A word of clarification:
I'm not digging up MIDI pedals or controllers. Instead, the context assumes you already have one and that you're looking for some good reverb pedals with MIDI ports to accommodate.
In other words, these are reverb pedals that can be controlled and operated through a MIDI connection.
These pedals will have a MIDI in/out port on their exterior, like the Strymon Big Sky reverb, pictured here:
MIDI ports on the Strymon Big Sky reverb pedal. | View Larger Image
The MIDI ports are easy to spot on the right side (our right) of the pedal's back panel.
This will basically allow you to control the pedal from an exterior MIDI interface, where you can consolidate functionality of your reverb and other MIDI-compatible effects.
Are all reverb pedals with MIDI super-expensive?
A lot of them are.
It's hard to find them under the $250 range, but if you're willing to pay around that or a little higher (think $300) you've got options.
Port wine isn't cheap. Neither are reverb pedals with MIDI features. | Flickr Commons Image via K0a1a.net
Just prepare yourself ahead of time to face facts.
They're not cheap.
However, most reverb pedals with MIDI ports are stacked in terms of functionality and features, offering a tremendous amount of flexibility when you consider the control that a MIDI connection gives you.
First up, we'll take a look at the Line 6 M5, which is one of our most economical options.
While it's not only a reverb pedal, the M5 from Line 6 is a versatile stompbox modeler that can produce a number of effects including reverb with MIDI ports built into the side of the pedal.
It's a stompbox modeler that allows you to program and save hundreds of different effects and sounds.
Presets can be set, saved, then easily cycled through via two buttons on the front of the pedal.
In that regard, it's ripe for coupling with a MIDI controller.
The pedals in the M series are essentially a combination of the popular Line 6 Stompbox modeler series that includes the following pedals:
The M5 handles several different effects, including reverb. | View Larger Image
These effects are all combined into the new M series pedals, allowing you to cobble together nearly all of the sounds, from the aforementioned pedals, into one box.
If you're just interested in reverb, you'll have the following flavors to work with:
- '63 Spring
- Lux Spring Reverb
- Vintage Plate Reverb
- Particle Verb
All of the reverb sounds are demo'd here on a Fender Stratocaster:
Fender Sratocasters and reverb tones make a happy marriage.
Maybe that's why so many of Fender's amps focus heavily on their reverb feature. It all makes sense now.
But I digress:
While the M5 is technically a multi-effects pedal, it's affordable and manages to give you a ton of different reverb types and models.
You'll notice the two MIDI jacks are located on the left side of the pedal (if you're facing it).
MIDI in and outs on the side of the Line 6 M5 | View Larger Image
Hovering around $130 retail, it's one of the cheapest reverb with MIDI pedals in existence.
If you don't mind the extra effects (you may even need them) this is a good solution for pairing with an existing MIDI controller.
Otherwise, continue on for more specialized and specific reverb pedals.
Line 6 M5 FEATURES and Perks
- Multiple effects included
- Expression pedal compatible
From a features perspective, it doesn't get much more involved than the Empress reverb pedal.
The following features are just highlights and only scratch the surface of its potential:
- 24 studio-quality algorithms
- Up to 35 presets
- Analog dry path
- MIDI configuration via 1/4" control port
It's hard to fault Empress for charging around $450 for this pedal, given the fact that it does everything you could ever want a reverb stompbox to do, plus a bunch of stuff you probably haven't even thought of yet.
Besides all the bells and whistles, the reverb itself sounds astoundingly good.
On the Empress website, you can sample a number of different algorithms and reverb sounds that their pedal is capable of.
Plenty of Demos for each Empress reverb mode.
You almost need a MIDI controller for this pedal, since it has so much functionality and so many different ways to tweak the sound.
If you don't mind the expense, it's easily one of the most complete in this list.
Though unless you use a lot of reverb, it might be a little too much pedal.
Empress Reverb FEATURES and Perks
- A ton of different reverb sounds and presets
- Analog dry signal
- Plenty of tone tweaking and customization options
Technically, it's not a pedal.
But, if you're considering a reverb pedal that can be controlled externally, why not go with a rack processor that's going to be controlled the same way?
This one specializes in reverb while also providing a slew of additional effects.
MIDI i/o, along with a USB connection, are accessible from the back of the unit, while algorithms and effects can be easily programmed and stored from the front panel.
MIDI ports on the back of the Lexicon MX300 processor. | View Larger Image
As with the M5, it might be more than you need, but this is one of the simplest (and most conventional) ways to setup a MIDI controller for any type of effect.
In total, you'll have 33 different effects to work with, most of which are different types of reverbs and delays.
If you're already running units in a rack, this is a no-brainer.
Lexicon MX300 FEATURES and Perks
- Total of 33 different effects (focus on reverb)
- Rack processor is a practical form for MIDI controllers
As with the Empress reverb, Strymon (who is known for making some of the most involved and exemplary guitar pedals) gives us a ton of variety and control in the Big Sky, which is ripe for pairing with a MIDI controller.
You'll have a total of 12 different reverb algorithms to work with, as well as a handful of corresponding knobs and controls.
Here's a look from Strymon's website:
Reverb algorithms for Strymon's big sky. | View Larger Image
How much does it cost?
The Big Sky Reverberator is one of the most expensive pedals on this listing, clocking in just under $480. Also note that Strymon typically sells their pedals directly from their own website.
