The new Oceans 11 Multifunction Digital Reverb ($147 street) is the most powerful compact reverb Electro-Harmonix has produced. Its control set includes FX level, time and tone knobs, an 11-position reverb type selector, and a mode switch that provides up to three different options for many, though not all, of the effects, significantly expanding the Ocean’s palette of sounds. The pedal also has an Infinite function that allows the selected reverb to play in the background ad infinitum, while you hold down the bypass switch, or when an external momentary footswitch (not included) is connected to Infinite jack. At the same time, you can independently use and control a reverb of the same type with the time and tone knobs. The pedal’s buffered-bypass footswitch also doubles as a tap-tempo button when the echo setting (actually echo plus reverb) is active. With this setting, the mode button selects between three different subdivisions of the tapped echo time — ¼, ½, ¾ — with different color LED indications for each. The tone control varies the feedback (number of repeats), and you can have endless repeats with zero degradation in sound.
The Oceans 11 has a trem setting as well, and here the mode button provides three waveshape choices — sine, triangle and square — while the FX level knob adjusts reverb mix, tone alters depth, and time varies the trem speed. There’s no tap-tempo in this setting.
The selection of reverbs includes familiar ones such as hall, plate, reverse and mod (modulated), as well as more advanced types like Dyna (dynamic); Auto-Inf (tracks your playing and crossfades to a different reverb as chords or notes change); Shimmer (a beautiful-sounding octave-shifted reverb); and Poly, a reverb with two selectable bidirectional pitch shifts that sounds incredibly cool and spacy. These latter two reverbs create lush soundscapes that can be inspiring whether you’re just playing around with new sounds, seeking some songwriting inspiration or recording a TV or film soundtrack in your project studio.
There’s also a great Spring setting that’s modeled on the Fender 6G15 Reverb Unit, a tube-driven reverb from the early ’60s. The Ocean’s time knob functions like the dwell control on the vintage unit, which means that infinite reverb isn’t possible. However, double-tapping the footswitch produces a bouncing-spring sound similar to what occurs when a real unit is suddenly jolted. Use caution when doing this stunt to not have the FX level set too high, otherwise what comes out of the speakers can be jolting indeed!
The black metal case sports a nine-volt external power jack (battery power is not an option but an AC adapter is included), and there’s an internal switch that can be activated if you want the reverb tails to be immediately cut off when the pedal is bypassed. I tested the Oceans 11 with amps that included a ’66 Marshall JTM-50, a ’50s-era Premier five-watter and a Fender Deluxe. It sounded excellent across the board — whether it was used for warm blackface-style reflections, super splashy surf effects or adventures into sonic realms that defy description. The pedal is very quiet and therefore great for recording, and its well-implemented features make it both easy to use and exceedingly flexible for a broad range of applications. It doesn’t have a stereo signal path, but for its overall performance and bang for the buck, the Oceans 11 earns an Editors’ Pick Award.
KUDOS A potent pairing of distortion and analog phase shifting