EarthQuaker Devices Disaster Transport SR Review – Best Lo-Fi Delay Pedal?


Reviewed by:
Rating:
4.5
On
Last modified:December 3, 2016

Summary:

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I really love lo-fi delay pedals, one of my favorites being the old Boss PS-2, and I also get excited about any crazy new delay pedal that incorporates different effects for strange new sounds. The EarthQuaker Devices Disaster Transport SR Advanced Modulated Delay & Reverb Machine looks like a match made in heaven to me. Its claim is to provide all manner of twisted lo-fi delay sounds including unique tape styled echoes, warped record effects, clanging flange, smooth chorus, and more, not to mentioned more conventional straight delay, rhythmic delay, and reverb effects. With its assortment of 10 control knobs, 3 footswitches, and 2 expression pedal inputs, it certainly looks like a more versatile beast than most guitar pedals. And as I discovered upon plugging this pedal in, it lives up to its lofty claims and more. Here’s a rundown of the pedal’s features before we jump into the full EarthQuaker Devices Disaster Transport SR review.

Features:

Delay A Controls

  • Time- Controls the delay time from about 30ms up to 600ms.
  • Repeats- Controls how many regenerations of the signal there are. This ranges from one single repeat through an endless wash into self oscillation. This can also be controlled via an expression pedal. The Moog EP-2 is recommended.
  • Mix- Level control for the wet signal. Unity is around center, anything above is boosted. Boosting this works great when using a distorted signal. Please keep in mind this is a gain control, a bit of hiss is normal when it’s above unity.
  • Depth- Controls the intensity of the modulation. From no modulation to all out seasick pitch bends.
  • Rate- Controls the rate of the modulation. The LED for delay A flashes in time with the modulation to visually show where the rate is set.
  • Bleed- This feeds delay A into delay B, post reverb (see block diagram for visual explanation). Use this control for series or series/parallel operation to create rhythmic repeats, extra long delay time or an all out echo wash. This can also be controlled via an expression pedal. The Moog EP-2 is recommended. When using the bleed, experiment with the repeat controls on each delay line. Try using them in different settings, both together and individually, for different timing and textures.

Delay B Controls

  • Reverb- Controls the amount of reverb added to the input of delay B.
  • Mix- Level control for the wet signal. Unity is around center, anything above is boosted. Boosting this works great when using a distorted signal. Please keep in mind this is a gain control, a bit of hiss is normal when it’s above unity.
  • Repeats- Controls how many regenerations of the signal there are. This ranges from one single repeat through an endless wash into self oscillation.
  • Time- Controls the delay time from about 30ms up to 300ms.

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Switching

The switches for both delays switch the inputs only. The outputs are always connected. This allows you to have trails by always leaving the bypass switch engaged or to use the bypass switch as the master on/off for true bypass. Additionally, you can feed delay A in to delay B with the bleed control without having delay B switched on for a cleaner rhythmic delay.

Measures

5.5″ x 4.5″ x 2.5″ with knobs.

Power

A standard 9 DC power supply intended for musical instruments with a negative center 2.1mm barrel, 100ma minimum. We strongly recommend a high quality power supply with isolated outputs and good filtering to avoid unwanted noise. Current Draw is 100ma. No battery Option.

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Sound & Performance:

I’ll admit that when I first saw this pedal I was a little intimidated. With all those knobs and the possibility of series, parallel, and series/parallel operation and the various modulation/reverb possibilities, the Disaster Transport SR looks like a pedal you could get absolutely lost in. But let me assure you it’s not really as complicated as it seems and is surprisingly easy to use in practice. And even though you can still get lost in this pedal, its optional for those of you who want to experience an adventure in creating some of the most surrealistically epic delay/reverb soundscapes available to effects pedal loving guitarists.

Basically, the top row of knobs controls delay A and the bottom row of knobs controls delay B. Delay A features optional modulation with dedicated Depth and Rate knobs while delay B features optional reverb controlled by the Reverb knob. The Bleed knob will let you feed delay A into delay B. Delay B and the Bleed effect occur post-reverb, an interesting design choice that makes for more ambient, atmospheric delay textures.

With the Bleed knob turned to zero (fully counter-clockwise) you can activate the pedal with the Bypass footswitch and use the Delay A and Delay B footswitches to activate either delay independently or together for parallel operation. This gives you quick access to 2 independent delay effects and a 3rd option of running them simultaneously. Add an expression pedal to control the Bleed, and you can smoothly transition between variations of parallel and series operation in realtime. Very cool. As an important performance note, for the cleanest series delays max the Bleed control, set both Mix controls to noon, and activate the left 2 footswitches. Start with no Modulation or Reverb. Dial in the Time knobs to taste, and your cascading series of lo-fi delay epicness is good to go.

The delays sound reasonably clean on their own, being of the digital sort but with a slight lo-fi quality and convincingly analog vibe. Bringing in some modulation on delay A adds to the vintage feel for some tape echo inspired tones that recall the sounds of the best modulated analog delay pedals. You can even get some runaway self-oscillation when cranking the Repeats A control, definitely worth adjusting with an expression pedal for dramatic effect.

Delay B offers shorter delay times than delay A (up to 300mS vs up to 600mS, respectively) which is particularly useful when running the delays together in series. This allows you to add shorter repeats to the incoming longer delays for unique rhythmic effects. Adding a hint of delay B’s Reverb to the mix adds to the ambient nature of the pedal. While the reverb can be used on its own I find the reverb better suited to enhancing the Disaster Transport SR’s already awesome delay effects for even more modulated delay madness. As I mentioned before, the reverb is actually placed before delay B. While I’d be curious to hear the difference in placing the reverb before or after the delay, perhaps via a routing flipswitch, Jamie at EarthQuaker Devices chose this order as the ideal for realizing his twisted delay vision, a design choice which is a key element to the sounds this pedal produces.

My only minor issue with the pedal is that there are so many inspiring delay variations you’ll stumble across that being able to save at least a few of them as presets would be amazing. However, if you’re a guitarist that revels in spontaneous creativity, the joy of re-discovering new sounds every time you play this pedal will surely appeal to you. Besides once you get acquainted with the Disaster Transport SR, you’ll probably memorize a few great settings to dial in when you need them. This pedal is a treasure trove of tone that captures the vibe of using an old analog piece of gear. It’s quirky, unique, and will become the ultimate delay workstation to the experimental guitar pioneers who tap into what this fantastic pedal is capable of.

EarthQuaker Devices has unleashed a lo-fi delay pedal masterpiece, a great fit among such EQD classics as the Bit Commander, Rainbow Machine, and Palisades pedals. Let’s see the final result.

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Overall-Rating-4.5

The EarthQuaker Devices Disaster Transport SR should be regarded as one of the all-time great lo-fi delay pedals. Nothing else out there captures a vibe quite like the Disaster Transport SR. This pedal was in development for a few years, and the final result definitely paid off. As a modern lo-fi, analog-style twin delay pedal with modulation, reverb, and the versatility of series, parallel, and series/parallel operation, the Disaster Transport SR is a prime contender for the best lo-fi delay pedal available today.

That concludes our EarthQuaker Devices Disaster Transport SR review. Thanks for reading.

 

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  1. The EarthQuaker Devices Disaster Transport SR is my favourite pedal!