1987 BOSS RV-2 Digital Reverb

Model Description:

The dark grey Japanese BOSS RV‑2 Digital Reverb was noteworthy as the world’s first digital reverb compact pedal, introduced to the market in 1987. It wasn’t BOSS’s first digital delay pedal, that was 1983’s DD‑2 Digital Delay echo pedal. At its most basic, reverb is simply a delay effect but it is differentiated from echo effects largely due to the length of delay. Digital processing enabled the higher audio fidelity and increased delay range of studio rack processors to be available in a convenient stomp box. I am led to believe that reverb cannot be achieved in the analogue domain in stomp box form, which may explain the rarity of vintage reverb pedals. The RV‑2 didn’t stay in production for long and was discontinued in 1988, although it was marketed up to the end of 1989. It was superseded by the more refined RV‑3 in 1994. The circuit uses a powerful‑for‑its‑time DSP chip set that was taken from the BOSS RRV‑10 micro rack system. There are 6 modes comprising Room, Hall (x2), Plate, Gate and Delay. Like the equally digital DD‑2, the RV‑2 was also an example of the now‑familiar modern styling used by BOSS, with 4 colour‑capped control knobs. The RV‑2 has a high current draw (130ma), so it only runs off a 9V power supply unit with no option to run on a battery. There have been many digital reverb pedals since the RV‑2 that not only do more but also do it better. The pioneering RV‑2 began the on‑going development of digital reverb as we know it today. We tend to take music making in the digital domain for granted in the 21st Century but it was in its infancy back in the mid‑1980s. As a ground breaking innovation in effect pedals, the RV‑2 is beginning to become collectable, despite – or possibly because of – its binary digital signal processing.

Pedal Description:

What is this heresy, I hear you say? A DIGITAL vintage effect? Well, my rationale is that I needed something to use with my small non‑reverb vintage valve amps and, let’s face it, there weren’t many options back in the day. You could use bulky external spring analogue reverbs, which are admittedly excellent but not necessarily expedient. Thus, the sturdy BOSS RV‑2, this one from the first year of Japanese manufacture, joined the merry BOSS family. The range of sounds on hand is impressive, although one tends to stick to one or two favourites. Driven hard, it can trip into a bit of binary sibilance but when it shines, it really shines, providing everything from subtle special effects to broader, dreamier soundscapes, great for experimenting. Just don’t expect it to sound like an on‑board valve‑driven spring reverb, that’s all. This example is in very good condition, with just a few surface marks to show it has served its purpose over the years. Despite the occasional but readily avoidable digital artefacts, it can be very addictive to use, compared to a plain dry sound; one just forgets how it works and get lost in playing, which is usually a very good sign. For those who are familiar with simple one‑knob vintage analogue effects that only run on battery, the power‑hungry digital RV‑2 is the antithesis, with its multiple modes and only running off a PSU. However, like most BOSS pedals made through the decades, the RV‑2 Digital Reverb is robust and pedalboard friendly… and now becoming a classic.


  • Made in Japan by Roland Corporation in 1987
  • The ‘E.Level’ knob controls the volume of the reverb/delay effect
  • The ‘Pre EQ’ knob controls the tone of the effect from ‘warm’ to ‘bright’
  • The ‘Time’ knob controls the length of the reverb/delay
  • The 6‑position ‘Mode’ switch controls which reverb effect type is selected (Room, Hall [x2], Plate, Gate and Delay)
  • BOSS treadle footswitch turns the effect on and off
  • Red LED ‘Check’ light to indicate when the effect is in use
  • Standard ¼” input and stereo output jack sockets
  • 9V DC power supply input only (no battery facility)
  • Dark grey ‘Made In Japan’ label on the base of the pedal
  • Dimensions: 70mm (w) x 125mm (d) x 55mm (h)
  • Weight: 420g
  • No box or instructions

Detail Gallery:

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