Posts Tagged ‘boss rv-5 reviews’

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BOSS RV-5 Digital Reverb

Summary: No, it isn’t the be-all end-all in reverb pedals, but for what it offers as a nice, subtle reverb to add some spaciousness to your sound, then the RV-5 really excels.

Pros: Plate reverb is excellent on this pedal – especially with an acoustic guitar. Amazingly enough, the RV-5 is transparent to my ears and doesn’t suck tone. The RV-5 is also super-quiet, and makes no line noise at all; pleasantly surprising qualities.

Cons: The Spring reverb is a little funky on this pedal. At higher Decay settings, there’s a bit of an intended artifact in the tail of the signal. Not too pleasing to my ears.

Features (from the BOSS web site):

  • Stereo input/output for compatibility with other stereo pedals
  • 6 high-quality reverb modes on par with rackmount processors
  • First-of-its-kind Modulate mode detunes the reverb sound for added spaciousness
  • New spring reverb emulation offers realistic spring reverb sounds
  • New gate reverb taken from high-end Roland studio gear

Price: $149 street

Tone Bone Score: 4.5 ~ As I mentioned above, for what this pedal offers, it’s great! To me, its strong suit is to use it as a subtle effect to add some spaciousness to your sound. As long as you don’t overdo it, this pedal will work great. The Plate reverb is particularly fantastic with acoustic.

With all the great boutique pedals out there, BOSS tends to be a bit too run-of-the-mill for many tone connoisseurs. Even I’ve thought of BOSS as somewhat of an afterthought considering some of the great boutique pedals I have, and from my participation in various online forums. Like, “Oh yeah… BOSS has “xxx” pedal. But it’s BOSS, and that means cheap, production line stuff.” But after I purchased the BOSS RV-5, one of my first thoughts was: “Have I become such a boutique gear snob that I can so easily dismiss production line pedals like BOSS because they’re not hand-made, boutique, and cost far less than boutique stuff that’s SUPPOSED to be better. ‘Cause here I am walking out the store with a BOSS pedal!”

Admittedly, it was a sobering thought. It wasn’t that I was experiencing buyer’s remorse. I truly like this pedal. But I founded this blog to share gear I’ve either purchased or come across, and most importantly, with the premise that it’s tone that matters and not the price or who made it; that is, if it sounds good, who the hell cares who made it or how much it costs? The BOSS RV-5 is a perfect example of this. Yeah, it’s made by a company that is generally equated with “cheap” pedals. But who the hell cares? I like how it sounds. If it wasn’t for the Spring Reverb, which I don’t particularly like on this pedal, it would’ve gotten a higher rating.

My intent with getting yet another reverb pedal was to get a journeyman pedal that would just do the job for my solo acoustic gigs. I wasn’t looking for a reverb where I’d layer on tons of the effect; just something subtle. After all, I was plugging into a PA board, and just wanted a touch of spaciousness, not have the reverb be the primary tone. In my experience, at low levels, even “cheap” stuff works pretty well, so I took the RV-5 for a spin, and was rewarded with a very nice-sounding reverb. As with any digital reverb that I’ve used, using them judiciously and in moderation is the key, and that was how I did my evaluation in the shop.

The net result is that I purchased the pedal. It does the job of providing a subtle, background reverb VERY well. Someone commented in my Gig Report that they’d take the RV-3 over this. I think this was motivated by the fact that the RV-3 is great for ambient stuff, as it is both reverb AND delay. But the RV-5 is really a different animal. Heavy, ambient reverb is not its strong suit. But for adding a slight spacious texture to your tone, it clearly excels in my opinion.

How It Sounds

For what it provides for me, I think this reverb sounds great. It’s not the be-all, end-all in reverbs, and it’s definitely not something I’d use for ambient stuff, but frankly, I never use a reverb pedal for that anyway, which is why I have a delay pedal. I put together samples of the same chord progression to give you an idea of what it sounds like in its various modes. The pedal is set with Level and Tone at noon, and Decay at 2pm. All clips were played with my Gibson Nighthawk, and running into the reverb pedal and into my Aracom VRX22.


This mode adds an ever-so-slight slight chorus modulation to the tone. It’s nice.


Gate is interesting. Both pre-delay and decay are very short. This is actually kind of cool when you want a reverb tone that doesn’t tail.


This setting really started growing on me when I was doing my tests. This is really a small-room type of reverb.


