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Electro-Harmonix Ocean's 11 Reverb

 Sand, sunburn, and salt spray not included...


by Chris Loeffler




Has Electro-Harmonix had a time where they haven't been on fire this last decade? It seems like every year they manage to release a couple of game-changing new effects while continuing to beef up the more affordable part of their line with reissues of sought-after circuits and multi-effects in increasingly small enclosures. Leaping off from their excellent and exceedingly affordable Canyons delay and looper, EHX recently added the Oceans Eleven reverb to their assortment. Boasting eleven reverb types, three  external controls and a bevy of hidden “second” controls, the Electro-Harmonix Oceans Eleven features mono input and outputs and is powered by a standard Boss-style 9v power supply.


What You Need to Know


The Electro-Harmonix Oceans Eleven offers 11 distinct type of reverb effect in about as small a form-factor as possible while still offering traditional effect controls.


Rather than inventing a new way to describe the various settings from a functional standpoint, I’ll crib from the manufacturer’s site-


  1. HALL – the rich reverberant sound of a grand concert hall
    2. SPRING – pays homage to the classic Fender 6G15 tube spring reverb 
    3. PLATE – the lush, warm reverb that got its name because a large metal plate was originally used to create it
    4. REVRS – emulates the quirky reverse reverb effect where a note’s reverb fades-in backwards. (Jimmy Page claims to have invented it.)
    5. ECHO –sends a recirculating echo thru the Plate reverb. The crisp clear delays get tastefully smudged by the airy plate reverb 
    6. TREM – reverb plus tremolo that’s applied to both the wet and dry mix of a Hall reverb, your choice of three different tremolo shapes
    7. MOD – modulated reverb, three modes. Chorus laced onto the reverb tails creates a luscious atmospheric effect. Flanger wraps around the reverb tails and weaves a hypnotic tapestry. Chorus and flanger combined.
    8. DYNA – Swell, gate and duck. Swell silences your notes’ attacks before blooming the tails back into the soundscape. Gate passes the reverb tail thru a noise gate that opens when it detects playing. (Phil Collins popularized the technique by applying it to drums.) Duck compresses the reverb tail while you’re playing and fades it back in when you’re resting.
    9. AUTO-INF – Auto-infinite reverb that triggers a reverb wash for each note or chord. When a new one is struck, the previously resounding reverb crossfades to the new one
    10. SHIM – Shimmer generates a rich octave-shifted reverb wash that modulates and blossoms behind your signal
    11. POLY – Polyphonic reverb, two configurable bi-directional pitch shifts operating on your pre-reverb signal. Combine dissonant intervals with near infinite decays to create disorienting soundtracks, or choose perfect/major intervals to generate creative harmonies when jumping around a key signature



One of the ways Electro-Harmonix found to keep the pedal small but tonally flexible was to include second, and even tertiary, functions for the external knobs, selectable by the soft push-button in the center or via different stomp switch actions. The result is the first layer of most common parameters for each reverb type are readily available- FX LVL, Tone, and Time. Less common or type-specific controls are accessed by diving deeper with the Mode button, such as Pre Delay Time, LFO shape, or Octave split.


A Trails switch hidden inside the enclosure selects wether the effect is fully-bypassed when off so that the reverb is killed as soon as the effect is disengaged or if the effect stays in the signal path when off, allowing the residual reverb wash to decay naturally once the effect is off. I didn’t dive into a deep A/B comparison, but in the few back-and-forths I tested I didn’t hear a discernible difference to the audio quality between the two.


There’s an Infinite jack that allows any mode to have momentary infinite hold of the reverb to play over if you have an optional momentary-latching pedal with 1/4” in. 


