Audified is a hardware and software company from the Czech Republic that may be somewhat unfamiliar as a brand name in the US, but for more than 20 years they have been creating audio products under various names, including DSound and Audiffex, often as custom software for companies like TC Electronic and M-Audio. After rebranding as Audified, they have released about 20 plug-ins along with a 500 Series hardware reverb unit called the Synergy R1. The unique R1 reverb includes both DSP-based reverb along with an analog saturation section, as well as physical and app-based control of the 500 Series module. I recently test drove the Synergy R1 reverb in the studio.

The R1 occupies two slots in a standard 500 Series rack, allowing stereo input and output along with a doublewide faceplate for comfortably spaced control knobs with a large display. The unit produces reverb via an Analog Devices SHARC processor and also provides saturation effects via a trio of analog circuits. In short, the R1 may be used as a reverb unit, a saturation/distortion processor, or the reverb can feed into the saturation processor in series to provide various reverb textures. Signal routing and the wet/dry mix of both the reverb and saturator can all be controlled independently. The six front panel knobs may be pressed to engage certain functions or to change which parameter they adjust and can be rotated to adjust the chosen parameter. The retro-styled but informative front panel display indicates which parameter is being affected and the current values of about a dozen parameters. The user can select a reverb preset and then choose between seven reverb types (small room, room, hall, long hall, spring, plate, and tunnel), and then adjust Decay, Predelay, Color, and Mix of the chosen reverb. The saturator section allows the user to choose from among FET, germanium, or discrete op-amp circuits, and then dial in the amount of Drive and Wet/Dry mix. Finally, each section may be bypassed and the overall output level may be adjusted. The unit can handle a wide range of balanced line levels up to +24 dBu, so overloading the input is not really an issue. There is no Hi-Z instrument input as this unit is meant to connect directly to a DAW interface or analog mixer.

Audified provides both a plug-in and a standalone application, which allows for control of all the R1's parameters from a computer via a USB connection. I loaded the plug-in and connected the provided USB A to micro USB cable and explored the plug-in with PreSonus Studio One [Tape Op #86] and Pro Tools [#126] – both worked very well. My workflow became using the plug-in to choose a starting preset (including reverb and saturation type) and then dialing in the sound using the R1's front panel knobs. This operation gives the user the best of both worlds: the ease of selecting settings via software and then fine-tuning the sound using physical knobs. The plug-in saves all the settings and instantly recalls the preset when a DAW session is opened or a preset is recalled from the standalone app.

I found the reverb sounds to be competitive with many DAW plug-in reverbs, and I particularly liked the dry ambience and dimension created when the decay times were turned down very low. Overall, I would characterize the R1 as excellent for '80s' style synth and drum reverb. The sound reminded me of the dense and sometimes metallic sound of the Lexicon PCM 60 reverb. The color knob provided broad tonal options and each of the saturation circuits offered a unique flavor. As far as the Saturator goes, Audified spared no expense when they chose to use a socketed 8-pin discrete op-amp, a discrete FET, and germanium circuits. I do wish an input gain knob was included to allow even more saturation range as I especially enjoy the synthy overdrive characteristic of an extremely overloaded API 2520-style op-amp. Saturating the output of the reverb provides a surprising amount of variation to the reverb's character and adds to the R1's flavor palette. The R1 draws a considerable amount of power for a 500 Series module, but both my API and Lindell lunchboxes [Tape Op #119] handled the unit with no issues.

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

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