long reverb. If the reverb tail seems too "fizzy" (Probably because of the source sent to it) rolling off the 2016's output with the high EQ quickly takes care of it.

For my initial reverb listening tests I always uses sharp, percussive sources--snare drums, hand claps, claves etc. Since Stereo Room has a stereo input, the pan position of the stereo send fader is important. Even with the Wet/Dry control at 100% wet (default) some of the direct signal and early reflections of the source are heard in the stereo returns based on the pan pot position of the send fader. It's a good trick to oppositely pan the send fader on a hard left or right-panned track so that this source/early reflection sound ends up on the opposite side.

Percussive sounds in the 2016 fare well. Just like in the original hardware units I liked the 2016's unique character well heard in long and loud reverb tails from percussive inputs. It sounds like the reflections are recirculated upon themselves as if trapped as a sample and looped around and around very quickly. This charming detail is more prevalent when you drive the plug-in hard and crank up the returns.

Finally, Position adjusts the pickup position within the synthesized reverberant space much like moving and pointing the microphones at the speaker or away at the back walls inside a stereo echo chamber. You can go anywhere from the front of the space to its rear and make a drastic change in the reverb's presence, stereo width (in Stereo Room) and overall color.

I would move the Position control from Front to Rear during moments when a long reverb's tail and aftermath was much too noticeable. As an effect for certain moments in a song, I had a 6 second reverb on the snare drum with the Position set at midway. Whenever there was a big snare fill I would automate the control towards the Front so the fill would remain dryer. Incidentally, reverb time or RT60 indicated on the 2016 seem numerically longer as compared to modern reverbs. Whatever.

It is interesting to listen to only the 2016 returns of the Stereo Room on a constant input source such as a busy rhythm guitar. At the 0% or full Front position, you'll hear a bright reverb that contains (what sounds like) some of the dry source and early reflections panned to the center. As you rotate the Position control to about 33%, you'll hear the center image start to spread out to the left and right equally. By the 50% point you'll hear a 50/50 blend between the dryer monaural sound and the L/R reverb sound and finally at the 100% rear position, the mono center nearly disappears. Furthermore, as you rotate the Position control towards the Rear position, the L/R reverb sound becomes darker.

Since all the controls are automatable, I am finding that the Position feature is a tremendous way to sculpt reverb dynamically predicated on the dynamic ebb and flow of a song and the sound sources sent to the 2016. It is easy to make the reverb more or less spacious and more or less present without (typically) cranking up the decay time or increasing the return level.

I'm happy to have the SP2016 now as a plug-in. It sounds like the hardware Eventide SP2016 and that unit's progeny, the Princeton Digital 2016 Reverb. This is a reverb sound I've missed for years and makes a great addition to any reverb collection because no other sounds close to it. It is available as a download for $699 for the bundle of three and you can get the PlateVerb alone for $199. Check:

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