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The Eventide SP2016 Reverbs

     

The SP2016 reverbs were the result of a five year effort that began at Eventide in 1978. Early work was done using HP desktop computers for simulation and real-time implementations were tested using stacks of discrete digital delays and a mixing console. These early real-time implementations were done at Sound Exchange recording studio located in the same building on 54th Street in NYC as Eventide. This early work demonstrated that the simple approaches suggested at the time by researchers like Manfred Schroeder at Bell Labs were woefully inadequate for any serious audio application. We experimented with a couple of different 'patches' creating several variations on the Schroeder theme but with no real improvement. These experiments made it clear that a great deal of development work lay ahead and, by the end of those sessions, a general purpose programmable array processor was conceived - the SP2016.

By 1982, the first SP2016 was built allowing us to study various reverb so that algorithms could efficiently be created, modified and debugged. I led the team that developed this platform. The development system was described in a paper published in the Computer Music Journal and presented at the ICMC conference at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC.

The SP2016 development system was used over the course of several years at Eventide. The results were a suite of effects that shipped with the SP2016. In particular, two of the reverb programs, with the imaginative names "Room Reverb" and "Stereo Room" have become classics, or so I'm told. Their 'rich/lush/natural' sound is still used by the handful of producers and artists that have access to the limited number of working units. Eventide ceased production of the SP2016 in 1987, or thereabouts.

On the one hand, given the many, new high quality digital reverbs, the SP2016's longevity is surprising. (Given the SP2016's ancient electronics the fact that any still function is somewhat astounding.) On the other hand, as Eventide's Gerry Griffon put it "I guess a great reverb is a great reverb".

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