Boss DD-500 Digital Delay, PW-3 Wah and RV-6 Reverb on Test

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The DD-500 Digital Delay, PW-3 Wah, and RV-6 Reverb debuted at this summer’s NAMM show are hitting the streets just in time for some holiday cheer. And there’s no coal in your stocking here—all three would be fantastic additions to any pedalboard.

DD-500 Digital Delay
The DD-500 ($299 street) is one enchanting and supercharged gift, because it’s basically a full-on delay workstation housed in a stompbox that’s bigger than a conventional pedal, but not so big that it usurps all the real estate on your pedalboard. Yum! The amount of control is off the charts. I’m not a MIDI guy (that’s GP editor Matt Blackett’s area of expertise), but the DD-500 offers MIDI In/Out and all the usual control parameters. You might not need MIDI, however (which makes me happy), because you can assign a bounty of controls to the A, B, and TAP/CTL switches, and a jack for an optional expression pedal is also part of the party. Patches can be edited in the box via buttons and knobs, and sent to a computer for patch backup via USB. There’s also a phrase looper included along with all the groovy delay programs. Well, let’s cop to it, you’ll need to read the manual to really understand all of the power under the DD-500’s hood, but I think we can agree right now that there’s practically nothing this box can’t do when it comes to delay effects.

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You get 12 basic delay modes, and pretty much everything you can imagine from analog, tape, and digital types are available (including a Vintage Digital mode—who knew that digital was “vintage” already?—offering ’80s Roland classics such as the SDE-2000/SDE-3000 rack units and the Boss DD-2). But that’s not all—you also get a Tera Echo, as well as Filter, Dual, Special Effects, Pattern, Shimmer, Slow Attack, and Reverse flavors. Every one of them sounds awesome, with articulate, meaty, sensual, strange, or dark tones, depending on the selected patch. And any time I just want to mess something up, the 4-band EQ on each program lets me get into all manner of lo-fi madness. Love it! I could have stayed in Analogland forever—grooving endlessly on the DD-500’s Echoplex and Space Echo patches—but I would have cheated myself out of so much more fun.

There’s such a tremendous onslaught of options in the DD-500 that I almost want to make like boxer Roberto Duran facing Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980, and shout, “No mas! No mas!” But, man, what a glorious beat down. The DD-500 is definitely a world champion of delay.

Kudos Extreme parameter control. Wonderful sounds. Onboard looper.
Concerns None.


PW-3 Wah Pedal
Stompbox zealots have got to love the fairly recent downsizing of pedals, simply because it means you can cram more groove things on a tight pedalboard. The PW-3 ($119 street)—with its somewhat Star Wars-like industrial design—manages to reduce its imprint without making it so small that it becomes a challenge to work the pedal with your foot. I typically like optical, “instant on/off” wahs because I’m a bit clumsy onstage, but the PW-3 calmed my jitters with two features: The footswitch is quick and easy to operate, and two bright LEDs at each side of the pedal alert me that I’ve actually turned the wah on or off. (I don’t want to mention how many times I’ve managed to leave a conventional wah active when it wasn’t supposed to be—“Why is my tone so thin all of a sudden?”)

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The PW-3 is built as strong as the Death Star, so I can’t imagine it succumbing to any road abuse. It’s powerable by a 9-volt battery or an optional power adapter. You get two tonal modes, Rich and Vintage, but there’s not a super-obvious difference between them—especially when heard from a club stage. There is definitely some more low-midrange content available when you set the switch to Rich, but the pedal’s range isn’t really wide enough to take full advantage of the added bass frequencies. I did use Rich mode for clean-toned, vocal-like punctuations, and it did a nice job. Vintage mode provides ample lows for rockin’ frequency sweeps, and this mode also has a wonderfully sweet bite to the mids, so I tended to keep the pedal here, but that’s my taste (I’m a Mick Ronson fan, so the more feral the wah, the better, in my book).

The PW-3 is a real holiday treat. It’s a great size, the status LEDs are extremely helpful, and it sounds fabulous live. I definitely see this wah on one of my pedalboards for 2016.

Kudos Super rugged. On/off LEDs. Compact. Good sound.
Concerns None.


RV-6 Reverb
It has been a while since the Compact Pedal series has seen a new reverb. The RV-5 debuted in 2002, offering six options (Spring, Plate, Hall, Room, Gate, Modulate), and the single-sound FRV-1 ’63 Fender Reverb hit the ground in 2009. The RV-6 ($149 street) really ups the ambience ante with eight different reverbs, and they are all marvelous options in a very easy-to-use pedal. You can operate the RV-6 in mono, mono-to-stereo, or stereo-to-stereo modes (as well as 100-percent wet if you plug into the B input alone), and an EXP jack (for an optional expression pedal) lets you control the effect level by foot—a very cool way to “animate” or orchestrate guitar parts on the fly by raising or lowering the reverb depending on the musical intensity you wish to generate. I also love dialing in huge and lush reverbs, and using the Effect Level to fade the sound ever so slightly into the dry sound. You get the attack, and then this lovely and subtle wash “ghosting” after notes. The Tone and Time knobs are responsive and possess enough parameter sweeps for significant tweaks.

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The Room, Hall, and Plate reverbs are on par with most anything you’d hear in a recording studio, and the Spring is splashy enough to make surf-music aficionados smile. I wasn’t a big fan of the spiky and aggressively modulated Shimmer patch, but if you want to add a little weirdness to your performance, this is where to go. The more understated Modulate is magnificent (at least to my ears), and Dynamic can sound like a 1950s-style tin-can reverb—great for punctuating notes with a metallic twang. Although tweakage is limited, the Reverb+Delay is a delightful option to have. I liked using it for spell-like, repeating arpeggios, à la Andy Summers and Robert Fripp on I Advance Masked.

The RV-6 definitely puts a lot of reverb power at your feet. Even cooler, if you run out of ambience processors during a studio mixdown or a live-performance mix, the RV-6 sounds clean and vibey enough to plug right into the board. Trust me, no one will bust you for inserting a stompbox into a professional mix. This baby sounds that good.

Kudos Good parameter controls. Great sounds. Awesome selection of effects.
Concerns None.