What is the Best Boss Reverb Pedal in 2019?

We review and compare the best Boss Reverb Pedals

Image credit: Boss

A ‘verb pedal (or two) is must-have tool in any guitarists set-up. Used for adding anything from a touch of ambient reflections, springy surf sounds, or recreating the vast spaces inside a concert hall, the right reverb effect can really improve your sound whatever style of music you play. In this review, we take a look at some of the best Boss reverb pedal options on offer right now:

How to choose a Boss reverb pedal

Boss Reverb Pedal

Image credit: Boss

Choosing a reverb pedal can be a confusing process, as there are so many on the market today. Even when you limit your choice just to the range of Boss Reverb Pedals, there are a few things to think about. In summary, you need to consider the following factors:

  • Sound quality
  • Flexibility
  • Simplicity
  • Price
  • What types of reverb you want

For an in-depth guide of what to look for when choosing a reverb pedal, you can check out our buyers’ guide to the best reverb pedals.

Boss RV-6 Reverb Pedal Review Summary

Overall

A simple, yet flexible, rugged reverb pedal: 4.5 stars

The Boss RV-6 replaces the RV-5 as the flagship Boss compact reverb pedal. It offers eight reverb modes, to RV-5’s five, although there’s no longer the gated mode

There’s the standard room, hall, plate, spring and modulate, along with three new modes:

  • Shimmer  – an octave pitch shifter providing lush overtones
  • Dynamic – adjusts the volume and mix that responds to your playing
  • Delay – for that classic reverb / delay combination

The delay isn’t as flexible or full featured as you’d get in a dedicated delay pedal but it’s good enough, especially if price and / or space are a consideration. The modulate and shimmer modes sound great, but there seems to be mixed feelings about the spring reverb mode. Some love it, but some have said that it sounds a little “splashy”.

The RV-6 offers the same stereo and mono capabilities as the RV-5, but also has an extra input jack that lets you control the mix with an expression pedal. Overall, the RV-6 provides a great sound, great build quality and feels like an improvement over the RV-5 in terms of sound quality. The addition of a delay mode makes it a good choice over the RV-3 as well.

Pros

  • Same high quality build you’d expect from any Boss Effects Pedal
  • Better sound quality than the RV-5
  • Delay mode

Cons

  • Spring reverb might be a little too “splashy” for some
  • Gate mode has been removed

Boss RV-6 Reverb Pedal Review Summary

Overall

A simple, yet flexible, rugged reverb pedal: 4.5 stars

The Boss RV-6 replaces the RV-5 as the flagship Boss compact reverb pedal. It offers eight reverb modes, to RV-5’s five, although there’s no longer the gated mode There’s the standard room, hall, plate, spring and modulate, along with three new modes:
  • Shimmer  – an octave pitch shifter providing lush overtones
  • Dynamic – adjusts the volume and mix that responds to your playing
  • Delay – for that classic reverb / delay combination
The delay isn’t as flexible or full featured as you’d get in a dedicated delay pedal but it’s good enough, especially if price and / or space are a consideration. The modulate and shimmer modes sound great, but there seems to be mixed feelings about the spring reverb mode. Some love it, but some have said that it sounds a little “splashy”. The RV-6 offers the same stereo and mono capabilities as the RV-5, but also has an extra input jack that lets you control the mix with an expression pedal. Overall, the RV-6 provides a great sound, great build quality and feels like an improvement over the RV-5 in terms of sound quality. The addition of a delay mode makes it a good choice over the RV-3 as well.

Pros

  • Same high quality build you’d expect from any Boss Effects Pedal
  • Better sound quality than the RV-5
  • Delay mode

Cons

  • Spring reverb might be a little too “splashy” for some
  • Gate mode has been removed

Boss RV-500 Reverb Pedal Review Summary

Overall

An excellent multi-effects reverb pedal to rival some of the best. 4.5 stars

The RV-500 comes equipped with all the standard reverb machines you’d expect, and more. On top of the usual Room, Hall, Plate, and Spring modes, there’s also Lo-Fi effect that sounds like an old recording, space echo which incorporates delay, a shimmer that adds pitch-shifted tones to the effect, and a host of others too.

Also onboard is an A/B function so you can use two reverb effects at the same time, as well as a spillover function that keeps your tails as you switch from one effect to the next. With 297 presets it’s obviously not as simple as Boss’ compact reverb pedals, but the clear instruction manual means that the learning curve is not too steep.