MIDI i/o listed on the Ins & Outs section of Strymon's spec page for the Big Sky.
This makes the Big Sky one of the single most expensive guitar reverb with MIDI pedals in existence, though its value is going to depend entirely on how much you need a reverb pedal and how much control you want to have over it.
Pedals like the Big Sky are expensive because they are versatile.
You get a ton of variety and control, all of which is dedicated to a single effect. This means that getting value out of this pedal will only happen if you plan to use a ton of reverb.
If that's you, this is money well spent.
Strymon Big Sky Reverb FEATURES and Perks
- A total of 12 different reverb modes
- Versatile control scheme
One of the most complete and thorough guitar pedals in existence happens to be the Space reverb put out by Eventide.
It's complete with nearly every feature you could ask for in a reverb pedal, including 100 available presets, analog bypass, line level ins/outs and even a tap tempo button for reverb modes that incorporate delay or echo of some kind.
In total, you have 12 different reverb modes to choose from:
- Reverse Reverb
Your MIDI in and out ports are located on the side of the pedal while stereo inputs and outputs, as well as a switch and expression pedal jack, are also included.
Connections for the Eventide Space Reverb pedal. | View Larger Image
You'll also notice a "Lvl" switch for both the inputs and outputs, which allows you to set for either an amplifier or a line level output, depending on how your rig is setup. This is a feature that, at least to this point in our search, is unique to the Space reverb.
USB connectivity is also supported, allowing you to use Eventide Direct, which can be download from the Space Reverb support page.
Price and ideal buyer
The Space reverb is just shy of $500, which seems to be near the going rate for pedals of this caliber. Again, it's because you're getting such a high level of functionality.
Extra connections, modes and features simply tend to drive up the cost of these pedals.
However, the value context still applies.
If you plan to use a lot of reverb, particularly as a session guitarist in the studio, this is a great tool to have.
Strymon Big Sky Reverb FEATURES and Perks
- Plenty of reverb modes and customization
- Stereo ins and outs
- Line or amp level switches for ins and outs
- True analog bypass
- Tap tempo
How do you connect/use a reverb pedal with MIDI to a controller?
Typically, MIDI controllers are used in the context of keyboards.
However, guitar gear can just as easily be controlled by a MIDI pedal or foot controller. Typically this is applied to rackmounted processors, like the DigiTech GSP1101 or the TC Electronic G Major.
We'll refer to a video from Psyckadeli for the setup steps using these processors.
MIDI controllers are often used for rackmounted effects processors. | Image via Psyckadeli TV
In the video referenced above, Magnus from Psyckadeli also has two MIDI-controllable guitar pedals.
They include the TC Electronic NOVA Drive:
And the Electro-Harmonix 8-Step:
All of this gear is controlled by a MIDI floor controller, the Rocktron MIDI Raider, pictured here:
Keep in mind, your controller and reverb pedal with MIDI will work the same way as the gear you see here.
It's incredibly simple technology.
We can walk through the steps in the video, then apply the same tactic to our reverb pedal.
Step #1: Assign MIDI channels
MIDI works by essentially delegating what we'll call "channels" to each individual MIDI-compatible device.
In other words, each device gets its own channel.
Going back to our video, you'll note that Magnus has four MIDI devices between the two rack processors and pedals, thus each of those devices gets its own MIDI channel, one through four.
If you're just setting up the single reverb pedal with MIDI ports, the delineation of channels isn't as much of a concern. Rather it's something to note, for if and when you add more pedals that you want to manipulate with the MIDI controller.
Step #2: Set the correct MIDI channel in "edit mode"
How you get a MIDI controller into "edit mode" will depend somewhat on which brand and model of controller you have.
For Magnus's MIDI Raider, he simply presses the "2nd" button on the top left side of the board.
From there, Magnus presses the setup button:
He then uses the scrolling button to scroll to the channel 1 name, in order to "set" that channel.
You can see in the video that Magnus has set the first four channels to control the four effects highlighted at the beginning of the video.
You'll program a channel for your reverb pedal in the same way.
He then goes to the rack effects processors and shows that he's set the MIDI channels on those devices to correspond with what we see on the floorboard. The GMajor is set to MIDI channel 1 and the DigiTech is set to MIDI channel 2.
Now, with a MIDI pedal, like the reverb pedals we've covered here, the process is exactly the same.
Simply name your channel on the MIDI controller, then set your reverb pedal to that same channel. Then, since you've assigned your pedal to that channel, you can use the MIDI controller to cycle through the presets you've setup on that pedal.
Depending on the MIDI controller you have, you can also bank certain presets for different pedals.
If you only have the one MIDI pedal, your setup scheme will be extremely simple.
And that's all there is to it!
Do you have questions about setting up a reverb pedal with MIDI connections?
Maybe you've got some experience to share.
Drop it in the comments section so others can benefit.
Thanks for reading.
Other Guitar Pedal Buying Guides
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Distortion Pedal Buying Guides: All of our content related to buying and using distortion pedals.
All Effects Pedal Buying Guides: Our archive of effects pedal buying resources and roundups.
Gearank's Reverb Pedal Roundup: Our friends over at GearRank cover some of the best overall reverb pedals, including options from Boss, TC Electronic and Strymon.
Image Courtesy of Reverb