Test Drive: Alesis QuadraVerb 2 Dual Channel Octal Processing Master Effects With Digital I/O

The BLOCK and PAGE keys are double-wide and have left and right arrows on either side for moving forward and backward in the display. Press the BLOCK key to move the Block Indicator to the effect block you wish to edit. When selected, press the TYPE key to change the effect type (or category as described earlier). Then press the VALUE/ENTER wheel to select one of the algorithms under the selected category. Press the PARAMETER key to access the various parameters for that effect. Press the MIX key to adjust direct signal levels and effects levels going to the outputs. Press the MIDI key to set the various MIDI functions of the Q2. Press the MODULATION key to assign up to eight modulation routings for controlling program parameters with external MIDI controllers or internal modulators.

The COMPARE key is used to compare an edited program with the original. The STORE key is used to store an edited program to a User location. The BYPASS key bypasses the effects and sends the inputs to the outputs (unless the Direct Signal Output Mute function is on). The NAME key enables naming or renaming programs with up to fourteen characters. The GLOBAL key accesses various parameters that affect the Q2 globally. These include Display Contrast, Footswitch Range, VU Meter Peak Hold, and other features including parameters for the digital I/O.

Press the ROUTING key to grab your "virtual patch cords" and go to work editing a program or creating a new one. The Q2 is very smart and knows you don't know everything about programming it. So, rather than making you decide what your "patching" options are, simply select the block you wish to patch to, then use the VALUE/ENTER wheel to scroll through the various patching options. You won't be given an option that is impossible. As you scroll through the options, the display changes to show the new "patch cables" in place, making it very easy to SEE what it is you're doing. The 32-character display at the top describes what the patch is, but this is often not nearly as helpful as the simple visual provided in the graphic display below. When the patch you want is in place, press the VALUE/ENTER wheel, and the patch is done. At this point, you can press the PARAMETER key to adjust the new effect parameters to your liking.

Now, don't get me wrong. The Q2 won't make all the decisions for you. You have to decide whether you want Mono Delay or Stereo Delay. You have to decide whether to put the EQ before the reverb or after it. You have to know whether to patch the left output of the Stereo Chorus to the left input of a Stereo Delay or take the left/right "Mix" output from the Stereo Chorus and send it to a Mono Delay module. You have to know a little about patching things in and out of each other, but if you're pretty handy with the patch bay in your studio (assuming you have a patch bay), you'll find patching effects on the Q2 just about as simple to do. As mentioned, up to eight effects blocks can be used in a single program. Now, eight effects is a lot. If you don't have much experience programming effects boxes, and you get the Q2 and jump right into creating an 8-block program, you're probably going to get lost in the patch network, just as easily as you would get lost trying to patch eight effects boxes in and out of each other on your studio's patchbay. But if you stick with creating simple programs that only use two, three, or four effects blocks, you'll be pretty happy with the simplicity. The more complex stuff will come with time, or you can use one of the factory programs that's close to what you're looking for, and go into it and replace a few effects blocks or adjust a few parameters.

Finding shortcomings on the Q2 is a tough task. The only thing I would change is the VALUE/ENTER wheel. If it were larger, it would be fine. But since the unit only takes up one rack space, the wheel is barely over an inch in diameter, and the little indentation on the wheel where your finger is supposed to go is more suited for something the size of a pencil eraser. I found it a little awkward to use, and would like to have had the option, at least, to use up/down arrows to scroll through programs and set parameter values. And because the wheel is also a push-button (which scrolls to the next parameter when in the Parameter mode), at times I would press too hard while turning the wheel to set a parameter and would skip to the next parameter by mistake. Other than that, the QuadraVerb 2 is another one of those toys that, after playing with it for a couple of weeks, makes me say, "I want one!" Give the Q2 high marks for the graphic display and easy programming architecture. You don't need a microscope to see what you're doing, and you don't have to be a Shuttle astronaut to do it.

Specs on the Q2 include frequency response at 20Hz-20kHz, 24-bit processing, +4dBu or -10dBV operation, dynamic range >92dB (A weighted), THD+N at <0.009% (at 1kHz nominal level), crosstalk at <91dB, A/D conversion and D/A conversion is 18-bit Delta-Sigma with 128x oversampling A/D and 64x D/A. The sampling frequency is 48kHz. The single rack-space unit is only six inches deep and weighs 4.2 lbs.

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