Whereas this text is arguably a “review” of the Spaceman Orion Analog Spring Reverb pedal, I’m approaching it from a special perspective than a typical pedal evaluation. This text is extra of a “showcase” of the Orion pedal. Sure, I’ll be assessing the advantages and options of the pedal in addition to critiquing any areas during which its design and performance might be improved, however I really feel that this pedal deserves being approached from a viewpoint that transcends the objectives sometimes inherent when writing a evaluation. Of the Spaceman pedals launched up to now, the Orion looks like the builder’s biggest work and is extra of a artistic assertion of inventive expression and the end result of the builder’s ambition and experience, and thus it warrants appreciation past simply the measure of its utility. The Orion is in contrast to any pedal the world as seen, and that may turn out to be extra clear as we delve in. So and not using a area associated pun to get issues shifting…
I first noticed the Spaceman Orion when it was unveiled approach again at Summer time NAMM 2015. It was hands-down probably the most thrilling pedal I noticed on the present, and also you’ll see the Orion sitting firmly on the prime of our Greatest Pedals of SNAMM ’15 article. In that writeup my hasty introduction to Spaceman talked about the “master craftsmanship” that the builder is understood for though that’s one thing that may’t be absolutely appreciated just by publicity to some descriptive buzz phrases. I additionally talked about how the Orion’s 4 knob controls exceed the flexibility that you simply’ll sometimes discover in amp-based (or amp-top for that matter) spring reverb models. It’s value mentioning that at SNAMM I used to be solely capable of take heed to the Orion by means of a customized headphone amp that Spaceman introduced alongside to the conference, however the presentation was greater than enough sufficient to disclose the Orion as an instrument very deserving of consideration.
Once I lastly acquired to spend a while with an precise Orion unit in my studio, I used to be capable of absolutely respect the nuances and intricacies of this exceptional pedal. Dealing with formidable competitors from a number of multi-algorithm digital reverb pedals on the market, the Orion nonetheless seems at a really respectable putting in our Greatest Reverb Pedals article. Although the pedal is at present out of manufacturing, the Orion nonetheless stays on the highest reverb pedals record. Pardon us if the continued publicity contributes to elevated second-hand market costs, however the Orion will probably stay on our listing till Spaceman decides to launch an Orion II… And I actually hope they do.
So let’s speak extra in-depth concerning the Orion and why it’s the definitive spring reverb pedal.
Go to Spaceman Results for more information concerning the Orion.
Sound & Efficiency:
I need to cowl three points of the Orion reverb that appear to go unnoticed and under-appreciated by individuals glancing over and discussing this pedal.
Deeply Interactive Parameter Management
Maybe probably the most favorable facet of the Orion is how a lot flexibility it supplies via its seemingly easy parameter format. The pedal’s four knobs are neatly organized throughout the floor of the pedal and are fairly self explanatory. However what isn’t as obvious with out enjoying the pedal is how interactive and important every knob is to dialing within the general sound. That is a type of pedals that may just about sound good wherever you set the knobs (so long as the Quantity is about excessive sufficient to realize unity achieve or add slightly increase for those who want it); it actually simply will depend on the sort of sound you’re making an attempt to realize for a given a part of a track.
The Mix knob dials within the reverb quantity from almost dry to about 95% moist. Surprisingly, the pedal sounds fairly superb even when the Mix is maxed out, offering a variety of moist reverb textures that may go well with many wants. The Dwell knob “controls how hard the dual springs are pushed” and primarily drives the sign more durable to supply extra drip and reverberation. You possibly can modify the Mix with the Dwell to get the correct stability of reverb presence. Whereas the Dwell isn’t precisely a “decay” fashion knob, how exhausting the springs are hit can decide how lengthy the reverb sustains. When you’re utilizing decrease Dwell settings, you may need to increase the Mix to ensure the lighter reverb continues to be audible in your combine; should you’re maxing out the Dwell for an extremely drippy spring sound, you won’t want as a lot reverb blended in. In any case a nudge of the Quantity will be sure your output quantity is constant within the combine whenever you activate the pedal.
The Tone knob is additional particular and in addition important to the Orion’s general sound. Spring reverb models are sometimes at the very least considerably darkish in tonality, and the high-end is usually rolled off to attenuate higher frequency noise inherent within the crude, lo-fi strategy of operating a sign into springs after which capturing the spring vibrations. With the Orion’s Tone knob set decrease in its vary, you’ll be capable of obtain the characteristically widespread frequencies of darker spring reverb models. And for those who flip the knob clockwise, you’ll be able to start to brighten the tone considerably, boosting the top-end nicely past what’s typical of classic models or the single-knob spring reverb on an amp. Should you have been to push the Mix and Tone to greater settings, you might expertise extra pronounced noise (which is because of the nature of spring reverb design and never essentially a fault of the Orion), however this wider vary of parameter management will help dial in some distinctive sounds that may nonetheless discover use in music elements and/or in a band setting the place added noise can be much less noticeable within the combine. The noise isn’t too distracting for me, however some customers who’ve turn out to be accustomed to digital reverbs and are much less accustomed to the drawbacks inherent in precise hardware spring reverb models might have to readjust their expectations to start appreciating the brighter (and considerably noisier) tones the Orion presents.
