Strymon NightSky – A New Take on Reverb
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Anytime Strymon comes out with a new pedal the tone-seekers of the guitar community all gather round to listen. In many people’s eyes this pedal company can do little to no wrong when it comes to their stomp boxes. Over the past decade, their TimeLine and BigSky units have become the gold standard for high-end time-based effects. Additionally, Strymon released their Volante Magnetic Echo just last year, which seemed to fill a great position in their delay units. The Volante left many hoping that a new Mega-Reverb was soon to be on the horizon. Well, thankfully we are here today to talk about the NightSky.
A New and Experimental Direction
When I first heard that Strymon had a new larger than life Reverb coming out, I could not help but initially question its place. I mean is there really any reverb sound that you would need to go outside of the BigSky to achieve? Well if you know this company then you can probably guess that these doubts of mine were pretty immediately thrown out the window. The NightSky is looking like it is going to be the perfect reverb pedal to fit into the Strymon lineup. Just like the Volante was to the Timeline, the NightSky is to the BigSky.
Basically, the NightSky can be put into the category of experimental reverb. The tweaking capabilities in this thing are immense, many of which seem to be new and specific to this unit (as far as the guitar pedal world is concerned). Most of these tweakable settings are expanded upon versions of things that we have seen before. For example, instead of just having included modulation, you can shape your modulated tone by choosing where it’s being targeted (i.e. pitch, verb, or low pass). Also, the filter setting gives you access to the shape of the wave (i.e. Saw, Square, etc.).
On top of the massive amount of tweakable options, you also have a couple other really interesting inclusions. The last footswitch on the right is where these inclusions are accessed. Pressing the switch down once (its normal function) will trigger the infinite setting. In infinite the reverb trails will become larger and continue repeating in order for you to play over them. While other units have this functionality, it is a really great addition nonetheless.
If you hold down the infinite switch you gain access to the 8-step sequencer, something you will definitely not find many other places. This sequencer lets you use your guitar in a very synth-like way and opens up many doors for experimentation.
The NightSky has 16 quickly accessible and editable presets built-in to the unit itself. These presets are all accessed through two banks of 8 in the same spot as the sequencer. If you know you are going to need more than that, keep in mind you can have up to 300 presets when utilizing Midi control.
With this unit you get that classic Strymon shimmer that is oh so well known. But the NightSky takes that octave effect and lets you choose from some other intervals to get really weird with it. The voice section also enables the user to choose from pre/post gain as well as harmonic control at the input (glimmer).
The textures in the decay section are at the heart of the reverbs you will be creating. The sparse texture is what most would know as a granular-style verb. Dense acts as a plate texture and the final setting called diffuse is your swell-like ambient platform. While all of these are useful, I see most who buy this pedal loving the diffuse texture.
The rather in-depth mod section of the NightSky lets you add pretty much all the modulation you could want in your reverb sounds. You can jump from more subtle chorus-like sounds all the way to the most intense filtered effects. The filtering can also be altered by several waveforms that start giving you all kinds of non-guitar-like sounds.
Who Should be Excited?
Truthfully, anyone with a love for boutique effects and the money to back it up should be excited for this pedal. But there are a few types of end-users I see being particularly obsessed with the NightSky. First and foremost, the synth users out there. For those unaware, yes there are more people involved with pedals than just guitar players. In fact, other Strymon units are quite popular among the synth community. And I mean come on; this thing is just begging to be played though some massive ambient patches.
For the guitar players out there, if you’re into unique sounds and or ambient tones, you may have just found a lifelong friend in the NightSky. Especially if you are also someone who likes to craft their own sound, this guy is perfect for you. Between the sequencer and infinite switch, you will be able to play around with the settings as you go. This is a large part of why this pedal is getting a lot of talk regarding its synth-like design. And it’s following the trend we have been seeing in recent years of getting more and more synth inspired stuff into guitar players hands. It really makes a lot of sense due to how perfect of a platform pedals are for sound design.
It is hard to see this offering from Styrmon not being a super popular seller for them. Sure, it’s not a reverb for everyone. If you are someone who prefers simplicity and traditional sounds over endless possibilities of creative paths to venture down, then best to stay clear of the NightSky. However, this assessment should already be obvious to those who have spent any time looking up this pedal. The NightSky is clearly meant to be a sound design tool for the more adventurous reverb users out there. And it would appear that yet again Strymon have done exactly what they set out to do. This release could very well be looked back upon as the most significant for the pedal world in 2020.