Top 20 Best Delay Pedals of 2018

Best Guitar Effects is back with a round-up of the 20 Best Delay Pedals available in 2018. The market is filled delays, and we wanted to narrow things down to the pedals that stand out the most. We’ll start with a short guide to delay pedals and the types available before we jump right into our list.

 

What Is Delay?

Delay is an effect that records audio and plays it back after a period of time. The sound may be played back once or multiple times or played into the recording again to create the sound of repeating, decaying echoes.

 

Do I Need A Delay Pedal?

Delay is typically used to add more texture to a soundscape by filling in the spaces between your playing with more sound. Delay can be used to create the impression that multiple instruments are playing at the same time or used to add more rhythmic interest to your guitar parts. Being able to create additional layers of instrumentation by delaying your playing offers inspiring new possibilities that go beyond what can be achieved with a dry guitar alone.

 

Delay Vs Reverb

While a reverb pedal produces ambient reflections of your playing, a delay pedal produces repeats of your playing. These effects are similarly used to manipulate the time and space where your playing occurs, and they’re both often used at the end of the signal chain. Some newer hybrid delay/reverb pedals even combine both effects in one pedal for greater creative flexibility.

 

Using Delay With Reverb

It’s common to place a delay before a reverb, but sometimes it can be worth experimenting with reversing the order of these effects. Putting a reverb after a delay can create a space for your delayed signal to sit in, but putting a delay after a reverb can make the reverb sound even bigger and longer by adding more texture to a reverb and extending its decay. Experiment to find the best result for your music!

 

Types of Delay

There are many types of delay and ways to achieve such effects, but these are some of the most common styles of pedal you’ll find in modern guitar pedals.

 

Tape – Tape delay is an early delay effect used in audio recordings originally achieved by creating tape loops on reel-to-reel recording systems. Commercially available tape delay units included the Echoplex and Roland Space Echo. (The sounds of the Binson Echorec can be argued to fall into this category sonically although it used an analog magnetic drum recorder instead of tape to achieve its echoes.) Some pedal builders have attempted to create tape delay sounds using actual tape, but you’ll most commonly find modern tape delay sounds using DSP to recreate convincingly authentic tape echo sounds.
Best for: vintage tonality, spacious echoes, characterful delays

 

Analog – Analog delay pedals typically use BBD (Bucket-Brigade Device) chips to achieve delay effects. Such pedals are usually characterized by a warmer, darker, and more “colored” sound. They’re also typically noisier than digital delays; however, some builders have made great strides towards minimizing the noise and other drawbacks inherent in older analog delay pedals. A few classic examples of analog delays are the Boss DM-2 and Electro Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man which originally used Panasonic MN3005 BBD chips.
Best for: warmer tones, classic delay pedal sounds, old-school mojo

 

Digital – “Digital delay” as a style of delay is typically known for achieving more authentic repeats of your playing, reproducing the sound and nuances of your original audio signal. They’re cleaner, quieter, and brighter sounding than analog delays although many digital delays seek to emulate the sound of analog pedals. While earlier digital delays often simply used digital IC chips (the Princeton PT2399 is still a popular choice in some modern delays), many modern pedals push the limits of DSP to go beyond what “digital” delays were previously known for. The TC Electronic TC 2290 is a famous digital delay rack unit.
Best for: accurate repeats of source material, clean and bright tones

 

Reverse – Reverse delay simulates the sound of recording audio and playing it backwards. Original reverse tape delay effects can be heard in songs like Are You Experienced? by The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Tomorrow Never Knows from The Beatles’ Revolver album. Delay pedals achieve reverse effects by digital means, playing the digitally recorded audio backwards. Use a fully wet (or “Kill Dry”) setting to simulate classic reverse delay sounds.
Best for: mid/late-60’s reverse guitar sounds, experimental textures

 

Modulated – Most modern delay pedals offer some kind of modulation to apply to your repeats. You’ll see such options on many analog and digital delay pedals, and tape delays often have “wow & flutter” parameters to simulate the warbling of old tape. Essentially, modulation is a separate effect applied to various types of delay, but some guitarists (like The Edge) have made this such an integral part of their sound that it’s worth mentioning as a specific type of delay. It’s typically an optional effect, so you can either reduce “Depth” or deactivate modulation if you prefer a dry delay tone.
Best for: delays with movement and more presence

 

Other Types of Delay – There are many other less common types of delay. Dynamic Delay ducks the volume of the delayed signal when you play. Pitch-Shifted Delay is becoming more common with many pedals offering various types of pitch effects on the repeats. Multi-Tap Delay (or Pattern Delay) offers multiple delay taps, often with various rhythmic placement and positioning in the stereo field. Some pedals offer a Hold or Stutter Delay functionality where repeats can be generated at length for glitchy, stuttering effects. Granular Delay, while more common in VST software plugins than in pedal form, is a style of delay that chops up your signal into pieces and delays them. Most of these obscure delay effects are found in DSP based digital delay pedals, arguably the most flexible type of delay for a wide variety of uses.

 

The pedals that made our list aren’t in order from best to worst, but as the author of this article, I thought it would be fun to list the first few pedals that have become recent favorites of mine. Regardless of your personal tastes, there should be a pedal here that’s right for you.

Here are the Top 20 Best Delay Pedals of 2018!