Top-panel knobs include Time, Pre-Delay, Effect Level, Low and High EQ, Bank Up and Down, and a Tap Tempo footswitch. While back-panel features include stereo/mono 1/4” outputs, MIDI In/Out, USB (for synching with the device’s free editor/librarian software), and an expression-pedal jack. You can also choose between true-bypass and buffered operation.

RV-500 Features

  • Reverb multi-effects pedal
  • 32-bit/96kHz processing delivers studio-level sound
  • Unlimited creative possibilities with 12 distinctive reverb modes, 21 reverb types
  • Customizable control settings for unrivaled real-time expression
  • Graphic display for easy-to-follow operation while performing and editing
  • Onboard patch memories for storing your favorite effect configurations
  • Selectable buffered or true-bypass operation
  • True stereo operation
  • Tap tempo rate control for certain parameters

This isn’t a basic stomp box and can’t really be compared against the other Boss Reverb Pedals in this review. This is a very capable, full-featured multi-effects reverb pedal, pitching itself against the likes of the Strymon BigSky, Eventide Space, and the Empress Effects Reverb. From what we’ve seen and heard, it holds its own pretty well in that category.

The RV-500 comes equipped with all the standard reverb machines you’d expect, and more. On top of the usual Room, Hall, Plate, and Spring modes, there’s also Lo-Fi effect that sounds like an old recording, space echo which incorporates delay, a shimmer that adds pitch-shifted tones to the effect, and a host of others too. Also onboard is an A/B function so you can use two reverb effects at the same time, as well as a spillover function that keeps your tails as you switch from one effect to the next. With 297 presets it’s obviously not as simple as Boss’ compact reverb pedals, but the clear instruction manual means that the learning curve is not too steep. Top-panel knobs include Time, Pre-Delay, Effect Level, Low and High EQ, Bank Up and Down, and a Tap Tempo footswitch. While back-panel features include stereo/mono 1/4” outputs, MIDI In/Out, USB (for synching with the device’s free editor/librarian software), and an expression-pedal jack. You can also choose between true-bypass and buffered operation.

RV-500 Features

  • Reverb multi-effects pedal
  • 32-bit/96kHz processing delivers studio-level sound
  • Unlimited creative possibilities with 12 distinctive reverb modes, 21 reverb types
  • Customizable control settings for unrivaled real-time expression
  • Graphic display for easy-to-follow operation while performing and editing
  • Onboard patch memories for storing your favorite effect configurations
  • Selectable buffered or true-bypass operation
  • True stereo operation
  • Tap tempo rate control for certain parameters
This isn’t a basic stomp box and can’t really be compared against the other Boss Reverb Pedals in this review. This is a very capable, full-featured multi-effects reverb pedal, pitching itself against the likes of the Strymon BigSky, Eventide Space, and the Empress Effects Reverb. From what we’ve seen and heard, it holds its own pretty well in that category.

Pros

  • Flexible switching
  • Delay and modulation can be added to each reverb effect
  • Space Echo mode sounds really cool
  • Cheaper than comparable multi-effects pedals

Cons

  • Setting up sounds with the front panel menu may be tedious for some users

Boss RV-5 Reverb Pedal Review Summary

Overall

A decent pedal, but we’d go for the updated and improved RV-6 over the RV-5: 4 stars

Back in the day, the RV-5 was the go-to Boss reverb pedal. It boasted six different reverb modes – Room, Hall, Spring, Plate, Hall, Modulate, and Gate – and 4 knobs controlling level/mix, tone, decay time and of course the reverb mode This gave guitarists a lot of options, and plenty of control over the resulting reverb shape.

It was also well respected for its sound quality. It wasn’t overbearing, leaving the dry signal intact rather than completely enveloping the sound, unlike many effects pedals today. The pitch-shifted mod reverb is a real standout mode, offering a detuned shimmering effect that really shines. Its subtle, slow, deep modulation works well over chords, unlike many other shimmer modes.

The downsides are the relatively short decay times, top-end tones that are a little bright, and some people complained of a flat, plastic sound. That said, in our opinion the RV-5 is completely fine for the bedroom player but there might be better choices for serious gigging guitarists (the RV-6 is one such choice).

It’s also worth noting that in the RV-6, Boss removed the gate mode. Gated reverb was was the definitive sound of 80’s pop when applied to drums, but it didn’t really catch on with guitarists, hence removing it in newer pedals.

