This is a pedal that I had my eyes on for a long time. Owned for about a year and then went into my “I want a midi board with big boxes and presets” phase, which has ended and since I sold this pedal to a friend of mine, I decided to borrow it back to play around with it again with a year or so more experience under my belt. I remember having some issues with the “wash” function on this the first time around and as this review will surmise – all of the issues I had with it were operator error and not any fault of the pedal.
What is this thing? Well, according to the manufacturer’s website it is a digital / analog hybrid tape delay emulation pedal – basically this thing recreates the sounds of arguably the three greatest tape delays ever conceived. The Binson Echorec (made famous by a guy named David from a band that rhymes with Rink Boyd.) as well as the RE-201 Space Echo by Roland and the EP-3 Echoplex by Maestro. Conveniently I happen to have access to a couple of these original tape machines and have played them quite extensively – more on that later.
The idea behind this unit is being able to dial in tape style analog feeling delay in a controlled manner, and then adding in a momentary bypass of the feedback control causing the unit to oscillate and wild out really quickly. Super fun!
So, looking absolutely beautiful aside, the layout of this pedal is really great as well. The controls are really straightforward and clearly labeled, the only real change coming when using the EP-3 mode instead of the other 2 tape models – the EP3 is a single delay so the Delay 2 control does nothing. Make sense to me.
Let’s just jump right into this, I really love this pedal and wanted to put together really quick demo tracks showing how it works. It took absolutely no time to dial in any of these tones and all of these little melodies just came out naturally. Incredibly inspiring pedal.
Before jumping into the delays let’s try out the spring reverb. This is a nice added feature – I’m pretty torn on these type of reverb add-ons for the most part. It works well for what it is, but if you’re in the market for a $325 delay pedal you probably already have some type of spring reverb. I think this is a nice bonus but not really an important feature.
This was one of my go-to sounds – absolutely great textural delay + reverb sound. This is something you could easily have as your only delay sound and be happy with it. This pedal however has a few other tricks in store.
The most straightforward tone in the pedal, this is a really great warm analog delay sound. I love how this sounds. The single constant delay vs. the multihead approach really make this a go-to that could.
The, arguably, most interesting part of this pedal is that little momentary footswitch on in the middle of the box. This triggers a featured called “the wash” which is removing the feedback control from the circuit (I believe @foxpedals correct me here!) which allows the delay to cascade in very interesting ways. This functions differently based on which emulator you’re running, so the Binson circuit gets out of control a lot faster than the RE-201. I personally find the RE-201 version to be a lot more musical and useful, but I’m sure I’d find some use for the quicker cascade on the Binson model as well. This is outlined in the two clips below.
This pedal is really great and ‘checks all the boxes’ as far as what a lot of people are looking for when it comes to a pedal. It’s versatile but not complicated, beautiful and also great sounding. If you’re looking for a super solid delay that could easily handle everything you need from a delay and reverb point of view, or if you’re like me you feel the need to have a bunch of different delays.
The concept of emulating a tape machine has been approached in a lot of different ways with a lot of different results. They all seem to lack something though, there’s just some magic in the lack of precision, the unexpected results, the glitches, the problems. Tape machines make incredible studio tools and are absolutely amazing fun – however, they’d never leave my basement and that is a problem for a lot of people. If you’re looking for something that captures the magic of these devices without needing to break the bank or risk failure during a set, this pedal (and a lot of other tape simulators, to be honest) does a great job.
I’ve played this directly next to a vintage RE-201 as well as a vintage EP-3 – does it sound the same? no. Does it get cover the same basic sonic territory? Absolutely. It also fits on a pedalboard and sports the super fun wash button.
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