DigiTech RV-7 Stereo Reverb Pedal

I ordered my DigiTech RV-7 from Musician's Friend and paid $149.99 for it with free shipping. Since I already own and have extensively used the Boss RV-5, I'll be making some comparisons between the RV-7 and the RV-5. Check out the pictures below and you can see that the RV-7 has a somewhat larger footprint (5.25"L x 3.5"W x 2.15"H) than the RV-5 but stands at about the same overall height. It also weighs a bit more (at 1.3 pounds).

The controls are very similar also. Both have level controls (Level/E. level), Tone (Liveliness), Decay (Decay/Time) and various Modes. Both feature Plate, Hall, Gated, Spring, Room and Modulated reverbs. The RV-7 adds a Reverse reverb. Neither unit features an echo or delay like the Boss RV-3 offered. The control knobs on the RV-7 are metal and a little larger in diameter with noticeable detents every few degrees whereas the RV-5 has plastic knobs. The RV-7 I/O connectors are spaced a little farther apart making it a bit easier to plug and unplug adjacent connectors. The RV-7 has a much larger LED indicator. Both of these units will run just fine off of a standard 200ma to 300ma 9.6 volt wall wart and the the RV-7 only requires 75ma of current allowing you to run more than one stomp pedal off of one wall wart. My setup uses the Danelectro Zero hum model DA-1 AC-DC adapter (about $7 on ebay) with no audible hum in either the RV-5 or RV-7 pedals. The Boss power adapters that I have used do have audible hum so I no longer use them.

The RV-7 has some unique features!

  1. True Bypass. When the reverb effect is switched off, there is a direct connection between the input and output cables with no buffer amp between the two and very low capacitance loss. If battery power fails, the RV-7 switches to bypass mode automatically to preserve the signal chain
  2. There is a selector switch located under the pedal switch to turn the reverb tails on or off. Note that when the tails on option is selected, true bypass is disabled (it's obvious why this is so but left to the reader to figure out!)
  3. If you believe all the advertising hype, the RV-7 has "genuine Lexicon reverbs"
  4. High Voltage Operation. The internal operating voltage is 15 volts DC, higher than the DC input bus of 9+ volts. This is supposed to offer more headroom to prevent "hot" or high input signal levels from overloading the input stage and causing distortion
  5. The foot switch is held in place by two spring loaded pins. Pushing in on either pin with the end of a guitar cable (no tools needed) releases the footswitch cover completely (see pics below) and gives you access to the battery compartment and the "tails" selector switch
  6. Hook and loop pedal board pad. Peel off the existing rubber skid pad and attach the provided hook and loop pad for secure mounting on pedal boards
  7. A Glow Sticker is provided that when attached to the foot switch, provides illumination for locating the pedal in the dark
  8. "Stomp Lock" is a nifty gadget that consists of a rubber gizmo that slides over the controls knobs, locking them in place. If you bump the controls with your foot or even if they are bumped while the pedal is in transport or storage, the control knob positions will be firmly held in place.
  9. Not mentioned in the manual is that when you first plug in the external power supply or the mono input cord, the unit's blue LED blinks twice to confirm your action
  10. The blue LED on the top of the unit is SUPER bright. Some people are going to love this and some might hate it
  11. Unlike the RV-5, the Spring Mode is very useful and has no bouncing, bottoming out spring effects. It does however add the distinct reflections of a real reverb tank's signal bouncing back and forth along the springs. Very accurate!
  12. TheRV-7's sound quality is very good, the settings are easy to use and understand, all three of the "normal" modes, Spring, Hall and Plate are totally useful yet provide sonic differences from each other. Some reviews on other sites have mentioned that the reverb tail, at about 4 seconds long, is a little short. I didn't find this to be a concern at all as the reverb easily sustained as long as I needed it with the Decay set at 2:30 (not all the way on).

    Overall this reverb pedal's reverb is much smoother than the RV-5! The highs are not grainy or harsh at all. However, the RV-7 changes the tone of my overall setup, making it much muddier than the RV-5. Adjustments in the amp EQ just don't seem to get the sparkle and life back into my sound that I had with the RV-5. You can increase the overall highs in the reverb effect but the overall sound just remains muddy and at times seems like it's somewhat compressed. This is not a small effect. It is very pronounced! Your mileage may vary based on your setup and the anount of highs in your guitar but the overall difference in the tone of the RV-5 and RV-7 remains. Both are fine units but I prefer the overall sound of the Boss RV-5.

    Since everyone is looking for something a little different in a reverb I should state that I actually like the RV-5 much better than the RV-7, the Steel King Reverb, my 1965 Fender Deluxe Reverb reissue amp reverb, the Verbzilla or my Lexicon MPX-1. To my ears the RV-5 is bested only by the blackface fender Deluxe and Super Reverb amp reverbs. Now of course these units all sound different and if you prefer one of them more than I do, you might love the RV-7.

    I am going back to the RV-5 for steel and will keep the RV-7 for my lead guitar setup.

    No doubt, in a live club or stage setting, it's not gonna matter much what reverb box you use as no one out in the audience will hear much difference. The RV-7 is a high quality effect and you should try one out yourself and form your own opinions of whether it suits your needs. I have never used the RV-3 so I can't comment or compare it to the RV-5 or RV-7. I use the Guyatone MD-3 delay with the RV-5 reverb to essentially get the reverb + delay combo. These give me the reverb I like, a smooth analog like delay, and an overall sound that suits my ears.

Update 11/10/09

I've given this a few days and swapped quickly back and forth between the RV-7 and RV-5 for both lead guitar (Fender Deluxe Reverb amp) and my pedal steel (Fender Steel King amp) and the results are the same. The RV-5 overall sound is much clearer and less compressed. I recorded another song, O How He Loves Me And You, and made some adjustments to my amp settings on the Steel King to at least get back some of the highs. I boosted the treble from 1:00 to 2:30, the Tilt from 10:30 to 12:00 and the Mid Level and Freq. to 12:00 from 10:30 and 2:00 respectively for this recording.

O How He Loves You And Me wma file

O How He Loves You And Me mp3 streaming media

Here's some useful links for the RV-7:

  • User's Manual
  • Musician's Friend Listing
  • Harmony Central User Reviews
  • DigiTech Web Site

    Sample Song

    The recording chain is: MSA Legend, Goodrich 120 pot pedal, RV-7, Fender Steel King amp (reverb off), Shure SM-57, Yamaha MG10/2 mixer, Yamaha AW-2400 recorder. All files are recorded in 16 bits then converted to either .wma fixed at 192kbps or mp3 at 320kbps. The Gut string guitar was routed to the RV-7 then fed direct to console. For both steel and guitar parts the RV-7 settings are: level 11:30, Liveliness 12:00, Decay 2:30, Mode = Plate.

    O Little Town Of Bethlehem wma file

    O Little Town Of Bethlehem mp3 streaming media

    Reverb Samples
    I played the same set of riffs for the Spring, Hall, Gated, Modulated, Plate and Room reverbs. A short sample of the Reverse reverb is included. Effect level set at 12:00 for all except Room is at 2:30. Liveliness set at 12:00. Decay at 2:30. same recording setup as above.

    Spring Reverb Hall Reverb Gated Reverb Modulated Reverb
    Reverse Reverb Plate Reverb Room Reverb

    Click On Pictures For Large Size!

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