Nice, expansive tone with this mode.


Probably the most subtle of the modes, it really shines with acoustic guitar, but is very useful with electric.


BOSS claims to have added real spring reverb effects to this mode. Well, it didn’t succeed. The little motes of slightly buzzing spring are absolutely annoying to me, and I would never use this mode. You can hear it a little in the clip. I wasn’t expecting it at all, so it’s out as far as I’m concerned.

Overall Impressions

Sans the Spring mode, I like the reverb this produces. Plate and Room are definitely my favorite modes on this pedal, and Modulate comes in a close third. All in all, if you’re looking for journeyman reverb where you just want to lay on some spacious texture, this is a great pedal to consider!

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What? No formal review? Well, being that the pedal is less than 24 hours old, and I gigged with it before doing a full review, I thought that I’d share how it performed first before giving it a rating.

First the back story…

I do a solo acoustic gig at  local restaurant every Friday. Rig-wise, my rig has been very simple: An acoustic/electric and a DigiTech Vocalist Live 4. I’ve brought amps in the past, but usually err on the side of convenience to keep things as simple as possible. The Vocalist Live has worked fine for several years, and it’s easy to hook up to the PA and go. Unfortunately, it’s showing its age and wear and tear from using it so much (I do at least two gigs a week where I use it). Lately, the guitar input has been crackling a little, so I’ve had to use the “Thru” jack to go out to the PA. That’s not a problem, but typically a raw signal into a PA can be a bit muddy and harshly so.

So yesterday, knowing that I would have to go direct to the PA, I went down to my local music store and got a great passive DI box from Radial Engineering called the “ProDI.” I’ll have a review of that in a bit. But since the PA at the restaurant doesn’t have any effect inserts or a loop, I decided to get a reverb pedal specifically for this gig. Enter the RV-5

BOSS may be considered a bit too mainstream for most people’s tastes, but I have to hand it to them. They’ve created some wonderful pedals in the past that have served to define certain tonal genres; for instance, the CE-2 Chorus. Now, I’m not saying the RV-5 is a standard by any stretch of the imagination. But considering how long BOSS (Roland) has been around, they do know how to get some great sounds. And the fact that almost everything they make is pretty affordable, that’s not a bad thing at all!

Add to the fact that BOSS pedals seem to last forever, and that is a testament to their build quality. My thought is that BOSS has always been able to produce “giggable” tones at a great price that may not be absolutely perfect or the ideal I may be after with a particular tone, but they’re well-built, reliable, and I can get my tones “close enough” so that most folks would never notice. Hell! I had my all-digital CE-5 on my board for years, and no one was the wiser (though, of course, it’s no match to the liquid, smooth tones of the CE-2).

I wasn’t expecting much out of the RV-5. After all, despite BOSS’s longevity in the marketplace, most of their new stuff is simply okay. But when I auditioned the pedal at the shop, going through a PA system, I was really impressed with its tone – especially with the “Plate” setting, which provides a nice, warm and snappy reverb that’s ideal for acoustic guitar. I didn’t play too much with the other reverb settings at the time, but I was really pleased with the Plate just the same. On that voicing alone, I knew I had a winner for my gig yesterday.

The other thing that REALLY stuck out for me was that the RV-5 is dead quiet. No errant hiss or artifacts at all, and that is a real delight, not having to deal with line noise.

So last night, I ran my guitar into the Vocalist Live, went out the “Thru” jack, into the RV-5, into the Radial ProDI, then straight into the board. I was crossing my fingers that it would work, and it work it did! I was pleasantly surprised about how transparent the pedal was! My Stratacoustic Deluxe has this quirky, but pleasing jangle from the Tele lipstick pickup in the neck that I absolutely love, and I was actually concerned that I’d lose that with the RV-5. But my concerns were all waylaid as that jangle was retained.

What I discovered through tweaking the pedal last night was that I actually like the “Hall” setting quite a bit, and switched back and forth between “Plate” and “Hall” all night. I really didn’t get into the “Spring” setting that much, and frankly, I’ve never really liked digitally modeled spring reverbs – even the Lexicon spring that’s on my Hardwire RV-7. But that’s just a nit. It’s not bad, but it’s not really my cup of tea. I tend to like a more spacious-sounding reverb.

So all in all, I really dig the Boss RV-5. I’ll do a full review in the next couple of days!

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