Back in the day, the RV-5 was the go-to Boss reverb pedal. It boasted six different reverb modes – Room, Hall, Spring, Plate, Hall, Modulate, and Gate – and 4 knobs controlling level/mix, tone, decay time and of course the reverb mode This gave guitarists a lot of options, and plenty of control over the resulting reverb shape. It was also well respected for its sound quality. It wasn’t overbearing, leaving the dry signal intact rather than completely enveloping the sound, unlike many effects pedals today. The pitch-shifted mod reverb is a real standout mode, offering a detuned shimmering effect that really shines. Its subtle, slow, deep modulation works well over chords, unlike many other shimmer modes. The downsides are the relatively short decay times, top-end tones that are a little bright, and some people complained of a flat, plastic sound. That said, in our opinion the RV-5 is completely fine for the bedroom player but there might be better choices for serious gigging guitarists (the RV-6 is one such choice). It’s also worth noting that in the RV-6, Boss removed the gate mode. Gated reverb was was the definitive sound of 80’s pop when applied to drums, but it didn’t really catch on with guitarists, hence removing it in newer pedals.

Pros

  • Gated Reverb – not available on the other Boss pedals
  • The usual high-quality build you’d expect

Cons

  • Relatively short decay times
  • Can sound a little bright

Boss RV-3 Reverb Pedal Review Summary

Overall

In our opinion, you’re better off with an RV-6 which offers most of the same features, and sounds better to our ears. 3 stars.

The Boss RV-3 reverb pedal combines standard reverb types along with digital delay effects in a single pedal, and has been used by bands such as Incubus and Radiohead. Described by some as having a slightly metallic sounding reverb, The RV-3 is perhaps not quite at same level of sound quality as newer Boss reverb pedals. This is understandable given the pedal’s age.

There are four reverb modes on the RV-3: Plate, Hall and two Room modes. Room 1 offers a tight studio ambience, while room 2 is a little more expansive with slower decays. There are also three delay modes, with up to 2000 ms of delay, and you can combine the reverb and delay effects together to produce some cool sounds.

Production of the the RV-3 began in 1994 until it was discontinued in 2002. It was a popular pedal at the time and it still has a lot of die-hard fans, making it hard to get hold of at a decent price.

The Boss RV-3 reverb pedal combines standard reverb types along with digital delay effects in a single pedal, and has been used by bands such as Incubus and Radiohead. Described by some as having a slightly metallic sounding reverb, The RV-3 is perhaps not quite at same level of sound quality as newer Boss reverb pedals. This is understandable given the pedal’s age. There are four reverb modes on the RV-3: Plate, Hall and two Room modes. Room 1 offers a tight studio ambience, while room 2 is a little more expansive with slower decays. There are also three delay modes, with up to 2000 ms of delay, and you can combine the reverb and delay effects together to produce some cool sounds. Production of the the RV-3 began in 1994 until it was discontinued in 2002. It was a popular pedal at the time and it still has a lot of die-hard fans, making it hard to get hold of at a decent price.

Pros

  • Combine reverb and delay effects
  • Simple to use

Cons

  • Only four modes
  • Can sound a little “metallic”
  • Discontinued, so difficult to find at a reasonable price

NB: Due to being discontinued some time ago, it can sometimes be difficult to find an RV-3 on Amazon. In that case, you may be able to find a used one in good condition on eBay.

Boss FRV-1 63 Fender Reverb Pedal Review Summary

Overall

For most guitarists, there are cheaper, more flexible spring reverb pedals out there. 3.5 stars

In partnership with Fender, Boss deployed their proprietary Composite Object Sound Modelling tech, to recreate the warm valve tones and boingy spring sounds of the Fender Valve amp.

With similar design to other Boss compacts, this one has 3 knobs:

  1. Mixer to control the effect volume
  2. Tone, to manage the high-end frequencies in the effect
  3. Dwell to change how much signal is “driven through the springs”

Boss have done a really good job at producing a faithful recreation of the original tones, but it may not quite stand up to the real thing when you compare them head to head in the same room. Cheaper and smaller than buying the actual Fender Valve Amp, the FRV-1 Vintage fender reverb pedal is a good option if you’re desperate for that vintage springy fender sound, but it’s quite limited and pricey.

In partnership with Fender, Boss deployed their proprietary Composite Object Sound Modelling tech, to recreate the warm valve tones and boingy spring sounds of the Fender Valve amp.

