Vintage Digital & Analogue Studio Effects
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In 1981, the AMS RMX 16 Digital Reverb was an instant hit with studios the world over. Nearly 40 years later, and the AMS RMX 16 is still in use. Nearly every recording from the 1980s would have the AMS RMX 16's Non-Linear preset on the snare or full drum kit. This preset was developed with Hugh Padgham, the inventor of the gated reverb sound effect.
The AMS RMX 16 digital reverberation system is totally electronic; the sound is completely unaffected by external vibrations or mechanical shocks. Unlike its mechanical counterpart the AMS RMX 16 system does not require special installation. This, together with the large reduction in size, the superior signal to noise performance and the greater bandwidth, gives the AMS RMX 16 significant advantages over old-fashioned mechanical reverberation systems.
With digital reverberation one can simulate mathematically any real environment and also any ‘old fashioned’ artificial reverberant character such as ‘plates’, or ‘springs’. Digital reverberation techniques are the first to offer such sophistication.
The AMS RMX 16 digital reverberation system employs sophisticated micro-programmed parallel processing of 16 bit data offering an 18kHz bandwidth; 90dB dynamic range and 0.03% distortion in delay mode; low power consumption (and therefore cool running); independent control of each program’s fundamental reverberant parameters; alphanumeric program descriptions for ease of use and ‘at a glance’ understanding of how the unit is currently programmed as all data, including the variables (pre-delay, decay time, high frequency decay profile and low frequency decay profile), are continuously displayed on the reverb front panel.
The systems are designed to be simple to operate with nine factory programs simulating different reverberant environments with the ability to control all parameters. Nine use definable settings may be stored within the mainframe and a further ninety within the remove terminal. The user definable settings may be as complex as required. All reverberation parameters whether factory preset programs or user definable settings, are stored in non-volatile RAM and remain intact on power down.
The nine standard programs are stored in Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory (EPROM) and can only be altered by physical replacement of these devices. However, additional program storage (Softprogs 10 to 12 on the Mainframe and Softprogs 31 to 33 on the Remote Terminal) is available in the Random Access Memory (RAM) area which can be re-programmed with the use of the Remote Terminal and Bar Code Wand combined option (see appendices D and E for further details).
The unit can also be used as a very high quality, 18kHz bandwidth digital delay line. The delay can be varied from 0 to 1.6s in 1ms increments. A calculator styled keypad is provided for entry of user definable variables and for storing or recalling information from the unit’s memory locations.
Both input and output levels are adjustable to accommodate units sending or requiring non-standard signal levels. Overflow indication on digital processing is provided as well as the standard ‘traffic signal’ LEDs enabling fine adjustment of input level for optimum signal to noise performance.
When changing basic reverberation programs, the output is muted so that ‘memory flush-out’ is not output to the audio chain. If the basic program remains the same but the user has stored a number of differing variables in various memory locations, then real time switching from one reverb setting to another can be accomplished.
A useful feature incorporated into the AMS RMX 16 reverberation system is the use of ‘Nudge Buttons’. These buttons increment or decrement data for all selectable functions.
Many new digital reverberation systems offer either rack mounting mainframe units with no facility for remote operation, or hand held remote units with rack mounting mainframes but with no facility for control from the mainframe. The AMS RMX 16 system may be driven from the Mainframe or from a Remote Terminal which may be used ‘hand held’ or fitted into the mixing console.
This ‘Remote’ is a hand held terminal that connects with the mainframe via the standard cable or a stereo jack-field if required; the path, however, must not contain a transformer. All functions on the Mainframe are available on the Remote and the display of variable parameters will be echoed on the Remote’s liquid crystal display.
Ninety non-volatile memory locations for these parameters are available when using this terminal. So with the use of the Remote Terminal not only are the fundamental programs retained on power-down, but up to ninety nine personal reverberation patterns may be stored without loss.
A Remote once programmed with ninety memories may be removed and interfaced to any other AMS reverberation system. All AMS reverberation systems are compatible and once a sound has been found and the parameters stored within the unit it may be regenerated on any AMS RMX 16 system anywhere in the world.
The Remote Terminal option, if purchased in combination with the Bar Code Wand Option, not only provides simple effective remote operation, but also increases the power of the AMS RMX 16 to store programs. With the purchase of this option three ‘Soft Program’ stores on the main-frame and four ‘Soft Program’ stores within the remote are immediately available.
These ‘Soft-prog’ stores must not be confused with the parameter stores described earlier and already available on the remote; they are much more powerful. The ‘parameter’ stores only contain user settings of already existing programs. The ‘Softprog’ stores contain actual programs, each of which can be manipulated, transferred from remote to mainframe and from mainframe to remote.
The ‘Softprogs’ are issued as bar coded sheets that are contained within a bar code booklet. A number of bar coded programs are included in the price of this option. Further issues of the bar coded programs are supplied at a nominal charge. In this way eventually a complete library of unique programs can be assembled, any one of which may be loaded into the Remote or the Mainframe as desired.
Both the Remote and the Mainframe are engineered to the same high standard as the rest of AMS equipment and both offer microprocessor controlled programmability, repeatability and storage capability putting the engineer in complete control of every system function. Control of reverberation programs and parameters is contained in EPROM, thereby guaranteeing that the hardware will not become outdated as advances in reverberation techniques occur.
The AMS RMX 16 is designed as a rack mounting unit 3.5” / 2U high and 13” deep, excluding knobs and connectors. A flight case is available as an option if required. The choice of components and quality of construction are of a very high standard and because of the choice of a mother board system with plug in circuit cards and ribbon cables, maintenance problems are reduced to a minimum.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the AMS RMX 16 Digital Reverberation System is its ability to withstand the push to obsolescence. The unit is designed for maximum hardware/software flexibility, with a maximum of software control, enabling it to be easily upgraded as new developments take place.
Quantization: 18 Bit
Sampling Frequency: Unknown
Frequency Response: 10Hz-18kHz
Dynamic Range: 90dB
THD: Below 0.03%
Dimensions: 480mm x 89mm x 322mm
AMS RMX 16 Remote
In developing the UAD plug-in version of this landmark processor, Mark Crabtree of AMS Neve dusted off his original schematics and extensive notes. It was a laborious two-year process.
VerbSuite Classics is a partnership with LiquidSonics, and uses proprietary FUSION IR processing to capture the evolving and modulating characteristics of the modeled hardware reverb tone, including the AMS RMX-16.
Non-Linear 2 Reverb
Just one awesome vintage reverb. Nothing modern comes even close, especially not the plugins…just my opinion.
The AMS is simply beautiful sounding. When they came out, I used one in a studio and fell in love with its warmth and versatility along with the simplest UI ever designed. Its so simple to use, its silly! For me, it will always be my “go to” reverb and I have a ton of other reverbs from Lexicons to Eventides, etc… While they are a dream to use, there is a well know flaw in their design and reliability. There are 14 slotted boards inside the unit and they are very delicate! AMS’s don’t like to be roughly treated and beware if you buy one and its shipped to you! Prices seem to be steady, but like most vintage gear, possibly on the up….
This is a killer reverb and nothing else really sounds like it which is why it is still sought after, but be very careful buying one and having it shipped. This is not a really well built unit and with so many internal boards, one heavy drop and it will fall to bits, mine did! Get one for it’s great sound, but collect it, do not ship it.
This is a studio legend that is still in use the world over and for good reason, there is no other reverb that sounds like it. Internally it is a complex beast and does not stand up to being roughly handled during freight so be careful when buying one. Pick it up if you can.