Login or Sign Up
Welcome, !
Logout
Join the HC Newsletter
Subscribe Now!

DigiTech Polara Reverb pedal

Take your guitar reverb way beyond springs

 

by Phil O'Keefe

 



Very few  effects types are as closely associated with guitar as reverb. Not only is there natural reverberation when you play in most rooms, many amplifiers have reverb built-in; in fact, it's probably the single most common effect you'll find on amps, with the possible exception of overdrive and maybe tremolo. Reverb has been a major component of many musical styles and genres, from Surf to Shoegaze, and there's certainly no shortage of reverb pedals on the market - but why would you want one if your amp already has reverb built-in? That's an excellent question, so let's answer it by looking at DigiTech's Polara.




What You Need To Know

  • The DigiTech Polara is a compact : 4.4" L x 2.65" W x 2.0" H, and weighs in at an even one pound.

  • The interface is fairly straightforward. In addition to the expected footswitch (more on that shortly), there's one small toggle switch and four classy-looking aluminum  knobs with knurled sides - and they're well marked, making it a breeze to see where they're pointing.

 

  • Turning the Level control clockwise increases the overall reverb amount. Although you can get extremely "wet" sounds with this knob at its higher settings, with the exception of the Reverse setting it doesn't do "100% wet" sounds.

  • The Liveliness knob adjusts the pedal's high frequency responsiveness. It kind of simulates a somewhat more reflective version of whichever reverb type you've selected as you turn it further up… or, if you prefer, think of it as a tone control that can make the reverb sound brighter.
     
  • The Decay knob adjusts how long it takes for the reverb to die away - what engineers call the RT60 time. The decay time varies, depending on which of the available reverb types you select. Speaking of which…

  • The fourth knob is a Reverb Type selector that selects from seven different high-quality Lexicon reverb algorithms: Room, Plate, Reverse, Modulated, Halo, Hall and of course, Spring.

  • All of the available Reverb Types are usable, but you'll probably have your personal favorites. The Spring is suitably drippy and works great for Surf tunes, but this pedal goes way beyond just emulating an amp's spring reverb. I particularly like the sound of the Plate, Hall and Modulated reverbs, as well as the new Halo reverb.

  • Halo is an all-new algorithm with a modern character that consists of reverberated cascading octaves for a dense and complex decay that's definitely not natural sounding, but is cool nonetheless. Shoegaze fans will love it, although as with the other reverb types, they may long for a bit more maximum decay time overall.

  • The Polara's soft-click vacuum style footswitch doesn't have the loud click that plagues many pedals. Yet it feels very smooth and natural, and I never had any problems with getting it to work. A blue LED above the footswitch illuminates when the Polara is active.

  • The pedal features DigiTech's "True Hardwire" bypass. With the Tails toggle switch in the Off position, the Polara has true bypass switching, and the decay of the reverb will be cut off instantly if you bypass the pedal. With the Tails toggle in the On position, the pedal switches over to buffered bypass, and anything that is currently decaying as you hit the switch will continue to do so after you bypass the pedal.

  • The Polara has true stereo I/O, which is a really useful feature if you have another pedal with a stereo output, or want to run two amps in stereo.

  • This pedal works very well in front of an amp or patched into an effects loop. If you don't have other stereo pedals Input 1 can serve as a mono input, and you can send the pedal's output to your choice of either one or two different amps, making Polara flexible enough for just about any kind of setup. Whether you want mono in and out, mono in / stereo out, or full stereo I/O, this pedal can handle it.

 

  • Running in stereo sounds very sweet with this pedal. Once you hear it with two amps, it will be hard to go back to mono.

  • The Polara's 2.1mm center-negative 9VDC power jack is located at the top of the pedal. You'll need to provide your own 9V DC external power supply.  



  • DigiTech includes a couple of pretty useful accessories - a pre-cut piece of the hook side of "hook and loop" pad for the bottom of the pedal, along with one of their StompLock knob guards. This rubber block has holes for the unit's knobs which allow you to see their settings, but prevents the knobs from being moved accidentally.

 


Limitations

  • The Polara is a fairly power hungry beast, and draws 75mA at 9VDC; as such, battery powering isn't practical, and no battery clip is provided, as you can see from the obligatory "gut shot" image below.


 

  • The psychedelic graphics, while very cool looking, are rather busy, and the way the labeling is incorporated into the artwork makes the labeling all but impossible to read in anything other than full light.


Conclusions

Maybe a simple spring reverb unit like the one you'll find on many amps is all you need, and if so, this pedal isn't for you. But if you're into sonic variety and want to duplicate the various kinds of ambient treatments that are often used on recorded guitar parts and seek the sheen and polish of studio-quality Hall, Plate and Room reverbs, or want to explore more modern reverb textures, the DigiTech Polara has everything you need in one very cool-sounding, compact pedal.

The true stereo I/O is a very welcome feature. Most of the time your reverb is the last pedal in your chain, and it's very common to have pedals with stereo outputs feeding your reverb, whether it be from modulation pedals or delays; having true stereo input allows you to process those signals in stereo, maintaining the effects panning and stereo image of whatever stereo pedal you have running into the Polara.

Of course, all of that is only of interest if the pedal sounds good to begin with, and Polara sounds very good indeed. Lexicon's algorithms have been studio standards for years; so much so that they define "what reverb sounds like on records" in the minds of many listeners. Probably my favorite thing about the DigiTech Polara is that it offers up such a wide variety of useful reverb sounds - far more than the two or three options you often find on other reverb pedals, and definitely more than the basic spring reverb found in most amps. Coupling that versatility with legendary Lexicon sound quality and solid DigiTech design/engineering and you have a reverb pedal that's perfect for the stage, but sounds like it's straight out of the studio. 


Resources

DigiTech Polara digital reverb pedal ($229.95 MSRP, $149.95 "street")

DigiTech product web page    

DigiTech Polara Owner's Manual (PDF file)    


You can purchase the DigiTech Polara reverb pedal from:

Sweetwater    

Musician's Friend    

B&H Photo Video    

Guitar Center    



Want to discuss the DigiTech Polara reverb? Then be sure to check out this thread in the Effects forum right here on Harmony Central!.




__________________________________________________

 




Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

No comments
Join the discussion...
Post Comment
TellefO  |  April 19, 2017 at 7:16 am
I just bought a Polara but soon realised that my current power supply does not give enough juice to fuel it. Having ordered one that does, I still wonder why the manual says it needs only 75mA ("< 75 mA @ 9 VDC", page 7) when support asks me to get a power supply that gives 1300 mA? Is it something here I do not understand?
Reply
More Cool Stuff
News
  Useful Arts Audio debuts the  SFP- 60 and BF-1 at AES NY 2017 &...
Musicians – Are You Living in the Past? Maybe it’s time to broaden y...
x
sign in
x
contact us
*Indicates required fields
Name *
Email Address *
Issue Type *
submit
x
message
okay
please wait