Strymon BigSky VS Empress Reverb (Comparison)
Our pick: The Strymon BigSky
We used to have this saying in fantasy football that was something like, "don't get too cute." In other words, don't overcomplicate your pick with a lesser known player, just to be different. The Strymon BigSky is a known commodity, and we don't recommend deviating from it for a pedal that's only $30 cheaper.
The Strymon BigSky and Empress Reverb are two larger-form delay pedals with multiple algorithms and a similar control scheme. On this page we're comparing those two pedals to each other to see which one would be better in your particular situation.
We're trying to simply and quickly answer the question: Which one is right for you?
This is more important than identifying which one is "better" because that's a more subjective question.
Both pedals are solid digital reverbs and retail around roughly the same price. When you're comparing two guitar pedals that are so similar, the aim is to make a recommendation based on experience and what we believe is likely to be the better fit for the most people.
Spoiler alert, that's the Strymon BigSky.
The Strymon BigSky is a known commodity, and we don't recommend deviating from it for a pedal that's only $30 cheaper.
Every Strymon pedal we've ever tested works and sounds great, so as we've made these comparisons to similar pedals, it has been hard for other brands to "unseat" Strymon without either a significant price reduction or a feature upgrade.
Neither of those things are present in the Empress Reverb.
If you don't want to take our word for it, read on past the comparison tools below into the details section for each pedal.
Strymon BigSky VS Empress Reverb Comparison Tool
In this section we've setup a simple comparison tool for the Strymon BigSky and Empress Reverb. You can also shop these pedals via the orange Sweetwater buttons. These help support our site at no extra cost to you and allow us to keep creating great comparisons.
Spec Sheets with Details for Both Pedals
You can see that the main difference between the two is the expandable algorithm list for the Empress and the larger number of presets in the BigSky.
Digital with analog dry path
12 onboard (additional via SD card)
Type, Value, Decay, Pre-Delay, Mix, Tone, Param1, Param2, Mod
Decay, Mix, Output, Low, Hi, Thing1, Thing2
2 x 1/4" stereo, Expression pedal
2 x 1/4", Expression
2 x 1/4"
2 x 1/4"
Strymon BigSky Details
If you want a reverb pedal with more presets, the BigSky is an easy choice over the Empress Reverb. And while the Empress does give you the SD card option, we've found that 12 algorithms - with all the control options the BigSky provides - is plenty of variety to work with.
In our view, it's better to have more presets than to have more algorithms, so we'd give the edge to the BigSky, given that distinction.
The BigSky also has the LCD readout screen, which is missing from the Empress Reverb.
That's a fairly significant omission in the Empress option.
Without that LCD screen, the Empress Reverb should be significantly cheaper than the BigSky.
Empress Reverb Details
Even so, the Empress retails just $30 below the BigSky. It almost certainly costs Strymon more than $30 to put an LCD readout in their pedal, which tells us the Empress Reverb could be cheaper than it actually is, perhaps around $400 or lower.
It's possible that this cost could have been re-applied to the SD card slot, but we would just rather have the LCD screen than the SD card.
We also noticed that the Empress lists MIDI control via a standard 1/4" inch jack, which probably works fine, but is a bit of a question mark for us.
Personally, I like to see physical MIDI connections on the outside of the pedal.
Conclusion: Which one?
While our complaints about the Empress Reverb are minor, it's only going to cost us $30 to get a similar reverb pedal that addresses all those complaints. Again, this doesn't mean the Empress option is bad, but rather that it doesn't do enough or drop enough cost to justify us recommending it over the Strymon BigSky, which is a proven and well-liked reverb pedal.
If you're trying to decide between the two, in a one-to-one comparison, we'd recommend going with the Strymon BigSky.
For us, it would be a fairly easy choice.
Questions and Comments
Do you have questions about the Strymon BigSky or the Empress reverb? If so, drop us a line in the comments section below and we'll chat about it.