Home » Recording Resources » Featured Reviews » July 2024: Strymon BigSky MX

Newer, bigger, better skies


Review by Paul Vnuk Jr.

In the May 2015 issue, I reviewed the Strymon BigSky, today one of the most popular reverb pedals of the past decade. With additional reverb pedals such as the smaller blueSky V2, the Flint V2 Tremolo & Reverb, plus the experimental NightSky and ambient Cloudburst, one might ask, what could Strymon do next in the world of reverb pedals? Hello BigSky MX.

An Even Bigger Sky

The new BigSky MX appears similar to its predecessor, yet side-by-side at
6.75″ (W) x 5″ (D) x 1.87″ (H), the BigSky MX is 1/8 wider than the previous version.

The pedal still includes two push-button rotary encoders, seven pots, three LED-equipped stomp switches and a graphic display on a metallic blue field; however, it now has an even more logical layout.

The multifunction encoders flank a high-
contrast OLED display, which is better looking and more informative than the previous LCD, and the seven parameter controls are set in a single row below the display, which makes things easier to read and adjust.

Are Two Reverbs Are Better than One

The original BigSky used an Analog Devices SHARC processor. This time, computations are made using a tri-core 800 MHz ARM processor. Along with all new from-scratch algorithms, this latest processor allows the BigSky MX to run two reverb algorithms simultaneously in series, parallel or split left and right, each with full editing capability, no resource sharing, dumbed-
down functionality or lesser sonics.

StrymonBigSky MX-back


The pedal’s back offers two sets of  1/4 mono/stereo I/O, a TRS expression/MIDI jack, 5-Pin DIN MIDI I/O and a 9v DC input socket (power adaptor sold separately).

The pedal also features high impedance, ultra-low noise, and discrete Class A JFET preamp inputs.

The Cab Filter switch has been removed, but the functionality remains through the global menu. The BigSky MX includes a USB-C port for firmware updates, MIDI control, and use with the Strymon Nixie 2 app. Patch storage and recall work now, while parameter editing is still forthcoming in the app.

I can confirm the BigSky MX worked as a bidirectional MIDI device in my DAW (Cubase 13), allowing me to use the knobs and MIDI CC lanes to automate the pedal’s various reverb parameters.

The Reverbs

While all but two of the names are the same, seven algorithms have been redesigned from the ground up. The remaining five have been tweaked and enhanced, and almost all include added algorithm-specific parameters not found on the original. As a bonus, those five offer a classic mode that reverts to the sound of the “O.G.” BigSky.

  • Room – Offers Club or Studio sizes and a classic voice option
  • Hall – Offers Concert or Arena sizes, a classic voice option and incorporates the Swell algorithm from the original pedal
  • Chamber – A new MX algorithm designed to simulate a classic studio echo chamber with five “color” choices so distinctly different that it’s like having five additional algorithms.
  • Plate – Offers Small or Large plate sizes and the classic voice option
  • Spring – An enhanced version of the original, now with one, two or three spring tank options and a classic voice setting.
  • Impulse – This is an Impulse Response reverb loaded with 22 (up to ten-second) IRs ranging from Halls to Plates, Springs, Chapels, Oil Can, classic rock verbs and more.
  • Cloud – A newly designed algorithm offering deep, lush, ensemble-based tones
  • Shimmer – An update of the original ‘swimmy’ pitch-shifting verb—offers a classic voice option
  • Bloom – A thick, dense ensemble-style reverb redesigned with an added harmonic parameter.
  • Chorale – An Oooing and Ahhing choir in a box, redesigned with added voice options.
  • Magneto – This multihead tape-based reverb has been redesigned with even more control.
  • Nonlinear – The classic “non-lin” verb favored by 80s drums and more, redesigned with added parameters

Taking Control

Seven parameter knobs grant instant access to Decay, Pre-Delay, Tone, Modulation and Mix, as well as algorithm-specific and user-assignable
Parameter 1 and Parameter Two controls. You can fine-tune and access additional parameters further with the push-button encoders.

The new BigSky MX display shows a detailed readout of every parameter (not just some), complete with a ^ symbol to show the starting value in the preset.

Global controls are available for OLED and LED brightness, footswitch and pedal assignment, spillover, hard or buffered bypass, MIDI, engaging the cab filter and more.

Infinity and Beyond

One further change in the BigSky MX is the addition of a dedicated Infinite/Freeze button instead of preset C on the original pedal, although it still works for bank navigation.

This pedal can be set to Infinite (freezes the reverb while adding and building up newly played notes into the frozen drone) or Freeze (freezes the reverb in its place with no new notes added).

Swimming in the Sky

For the past nine years, the BigSky has been one of my go-to reverbs live and in the studio. So I was excited, anxious and curious when I received the BigSky MX a few weeks before its official release.

I should note that I am not a guitar player, but I use effects pedals when I play live with my analog synths and I am a big fan of using effects pedals as send and return effects in studio sessions.

Since you can internally select between line or instrument level, this pedal does not usually require a reamping device.

The Verbs

Over the past few weeks, I have been bathing synth patches in big, deep, 10 to 20 or more-second atmospheric sound washes of the most glorious order. I wish I could dig into every reverb style, but the Cloud, Shimmer, and Bloom algorithms are excellent in this capacity, each with unique takes on harmonics, pitch intervals and more. Even the smooth, pure plate excels at long ambience.

In “normal” use, the room, hall and plate algorithms sound great on vocals, drums and, yes, guitar. The Chamber stands out here, and the Spring algorithm is equally impressive. The Impulse algorithm takes this pedal to the next level on the ‘realistic’ and vintage classic space scale. I have not yet loaded my own IRs, but they can be easily dragged and dropped through Nixie 2, including impulses from your favorite IR reverb plugins.

MX Times Two

Being able to use two algorithms at once is equally next-level. I had fun putting two Spring reverbs split left and right with differing spring combinations at gently offset times to create a super spring. Similarly, I like building a massive ‘choir’ with two Choral algorithms at different intervals blended in parallel. Or crazy things like sending Shimmer into Bloom or Swelling a Hall into the Cloud—you get the idea.

BigSky Versus BigSky MX

This does not lessen the sonic impact of the original BigSky, but the MX is a step up overall. When matching various algorithms side by side, I can hear a touch more depth, clearer highs and more fidelity in the tails and decay of the BigSky MX. Switching to classic mode on supporting verbs narrows the gap, but that gentle fidelity bump remains.

Switching between the Classic and MX voices further highlights the differences between some of the reverbs. Shimmer, for instance, is warmer, thicker and muddy (in a good way) in the Classic voice.


Is there anything I would change? Imagine the crazy routings you could create with other pedals/processes if you could use a TRS-Y cable in each output and send a different stereo reverb out of each. It would also be cool to swap the Infinite switch back to a ‘C’ preset in the global menu (I rarely freeze things), but it’s not a deal breaker, as extra presets are only a bank away.

The BigSky MX is $679, making it one of the more expensive stomp boxes on the market, alongside similar offerings from Eventide, Kemper and Line-6. In other words, the BigSky MX sits in powerful company.

As someone who used the original and plans to use the BigSky MX as a hardware studio effect in this arena, it’s a bargain considering vintage and boutique rackmount or 500-Series reverbs can cost $1,200 to $4,000 or more.

Wrap Up

Strymon has done the rare feat of taking an already stellar guitar pedal and making it better on multiple levels. The Strymon BigSky MX is truly a next-gen multi-reverb pedal with one of the broadest ranges of verb styles I have ever heard in one box, easily hanging with the best of the best in studio verbs as well.


Price: $679

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