Digital reverb pedals have been around since the Boss RV-2 was introduced in 1987, and because reverb has long been one of the most popular effects among guitarists, the market has remained heavily saturated. The TC Electronic Hall of Fame is one of the best selling modern reverb pedals in its price range and it’s very easy to see (and hear) why. It packs 10 distinctive reverb types; world-class guitarist presets and endless customization options through TC’s TonePrint technology; and versatile setup possibilities via switchable true/buffered bypass and standard/kill-dry options, as well as stereo inputs and outputs. The tones are deeply lush and rival those of units costing more than twice the price, and there is a serious amount of flexibility afforded by all of the adjustable parameters. For a great reverb pedal that won’t break the bank and is up for the job both live and in the studio, the Hall of Fame is a superb choice.
- Wide variety of reverb types with truly distinctive differences in character
- High quality reverb algorithms ranging from rich, cavernous sustain to bouncy Rockabilly spring reverb
- TonePrint software allows for deep customization options and the ability to save, share, and download presets (including signature presets from legendary guitarists)
- Modulated delay setting can be configured to use flanger or phaser rather than just chorus
- Can be used in a wide variety of setups thanks to its flexible configuration options (true/buffered bypass, standard/kill-dry, stereo inputs and outputs)
- Reverb type knob travel feels ‘soft’ and is lacking in tactile feedback to assure it has clicked into place
- The wide assortment of tweakable parameters via the TonePrint app may feel like option overload for some guitarists (this flexibility can obviously be a benefit for many, but may result in option paralysis for some)
- Most reverb settings lean a little towards the dark/warm side of the EQ spectrum (can be mostly remedied with the Tone knob, but it still may not sound quite pristine enough for some players)
Overall Rating: 4.5 stars
The Hall of Fame measures 72mm x 122mm x 50mm and packs quite a few features into the stomp box form factor. Rack units may have a little more flexibility, but who wants to lug around a big, bulky rack?
The pedal has a stereo set of unbalanced TS inputs and a stereo set of unbalanced TS outputs, making it right at home with stereo guitar rigs and stereo synthesizers, and of course traditional mono guitar rigs. The reverb algorithms also produce a true stereo sound from a mono input by routing slightly different reverberation settings to each output, making the Hall of Fame a great secret weapon in the recording studio for its capability to create huge sounding tracks. Using an “amp in a box” pedal with built-in cab emulation (like the Tech 21 Liverpool) into the Hall of Fame and routing its stereo outputs to a PA system would make for a fantastic, massive sounding fly rig for an extremely low cost. This would be especially useful for a single guitarist band, which generally leaves a lot of sonic space to be filled.
The pedal’s input impedance is 1 megaohm – this is the same as most guitar amps and completely preserves the high end frequency content of passive guitar pickups. Its output impedance is 100 ohms, which is low enough to ensure minimal noise/interference that could ordinarily be a concern with a long cable run after the pedal. The pedal is intended for use with an instrument-level or line-level signal (like those which come from guitar pickups and guitar FX loops, respectively). It might serve as a usable processor for a microphone, but it may need to be run into a mic preamp to get a healthy signal level for adequate amplification. The pedal has quite a lot of headroom but the official manual states that some FX loops could overload the pedal’s input, however, this could be easily remedied by running a true bypass volume-cutting pedal in the FX loop right before the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame can be powered via a 9-volt, 100mA, negative-center adapter. I’ve heard of some people having trouble with certain adapters, but I’ve had no issues with the Dunlop ECB003US, TC PowerPlug 9, or the Truetone 1 SPOT. It can also be powered with a 9-volt battery, but the power consumption is high – expect to get about 4 hours out of a fresh battery.
The pedal can be switched between true bypass or buffered bypass via an internal switch, but the buffered setting must be used if you want the reverb trails to continue decaying after you turn the pedal off. The buffer is by far one of the most transparent I’ve heard and I don’t feel like the guitar tone is compromised in any way when using it. Of course, the option of using the buffered mode (regardless of need for trails or not) is very handy if you’ve got long cable runs and/or a lot of pedals on your board. Another really cool feature accessible via an internal switch is the “kill-dry” mode. As the name implies, this setting completely mutes the dry guitar signal, making it very useful for use with a parallel FX loop, PA mixer, or recording console (enabling the ability to fine-tune the wet reverb level during the mixing process). I’d imagine this mode could also be fun when used in a series FX loop or in front of an amp in order to create mega-ambient soundscapes.
The pedal includes 10 stock reverb type settings (including one with modulation) and knobs to dial in decay time, tone (EQ slope of the reverb signal), and reverb level. It also features a two-position switch for switching between short or long pre-delay times – a useful feature since longer pre-delay times can help reverb make something sound bigger rather than more distant.
