November 11, 2021

Maneco Labs Otterley

An otterley amazing reverb

Why two reverbs in one pedal? It solves the problem of needing a second “normal” reverb on your board to follow a wacky reverb when it’s stretched into being accompaniment and is no longer ambient.

Each knob on Maneco Labs Otterley controls multiple parameters in intuitive ways, as well as interacts with the other knobs. So it creates a complex ambience, but with uncomplicated controls. The tl;dr: explanation of Otterley: Reverb 1 is normal to about noon on the Reverb 1 knob and Reverb 2 is not a reverb at all, but a reverse, pitch-shifting, granular delay that feeds into Reverb 1.

Instead of a long article with a detailed explanation of what every knob combination of settings can do, let’s just take it for a test drive. (You’ll find the explanation of controls in Maneco’s Otterley manual.) All sounds recorded with only the TC Wiretap pedal and a Beat Root Multiscale tongue drum plugged into Otterley. (No other pedals in the mix to confuse.)

Demo: Your Average Reverb

Reverb 1 is controlled entirely by the Reverb 1 knob at 11a. The rest of the knobs are irrelevant, except the Feedback knob. Set it at 7a.

Demo: Reverb 1 Maxed

Again the other knobs are irrelevant except, except Feedback (7a). Set the Reverb 1 knob to 5p. As you crank the Reverb 1 knob, the reverb gets louder, larger and more modulated. It can also get noisy but has a nice sustain circuit built in. Otterley seems to boost volume a bit, so if you’re experiencing some hiss in the reverb, keep the signal at a normal level going in and reduce amp volume a bit.

Demo: Soft Delay

For those who don’t like the harsh edges of a delay, the repeats on this one roll in like fog. Since the Reverb 1 knob is down, you’re just hearing the delay of Reverb 2. At max, the delay is about a second long.

Feedback Reverb 1 Reverb 2 Delay Grain Pitch
1p 7a 11a 12n 12n 12n

Demo: Chorus Swell

The chorusing effect on Reverb 2 is compliments of the Grain knob at a point that multiple grains are slightly detuned. Notice the chorus doesn’t hit on the dry note, just the delay.

Feedback Reverb 1 Reverb 2 Delay Grain Pitch
7a 12n 12n 12n 12n 12n

Demo: Octave Sparkle

This uses a fixed pitch an octave up and a little graininess to create a shimmer. The Grain knob works backwards: clarity at 5p and a cloud of discordance at 7a. Note that the Pitch knob will need to be tweaked to an octave.

Feedback Reverb 1 Reverb 2 Delay Grain Pitch
7a 12n 9a 9a 12n 3p

Demo: Whistling Chorus

This shows how even minor tweaks to the settings above will greatly change the effect. Your dry signal will be followed by a chorus of whistles two octaves up: Instant spaghetti-western soundtrack.

Feedback Reverb 1 Reverb 2 Delay Grain Pitch
7a 12n 9a 9a 11a 5p

Demo: Bass Accompaniment

A bass that follow an octave below what you’re playing. Note that the Pitch knob will need to be tweaked to an octave.

Feedback Reverb 1 Reverb 2 Delay Grain Pitch
7a 11a 9a 7a 12n 9a

Demo: Goin’ Down

The Feedback knob feeds the short delay and small pitch variation back into itself to create a continuous rise or fall. This can be a very emotional effect.

Feedback Reverb 1 Reverb 2 Delay Grain Pitch
3p 11a 12n 7a 12n 11a

Demo: Stairway to Heaven

With the Delay knob set moderately the pitch will rise in discordant steps.

Feedback Reverb 1 Reverb 2 Delay Grain Pitch
3p 12n 12n 10a 12n 1p

Demo: Stardust

With a short delay and the Pitch knob tuned up an octave, a shimmer morphs into twinkles. Note that the Pitch knob will need to be tweaked to an octave.

Feedback Reverb 1 Reverb 2 Delay Grain Pitch
5p 12n 9a 7a 12n 3p

Demo: There Be Dragons

Otterley’s knob parameters can get impolite, so it excels at non-musical effects. When the Reverb 2 knob is at 5p it kills the dry. This effect uses 2-octave-down pitch and blurred grains to turn staccato hits on the tongue drum into snarls and huffs of fire. The high-pitched waver can be present in the lowest octave.

Feedback Reverb 1 Reverb 2 Delay Grain Pitch
7a 7a 5p 7a 10a 7a

My take

I really like the combo of a reverb/delay pedal: blending the two into a unique ambience where you can’t pinpoint either. Otterley can be tame if you need it or granularly blurred, pitch-shifted and rampantly fed back if you want to venture beyond the worm hole.

In the demos above I’ve stuck to more practical effects that can be achieved with Otterley. But with only six knobs, no toggles, and no Alt functions, builder Maneco Urquhart of Uruguay has created one of the deepest reverbs around. Definitely an “if I had only one pedal on a desert island” pedal. Otterley looks as unique as it sounds with the Ghost in the Shell-inspired artwork on the PCB top and the HR Giger-inspired, homemade, 3D-printed skull knobs.

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