The words “tube” and “reverb” have special meaning for guitarists, as
few would argue that the best-sounding guitar amp reverbs have all
incorporated tube-powered circuitry. As reverbs became smaller, it’s not
surprising that tubes were ditched along the way, but one company to
see the value of adding a tube to enhance a digital ’verb is Denmark’s
T. Rex. The new Room-Mate ($499 retail/street price N/A) features four
reverb modes—Classic Plate, Warm Hall, Bright Hall, and Chorus with Warm
Reverb—which are selected via a four-position rotary switch. Mix, High
Cut, and Level controls are also provided. The Room-Mate features stereo
1/4" output jacks, and is powered by a 12-volt wall-wart supply. A
stepper circuit increases the internal voltage to 300 volts to feed the
12AX7, which is clearly visible through a window in the top, but not
easily accessible due to its location under the circuit board.
Using the Room-Mate is simple: make your connections, press the footswitch to activate the effect (an LED indicates active status), select the reverb sound you want (the choices are not labeled on the Mode knob), and then adjust the effect level using the Mix control. The Level knob sets the final output level and a modest amount of boost can be added using this control, which allows the Room-Mate to be optimized for guitar amps, studio gear, P.A. mixers, etc. Lastly, the High Cut control attenuates the high-frequency response of the reverb when turned clockwise. This is handy for doing some fine-tuning on the reverbs, but noticeably absent is a dwell control, which would allow you to adjust the decay time of the reverb.
Used in mono with a Louis Electric KR12 guitar amp on an outdoor gig, the Room-Mate delivered a happening reverb sound in the Classic Plate setting with the Mix control at nine o’ clock and the High Cut on zero (no treble attenuation). A spring setting would make the Room-Mate even cooler for guitar use, but the unit is quiet, and it had no trouble digesting the full output of a humbucker-equipped Gibson. A pickup-equipped acoustic guitar also sounded rich and sweet through the same amp when using the Chorus/Reverb setting (Mode setting 4). Not surprisingly, all of the reverbs sound much more dimensional in stereo. This where you can fully appreciate the textural differences between the poingier Plate setting and the expansive
Hall settings (the two of which differ only in brightness). Experience the lush, reflective swirl of the Chorus/Reverb setting though a pair of combo amps, you too may be convinced that the Room-Mate is one of the best cross-breedings of digital and tube technology ever combined in a stompbox.