Eventide - MangledVerb

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  • Most effects are born from a desire to replicate real-world audio phenomena. There may be no effect that illustrates this more clearly than reverb. Reverb provides context by outlining and defining the space in which a sound existed. A world without reverb would be the aural equivalent of a world without friction or texture. But in the realm of digital music production, reverb is optional. Apply it minimally, or not at all, and your music sounds close, dry, in a vacuum. Or apply liberally to create the illusion of space, depth and time (in theory). However, reverb is often used as a practical, workhorse type of effect, one that sits idly on a return channel to bring a bit of the outside in. The new MangledVerb plug-in from Eventide isn't like that. It's more wild and aggressive in its approach and skews closer to creative sound design than most reverbs out there. Much of its character comes from a distortion section. Eventide has put so much emphasis on this side of things that it's even a bit disingenuous to call it a reverb plug-in at all. While the MangledVerb effect was originally an algorithm from the Eventide Eclipse effects processor, this standalone version is a direct port from the H9 Harmonizer pedal and is available individually for the first time as part of the H9 Signature plug-in series. Essentially, it works by feeding non-standard stereo reverb into a complex distortion section, with an EQ positioned upwind of the distortion to exaggerate or attenuate the signal before it gets mangled. It would've been nice to have an EQ at the end of the chain to tame or further accentuate certain frequencies, but it's easy enough to add a separate EQ after the fact, or even another instance of the plug-in if you want to keep things on brand. MangledVerb's most interesting control is what Eventide call The Ribbon. Filling the space where the LED readout from the Space pedal used to reside, it's an automateable strip for morphing between two individual, customisable states. Setting these is as simple as clicking on the knob you want to adjust and dragging either left or right to define the parameters of either side. Depending on how you automate the ribbon, it's capable of anything from smooth and seamless to sharp and stepped transitions. There's also a Hotswitch button just underneath if you're after something a bit more cut and dry. The Wobble knob, while slightly unhelpful in its description, modulates the depth and rate of the reverb, detuning things a little and injecting a bit of randomness and movement into the sound. Pre-delay is tempo-syncable, which works especially well on drums and other rhythmic elements, adding some interesting harmonic counterpoints between hits (the triplet settings tended to be most effective in this respect). The Mix Lock button is also a nice touch, enabling you to scroll through presets while retaining the current wet/dry amount. This is handy when MangledVerb is inserted on a return channel, as you'll usually want to keep this at 100% wet. It's worth mentioning that the GUI is not set up to be representative of the signal flow in a traditional left-to-right, top-to-bottom manner. The chain—pre-delay to reverb, EQ and distortion—doesn't correlate to the plug-ins layout, which is a little more all over the place. However, it doesn't act like a regular reverb, so I guess it doesn't have to look like one either. Here I've knocked up a quick beat and chucked MangledVerb on the master bus, dialling in the catchily titled preset Clean Drive with Boost HS. Using the ribbon to sweep left-to-right from a completely dry signal to fully wet, we can hear how MangledVerb destroys audio without any reverb in play. The kick distorts hard and takes over pretty much the entire mix, enveloping the hats and any other high-end material completely. Pulling back on the ribbon to around 70-75% brings back the hats while retaining most of that crunching distortion. This shows how destructive it can get.
    In this next example, we're working with The Wobbles preset, designed by Chris Carter. This one shows off MangledVerb's rhythmic side. We start by dialling up the Mix to 100% while all the way over to the left side of the ribbon. The Size knob is at about 20%, with the Wobble knob at 100% and some gentle additive EQ in the mids and highs. As we sweep across to the right of the ribbon, all the parameters drop by about 15-20%, while the Pre-delay and Overdrive go up by the same amount. This tightens up the sound by chilling out on the reverb and introducing a chunkiness via the Pre-delay. It's also a good illustration of how automating the ribbon can create build-ups or whole new sections for your track.
    Finally, I wanted to show how easily and effectively MangledVerb can conjure up some heavy power-ambient vibes. Using some MIDI chords pinched from somewhere online and a slightly tweaked version of The Upsidedown preset, the loop runs dry for four bars, before dialling up the Mix amount to around 60% for the last four. This is a fairly extreme preset, with the Size and Decay both up to 88% and heavy EQ boosting on the low and high end. The result is a dense but harmonically rich sound with a lot of character, and some subtle movement from the Wobble, which is also set at 88%.
    There really isn't much to complain about with MangledVerb. If it's clean, accurate reverb you're after then this probably isn't going to be the plug-in for you. But if you want to get into some weird, wild and relatively unpredictable sound design possibilities, then I can't recommend it enough. Ratings: Cost: 4.0 Versatility: 3.8 Ease of use: 4.4 Sound: 4.2