Review: Electro Harmonix Canyon Delay & Looper


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Rating:
5
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Last modified:May 5, 2018

Summary:

 

The Canyon delay from Electro Harmonix is a brilliantly designed, beautiful sounding delay/looper that will far exceed your expectations. Inside the little box you’ll find 9 delays, a reverb, two octaves, a sample and hold, a looper, some modulation, tap tempo – the list goes on and on. In fact I struggle to think of a better delay when it comes to the list of features offered vs. size and price. This delay pedal feels like when you go to a restaurant for a huge expensive meal and they forget to charge you for the drinks! With all that value, you just feel like you’re getting away with something! A delay that inexpensive, you’d surely assume it’s not going to sound very good. Do NOT make that mistake here. The Canyon delay sounds as good as the best delays on the market. Considering all that it does, how incredible it sounds, and the impossibly low price point, it will surely find it’s way onto, like, a gazillion pedalboards.

When Electro Harmonix releases a new delay/looper pedal, guitar players stop and take a listen. And rightfully so. For decades, Electro Harmonix has produced some of the best delays as well as some of the best loopers on the market and have been responsible for much of the industry’s innovation and time-tested designs. I just need to say the words “Deluxe Memory Man”, and you’ll get what I’m saying. Along the way, Electro Harmonix has continued to add features to modern versions of the DMM keeping tweak-happy delay lovers content for years. So when I saw that they now had a very compact, multi-algorithm delay plus looper to offer, I was more than intrigued. The Canyon is somewhat of a “new ground” for Electro Harmonix in a couple different ways. The only other delay of theirs I can think of in this form factor would be the Memory Toy, a great sounding, paired-down grandchild of the DMM, but, alas, a one trick pony. The Canyon delay, however, has several tricks up its sleeve. We may have expected a multi-algorithm delay from Electro Harmonix to be in their much larger enclosures like a DMM size, or, at least, a Memory Boy size. But here it is… and it’s as tiny as a Toy. Here are the Canyon’s features before we go on.

 

Features:

Sound Design:

  • 11 modes (nine delay types, sample and hold, and a looper)
  • Delay times ranging from 3ms to 3 seconds
  • Tap tempo with tap devisions utilizing the internal switch or an external switch
  • Option for trails on or off via internal dip switch
  • Simple controls for Level, Delay, Feedback
  • Easy access to secondary knob functions for added tone shaping
  • Several modes offer a nice, musical “ramping time” feel as you turn the Delay knob
  • Tons of Self-oscillation and gritty long repeat goodness on tap
  • Multi-stage LED indicates several behaviors including note division and looper functionality
  • All of this in a super compact enclosure

Ins and outs:

  • One 1/4” main input (right side mounted)
  • One 1/4” main output (left side mouinted)
  • 9v DC, center negative power jack drawing 150mA (top-mounted)

Knobs:

  • MODE SELECT: An 11 position rotary knob for selecting the delay mode/looper
  • FX LVL: Controls the blend between your dry signal and your delayed signal
  • DELAY: Controls your delay time. All the way down is 3ms, all the way up is 3 seconds.
  • FEEDBACK: Controls the number of repeats of the delayed signal. One repeat to infinity

Let’s have a more in-depth look one of the main knobs of the pedal:

Mode Select: Here you can select nine delay types, as well as the sample/hold, and looper.
The nine delay types are:

1. ECHO: A simple digital delay where each repeat sounds exactly like the dry signal and repeats fade away cleanly.

2. MOD: A modulation delay. The same as the ECHO delay, but with added modulation for warm, complex repeats.

3. MULTI: Multi-tap delay. Each repeat of the delay is played back at exactly the same volume. Feedback sets the number of constant-volume repeats.

4. REVRS: Reverse delay. The repeats come back to you in reverse. However, this isn’t your dad’s reverse delay. This one features intelligent reverse echo. It actually studies your playing so it can produce reverse echoes that best suit your playing and delayed time. Tip: Use the secondary function to adjust the sensitivity of the intelligent pluck detection algorithm.

