Continuing our journey through the diverse landscape that is guitar pedals and other low-cost-high-value effects, we arrive at today's subject: the Strymon Big Sky. The Big Sky is Strymon's top tier reverb pedal, and it is truly a thing of beauty. With 12 unique studio quality algorithms, one is sure to find the perfect space for your instrument, whether that's a simple room reverb or a lush and cinematic cloud of ecstasy. Yes, you read that correctly. So how does it sound? In the video below, we go step by step through each algorithm, using a Korg Monologue to showcase how fantastic this reverb really is.
The unit features 300 presets, the ability to control via MIDI, a switch that allows you to adjust the overall tone of the reverb depending if you are going into a guitar amp or a live pa system directly, which the company describes says, "Just turn on the selectable Cab Filter to engage our sophisticated speaker response curve. Your dirt pedals will sound amp-like, and your clean guitar will have a present yet rounded response."
Here is a more detailed list of each reverb:
Hall: Diffused reflections and slower-building density are the hallmarks of this beautiful and versatile reverb. The Concert size is well-balanced, spacious and warm, while the Arena size is huge, enveloping and booming.
Plate: The Plate machine is a rich, fast-building reverb that creates depth without early reflection cues to a specific environment. The Tone knob and Low End parameter are simple but powerful frequency shaping tools.
Spring: The standalone spring tank became a staple of surf and spaghetti-western music that developed in the ’60s. The Spring machine allows for complete customization from warm and mellow to splashy and dripping with its Tone and Mix Controls, Dwell parameter, and selectable number of springs.
Swell: The Swell machine brings in the reverb gradually behind the dry signal for subtle evolving textures, like having a volume pedal on the wet signal. Alternatively, you can choose to have the dry signal swelled into the reverb, for maximum ambience and atmosphere.
Bloom: In the ‘90s, more diffusion blocks were added to reverbs to ‘smooth out’ the sound. A side effect of this was the tendency of the reverbs to have a slowly building envelope that ‘bloomed’, resulting in big ambient reverbs that sit nicely with the dry signal even at high Mix levels. The Bloom reverb features a ‘bloom generating’ section that feeds into a traditional reverb ‘tank’, and adds a unique Feedback parameter that expands the possibilities exponentially.
Cloud: A gorgeously big, ambient reverb that draws from techniques developed in the late ’70s. Using processing power not dreamed of in those days, the Cloud reverb machine obscures the distinction between reality and fantasy.
Chorale: A vocal choir accompanies your music. Choose vowel ranges and intensities to customize your choir as it sings in venues that vary with the Decay knob. As the Modulation is increased, the choir becomes alive with multitude of voices.
Shimmer: Two tunable voices add pitch-shifted tones to the reverberated signal, for resplendent, unearthly ambience. The voices are carefully created from the reverberated signal itself to generate maximum radiance and beauty. The Amount and Mode parameters allow for a range of shimmer effects from laid-back and subtle to full-blown majestic splendor.
Magneto: A new style of music emerged in the late ’50s, featuring the guitar as the ‘lead voice’ enhanced by the reverberated wash of a multi-head echo. The Magneto machine sets up a multi-head echo with all heads on, while the PreDelay knob adds feedback. The Diffusion parameter adds a new dimension of ambience, smearing the response of the heads and blurring the line between delay and reverb.
Nonlinear: A variety of physics-defying reverb shapes are available for special effects and unique textures. Choose from three ‘backwards’ shapes (Swoosh, Reverse, and Ramp), or a Gate and more. Feedback control, Late Reverb, and Diffusion parameters allow for a vast array of time-warped possibilities.
Reflections: The Reflections machine is a psycho-acoustically accurate small-space reverb that allows you to move your amp anywhere in the room. The Reflections algorithm precisely calculates 250 reflections based on the source position within the chosen room shape. The psycho-acoustic modifiers adjust for human auditory perception to create unparalleled ambient-space realism to dry instrument or vocal tracks
Room: A versatile room algorithm that creates environments ranging from well-tuned studio ambience to larger night club acoustics. The Tone knob, Diffusion and Low End parameters adjust the damping and scattering effects of room materials, furniture, and people.
I reviewed the Eventide Space not all too long ago, and that set the bar pretty damn high. Could this be even better? We will do a side by side comparison in the future. My personal favorite algorithms are the Cloud and Nonlinear. I'm not sure if I like the Space or the Big Sky's Shimmer better, but both are fantastic. The price is $479 and can be purchased here.
Everything. This is truly a must have
The price can seem a bit steep, but it's worth it.
Final Score: 10/10