DigiTech Polara Reverb Pedal Showcase
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DigiTech Polara Reverb Pedal Showcase

The DigiTech Polara is certainly not a new pedal, but it is a pedal that continues to be a goto choice when it comes to selecting a compact reverb pedal for small pedalboards. For me, one of the biggest draws to the Polara is the heritage that lives inside of it. Within the Polara lives an Audio DNA chip; a chip that has provided reverb and effects algorithms for products such as the Lexicon MX and MPX series as well as Soundcraft Signature and Vi series touring consoles - that’s quite a CV. 

I have relied on the Audio DNA processor for a huge number of my live and studio sessions to provide reverberation duties; each time I use it, it blows me away; so I was extremely excited to hear that the same chip had been implemented into the Polara reverb.

With this short showcase, I wanted to show off the light and shade of the Polara. Starting off with the extremes and finishing up with some more mellow uses of the pedal. One aspect of the pedal that always strikes me is the way that it can be so ‘realistic’ one moment, and then ‘out there’ the next, all at the turn of a dial.

#1 Halo

First up were the extremes. The Halo effect or ‘Shimmer’ as it is more commonly called is very much in vogue at the moment. This is the act of adding upper-octave effects onto the reverb to create an ethereal sounding tail effect. For this example I boosted the liveliness control to exaggerate the effect’s upper octave as well as sit the reverb above my guitar sonically. I then set the decay control high to let the reverb die out slowly and naturally as if I was in a very large space.

You do not have a control to directly adjust the octave-up effect level, but the two elements are balanced very naturally by default; I never felt the need to turn it up or down. 

#2 Room

Next up, I wanted to use the Polara to put the guitar into a natural space. For this example, I set the pedal to its room setting and started off the demo with the Decay and Liveless at Min and max respectively to put the guitar into a small yet reflective space. I then re-amped my performance and started mucking about with the controls to augment the space I had created. Increasing the Decay control effectively increases the room size whilst the Liveliness control essentially adjusts the treble response of the reverb itself. I see the liveliness control as a method of changing the wall material of the room that the amp is within; high liveliness is almost as if you’re in a bright tiled room such as a bathroom; whereas low liveliness settings are like you are in a properly treated and warm space. 

#3 Mod

Whilst I was recording in true stereo, I wanted to exploit the Modulation mode of the Polara to achieve the most dramatic reverb the pedal can create. I cranked the Decay and Liveliness controls to their maximum settings and increased the reverb Level to sit alongside the dry guitar. The chorusing effect helped to create an element of width whilst the Liveliness added the high-end required to help the reverb rise above the dry guitar and live in its own space. There’s a huge amount of reverb on this example, however it never gets in the way of the dry guitar thanks to the warm character of the Polara’s Lexicon Reverb algorithms.

#4 Spring

For the next example I wanted to see how close I could get the Polara in the ballpark of an authentic spring reverb tank that you would typically find in a guitar amp. I played in a choppy guitar rhythm featuring plenty of space and gaps for the springs to shine through. I started the demo with the Decay set to its smallest setting and the Liveliness set just below half to emulate a short and snappy reverb tank. I then reamped the guitar line back through the pedal and began adjusting parameters. When I grabbed the Decay control, you can hear the ‘boing’ coming back into the reverb to simulate longer and more drippy reverb tanks. I then sweeped the Liveliness control to show off the range of colouration available to tame the reverb tails. 

#5 Plate

Piezo pickups on acoustic guitars have a tendency to sound very harsh and unforgiving. For a performing musician it can seem very difficult to work with on a live situation as all of the nuances of the pickup are being amplified unsympathetically. A Plate reverb is a great tool to soften out the edges of a piezo pickup and create a more spongy tone that will be infinitely more inspiring than a raw Piezo pickup. For this example, the effect is greatly exaggerated so it can be heard however back it down and it can be used very subtly just to soften out the edges of the sharp Piezo pickup.

The Polara excels at both ‘in the room’ as well as the ‘out of this world’ reverb effects. Both Halo and Modulation reverbs are great tools to expand your tonal pallet and provide options for soundscaping and writing whilst the Hall, Room and Plate reverbs can be convincing space creators for both live and in the studio. The great thing about the polara is that it is more than capable enough to be used on guitars as well as other instruments in the mix such as keyboards or even on vocals.

Give it a try!

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