Rob Papen - RP-Verb 2 - Computer Music
Monday, December 4, 2017
Eight years ago, the original RP-Verb marked Rob Papen’s first foray into effect plugins - the company had been all about instruments up to that point.
RP-Verb2 (VST/AU/AAX) expands and improves on its predecessor in almost every department, and adds a couple of major new features. The sized-up interface bristles with even more controls than the already-laden original, and as before, it looks relatively complicated for a reverb plugin but is actually quite easy to navigate when approached section by section.
Conjugate the ’Verb
RP-Verb2’s architecture is still based on a series of discrete processing blocks, and flexible routing of the input signal through them is a key feature of the plugin. Still present and correct are the Early and Late Reflections sections, the main Reverb (tail) section, and the Ensemble (a very useful six-voice chorus), Distortion and EQ modules.
Both Reflections sections can be routed into the Reverb or run in parallel alongside it, while the Ensemble sits pre-Reverb and goes straight to the main output with an optional parallel feed into the Reverb; and the EQ module is switchable between immediately post-input or pre-output.
Changes have been made to all but the Early Reflections section. Ensemble now sports a modulation Speed knob, and the Late Reflections and Reverb Pre-Delay are syncable to host tempo. The overhauled EQ section, meanwhile, uses the algorithm from the excellent RP-EQ plugin and gains a parametric Mid band; and the Distortion section now offers a choice of four algorithms (Fold- Over, Fuzz, Power and Saturation), each with an adjustable parameter alongside the main Amount knob (eg, distortion frequency for Fuzz).
Every creatively-minded reverb plugin should have an input distortion stage, as far as we’re concerned, and RP-Verb2’s is just the thing for adding abrasive edge and grit.
Unexpectedly, RP-Verb2 includes ‘only’ ten Reverb algorithms - a significant reduction from the 18 of v1. The new set (three Halls, three Rooms, two Vintages and two Space Orbits), represents the best from the previous list, though - less is more, etc - and all of them have been redesigned for better sound and operability.
Due to their minimal effect, we’re told, the Reverb Colour, Space Disorder and Diffusion controls have disappeared. Papen and co recommend sending the early reflections into the reverb in lieu of the last, but we can’t help but miss it nonetheless.
Mod is in the details
RP-Verb2’s new modulation setup is a major improvement on v1’s. First, the original Envelope - now called Envelope Follower - has been bettered with the addition of host syncable Attack, Hold and Release times, and, crucially, liberated from its fixed quintet of single and dual targets. Now, it can be pointed at any two (or more - see below) parameters you like from across the whole plugin, via a pair of Destination menus. Outstanding.
On top of that, RP-Verb2 boasts two all-new modulation sources - a standard AHR Envelope and an LFO - and a general-purpose three-slot modulation matrix, all housed alongside the Envelope Follower at the bottom of the GUI.
The Envelope is triggerable by audio, MIDI or host playback, the latter mode made useful by the Loop button, which cycles the envelope repeatedly when activated. It also has two Destination menus.
The LFO includes a long list of waveforms, runs synced or free at up to 27.5Hz, and can also be MIDI-triggered. It’s assigned in the modulation matrix, wherein all three onboard modulators and a host of MIDI signals can be brought to bear on the full range of targets. So, you could use that Envelope Follower on five parameters at the same time, if you wanted to.
The new modulation system really nails RP-Verb2’s sound design credentials to the mast. V1’s quick and easy ECS MIDI learn function (still in place, natch) made on-the-fly parameter tweaking and automation easy enough, but LFOs and envelopes are much more fun and ‘integral’ in terms of workflow and musicality.
Flinging the Space Size around with a MIDI controller is one thing, but slaving it to a synced LFO with the modulation depth governed by an envelope follower is something else entirely. And the triggered Envelope is particularly effective for sculpting the dynamic shape of the tail - a superior alternative to a built-in gate.
RP-Verb2 makes more of everything (well, almost everything - alas, poor Diffusion knob...) we already knew and loved in version 1, and adds to it with some pretty amazing additions.
The Reverser and modulation system are the stars of the show, taking what was already one of the finest reverbs around to dizzying new heights; but the new-found sync options, wicked distortion, parametric EQ and Ensemble Speed dial are all weighty inclusions, too.
It’s still very modern and ‘digital’ sounding (yes, even the Vintage algorithms), and obviously not intended as a workhorse reverb, demanding more time, effort and sonic intent than your average room emulation; but for producers of dance music, electronica and pop, the hyper-real, scintillating sounds of Papen’s latest won’t fail to delight.
BACK TO FRONT
RP-Verb2’s headline new feature is the Reverser, with which the Reverb section or final output is captured and played back in reverse, and mixed with the regular forward reverb signal.
Activating the Reverser initiates constant recording of the reverb to a buffer of user-definable length (host-synced or up to 16 seconds). When the buffer is filled, the reverb is immediately played back in reverse.
You can set a threshold for the reverb signal to reach before recording is triggered, determine a ‘pause’ time period between triggers with the Hold knob, and delay the record start point in relation to the trigger point by up to 4s with the Offset knob. Smoothing over of the start and end points is done by adjusting the Attack and Decay knobs, while the Mix knob balances forward and reversed signals.
The length-adjustable display clearly shows not only the waveform of the reversed reverb but also the progress of recording and playback, and the Hold time. This really helps you to get a handle on the time-bending nature of the process.
The Reverser is a sublime addition, and the ability to mix forward and reverse reverbs is awesome, opening up all manner of unusual textural and rhythmic effects.
Click here for more details on RP-Verb2