Vintage Digital & Analogue Studio Effects
This Image was created by and is the Copyright of Vintage Digital
The Sony MU-R201 came after the ultra expensive Sony DRE-2000 and was the first Sony Reverb to offer true stereo processing. It was something of a sleeper in the west, (big in Japan however) but Roger Nichols was one of it’s few true believers, and used it on everything he mixed including some of the Steely Dan mixes.
In Japan you would be hard pressed to find a studio that doesn’t have at least one Sony MU-R201 in their racks even today, many have two. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is about this unit that makes it so good, but it sits in a mix really well and is very well made, in particular the ultra rare remote control with it’s solid steel casing is very solidly built.
Impressive Stereo Ambience
All circuits from the input to the output stage are equipped for stereo processing. The key device of the Sony MU-R201 is a newly developed 2-channel audio processing LSI (Digital Presence Synthesizer CXD1079), which creates stereo effects not possible with two monophonic reverberators. The result is striking, high-quality reverberation.
Versatile Preset Characteristics
Musicians, recording engineers and sound technicians from all over the world have contributed to select a total of 100 presets which are stored in the memory of the Sony MU-R201. The user can immediately choose a setting for any application.
Creative Effect Shaping
The EDIT and EQ (equalising) functions of the Sony MU-R201 can be used to change preset reverberation effects and to produce original settings. Besides the 100 factory-preset characteristics, a user memory for another 100 settings is provided, offering unlimited creative potential.
Wide Variety of Reverberation Types
10 basic modes on the Sony MU-R201 serve as reference, complemented by many versatile effects, such as hall ambience, acoustically “live” room effects, tightly controlled plate reverberation, percussive multi-gate reverb and multi-reverse reverb. The dual multi delay setting offers up to 20 repeat outputs for each channel separately, and reverb & gate effects further enhance versatility.
Direct Memory Selection
Memory selection and adjustment is simple and straightforward, for easy operation also during a live performance.
Serves as Two Independent Reverberator Units
In modes 3 (Multi Gate Reverb), 4 (Multi Reverse Reverb), 5 (Dual Multi Delay), 7 (Dual Reverb), 8 (Reverb & Gate), and 9 (Reverb & Delay), the two channels of the Sony MU-R201 operate separately. This permits use, for example, with two different instruments during recording or a live performance.
Precise Sound Definition
Up to 26 parameters can be set, to design exactly the sound field you want and to create special effects not available in ordinary surroundings.
4-Band Equalizer Control
The Sony MU-R201 incorporates a programmable two-channel four-band equaliser (LOW, L-MID, H-MID, HIGH). Equalizer data can be stored along with effects settings, to instantly provide the desired sound shaping characteristics for each application.
Remote Control Capability
An optional remote control unit (Sony MU-RM1, cabled) permits operation of the unit from any convenient location. A foot switch (FS-11) can be used to increase or decrease memory numbers, switch effect processing off and on, and suspend effects.
Flexible Input/Output Configuration
Two sets of input/output jacks are provided, to accommodate either standard phone plugs or RCA-type phono plugs. A +4/-20 dB LEVEL selector matches the unit to professional or consumer equipment and any musical instrument.
Easy Combination with Digital Instruments
The integrated MIDI interface accepts program change signals for external selection of memory numbers during a performance. The effect level can also be controlled via key-touch and control change signals, making the Sony MU-R201 ideally suited for use as an effect for digital instruments.
Reverberation with the Sony MU-R201
When trying to recreate the ambient sound field by means of digital signal processing, using two monaural reverberator units does not produce fully satisfactory results. The width and depth of the sound stage present in the stereo will not be preserved with such an arrangement.
This becomes obvious by picturing for example a sound which originates from the right side of the stage Its early reflections on the right will reach the listener earlier than the reflections on the left, and the reverberant sound field also gradually spreads from the right. To achieve natural-sounding reverb in such a case requires a reverberator which provides stereo inputs, stereo signal processing, and stereo outputs.
In the Sony MU-R201, this goal is achieved by the use of a two-channel digital audio signal processing LSI and latest stereo algorithms, producing natural and effective reverberation of very high quality. Different algorithms are required for delay effects, gate reverb effects, and auto-panning effects.
All algorithms were newly developed for the MU-R201 and form the basis of the ten different effect modes (0-9). By using these modes in combination with suitable parameters a multitude of impressive and striking effects can be created.
Quantization: 16 Bit
Sampling Frequency: 26kHz
Frequency Response: 20Hz-11kHz
Dynamic Range: >90dB
Effect Types Available
Preset Memory 100
User Memory 100
Dimensions: 482mm x 44m x 320mm
I really liked its sound – but I only had technical issues with that unit. Once it was up and running I really loved the 1980s alike Reverbs.
I like this reverb but I’m a little confused by Mr Nichols statement. He says he used this unit on all the Steely Dan mixes, yet this unit didn’t come out until 1986 and most of the Steely Dan stuff was much earlier.
One of my favorite reverbs is the Sony MU-R201. I use it on every project, including the Steely Dan mixes. This was a unit made by Sony for Ibanez. Toward the end of its marketing life, Sony sold it with Sony labels and some software updates. Ten years ago it was priced at over $1,000, and worth every penny. I have seen them in pawn shops in Hollywood for under $200. The coolest feature of the MU-R201 is that it is a true stereo reverb.
I have watched these things on eBay for about a year now and read reviews here and given their low price I took the plunge. I noticed the preset on the image here of 31 so tried that on snare and wow! This preset is worth the price of entry on its own, it adds a great live sound to snare drums and works pretty well on most things actually. I have not yet had the chance to play around editing or anything but seems easy enough and at around $200 I can not understand why everyone does not have one as it seems like a bargain to me.
I don’t know why more people don’t know about this great reverb. I love it on snare, brass, vocals everything, it just works.
This is a hidden gem of old reverbs. I love this thing on just about anything and use it on every drum mix I do. Snares sound wonderful through it, so Roger Nichols was onto something way back when. Ignore the limited bandwidth as I actually think that is what helps this reverb to sit in a mix so well. My favourite!