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Strymon BigSky Plugin Review

Hello there and welcome back to another plugin review for you! This time, we will be looking at a very recently released and quite sophisticated reverb plugin, the Strymon BigSky reverb plugin. As I always do, I’m going to do my best to give you every detail about this plugin and also provide you with a preset walkthrough video so you can really have an idea of what the Strymon BigSky plugin sounds like.

For those who have never heard of Strymon company, here’s a quick introduction! Strymon is an American guitar pedal and effects manufacturer. Surprisingly, while researching them, I found out that the company first started as the Damage Control company that used to manufacture tube-driven pedals back in the day!

Strymon is a very strong brand featuring highly respected guitar pedals, covering the full scope of what guitarists really need! All of their products are designed and made in the USA.

Strymon BigSky is originally released in an effect pedal format and is very well respected by guitar players and musicians. I was already aware of their product line. However, when I heard that the BigSky has been released as a plugin, it got me really excited! Yes, the Strymon BigSky reverb plugin is their first-ever plugin released!

What is Strymon BigSky?

Strymon‘s sound designer Pete Celi explains that the BigSky project came out of in-depth research. Strymon company actually investigated hardware reverb units, algorithms and architectures as well as academic materials and programming approaches that existed in the last five decades.

This huge research resulted in the BigSky pedal which has become a pinnacle in today’s guitar pedal and effect market.

Why BigSky Plugin?

As the company has received tons of feedback from audio engineers who use the BigSky pedal as an outboard effect on various non-guitar tracks in their mixes and really like the results, Strymon has decided to enable audio engineers and aspiring musicians to use BigSky in their DAW without worrying about hooking an external pedal every time.

After having put in years of work in the development of the plugin, Strymon has finally released the BigSky reverb plugin! The plugin version perfectly reproduced what the BigSky pedal is capable of!

Strymon BigSky Plugin

Strymon BigSky as a plugin!

Strymon BigSky Plugin Offers Flexibility!

BigSky is not just a standard reverb plugin, it offers so many unique algorithms that you can use on your tracks individually and come up with original soundscapes.

As you may already know, working in DAWs offers extreme flexibility and you can actually control almost any parameter and automate them as you wish.

Easy to Tweak Unique Algorithms

Strymon’s BigSky reverb plugin comes with 12 unique algorithms that are very easy to customise and tweak thanks to its wonderful layout.

Each reverb algorithm also comes with a set of unique parameters that are special to the algorithm and very easy to play with. The layout makes it really easy to use and understand all these parameters at a glance.

Infinite Reverb Function

Strymon BigSky plugin also offers a hold button which you can infinitely sustain the reverb while adding each note you play to the reverberated signal.

On top of that, you can also choose between “Infinite” and “Freeze“, so you can play with your dry signal on top of the “frozen” reverb signal.

Strymon BigSky Reverb Plugin Features

As I have mentioned above, the BigSky reverb plugin comes with 12 unique reverb algorithms. You can find detailed explanations of these algorithms down below.

Bloom

Strymon BigSky‘s first algorithm is the Bloom algorithm! Back in the 90s, when companies were designing digital reverbs, they had to add more diffusion blocks to the algorithms as they needed to smooth out the reverb characteristics. But this also introduced some side effects such as reverbs that built bloomed envelopes. Therefore, you would end up with big ambient reverbs that stayed present with the dry signal even when higher wet/dry ratios were set.
The Bloom algorithm actually reproduces these desired side effects and features a bloom-generating component that feeds the signal into traditional reverb tanks and applies unique feedback parameters.

The Swell

Next, we have the Swell algorithm that is designed for bringing the reverberated signal behind the dry signal to create evolving textures, just like you would achieve by using a volume pedal for controlling the wet signal. You also have the option to have the dry signal swelled into the reverb in case you want to create bigger ambiences.

Spring

The Strymon BigSky plugin also comes with a much-loved Spring reverb algorithm. This Spring algorithm allows total customisation for the user and enables to them cover any type of spring reverb effect, featuring the ability to choose the number of springs and dwell parameters.

Plate

Strymon BigSky also features a Plate algorithm that creates rich, fast-building reverb effects for generating depth without early reflections coming into a specific environment. As with any algorithm, you have many parameters to shape the plate sound as well as plate size. selection.

Hall

BigSky also comes with one of the best-sounding Hall reverb algorithms as well, featuring diffused reactions and slow building density characteristics. For this algorithm, you can choose Concert or Arena sizes with a Mid-EQ control.

Room

Next, we have the Room algorithm! This algorithm is again one of the most preferred reverb algorithms out there. BigSky Room algorithm is capable of creating any kind of room acoustics from a studio ambience to large night clubs.

With the Tone, Diffusion and Low-End parameters, you can actually adjust the dampening parameters such as room materials, furniture and even people!

Reflections

The Reflections algorithm is one of the most groundbreaking algorithms in BigSky‘s algorithm arsenal in my opinion. With this option, you can actually accurately create small space reverbs in which you can move the source location in the room. It calculates 250 reflections based on the source location in the preferred room shape.

Nonlinear

Next, we have the Nonlinear algorithm which can be used for creating special effects and unique textures. You have the option to choose from three different backward shapes such as Swoosh, Reverse and Ramp as well as gated reverbs and more.

Magneto

BigSky also features a tape echo/delay algorithm named Magneto. With the Magneto algorithm, you can actually choose the number of heads for echo creation with adjustable head spacing and feedback amounts.

Shimmer

Next, we have the Shimmer algorithm that features two adjustable pitch-shift controls to be added to the reverberated signal. The Amount and Mode parameters can be used for a variety of shimmering effects covering subtle to full-blown splendour soundscapes.

