Universal Audio Del-Verb review: an appetising ambient buffet
If a pair of Universal Audio pedals is more than your wallet can tolerate, might this two-in-one option have all the sounds you need?
It takes some kind of courage to put brown knobs on a metallic sky blue pedal, creating a look that’s more 1970s dinner service than high-end digital stompbox. We love it – and even if you don’t, there’s no denying the Universal Audio Del-Verb would add a real talking point to the average pedalboard.
But what, beyond the bold aesthetic, is Universal Audio offering us here? In a sense, nothing new – but that might just make this the most tempting product in the whole 2023 line. We already know how good the delay algorithms of the Starlight and the reverbs of the Golden are, and this is the best of both.
Navigating the Del-Verb is as simple as it gets – no presets, no secondary knob functions, just delay on one side and reverb on the other, each with its own bypass footswitch and three-way model selector. Five of the six knobs control the delay – time, feedback, mix, colour and modulation – while the reverb gets a single dial for level.
All of that makes this the most accessible UA pedal yet, and a natural first purchase for anyone who hasn’t dabbled in complex digital processors before. That said, if you do want to get deep-divey, you also have the option of pairing it up with your phone via Bluetooth to open up further tweaks – some of them quite radical – in the UAFX Control app.
It could be argued that the plastic knobs make these new pedals look less classy than the rest of the UAFX range, but there is something appealing about the brown ones on the Del-Verb. They look almost exactly like little chunks of toffee, and we’re having a hard time refraining from giving them a sly nibble.
Luckily, the UAFX algorithms are quite sweet enough to keep us satisfied between meals. On the pedal’s left-hand side, the modelled options are an Echoplex, a Deluxe Memory Man and UA’s own Precision delay with modulation – so that’s the main bases of tape, analogue and digital all covered. On the right we get a choice of spring, plate or hall reverb.
Those sounds haven’t become any less pretty in the two years since we reviewed the Starlight and Golden. Clearly that single reverb knob means you’ve got less control over the details on this side, but there’s nothing we’d be in a hurry to change anyway: the spring sound is amp-like, the plate is pure and the hall, especially in stereo, is huge and ever so slightly wobbly.
But for real wobbles, the likeably realistic Memory Man delay is the place to go – bringing either sweet chorus or sickly vibrato, depending on where the modulation dial is set. The Echoplex can get just as messed up, but in a more rough and unpredictable tape-like way; while Precision is only as precise as you want it to be, with some interesting flanger effects adding an extra dimension.
And there are lots more dimensions available via the app. With all three pedals this seems to be vastly more reliable on iOS than it is on Android, but it’s essential for getting the best out of the Del-Verb: there are all sorts of heavily modulated delays and reverbs available at the tap of a touchscreen, some of them with epic stereo fields, and that’s enough to turn this pedal into a genuine soundscaping device.
All of this is delivered with supreme clarity and low noise, and the result is a single pedal that offers all the delay and reverb options most people will ever need.
- PRICE £325
- DESCRIPTION Digital stereo delay and reverb pedal, made in Malaysia
- CONTROLS Delay time, feedback, mix, colour and modulation; reverb level; three-way delay and reverb model selector switches; delay and reverb bypass footswitches
- FEATURES Mono/stereo inputs and outputs, USB-C for firmware updates, Bluetooth for app control; buffered bypass, powered by 9-volt mains supply only (minimum 400mA)
- DIMENSIONS 148 x 92 x 62mm
- CONTACT uaudio.com