Delicate Switching & Spring Suspension
Except for the fantastically interactive parameters, there are a pair fascinating points of the Orion’s design which emphasize how a lot consideration to element was paid to making sure that this pedal can be a great spring reverb for common pedalboard use. The foot-switch is of the soft-touch sort that triggers a real bypass switching relay. Because of this as an alternative of listening to a loud click on that causes noisy reverberations if you activate the pedal, you as an alternative get a clean switching operation that’s persistently quiet regardless of how exhausting you stomp on the foot-switch. That is crucial for reside use when you might activate and bypass the Orion a number of occasions throughout a efficiency.
One other noteworthy design facet is that Spaceman have managed to droop the spring reverb tank (with springs!) inside the pedal in order that stage vibrations don’t switch to the reverb unit. Booming kick drums and low-frequency bass rumblings are much less more likely to be heard by way of your amp within the reverb – which is essential when you plan on performing with the Orion.
These two options could also be missed however are key elements that contribute to the Orion’s stageworthiness. Numerous thought went into designing this pedal, and the trouble and a spotlight to element exhibits. Whereas the premium boutique construct high quality and collectible shortage could make Spaceman pedals look like studio novelties, the Orion has clearly been designed to be a stage prepared ‘verb that earns its place on performing guitarists’ pedalboards.
Reverb Pan Crashing
So whereas the rigorously suspended reverb module is immune to exterior vibrations, you’ll be able to nonetheless get these brash reverb pan crashes by jarring the pedal. Some guitarists could also be cautious of kicking their pedalboards, however you possibly can all the time put the Orion in your amp’s results loop and have a guitar tech by the backline jolt the pedal at key moments in a track efficiency. Excessive pedal abuse isn’t beneficial, however the Orion appears nicely sufficient constructed to have the ability to stand up to some delicate drive for the sake of efficiency aptitude. If something this can be a nice trick you would attempt within the studio to supply some distinctive reverb sounds, and when you’re feeling additional expressive in the course of the peak of a set, give the Orion a small kick or two.
Orion vs Full-Measurement Spring Reverbs
Amps with full-size spring reverb tanks typically have only a single “Reverb” knob to dial within the quantity of reverb you need. Amp prime reverb models might supply some variation of Dwell (decay), Tone, and/or Mix (combine) controls, however they’re cumbersome, large models that take up loads of area. The Orion presents itself as a compelling alternate choice because it has an actual twin spring reverb tank and four parameter controls, but it’s within the type of a fairly small pedal which could be very compact in comparison with amp-top reverb models.
It’s necessary to right some potential misperceptions and hype-inducing assumptions earlier than we proceed. Whereas the Orion does supply wonderful spring reverb tones, it shouldn’t essentially be seen as trying to be a superior alternative in your Fender ’63 tube spring reverb unit or the full-size reverb pan in your Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb. Sure, the Orion is an actual spring reverb and has loads of actual spring reverb “drip”, however its sounds and character are greatest measured on their very own deserves as an alternative of in contrast for 1:1 sonic accuracy beside classic reverb models. The Orion makes use of an Accutronics Blue Reverb spring tank which is far smaller than the huge 16-inch lengthy 2 & three spring behemoths related to “classic” spring reverb tones, and this specific reverb module is a part of a machine that goals to share its personal voice relatively than replicate the sounds of different spring reverb models. Nonetheless, contemplating that the Orion can obtain a respectably lengthy reverb decay that may cross the four second threshold and has a variety of sonic flexibility because of its Mix, Tone, and Dwell controls, some customers will be capable of argue in favor of the Orion providing superior efficiency in some circumstances. If you need probably the most correct sounding spring reverb for traditional surf guitar tones, perhaps you’ll need to stick together with your most popular classic unit or reissue; if you’d like a contemporary spring reverb that produces its personal spring reverb sounds and presents larger efficiency comfort, you could need to hunt down an Orion and expertise it for your self.
Orion vs Digital Reverb Pedals
It’s actually essential to know that because the Orion isn’t meant to be a compact clone of any classic reverb unit, it isn’t trying to rehash the sounds that digital reverb pedals attempt (typically in useless) to emulate. Sure, the Orion does have that drippy character that digital reverbs often have a troublesome time getting proper, and I’m notably impressed with how the Orion’s response to Dwell knob changes modifications the texture of the reverb in a extra natural and genuine approach than I’ve heard from any digital reverb pedal. However there are two key tradeoffs to convey consideration to within the Orion vs digital spring reverb debate. Digital reverbs are arguably cleaner and quieter, and multi-algorithm pedals often offer you entry to presets which may give you a wider choice of shortly accessible sounds in a reside efficiency state of affairs. The Orion is a 100% analog pedal with actual spring traits and different elusive qualities that I’ve but to listen to in a digital spring reverb. The analog nature of the Orion additionally signifies that, sure, it may be noticeably noisier than the pristine quietness present in a digital spring reverb; nevertheless, some guitarists would argue that such sanitized, noise-free spring reverb tones are sterile compared to the grittiness of an actual spring reverb. I’ve performed most of the most notable digital spring reverb pedals obtainable, and I really feel that general, the Orion can maintain its personal towards any digital spring reverb pedal. This owes because of the Orion’s genuine analog spring tank, its natural response to your enjoying dynamics and the nuances of your audio sign, and the wide selection of parameter flexibility the Orion offers for affecting the reverb’s sound and response.
