YouTuber Paul Davids discovers world’s most incredible reverb – and it’s inside a nuclear power plant

Paul Davids and Silvan playing inside the Zwentendorf nucluear reactor
(Image credit: Paul Davids / YouTube)

A glance across any reverb pedal or plugin yields the now familiar list of reverb settings: spring, plate, hall, and if you’re lucky, cathedral… Now YouTube personality and guitar player Paul Davids has allowed us to add another option to the list: nuclear power plant. 

Davids latest clip sees him invited by microphone manufacturer Lewitt Audio to play in a power plant in Zwentendorf in Austria. Fortunately, as the guitarist explains, the plant was never actually brought online (following a change of public sentiment in 1978), so remains safe to explore without protective gear.

Along the way he pokes around the control room (which looks a lot like Homer Simpson’s office, to Guitar World) before checking out the cavernous acoustics in the cooling room – a giant chamber that would usually be flooded with water.

“In a working reactor, we wouldn’t be allowed to be here,” explains Davids’ guide. “It would be so radioactive, we would be dead.” 

The guitarist can’t resist setting up an amp and giving it a go, though – creating some swells with reverb tails longer than a diplodocus.

Next Davids heads to the reactor hall itself, accessing the area where the reactor core would have been kept. In the end, he opts to set up two amps and Lewitt’s sound engineers position four microphones around the space to capture the full effect. The result is incredible: tones just seem to rumble on and on, like thunder across the plains. 

“Usually you hear it coming out of your amp or from your speaker,” comments David, who looks quite moved by the sensation. “[Here you’re] drenched in reverb, you feel it all around you… this is very inspiring.”

It’s fair to say Davids doesn’t waste the opportunity, as he and co-guitarist Silvan take the chance to pen a sort of Sigur Rós-meets-Explosions in the Sky instrumental, which leaves the word ‘shimmering’ feeling woefully inadequate. 

It is a strangely moving musical result, set against the sheer, seething mass of wires, rods and ultimately unused technology.

Fortunately, Davids got to take more than just memories home with him, as Lewitt created an impulse response for the room, meaning he (and you) can revisit the space, at least sonically. 

You can watch the full clip above and download the Zwentendorf power plant IR at Davids’ Patreon (opens in new tab).

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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.