Zorx Electronics
MercuryX - Meris

MercuryX - Meris

by Sam Chittenden

The latest pedal from Meris, their MercuryX, is a studio-quality reverb platform housed in a sleek dark blue enclosure and focuses on a sizable offering of reverb algorithms. There are plenty of options on tap and similar to the almost multi-effect like possibilities of the LVX, their delay pedal release from last year, MercuryX provides a veritable cornucopia of ambience. It is packed with ultra-high quality algorithms (although not necessarily all hi-fidelity) and like the LVX, there’s definitely some dirt to be found and has the flexibility to push the pedal out of strictly reverb territory. Also like the LVX, MercuryX uses the same form factor, user interface, and menu structure.
Connections are laid out across the rear of the unit. From left to right are stereo ins and outs (on separate TS ¼” jacks) , an expression pedal input, MIDI in and out, and a USB C port. The top / front has a large color LCD screen flanked by four dedicated knobs for Decay, Mix, Pre-delay, and Mod, as well as three encoders for navigation and parameter selection. The unit also has four foot switches and accompanying led indicators for changing presets, preset banks, accessing a built-in tuner, and a “hold modifier” function–a parameter that can be assigned to implement a variety of cool effects (like pitching up or down reverb trails, tap tempo effects, and so on). By default MercuryX ships in the “graphic view,”with a colored bubble interface that has parameter items attached. As with the LVX, I prefer the all-options-visible-at-once look of the text interface option.
Speaking of options, there are a lot on offer here, and with all the parameters available to adjust, creating new sounds with MercuryX can feel a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, the presets are excellent and a great way to dive in and get a feel for what the pedal is capable of. I found myself dialing through the list until I found something that I liked or pricked my ears in some way and then jumped into the settings to see what was going on. With the UI and architecture of MercuryX being so close to the LVX it did help having prior exposure to the interface but Meris has done a great job creating a very clear and intuitive system. Don’t get me wrong, there is still an almost endless supply of variation at hand and plenty of complex settings to be parsed, but despite its density, MercuryX is very user friendly. There is a learning curve, but it isn’t horribly steep and there’s a lot of fun to be had along the way.
First off, let me say that MercuryX sounds incredible. Basically everything you could ever want out of a reverb unit is in this box. Meris has packed in eight different reverb algorithms into MercuryX. Two of the algorithms (Ultraplate and Cathedra) are from their Mercury7 reverb pedal, while three others (78 Room, 78 Plate, and the 78 Hall) are based on the Lexicon 224, which also served as inspiration for Meris’ collaboration on the Chase Bliss CXM 1978. The final three algorithms (Spring, Prism, and Gravity) are newly developed for MercuryX. Ultraplate and Cathedra are both massive sounding with Cathedra being the more expansive of the two, perfect for huge washes and otherworldly ambiance. The different flavors of the “78” reverbs are more traditional-sounding classic digital reverbs and sound fantastic. The 78 Plate sounded great with a couple of different percussion loops and the Spring algorithm is one of the more convincing reproductions of a true spring tank that I’ve heard. The Prism structure provides for some interesting reflections and you can really tweak the two sides for interesting stereo interplay. The Gravity algorithm is the first stop if you are looking to score a horror movie or add wild pitch modulation to your reverb trails.
In addition to MercuryX’s reverb structures there are several processing elements on hand as well as a host of modifiers (two LFOs, sample and hold, an envelope generator, a 16-step sequencer, and the aforementioned hold modifier). Each modifier can be freely assigned to control MercuryX’s parameters with options for modulation speed and depth (as a min - max amount). The processing elements are grouped into five categories: Dynamics, Preamp, Filter, Pitch, and Modulation. Each element can (just as in the LVX) be placed anywhere in the signal path: before or after the delay lines, in the feedback loop of the delay lines, and on the pre + dry signal. These processing elements are what set MercuryX apart from other reverb pedals. Combined with the modulation options (or not!) most processing elements are useable on their own to shape the incoming signal in a myriad of effective ways which gives MercuryX an almost multi-effect level of power. In the Dynamics category there is compression and limiting (including variations for both called Compressor Link and Limiter Link. These versions analyze and process the left and right signals independently). Swell removes the attack of a signal and swells the volume; Diffusion is a short delay-based smearing effect, and Freeze…freezes. MercuryX offers three different preamp models: Tube, Transistor, and Op-Amp, which offer different flavors of EQ and gain structure. There are three filter models, two ported from Meris’ Enzo—a ladder filter and a state variable filter—and a single-band parametric EQ. Three pitch shifting algorithms: Poly Chroma–polyphonic chromatic pitch shifting, Lo-Fi—a version of the pitch shifting from Meris’ Ottobit Jr, and a variation on the Lo-Fi algo called Micro Shift, which allows for independent detuning of each side of the stereo signal. Finally five separate Modulation effects: Chorus, Vibrato, Tremolo, a Vowel Mod filter bank for cool talk box-y vibes, and Hazy, which is a kind of old tape, lo-fi, warbled bundle of awesome.
MercuryX sounds gorgeous. Whether your flavor is pristine hi-fi, lo-res dirt, infinite wash or subtle sense of space. As usual in the case of powerful pedals with deep feature sets there is a tendency towards either sticking only with presets or falling down a rabbit hole of endless fiddling. With so many options, parameters, and modulation assignments available it was easy for me to lose time auditioning different settings on a single parameter page, but if you can be disciplined in your exploration, there’s plenty of magic to be found in MercuryX. The pedal is very musical and I found it easy to get to sounds that enhanced what I was putting in rather than overwhelming or obfuscating them into oblivion.
MercuryX blurs the line between pedal and computer—like a lot of hardware these days—and if you’re a sound designer, a synth-head, interested in crafting the perfect spaces for your sounds, or pushing even further into the reverb effect as a sound itself, then it doesn’t make sense to look at anything other than MercuryX.
Price: $599