UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, I have released a plugin, ValhallaShimmer, that is designed to obtain the classic “shimmer” sound found on the U2 songs I discuss below, as well as a whole bunch of other cool reverbs and soundscapes. You can check it out at
As a teenager in the 1980′s, I listened to a lot of U2. I loved their early work with Steve Lillywhite, but the albums produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois took U2 into a more ambient direction. One of the most distinctive sounds of the Eno/Lanois collaboration with U2 is a reverb effect with octave swell. You can hear this on the “infinite” guitar in “With or Without You”:
The effect is more prominently featured on the instrumental “4th of July”:
Nowadays, this effect is referred to as the “shimmer” effect. Judging from browsing a bunch of forums, a lot of people have tried to figure out how to get this sound with current gear. Over the next week, I will discuss the shimmer effect in more detail, with some examples of its use pre-U2, and a detailed technical analysis of what is going on inside the effect.