bx_rooMS is the first reverb plug-in from the mid-side gurus at Brainworx. Developed in conjunction with Thomas Fiedler, bx_rooMS utilizes Fiedler's TrueSpace technology, which according to Brainworx, "provides a continuous range of algorithms for any selected space size, allowing continuous control when shaping a limitless range of virtual rooms." Sounds extravagant, but the result is a multipurpose reverb that's as suited for small-room emulations as it is for long, modulating decays, and everything in-between.

All the usual parameters you'd expect on a reverb plug-in are present, with a few noteworthy add-ons. A Room Shape slider adjusts the dimensions of the reverb without affecting the first reflection. A value of 100 ("NAT" as it's referred to on the interface) provides the most open and clear decay, while 0 ("ART") sounds grainy and metallic, like a silo. I most preferred the naturalness of higher values, but also loved the shortened, overtly fake tail from lower values, because it reminded me of the cheaper ‘80s reverbs (think Yamaha SPX90). Sticking with the throwback theme, there's also a Quantize feature, which lets you adjust the internal bit-depth between 8, 12, 16, or 24 bits. I'll always have a soft spot for that weird crunch of early 12 and 16–bit digital reverbs and delays, so this was a nice way of introducing a little bit of that character. Other features like Source Distance and Directivity, though really interesting on paper, didn't hold my attention quite as long, but that's just me.

And of course, what's a Brainworx plug-in without M-S mid-side functionality? My favorite is the standard Brainworx BX Stereo Width control, which lets you collapse the reverb into mono with a value of 0%, or widen it when set above 100%. Used judiciously, this pushes the reverb tails seemingly outside of the speakers, helping the reverb cut through (around?) a dense track without having to turn it up and risk losing clarity. This really worked wonders on lead and background vocals, with values of about 150–200% adding a fantastic size and space to a voice without sounding chorus-y or trite. It just sounded wider. Also included are the Brainworx Mono Maker circuit and two M-S filters for additional stereo control. All of these M-S features can also be set to affect either the wet or dry signal, meaning you can use the M-S processors on their own, without introducing any reverb at all.

I prefer bx_rooMS most at its extremes, either as a short, clear, room ambiance, or for dense, cascading reverbs. That's not to say you can't dial in moderate plate or hall patches as well. Brainworx included over 200 in-depth presets for those like myself who want a sound and want it fast. And unlike many other reverbs, bx_rooMS is surprisingly light on CPU usage, so running multiple instances is a breeze. There's certainly no shortage of reverb plug-ins on the market, but Brainworx bx_rooMS is a refreshing and flexible alternative worth considering.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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