Reverb: it’s something everyone needs. And yet in hardware, you almost always see the same couple of boxes. It seems about time for a new player. And OTO Machines, known for their BISCUIT 8-bit effect box and filter, might have just the candidate. BAM, coming soon, emulates the reverbs of the 70s and 80s. And in the demo, it sounds amazing.

Given that reverbs by definition emulate natural reflections, they’re really all about character. And if you’re going to invest in a hardware box, presumably what you’d want is a range of different character traits, and the ability to adjust between them.

That’s where it seems like the OTO folks are onto something. For their stereo reverb, they’ve gone back to late 70s and early 80s digital reverbs. The idea is not to sound like a realistic space, so much as it is to produce a musically flexible sonic character – the warmth and particular “grainy” characteristics of those older reverbs, plus the ability to tune an effect from very short delays to rich, longer reverb tails.

Now, it’s reasonably easy to find those qualities in software, but in hardware, your choices are more limited. And that’s why this demo video has me excited (and probably you, as well).

It’s a common misconception that “digital” hardware wouldn’t be unique, but that ignores all the design decisions that went into vintage digital gear. OTO talk about that in describing their process: they say they’ve been inspired by details like the converters (12-bit gain-stepping converters for 15-bit resolution, for instance), unique algorithms tailored to the limitations of slow processors and limited memory, and analog filters.

I think we’re on the verge of people realizing that those digital restrictions wound up producing musical results in the same way that analog circuitry did. Constraints focus good designers to make particular choices – perhaps to be guided even more by their ears. But whatever the reason, you are already accustomed to many of these sounds.

OTO have taken those design lessons, but they say they’ve also added some new algorithms. And it’s clear from the video that they’ve also provided a range of controls.

bam_cam02_V01

So, you get all the bases covered as far as kinds of reverbs:
Room, Hall, Plate, Ambient, Chorus, Non-Linear and Primitive

You get an input gain up to +15 dB, with analog clipping (phew), so you can get your input loud.

There’s still MIDI control when you want it.

The delay range can move from tight plates to long reverbs, and there’s a pre-delay of up to 500 ms (or 1500 ms with the TAP switch).

Filters: low-cut (20 Hz, 80 Hz, 150 Hz, 250 Hz, 450 Hz), hi-cut (1.8 kHz, 4.5 kHz, 7 kHz, 9 kHz, 15 kHz)

You get modulation, too, via a chorus parameter.

For tempo-synced effects, there’s an assignable tap tempo.

And there’s MIDI input, with CC and program change.

This also looks performance friendly. Apart from MIDI and tempo, there are three bypass modes (relay, spillover, aux), a freeze switch, and 36 user presets.

bam_cam03_V01

All in steel with Neutrik connectors and power in the box. At 460€, it’s spendy before VAT, so I’ll want to try the final unit – but on the other hand, if they nailed this, it could wind up being one of the most essential pieces of gear you own.

Okay, if I sound excited, it’s because I’ve heard a lot of a certain other reverb – one I love – that everyone has. And I’m ready for some diversity. Fingers crossed. Stay tuned.

http://www.otomachines.com/portfolio/bam/

And if this isn’t your speed, keep your eyes out for this 12-bit “BIM” delay – available now.

  • jblk

    I guess the Sky is Big enough for more than one awesome desktop hardware verb unit!

    • I sure hope so!

      • fgvyti

        haha

    • Wait – 460€ before VAT? That means approx. 550€ in Germany (where we’ve got 19% VAT), which is right on the spot where Strymon sit with their top of the line offering. That is going to be a tight competition, considering the critical acclaim they received, and the versatility and quality of sound you get out of the Big Sky…

      • Dopamine Addict

        oh wow.. I already have Big Sky and an Eventide Space, but you can never have enough of these boxes IMO. The BIM Delay is also impressive sounding.

  • Looks good, but at that price, I’d be more likely to start falling down that Eurorabbit hole…

    • Hey, desktop modular isn’t so expensive… but on the other hand, good luck assembling a rack and stereo reverb and modulation and MIDI with these features for under 500€.

      • I don’t disagree, I’m still on the fence: more boxes or modular. So many nice instruments… What an age we live in.

  • Will

    I really love this sound and era for both reverbs and delays.

    Not to take away from this lovely sounding and looking box but

    > Now, it’s reasonably easy to find those qualities in software, but in hardware, your choices are more limited.

    simply isn’t true. Having a variety of those 70s/80s reverbs in small single box Is hard to come by but the actual units this aims to model are still available used and are very very reasonable in terms of cost. Indeed with just a bit of patience, you could outfit yourself with a rack of those units for about the same amount.

    Again, not trying to detract from this box at all. Hope they sell truck loads because it sounds great! And no doubt they are certainly adding features to the equation (modern parts, front panel tap tempo and freeze, any midi at all in some cases…) but if you’re after a 1984 reverb or delay sound, there are alternatives to be found from abandoned guitar rigs via your favorite used gear channels for very little cash.

  • Will

    Can’t find it right now (on my phone) but there’s a great video about the DIG delay pedal (from cough…) that goes over some interesting details on the very same “digital design choices” on gear from this era that you mention above. Totally worth a watch. If I recall correctly, it’s not very long but it explains it well, is pretty nerdy and sounds absolutely wonderful.

  • soup

    I’ve got a pair of MidiverbIIs I’ll never get rid of but I’ve been excited for this since it was announced a few years ago. I do love OTO’s sound but I wish he’d relent a little bit on the aesthetics. Just because it sounds like something from a bygone era doesn’t mean it should have controls like back then. I’ve had the Biscuit and BIM since their respective launches and I still need to keep the cheat sheets about.

  • fgvyti

    gimme 19″ rack units please….theres only so much room on a desk

  • Kim

    Some labeling discrepancy between Bam in video and Bam in still pics.

    “Drive” knob became/was “Size”… and then “Size” button became/was “In Gain”—almost as if button and knob switched place/function… or they just swapped name (kind of).

    “Tone” knob became/was “Damping”…. makes sense I guess, likewise “Lo-cut” to “Filters”.

    Must be fun (and a lot of work) to design and build one of these things. Hands; we want things for hands!