5. DMM: Duh. Deluxe Memory Man. For my money, this mode is where it’s at. It’s a perfect example of a well-tuned delay pedal. Everything just sounds perfect and beautiful when played in this mode. Organic echoes transform as they repeat and lush modulation is available in the secondary functions. Beautiful-sounding time ramping effects are at your toe-tips. Just tweak that DELAY knob and musical pitch-shifting repeats rise and fall before your very ears.

6. TAPE: Tape delay. This mode simulates the highly sought after tape delay units of the 1970’s. Echoes degrade and distort as they repeat with plenty of wow and flutter on tap.

7. VERB: Reverb plus delay. In this mode, each repeat has a plate reverb attached to it. Turn the feedback all the way down and this mode can be used as a reverb only with DELAY controlling the pre-delay of the reverb signal.

8. OCT: Octave delay. Man! This is the mode that took me by surprise. The octaves are incredible and track with absolute perfection! There’s a POG and Pitch Fork in this thing!! It sounds really cool and trippy to use it as a delay, but you can also turn the Feedback and Delay all the way down and you have a damn good octave generator. Get into the secondary functions to adjust the octave up and octave down.

9. SHIM: Shimmer delay. This mode has some magical things going on. A rich octave-shifted harmony of delight will roll out of your speakers. They achieve this by modeling a chain of four EH pedals. First the signal is fed into a Soul Preacher Compressor then split in two. Half of the signal goes into a POG2 Pitch Shifter and then into a Stereo Memory Man. Then the signal is merged and sent into a second Stereo Memory Man. It boggles the mind to think of what’s going on in there. But it sounds incredible. I can’t imagine a shimmer delay sounding better than this.

10. S/H: Sample and Hold: First of all, I gotta say, this is the first Sample and Hold I have ever used where I actually can hear a viable use for what is coming out of the amp. I set the Delay to about 9:00 and made clicking sounds on my strings to produce some really cool machine gun sounds, à la Jamie Hince of The Kills. Feedback controls the sensitivity of the pluck detection.

11. Loop: Looper mode. In loop mode, the Canyon becomes a full-feature looper pedal with 62 seconds of record time. A loop is stored permanently, even when the looper is powered off. Wanna record that cool loop and take it to the gig. Go for it! Wanna save that cool riff from rehearsal? You’re safe!

Secondary knob functions are as follows, per mode:

DELAY KNOB, FEEDBACK KNOB
ECHO: N/A, N/A
MOD: Modulation rate, Modulation depth
MULTI: Volume decay/swell, N/A
REVRS: Pluck sensitivity, N/A
DMM: Modulation rate, Modulation depth
TAPE: Tape distortion, Flutter mod depth
VERB: Reverb Time, Reverb tone
OCT: Octave up level, Octave down level
SHIM: Low pass filter, Modulation depth
S/H: Volume decay/Swell, N/A
LOOP: N/A, N/A

*If you feel like you’ve messed with the secondary knob functions so much that you’ve now taken your pedal so far out in space and you just wanna get back? No problem. The geniuses at Electro Harmonix left nothing to chance. You can return your pedal’s secondary settings to a factory default! This is also useful if you’ve purchased this pedal used and simply want to hear it on a “clean slate” so to speak.

While in Looper Mode, the knobs will function as follows:

FX LVL: Controls the output level of the loop playback
FEEDBACK: Controls the level of the existing loop that is preserved while overdubbing

The LED is also there to help you know what you’re doing. It will change color and/or blink to tell you valuable information such as:

In Looper Mode:

  • RED: Press the switch one time, the LED goes red and begins recording immediately
  • GREEN: Press the switch again, the LED goes green and begins playing back the recorded loop. Each time the loop cycles, the LED will briefly turn off
  • GREEN (dim): To stop playback, press the switch two times. Once stopped, the LED will show as green, but dim to indicate the presence of a recorded loop that is ready for playback
  • ORANGE: The LED will turn orange when you record an overdub on top of the original loop
  • RED (blinking): To fully erase a loop you press and hold for two seconds. The LED will go red and blink rapidly six times then go out. This indicates that the loop is fully erased

In Tap Division Mode:

  • RED: Quarter notes, no tap division
  • ORANGE: Dotted 8th notes (¾ of tapped delay time)
  • GREEN: 8th notes (half if tapped delay time)

Visit Electro Harmonix for more info about the Canyon.