As to how they sound, I found the Hall to create a convincing and musical simulation of a large room but maybe a touch short on character or quirk. Spring mode, on the other hand, drips with personality up to incorporating some of the limitations of the original tube-and-spring Fender reverb, like headroom and a touch of white noise as the “spring” dies out. The ability to “kick” the tank is unique, but it’s something of a one-trick pony as players who really lean in on those effects apply different levels of force on different parts of the tank to coax out specific sounds, where as the effect in the Oceans Eleven is simply triggered. Plate, like Hall, nails a generic version of the Plate sound and behavior without any specific quirks or personality. I struggle using the word “generic” given its many negative implications, but I mean it in the truest sense… the effects sound like a general version of the reverb type should, just not like one specific model.


Reverse mode fades the reverb trail in after a note is played for a hybrid reverse reverb/reverse delay sound that is perfect for faux-pads and swells. I heard a few people at the music shop grumble that it’s more like reverse delay than reverse reverb, apparently unaware that the laws of time and space don’t allow for application of reverse reverb to real-time playing. Echo mode throws a delayed echo through the wet reverb signal for a slightly smeared sound. Trem mode is interesting in that it leveraged the Hall algorithm rather than the Spring, and similar to the Echo mode it creates a more subtle version of tremolo by applying it to the reverb side but offers a parallel tremolo effect to the dry signal path. There are three standard waveforms to choose from (sine, square, triangle), going from vintage smooth to helicopter-like kill cycles.


Modulation mode modulates the reverb with a chorus or flanging effect and adds dreamy swirl to the reverb. While it can get pretty over the top, I didn’t find it to be nearly as gimmicky as the Flerb setting in the original Holy Grail line. Dyna mode allows for different dynamic overlays of the reverb, such as swelling up as the dry notes decay or ducking the reverb when notes are played and then increasing volume to unity when there isn’t an input signal. It’s a subtle mode that’s well suited to subtle playing where you don’t want the wet effect muddying up the definition of the direct signal.


Auto-Inf is a unique hold feature that effectively freezes the last part you play and holds it indefinitely until a new input signal is detected and it clamps down and kills that piece in anticipation of the next. It’s different from the Infinite external pedal option in that it uses an envelope to open and close the hold as opposed to manually holding down a stomp switch. Shim is the now-ubiquitous octave up shimmer reverb effect that swells and adds a crystalline halo to the direct signal. The character of shimmer effects can vary wildly, and the Ocean’s Eleven shimmer mode is a bit more refined and less grainy than similar price point attempts. The default mode is an octave up, but hidden controls allow for incremental pitch shifts in either direction up to two octaves. Poly expands on that even further by introducing two different pitch shifts.


While the top-level controls are all set based on where they physically are (except when editing the second level controls, in which case the top-level settings are stored so when you exit editing the second-level controls things stay the same), the second level controls are actually saved even when you change reverb mode and turn the pedal off.


Across all settings the theme for me was solid and functional sonic treatments that offer a good balance of ease-of-use and flexibility. Unlike the EHX of a decade ago that released most pedals with such extreme control ranges that there was a good 20%-30% of each parameters range that went way beyond typical application, there really aren’t any “bad” (I prefer the term non-traditional) settings to be found. Reverb gets swampy at the most extreme settings and certainly starts to smear the original notes being played, but never to the point where digital artifacts start popping up or ungainly oscillation and feedback occurs.




No stereo ins or outs


Infinite reverb has a slight delay when triggered, which creates dead space if the effect is being run 100% wet.




The Electro-Harmonix Oceans Eleven is yet another contender for “best value” from EHX, with 11 distinct reverb types, tons of hidden parameters, and the infinite reverb feature. All the reverbs are quality and, with nearly six control options for each one, are recording ready. A serious reverb snob will likely find the Oceans Eleven only gets them 85% of the way to the specific tone they hear in their head, but most players will find it a smorgasbord of nearly every popular reverb type under the sun. It’s more than a sampler… its a full-blown feast.  -HC-




Electro-Harmonix Oceans Eleven Product Page


Buy Electro-Harmonix Oceans Eleven at Full Compass (MSRP $197.10 , Street $147.80)






Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 


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