Sony MU-R201 digital reverberator

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Vintage stereo reverb and effects

[ Sony MU-R201 front panel ]

This was one of the very first single rack space true stereo multi-effects units ever made. I like the simple architecture: press a button to edit that parameter, with no wasting time menu diving. And it has a special magic which gives sounds a real sense of space: feeding my oscillators into it turns a simple siren sound into a car chase echoing through the busy city streets of an American cop show! Takehito Shimazu (electroacoustic composer of Zytoplasma from Inventionen 2) used one from 1985-1988, and it was a favourite of the late Roger Nichols, who wrote:

One of my favorite reverbs is the Sony MU-R201. I use it on every project, including the Steely Dan mixes. This was a unit made by Sony for Ibanez. Toward the end of its marketing life, Sony sold it with Sony labels and some software updates. Ten years ago it was priced at over $1,000, and worth every penny. I have seen them in pawn shops in Hollywood for under $200. The coolest feature of the MU-R201 is that it is a true stereo reverb.

This unit (and the Ibanez clone version) was meant to take on the Lexicon PCM70 in the marketplace, when being true stereo was quite unique. Some presets are dual mono, where each input feeds a different algorithm. As well as a 4-band EQ, it also features other modes beyond reverb:

  1. Sony reverbs on Casio VZ1 synth | Sony MU-R201 + DPS-R7 buttonscape | Sony MU-R201 + DPS-R7 with Lexicon M97 and little fluffy clouds | Shiny Sonys MU-R201 + DPS-R7 with Lexicon M97 | Sony MU-R201 + DPS-R7 in good company with Lexicon M97 |Hall
  2. Room
  3. Plate
  4. Multi Gate Reverb
  5. Multi Reverse Reverb
  6. Dual Multi Delay
  7. Multi Auto Panning
  8. Dual Reverb
  9. Reverb and Gate
  10. Reverb and Delay

MU-R201 specifications

Ibanez SDR-1000

Sony also made a similar unit rebadged for Ibanez (called the SDR-1000) with a different coloured front panel (black instead of pale blue/green). There was also an enhanced SDR-1000+ version, which was used in Mayfair Studios (I forget whether the SDR-1000+ or the SDR-1000 was identical to the MU-R201). The SDR-1000 was reviewed in Sound On Sound in September 1986, and here's a thread about fixing the display, complete with manuals.

© copyright Malcolm Smith 2010-10-30 - last updated 2018-02-10 - links verified 2018-02-10