If the previous tone-shaping features don’t quite sound flexible enough for you, have no fear. Like many other TC Electronic pedals, the Hall of Fame supports TC’s TonePrint technology. Using the free TonePrint Editor for PC, Mac, or iPad, you can tweak nearly every reverb and modulation parameter you can think of and save custom presets that will be stored in the pedal and recalled by using the pedal’s “TonePrint” reverb setting (multiple presets can be saved to a computer or smartphone, but only one preset can be uploaded to the pedal at a time). The editor also allows you to set up the physical Decay/Tone/Reverb knobs to control the parameters of your choosing, enabling alternative customization features on the fly. You can also download free custom TonePrint presets from an impressive selection of pro guitarists and other users, and ‘beam’ them to the pedal via your phone using the TonePrint Android or iOS app or from a computer using a mini-B USB cable (also used for firmware updates).
The ‘beaming’ feature truly seems like something out of a science fiction movie – you simply hold your smartphone up to your guitar pickups while the guitar is plugged into the pedal (and the pedal is set to TonePrint mode), touch a button in the TonePrint app, and your smartphone speaker emits a short series of odd noises. The guitar pickup receives this electromagnetic signal and sends it to the pedal via a standard instrument cable, and the pedal stores the custom settings. You can see it in action with the TC Electronic Flashback Delay below.
The reverb algorithms in the Hall of Fame are the best I’ve ever heard for a pedal in this price range. They are lush, rich, and clean, and do a fantastic job doing anything from subtly thickening up tone in a sparse mix to creating rich, cavernous soundscapes. Each mode really does sound unique rather than just sounding like slightly different variations on a common theme. The modes are described below:
- Room – A natural, mild reverb which simulates a somewhat small room filled with multiple soft, sound-absorbing materials.
- Hall – A large environment reverb – probably the most common studio reverb along with Plate. This mode is great with clean guitar parts to create an instant ‘studio magic’ sheen.
- Spring – An emulation of the spring reverb units commonly found in vintage amps. This setting is great for reverb-drenched surf music and rockabilly, especially with short decay times.
- Plate – A bright, exciting sound that simulates the large metallic plates that were used before digital reverb was invented. A studio favorite.
- Church – A very large cavernous reverb that’s great for slow tempos and sustained chords. Not surprisingly, this mode is a great fit for worship music.
- Mod – A modulated reverb setting which does a fantastic job of adding life and movement to guitar parts. This mode is very reminiscent of the Boss RV-5‘s modulated reverb mode. It can get psychedelic at more intense settings.
- Low-Fi – A low fidelity reverb that’s dark and has a unique character. This mode is great for imparting a raw, experimental sound that might be integral to the vibe of a song, in contrast to normally more clean and subtle ‘finishing touch’ traditional reverb applications.
- Tile – A simulation of a medium-sized room with tile surfaces, such as a bathroom. This is perhaps a niche taste since many believe this type of reverb character sounds like that of an amateur, low-budget recording, but it can be a good use for adding a quirky flair to some pieces of music.
- Ambient – A short reverb that simulates a fairly neutral natural space without many reflections. This is a very cool mode for making a guitar tone sound a little less dry but without sacrificing tightness. It’s a great fit for adding some air and space to amp modelers in order to improve the realism of their tone and feel.
- Gate – A mode which quickly ‘clamps’ down on the reverb signal to make for an abrupt decay. This type of reverb was commonly used on snare drums and toms in ’80s studio recordings. I can’t see this mode ever becoming very common for guitar parts, but it can make for a very interesting effect.
Each mode can be further dialed in using the Decay knob to control the length of the reverb, the Tone knob to adjust the EQ curve of the reverb signal, and the FX Level knob to control the volume level of the reverb signal (however, the dry signal is always at unity gain – you’ll need to use one of the internal switches to put the unit in ‘kill-dry’ mode if you want a 100% wet signal). My only real complaint about the sounds of this pedal is that they lean towards the dark side. That’s a totally subjective gripe though because darker reverbs do tend to sound more natural and blend in a bit more. The slight darkness can be mostly remedied by setting the Tone knob fairly high, but the reverbs still may not sound quite pristine enough for some guitarists.
As mentioned previously, the Hall of Fame also has a proprietary mode called TonePrint, which allows players to deep edit many parameters and upload their presets to the pedal. If tweaking isn’t your thing (or rather you tend to get overwhelmed and suffer from option paralysis), you can download presets from other guitarists, including famous players like Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, and Robben Ford, just to name a few.
The TC Electronic Hall of Fame is definitely a top contender for the best reverb pedal in its price range. It has 10 great sounding reverb modes, incredibly versatile reverb-shaping options thanks to TC’s TonePrint technology, and has support for stereo inputs and outputs (and can create huge stereo reverbs from a mono input signal). It may sound a little bit too dark for some guitarists and it’s a little disappointing that only one TonePrint preset can be stored in the pedal at one time, but those things barely detract at all from the incredible value of this pedal. The next significant step up in quality would probably be something like the Strymon Blue Sky, but you definitely don’t need to spend that much to have a plethora of great sounding reverbs at your foot.