Kawai RV-4
Kawai RV-4
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Sonic.Fury 08/22/2016

Kawai RV-4 : Sonic.Fury's user review

« It's little known - and that is a pity »

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Value For Money : Excellent Audience: Advanced Users
Kawai’s RV4 is an electronic hardware reverb featuring 8 in/out channels (4 stereo, with jack & AES/EBU type 2 connectors) with MIDI in/out.
50 good, 1980s-type presets and a lot of parameters can be edited. Until there, it’s just a good small reverb among many others.

BUT, its main asset is that it offers the possibility to route all in/out as you wish: 4 stereo ins involves 4 effects (1 per input), but you can change that internally: by default, input 1 will drive the signal through output 1 (and so on), but you can also get input 1 to output 4 and get a chain of 4 classic effects (reverb, delays, eq, vibrato, tremolo and many more).

Effects are as complete as can be, for instance you get 3 delay types, a classic twin delay, a classic mono delay and a tri delay that uses 3 different delays and plays with the stereo image like with the twin. All feature an excellent sound quality, 1980s-type if you keep the default preset (which is quite practical if you’re after a Phil Collins-style gated reverb, very typical of this musical era for those who didn’t know it then) but it can be set at will and turns out to be incredibly versatile.

The device’s second big strength is that it can be MIDI-controlled, with all (400 in all) parameters assignable to the controller. I haven’t tested that feature yet but I own the original manual and can only imagine all the doors it opens. It can also be MIDI-clocked, a feature quite practical for delays!
The presence of a toslink digital I/O is also a very good thing, allowing to plug it directly into the interface as an aux without using any other input/output when you don’t have a mixer.

Wit hits 4 stereo inputs, it can also be used as a hardware mixer or summing box (I haven’t tested it as such but why couldn’t it?). I read somewhere that Mark Tinley used it as a mixer for Duran Duran (the circumstances remain to be seen).

All in all, this is a great, turdy, Japanese-made effect processor in a 1U rack format. A real bargain as I got it by swapping it for a small mixer that wasn’t worth much. It seems to have lived a lot, but it works wonder.
I have worked with many comparable processors ranging from low-end Behringer devices to more interesting things such as Lexicon’s 300L, and I believe this one would deserve a place in many a studio, which is not the case of many other devices in the same price range.

I read some classified ads where it was offered for 700€/$. I was very lucky to get it as I never would have spent that much, I don’t have much money to spend these days and a new effect processor is not a priority, still it found its place in my studio and I don’t intend to part with it anytime soon, even should my studio evolve considerably.
(Oh, and compared with a 300L it may not sound as beautiful – but it’s not the same price either – but it’s way simpler to use and so versatile that I don’t think I’d even swap one for the other)

EDIT: I’m giving it 4 out of 5 as it’s not a M6000 but that is all, I don’t even rate it according to its range. This says a lot, I guess…

- Sound
- Versatility
- Routing possibilities
- Clear and comprehensive manual (English only)
- General specs (I/Os, MIDI…)
- 1U rack format!

- OK, it’s not that good-looking with its plastic front, a bit of a pity isn’t it ?
- Like with all hardware reverb units oof the kind, you’ll have to spend time in the menus to get a very precise result (unless of course you control it via MIDI!)
- Not a real cons, but it offers so many possibilities that you could spend days (literally) trying them all. It offers more possibilities than a plug-in: imagine getting a chain of 4 plug-ins, it’s all about mixing – well, here it’s the same, but without a mouse or keyboard.
- It’s necessary to understand the bases of routing, or you could easily get lost. Still, this should be no problem for an experienced professional (this remark was more aimed at homestudio-oriented musicians)