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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kurzweil Rumour

Kurzweil Rumour offers stunning reverbs and quality converters

I like effects plugins. They serve many purposes in all sorts of studios from the lowly home studio to world class professional facilities. Yet, in my own personal experience, there are some things where plugins do not seem to ever compare to quality hardware. One place I’ve found software lacking in general with a few notable exceptions is in the area of reverb effects. Yet, good hardware reverbs tend to cost a lot $$.

For those of us without a lot of $$ in the budget comes the Kurzweil Rumour. The Rumour lists for a reasonable $649 with street prices even lower. I found the Rumour to be a good bang for the buck for its effects which include a lot of reverbs as well as modest number of flange, chorus and delay effects. But, I found it an incredible bang for the buck in light of its audio quality.

The surprising thing to me about the Rumour is the audio quality. I have a set up where I can A/B different converters on the digital to analog conversion at the flick of a switch. I have a dedicated digital to analog converter in the rack. In my numerous A/B’ing of the Rumour against my personal D/A converter I found the Rumour to perform remarkably well considering its price. I liked the sound top to bottom. I found the Rumour to represent the sonic image with a bit more dimension than some other converters.

The D/A converters sounded good at all times. I think anyone with a home studio with budget audio interface will find the Kurzweil Rumour to be a significant step up when converting digital to analog. I did not find any noticeable jitter, which causes distortion in the high frequencies. I did not notice any beefy mids, which stems from aliasing artifacts in the conversion process. Good D/A, as found in the Rumour, usually improves mix quality as you make better EQ decisions rather than trying to force EQ to compensate for bad converters.

One thing about the converters: You cannot use the Rumour as a simultaneous standalone A/D and D/A converter as you can only have one input source (analog or S/PDIF) active any one time. The reverbs and effects are real time. You go in either analog or digital. The processed signal is present on both outputs. However, you can bypass the effects and EQ in the Rumour.

I talked to several pro engineers about the Rumour. It’s difficult to get audio engineers to agree about anything but everyone I spoke with who’d used a Rumour seemed to be sold on its converters and reverbs. I remember speaking with one engineer who found himself working on a mix one night. He looked over at the rack and found his trusty top of the line Kurzweil KSP8 processor missing. It was in use in another studio. But, the Rumour was there. He ended up putting the Rumour on the mix buss. The artist was so pleased that he wanted to know so he could buy it for his home studio.

How do the reverbs sound? I think of them as modern sounds but I’d categorize them as the most useable presets I’ve ever encountered. The presets range from discreet and musical reverbs to those that are over the top and obvious. However, on the whole, the presets give you reverb without the annoying imprint that you ran your signal through a certain reverb box.

One of my favorite reverb techniques is to put three or four nuanced reverbs in a signal chain. I’ve found it one of the best ways to wrestle a great sound out of the source material. With the Rumour, I just found myself going to a preset and tweaking it. And, I never felt the urge to add a second, third or fourth reverb to the signal. I found the Kurzweil Rumour to outclass any “in the box” reverbs I’ve used.

The Rumour features stereo balanced analog I/O, stereo digital S/PDIF I/O, stereo and mono input channels, stereo effects busses, 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz sampling frequencies, selectable bit depths of 16, 20, and 24 bits, three band parametric EQ, 192 effects presets, MIDI control, EQ and/or effects bypass and tap tempo. I like the features. I am sure some might want a higher sample rate or even more "pro" features such as word clock. I work at either 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz depending on the project so I didn't long for a higher sample rate. I've heard many 96 kHz converters that don't stack up to those in the Rumour. So, sample rate is not everything.

Given its reasonable price, its feature set, and the quality of its converters and effects, the Kurzweil Rumour is one of those rare pieces that could fit into a world class recording facility as well as a humble bedroom studio.

The Bottom Line: The rumors are true. The Kurzweil Rumour provides top end reverbs and respectable digital conversion at a reasonable price. Very highly recommended.

--Steven Langer

Kurzweil Music Systems

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