With similar design to other Boss compacts, this one has 3 knobs:

  1. Mixer to control the effect volume
  2. Tone, to manage the high-end frequencies in the effect
  3. Dwell to change how much signal is “driven through the springs”

Boss have done a really good job at producing a faithful recreation of the original tones, but it may not quite stand up to the real thing when you compare them head to head in the same room. Cheaper and smaller than buying the actual Fender Valve Amp, the FRV-1 Vintage fender reverb pedal is a good option if you’re desperate for that vintage springy fender sound, but it’s quite limited and pricey.

Pros

  • Cheaper and more portable than buying a real Fender amp

Cons

  • Keen ears will still be able to tell the difference
  • No Stereo output

NB: Due to being discontinued some time ago, it can sometimes be difficult to find an RV-3 on Amazon. In that case, you may be able to find a used one in good condition on eBay.

Boss FDR-1 65 Deluxe Reverb Pedal Review Summary

Overall

If you already have a fender amp, then you might be better off just finding a good spring reverb pedal, maybe even the RV-6. 3.5 stars

Another Fender partnership, the FDR-1 was designed to emulate the tone and sound of the Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb Amp.

Like the amp, it comes with standard knobs for Treble and Bass, and a pair of concentric knobs to control Gain/Level and Reverb/Vibrato. It also comes with reverb and tremolo effects – although they’ve actually misnamed it as vibrato, as technically it modulates the volume, not the pitch.

The FDR-1 can be used purely as a pre-gain pedal to help make a solid state amp sound like a classic Fender tube amp. We found that the FDR-1 had more gain than the amp, but doesn’t respond to attack as well. It gets you close enough, but you’ll need to shell out for the amp if you really want the genuine tone.

Another Fender partnership, the FDR-1 was designed to emulate the tone and sound of the Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb Amp.

Like the amp, it comes with standard knobs for Treble and Bass, and a pair of concentric knobs to control Gain/Level and Reverb/Vibrato. It also comes with reverb and tremolo effects – although they’ve actually misnamed it as vibrato, as technically it modulates the volume, not the pitch.

The FDR-1 can be used purely as a pre-gain pedal to help make a solid state amp sound like a classic Fender tube amp. We found that the FDR-1 had more gain than the amp, but doesn’t respond to attack as well. It gets you close enough, but you’ll need to shell out for the amp if you really want the genuine tone.

Pros

  • Cheaper and more portable than buying a real Fender amp
  • Decent tube amp emulator
  • Tremolo setting

Cons

  • Not quite as good as the real thing
  • Weak attack
  • No longer in production

NB: Due to being discontinued some time ago, it can sometimes be difficult to find an RV-3 on Amazon. In that case, you may be able to find a used one in good condition on eBay.

Reverb like a Boss

Boss have been making digital guitar effects pedals since the 1970’s and in that time have established themselves as one of the top brands. Starting with its CE-1 Chorus pedal, Boss steadily increased their range to include some of the most iconic compact guitar pedals ever made, including the OD-1 Overdrive, DD-2 Delay, and of course the RV-5 Reverb.

Boss pedals can be found on almost every pedal board the world over, including those of legendary guitarists like:

Boss compact stompboxes are known for their rugged build-quality, which stands up to years of heavy use. They are also lightweight and compact enough for any gig rig or pedal board. Their reverb sounds are good enough for all but the sharpest ears, whilst still being within range of most budgets. This makes them a sound choice for bedroom axe guitarists and gigging players alike.

Generally, Boss reverb pedals come loaded with the most common reverb machines – Room, Hall, Plate and Spring – with a few extra effects like modulation, gated reverb, shimmer, and sometimes even delay thrown in for good measure.

If you’re on a tight budget, you have a choice between the RV-3, RV-5, or the RV-6, which all have the basics covered for a reasonable price. If you’re looking for more flexibility and control, and can stretch your budget, then the RV-500 might just fit the bill. The FRV-1 and FDR-1 Fender reverb pedals are aimed at those looking to recreate the classic 1960’s tones from early Fender tube amps.

Boss reverb pedal Reviews - a summary

Boss Compact Reverb Pedals are decent options if you want multiple reverb effects at an affordable price and are prepared to sacrifice a little bit of sound quality compared to a specialist single-mode reverb. If that’s what you’re after, then the RV-6 is a solid choice. If you’re looking for a reverb multi-effects pedal, the RV-500 is a decent choice at this price point, and compares well to quality boutique pedals like the BigSky, Space and Empress Reverbs.

Other Reverb Pedals you might like

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