 

 

Into the Canyon:

The Canyon delay is kind of a lesson in the idea that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get great quality. I’ll admit that I’m a goon. When I first took a peek at this pedal, I kind of turned my nose up thinking it was just another cheap delay pedal designed to meet a specific price point. We have all seen some examples of not only delays, but other pedals that are put out, even by great companies, that just seem to be so they can have an entry level offering in every category of effect. But the truth has been made clear in this review already. This thing is nothing short of incredible. Personally, I would probably pay upwards of $350 for a delay of this caliber of sound quality. Of course, at that price-point, I’d probably expect it to be stereo with presets and MIDI/expression control.

When I sat down with the Canyon, I was nothing short of blown away. As I went through the algorithms, I remember texting my buddy with videos of each one that I loved and how rich they sounded. I simply could not understand why and how this thing was so magical. There are several modes on this thing that, even if that one single mode was all I got for my $139.00, I would be totally fine. The “DMM” is one. The “Octave” is another. “Tape” is not far behind. Then you have a sample/hold and a looper?? Dang. Then, on top of all that, you have the secondary functions. That absolutely shoots this delay pedal over the top! Make sure you have a look at the manual to see detailed information on how far this pedal actually goes.

If I had to get really picky, I’d say stereo would be cool, similar to the TC Electronic Flashback Delay, which is the same size. That pedal comes in at about $30 more than the Canyon, but I’d gladly pay up for a stereo version of this pedal although the multi-dimensional qualities of the delays make you forget you’re running in mono. MIDI and expression would have been great as well but would likely have required a larger enclosure.

Then there is the appearance of the pedal. It has kind of a cartoonish graphic and a random, swooshy “Canyon” writing over the graphic. To me, as well as some of the guys in the forums, this just kind of lends itself to a “silly” appearance, as if it’s begging to not be taken seriously. Then again, there was that Crayon pedal, too, so maybe it’s fitting the theme? The white on white plastic knobs give it a simple, yet washed out appearance further taking the design in a somewhat “cheapie” direction. I thought that the design could have just been better planned. An appearance with more of a sharp, higher-end design, maybe something black, could have been executed and would have been a more fitting visual representation of the intricate sounds that this pedal produces. I am not saying any of this to knock on Electro Harmonix but rather to relate to you as the consumer. If you’re looking at this thing and thinking “It doesn’t LOOK cool,” fear not. This pedal delivers the goods. Just get used to the look of it and have fun with it! If the looks don’t bother you then you’re already ahead of the game. I thought the tap tempo feature felt a little clunky, but I always assume that’s just me. There is a remote tap input which helps a ton by allowing you to place the delay pedal out of reach, near the end of your signal chain, but have a remote tap close to your foot at the bottom of the board. I found that using the remote tap worked much better for a more seamless tap tempo experience. Same with the looper. It’s not the most intuitive one-switch looper I’ve ever used, but that is because this looper has a LOT more features than a standard Ditto Looper, and added features can mean added learning curve. Once I read the manual and got myself acquainted with how it works, it became a breeze to use properly. Again, a look at the manual works wonders here.

 

 

The Electro Harmonix Canyon Delay & Looper offers an astounding value and top quality delays. I cannot believe what you get out of this pedal at any price, yet it retails at under $140. I’d put this thing up against nearly any multi-algorithm delay out there. Seriously. The only place it falls short of the big boys is in its mono operation and limited external control options. Thankfully, many of us are running mono rigs and that simply won’t be an issue. At least they have the external tap tempo option, which I am sure will get used. When you cook all of this down to one simple thing it’s “how does it sound?” I’d take the Pepsi challenge with this up against any of the more expensive popular delays out there. If you were just blindfolded in a room and listening to this delay perform against its more expensive competition, you would likely struggle to tell the difference. Then you’d be struggling trying to accept that this thing does what it does. I had to just face the music and set aside my self-imposed negative opinions of a inexpensive delay pedal. Then, once that happened, I was kinda like, “Duh. This is a delay pedal from Electro Harmonix.” Why wouldn’t it be incredible? The features offered in the Canyon are as deep as they are grand.

This concludes our review of the Electro Harmonix Canyon Delay & Looper. Thanks for reading!

   

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