The Analog Distinction
It’s actually necessary to emphasise that the Orion is a singular sounding pedal that gives one thing past what could be achieved with most reverb pedals. Once I in contrast it on to most of the digital algorithms I’ve turn into accustomed to listening to, I might hear delicate variations in the best way the Orion articulates its reverb sounds. This goes past the apparent totally different “types” of reverb I in contrast it, too. The variations I’m referring to doubtless stem from the distinction between the exact mathematical calculations of a digital reverb versus the real-world fluctuations of the Orion’s precise springs interacting in an natural option to create its reverberated atmosphere. The Orion simply appears to have a extra interactive high quality and a personality that I didn’t understand I’ve been lacking from most of the digital reverbs that I’ve grown to like.
Some of the shocking features of dialing within the Orion is what number of pleasing textures yow will discover hidden inside its easy parameter format. It could possibly’t be overstated how essential the Mix is. Relatively than simply set it and overlook it, discover how the reverb’s droning high quality turns into extra obvious as you improve the Mix. Adjusting the Dwell then appears to make the reverb sound kind of intense. And because the pedal by no means fairly will get 100% moist, you’ll be able to play with an excellent moist sign that also incorporates the presence of your dry tone. When you can simply dial in your splendid spring reverb sound and depart the knobs stationary, the rewarding interactivity of the knobs can encourage all types of distinctive sounds which will make the Orion much more enjoyable to make use of throughout a recording session or in a artistic jam.
Maybe my favourite method I’ve come to make use of the Orion is in tandem with one other reverb. As I’ve stated the Orion can simply stand by itself, however moderately than argue in favor of utilizing this single analog pedal over a multi-algorithm digital reverb, I’ve found that the Orion can improve different reverbs, notably when positioned earlier than different reverbs in my sign chain. I’m very keen on clean plate reverbs and utilizing room reverbs for atmosphere, and by putting the Orion in entrance of one other reverb, you possibly can both create an area for the Orion to take a seat in (as if enjoying an amp with spring reverb inside a room) or increase the reflections of the second reverb with spring-like qualities and prolong these lovely textures with the decay of the second reverb. Principally, if I’m already enjoying a digital reverb that I’m having fun with, including the Orion in entrance of it appears to typically create an much more pleasing atmosphere. This trick even works nicely when operating the mono Orion right into a stereo digital reverb.
I solely have two seemingly minor criticisms of the Orion, and neither of my points contain the sound high quality of this pedal in any means. For all of the efforts made in the direction of design effectivity, I’m considerably disillusioned that the Orion has side-mounted audio and energy jacks, a very obvious annoyance on wider pedals that take up extra valuable pedalboard actual property. Positive, that’s been the norm on each Spaceman pedal so far, however whereas it might have concerned cramping collectively a few of the elements on the Orion’s pair of superbly organized PCBs, I feel the additional half inch of area decreased on both sides of the pedal would have been properly well worth the change. A extra obtrusive difficulty for me personally is that I choose to keep away from pedals with “lazy” relay bypass when utilizing an results loop switcher. Such pedals default to the bypassed state when powered up. I like when relay bypass pedals both keep in mind the earlier bypass state when powered up (“smart” relay bypass) or might be manually set to default to “active” when powered up. For guitarists that don’t use results switchers this can be a non-issue although, however for guitarists who purchase premium pedals and management their pedalboard from a flowery central switching hub, I’d wish to see this element considered sooner or later.
The Spaceman Orion is just a ravishing sounding and extremely well-crafted analog spring reverb with a rewarding palette of ambient textures in contrast to any you’ll discover in a digital reverb pedal. Slightly than attempt to emulate the sound of different classic models, the Orion treats musicians to its personal reverb voices and must be celebrated for its personal accomplishments. That’s to not say guitarists preferring basic spring reverb gained’t love the mojo and actual spring “drip” of the Orion; many will most definitely adore it, however this pedal might probably be greatest appreciated by approaching it from a recent perspective. For those who’ve grown used to enjoying solely the chilly and exact digital reverb pedals which have dominated the marketplace for years, the Orion will open your notion to new articulate and responsive reverb textures.
That concludes our Spaceman Orion Analog Spring Reverb assessment. Thanks for studying.