Price paid: A$ 349
Purchased from: Ellaways Music
Sound — 10
If Strymon is known for one thing, it's their incredibly detailed and meticulous digital algorithms which power their sonically amazing effects. Using an incredibly power SHARC DSP chip, usually reserved for much more expensive and powerful units, they can dedicate every drop of processing power (nearly 1.6 gigaflops, or 50 million 32-bit floating point operations per second, for you technophiles) to creating very faithful and frankly stunning reverb tones. With studio-quality 24-bit 96kHz sampling and a 115dB signal to noise ratio, I've never heard a pedal which can retain a guitar's tone as well. All this power leads to amazing tone - I can't fault it at all. The Decay knob is capable of generating huge atmospheric washes under your guitar in its higher settings, and create lively and punchy reflections on the lower reaches. High and low damping can tailor what tonal colour your desired reverb has - for example, by maxing out the high damp knob and cranking the decay up, you can generate the tone of a large, tiled room - with its long resonance and clear high-frequency reflection. The spring and plate reverbs are based on awesome quality digital reconstructions of Vintage units, with the three modes (normal, mod, and shimmer) adding different characteristics. Mod blends in some juicy and lush chorus, and Shimmer - a real charmer - uses regenerating overtones to create a very symphonic upper octave resonance which sounds gorgeous with my setup - a modded Ibanez RG from 1988 and a Blackstar Stage 60 combo. Performs at least as well (tonally, I think slightly better) than the more expensive Eventide Space. Finally, the Pre Delay can be used to make all these reverb effects sound extremely natural by delaying the reflections. All in all, I could not be more impressed with the tone of this pedal. It's studio rack reverb for 20% the cost.
Overall Impression — 9
I play in a thrash metal meets blues rock kind of band, but I'm also extremely into progressive music, post-rock and soundtrack kind of music, and that is where I think this pedal will get most of its use. That being said, it also does a great job taking my tone up a notch in size and strength - the low decay fast reverbs add a good amount of cut to the signal without muddying up fast riffs too much. For me, this was a decision between BlueSky, the EHX Cathedral, the TC Electronic Hall Of Fame and the Eventide Space. I chose BlueSky because it provided the flexibility I needed as a player, its tones are seriously AWESOME, at least on par with the Eventide unit at a much cheaper price. It even ships with its own power supply, which is very nice! Not many companies do that for their customers, that's for sure! All in all, an extremely powerful source of whatever reverb you want to create, all in a little blue box. Has my highest of recommendations.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I think I can really depend on this pedal. While it is *slightly* concerningly light (fairly sure it's brushed aluminum construction), it seems like it could survive a few bangs. But the knobs and switches have really no form of protection at all, and so could easily get damaged, especially in transit or in losing a knob. It's probably just me getting too worried about it, but knocks and bumps probably are not good at all for the very high quality computer hardware inside the pedal. I'd definitely use it on a gig without backup, and I plan to do so from hereon out until whenever I happen to part with it. If lost or stolen, would definitely get another.
Ease of Use — 9
It's a very easy-to-use digital reverb unit with fantastic ability to warp and command the characteristics of the reflections - you can create any tone of reverb you want with this unit. The BlueSky uses five knobs and two switches - the standard "Decay" and "Mix" knobs control the decay rate and wet/dry ratio respectively. "Pre-Delay" staggers the onset of the reflections by up to nearly two seconds, to help create a natural echo or slapback, but my favourite controls are the "High/Low Damp" knobs, which I'll elaborate on further in this review. There's a "Favourite" switch which lets you save and recall your favourite reverb. Only stores one patch but it's still great if you need to kick on a different type of reverb instantly. A nice touch. It has the standard room/plate/spring switch, and another switch to change between reverb modes. Overall, pretty intuitive and easy to use, though the tonal flexibility and control potential may be slightly daunting to users who are very new to effects units.