Eventide 2016 Digital Reverb by Princeton Digital

Picture of Eventide 2016

The 2016 is a modern 24-bit DSP implementation of the studio classic Eventide SP2016 first introduced in 1983.  The original 16-bit SP2016 did not have MIDI (offered as an option in 1986) or digital I/O, and an elegant "gate array processor" crunched audio in the digital domain before DSPs and high horsepower CPUs were available, no mean feat for the designer.  Princeton Digital (under the command of the original SP2016 designer, Tony Agnello) recreated the original SP2016 algorithms (stereo room, room, and plate) using the 120Mhz Motorola Coldfire CPU and modern 24-bit DSP, and they added MIDI, S/PDIF I/O, and enhanced alternates of the original algorithms.

The 2016 is one of precious few digital reverbs with a dedicated knob for each function which makes tweaking a joy without having to navigate a menu system with up/down buttons.  Your custom reverbs can be stored in one of 99 programs.

The 2016 user manual is a single piece of double printed card stock paper - all you need to know to operate this unit.  A refreshing departure from 100-page user manuals.  When I was auditioning the 2016 I figured my way around the controls without even opening the manual.  That's an EASY unit to use.

So how does it sound?  Awesome.  Clear, natural, musical reverbs and ambiences with none of the grit or mud of sub $500 digital reverbs. The tails have a very natural decay and the frequency rolloff over the decay tail sounds very authentic.  Frankly I couldn't find one bad reverb while surfing the presets or tweaking the knobs.  The reverbs seem to sit on top of the mix without overwhelming it or clashing with other ambient sounds, and that makes mastering much easier.

I created an 8-bar percussion loop with instruments selected to spread across the frequency spectra and played the loop through a factory preset.  The mp3s are presented below.  The parts are played with generous spacing to highlight the reverb/ambient tails and reflections.  All mp3s are under 1MB.

  Stereo Room Room Plate
preset #1 ambient reverb
preset #13 ambient w/predelay & rear position
preset #24 short reverb w/predelay
preset #5 deep reverb
preset #19 large hall w/predelay & rear position
preset #27 moderate plate
preset #30 reflection w/long predelay & front position
preset #48 hall front position w/high diffusion
preset #50 reflection midway front/rear
preset #37 large hall w/long predelay & rear position
preset #29 huge reverb, almost unstable

Here are some Minimoog licks through the 2016.  All mp3s are under 500KB.

  Stereo Room Room Plate
preset #5 deep reverb
preset #18 medium size room
preset #28 dark plate

Three basic algorithms may not sound like much, but with control over predelay, RT60, diffusion, position, and EQ you can get quite a variety of reverb, reflection, comb filter, and ambient sounds.  Some controls interact with others, IE position affects diffusion, frequency response, predelay, and reflections - precisely how the real reverbrant world operates.  Nonetheless, having a dedicated knob per function offers immediate results to fine-tuning a reverb in that troublesome mix.

The controls are rotary encoders with radial LED indicators, and they integrate a momentary switch that you close by pushing on the knob.  The EQ controls exploit this feature in that tweaking the knob changes the boost/cut; but pushing on the control while tweaking it changes the frequency.  Rotating the preset control selects a stored program, pushing it makes it active.  Tweaking the predelay control while pressing it increases the encoder increments to coarser delay times.  Pushing on the other controls displays their current values in the LED display.  The predelay and RT60 LED values are not arbitrary but real world units (ms and seconds).  When you surf for a preset, the radial LEDs give you a visual preview of the reverb settings before you actually load the preset.  Very intuitive system.

The 2016 is expensive, but you get what you pay for. Why did I pay so much?  The problem is that many multiFX will sacrifice DSP horsepower at the expense of achieving multiple effects.  While that is good bang-for-the-buck, I wanted all that DSP power reserved for reverb.  In my experiments I have found that dedicated effects boxes (delays, chorus, etc) sounded superior to all-in-one multiFX boxes.  My Korg SDD-3300, SDD-2000, and SDD-1200 supply my studio with all the delay-based processing I need.  All I was missing was a high quality digital reverb.  When I went to the winter NAMM2005 show, one of my objectives was to audition the offerings on the market.  None of the stores where I live stock any pro audio equipment, it's all guitars, pianos, and organs.  OK they stock Behringer, Mackie, Peavey, and Alesis - what part of pro audio do you not understand? :)

How does it compare to *insert competitor's reverb here*?  It sounds much better than most multiFX boxes I've heard. Most of the competitor's products were at the NAMM show, but only Eventide thought enough to prepare a CD with tracks of loops and a headphone system so people could audition their products.  No one else did this, and I was disappointed because I was especially curious what units like the Lexicon PCM digital reverbs sounded like.

The 2016 is ranked highly in the recording field, as are Lexicon PCMs, TC Electronics M3000, Sony, Yamaha, and others.  But none of the competitors' units were hooked up at the NAMM show.  One day I should visit a pro audio store and go through the offerings to hear how they compare, and come back to update this page.

There are 1/4" and XLR inputs and outputs which can operate at -10dBV or +4dBu.  The audio and digital I/O are stereo; while only the stereo room algorithm has separate DSP processing for the L/R inputs, all of the 2016 algorithms generate stereo outputs.  LED meters at -40, -20, -6, and 0dBFS levels are provided as are clipping LEDs which indicate clipping anywhere in the DSP processing - nice for maintaining clean reverb, as it is possible to dial up algorithms on the verge of instability.  BYPASS defeats the reverb processing and can be operated either by relay or by DSP.  KILL disables the audio input to the reverb DSP while allowing the reverb to decay.  BYPASS and KILL function are available on a TRS footswitch jack on the rear panel, and to meet USA CE emission standards Eventide has included an RF shunt coil assembly to fasten to the footswitch cable.

Princeton Digital also offers plug-in emulations of the 2016, although a full emulation of the 2016 is available only for the full version of Pro Tools on Mac and requires iLok and a hardware accelerator.  The 2016 plug-ins are very CPU-intensive!

All mp3s encoded with RazorLame.

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