Chorale

BigSky also comes with the Chorale algorithm which is a very unique algorithm. It features vowel ranges and intensities for customising the “choir” type of effect. By increasing the Modulation parameter, the choir actually becomes more alive backed up with a variety of voices.

Cloud

Last but not least, we have the Cloud algorithm! As the name suggests, this algorithm definitely makes you over the cloud (not always in a happy sense though)! With the Cloud algorithm, achieving huge ambient reverbs is pretty easy.

Strymon BigSky Reverb Plugin Review

Before I provide you with a full-scope demo of this wonderful plugin, I would like to talk about my findings about the BigSky plugin here.

Pricing – 200€, Maybe a little bit too pricey

I think you will definitely agree that Strymon BigSky sounds awesome and provide you with so many options out of the box. It retails for around 200€ and I think it’s just about the right pricing for a modern plugin like this.

But I would still prefer a bit more affordable pricing as the competitors are also priced around the same. I believe this would encourage people to buy the license more often than they start looking for cracked versions.

However, having all these algorithms from a really respected company at the price tag is not something most people would complain about.

Installation – iLok Licence Manager

Regarding installation, unfortunately, installing Strymon BigSky took a while as you need to first download an iLok License Manager, and then create an iLok account. Once that’s done, you can launch the iLok and allow it a couple of minutes to sync a license with your computer.

Then you can simply install the BigSky plugin and just start your trial period which is 7 days long. Note that, in making the video down below, I used the trial version which is fully functional without any limits but only for 7 days.

I think 7 days trial period is pretty good. At the end of the day, you don’t need more than this duration to understand the plugin and make a purchasing decision.

Performance – Heavy on CPU!

One of the most important things that you need to know about Strymon BigSky is that this plugin is very heavy on the CPU. As you may already know, I have been releasing many plugin reviews (mostly reverbs, echos…etc) and no other plugin had caused constant crackling and popping sounds while monitoring at the lowest samples and latency settings.

My laptop features an Intel i7 4710MQ processor with 16GB of RAM and I have been using it for the last 7 years without any issues. My current approach using these kinds of plugins is simply creating a separate track for the effects and setting it to 100% wet.

I use my ENGL E570 tube preamp along with an ENGL Cabloader IR pedal direct into my RME Babyface PRO. There, I use zero latency monitoring and hear the dry guitar sounds through my KRK Rokit 5 G4 monitors.

When I also launch Reaper and use an effect track for any reverb or echo plugin, I never had any audio issues.

However, with Strymon BigSky, there were constant crackling and popping sounds while playing. There’s only one solution to overcome this issue which is simply to increase the number of samples.

But this adds latency so I don’t really prefer it. The video that I recorded was pretty painful to make as I had to hear these noises while playing.

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But while recording the screen, since there wouldn’t be any low latency monitoring needed, I increased the samples up to 2048 so my computer was comfortably able to perform.

On the Reaper FX window, I noticed BigSky was already consuming around 6% of CPU which is very huge in my opinion. No other plugin, including Valhalla’s crazy big, reverbs caused this.

So to summarise this section: I highly recommend you to visit Strymon’s website and download BigSky, then activate your free trial. You definitely need to try this before you buy, especially if you are planning to use this while monitoring at the lowest sample rates.

Resize Issues

The cool thing about the BigSky plugin is that it comes with an option to choose interface size. You can make it smaller or bigger based on your preferences using the Size option on the top right section. However, even though I set it to 100% while recording my guitar parts and kept opening up the interface, it would give me different results. It would sometimes start smaller and sometimes as I set it to.

Sound Quality

Apart from these issues, we also need to talk about sound quality. I think they nailed it so well! It’s probably one of the best-sounding reverbs I have ever heard. As you may know, this is not just built for guitar, but for every instrument or vocals, you may not like every single preset.

However, most of the presets will definitely get you inspired. I must say I’m so impressed by the Spring, Hall, Plate, Reflections and Cloud.

I was really looking for a spring reverb plugin these days (I have even started seeing Google Ads showing my spring reverb plugins already!) and I’m sure this is pretty much what I would need.

Strymon BigSky Plugin Demo Video

As promised, here I’m sharing the Strymon BigSky plugin demo video with you! It took so much time of my days to make this as I didn’t want my trial period to be expired! 🙂

I used my Fender American Standard Stratocaster, ENGL E570 tube preamp, ENGL Cabloader direct into RME Babyface PRO interface and then Reaper.

I tried to play through all the presets but after having realised not all of them would work for the guitar parts I played, I picked and choose some algorithms to fully present with all presets and some just to demo a single preset.

I was also recording random videos of the sky with my Canon EOS M200 in order to use it one day in the future for a video! I recorded this blue sky video a year ago. What a coincidence to have the BigSky plugin and combine them together! 🙂 I hope you like the sounds I got in this video!

Conclusion

To summarise, as I mentioned above, I urge you to try the BigSky plugin before you buy. It’s definitely a heavy plugin and should be tried precisely in your recording/monitoring scenario. I believe the pricing can be pretty much justified if you consider what you get for this money.

Check out Strymon BigSky Plugin pricing here

You would simply have one of the best-sounding, modern reverb plugins on the market! For those who prefer the hardware version, you can always go for that one too!

Check out Strymon BigSky Reverb Pedal here

In my use case which is almost always bedroom guitar playing, I don’t really like to buy pedals and effects as these would add complexity to my current setup. It’s a perfect solution for those who want the best quality reverb sounds with extreme flexibility.

I hope you enjoy this article and like the sounds of the BigSky plugin. Thanks for visiting my blog and reading/watching the materials here! Hopefully, see you in the next piece of content here!

Osman