 

Meris Polymoon

Builder: Meris, Pedal: Polymoon, Delay Type: DSP / Modulated

This year’s list of the best delay pedals is kicking off with the Meris Polymoon. Meris is a relatively new brand on the pedal scene, but with a series of 3 epic pedals released last year, Best Guitar Effects lauded the fledgling 3-person company as the Best New Pedal Builder of 2017. In short, Meris is doing awesome things, and the Polymoon is one of the boldest delay pedal releases in recent years. So what does it do? Well…

The Polymoon’s sounds range from simple digital delays to a whole signal chain of rack-quality effects stacked in series (with parallel signal processing if you use the pedal in stereo). If you turn the bottom 3 knobs of the pedal all the way to the left, you can use the top 3 knobs to dial in a simple delay sound. It’s solid and usable, and thanks to the Tap Tempo with quarter & dotted eighth note options, it’ll handle most basic delay duties with ease. By pushing the Alt button and turning the Feedback knob, you can use the pedal’s Filter to cut the lows for bright “dubby” delays or roll off the high end for darker, analog flavored repeats.

The bottom 3 knobs make things more interesting. Multiply adds in more delay taps in various patterns. You can use it to achieve ping-pong delays in stereo or patterns that bounce across the stereo field. It still sounds killer in mono, but the Polymoon is a must-try in stereo if your rig can accommodate it. The Dimension knob smears the repeats. At higher settings it can turn your delays into a reverb-like wash; small amounts provide a nice subtle diffusion that gives your delays a more ambient character. The Dynamics knob activates a pair of dual-flangers that can either respond dynamically to your playing or move via LFO. (Tip: With the delay Mix turned down, the flangers can still be applied to your dry signal.)

The dual-flangers are just one of the many modulation options the Polymoon has. The button on the lower right will add dual-barberpole phasers to your signal. You can have them locked in time with your tap tempo or churning along at a slow 0.1 Hz speed. The phasers make it sound as if your guitar is traveling through a wormhole in space. The Alt parameters of the two left knobs are Early and Late Modulation options, each being able to be either bypassed or set to 15 different active modulation options. There are options for standard chorus-like modulation, FM modulation, and Pitch modulation. Yes, you can select any of these options in the either Early or Late positions.

You can control every effect parameter of the Polymoon via MIDI. There are even a few surprise MIDI CC controlled parameters like Half Speed & Tempo (in addition to Time). The pedal also has 16 preset slots, but you’ll need to either use MIDI or the Meris Preset Switch (sold separately) to access them. The pedal can accommodate instrument and line levels, useful with synths or in the studio, and are several other global options for configuring the pedal to your needs.

The Polymoon has quickly become my personal most-used delay, and if you’re the kind of musician who can appreciate the myriad sound design possibilities this pedal offers, this forward-thinking instrument from Meris will like find a home in your rig as well.

Read the Meris Polymoon Review

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Chase Bliss Audio Tonal Recall (original & RKM)

Builder: Chase Bliss Audio, Pedal: Tonal Recall & RKM, Delay Type: Analog Delay

The Chase Bliss Audio Tonal Recall and Tonal Recall Red Knob Mod are at the head of the pack when it comes to classic analog delay tones for modern guitarists. Utilizing reissued MN3005 chips, the Tonal Recalls revisit and refine the sounds made legendary by pedals like the Boss DM-2 and Electro Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man. While these pedals offer a slew of features, perhaps the most commendable aspect of these pedals is how Chase Bliss Audio engineer, Joel Korte, has been able to achieve an impressively clean, low-noise analog delay signal that can be contoured to taste with their respective Tone knobs. This lets you dial in classic analog delay tones similar to your favored vintage unit but with less noise and grit than the rustic pedals of old.

While the specs of both pedals are similar, the RKM is notable for containing 4 MN3005 chips (this original Tonal Recall has 2). This doubles the possible delay times up from 550ms to 1100ms. The additional circuitry raises the noise floor slightly, but most users won’t mind. The oscillation of the Tonal Recall RKM is also improved to be “smoother” to accommodate the longer delay times with higher Regen (feedback) settings. The RKM can also be slightly brighter than the original Tonal Recall, but both pedals can still be darkened for similarly murky delay sounds.

The modulation section is noteworthy for guitarists who appreciate the subtle movement of certain vintage delays. In addition to Rate & Depth controls, there’s a waveform selection switch that provides Triangle, Sine, and Square options. Crank the modulation knobs and flip this toggle for some weird sounds. Keep ’em low with Triangle or Sine waveforms for classic modulation.

The pedals also feature presets (2 onboard, 122 via MIDI), tap tempo with 6 selectable divisions, True Bypass or Buffered Trails modes, exp/CV control of knob parameters, MIDI control of parameters & other functionality, and much more. The pedals’ “Ramping” options will let you automate the movement of knob parameters for evolving delay sounds and unique performance possibilities.

The Chase Bliss Audio Tonal Recall and RKM variation are among this builder’s most loved and universally praised releases, and fans of classic analog delay tones will find much to love in either version.

Read the Chase Bliss Audio Tonal Recall Review

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Free The Tone Flight Time FT-2Y

Builder: Free The Tone, Pedal: FT-2Y, Delay Type: Digital Delay

When it comes to straight up digital delays, Free The Tone’s Flight Time is arguably the new king of mono digital delay pedals. With a knob-less interface that recalls both the TC 2290 and the time travel input panel on the DeLorean from Back To The Future, the Flight Time FT-2Y is at once a tribute to the past and testament of the future.

The Flight Time FT-2Y succeeds the FT-1Y by adding Line/Instrument level options, a convenient Preset Swapping functionality, and a MIDI Out/Thru jack for saving presets externally or connecting other pedals. Perhaps more notable are the internal changes. Free The Tone has refined FT-2Y’s analog circuitry, power supply section, and digital circuits and firmware to dramatically improve the pedal’s sound quality. The FT-1Y already sounded fantastic (with a notable user being David Gilmour who has been known to use two Flight Time units in his rig), but the FT-2Y produces an even more high fidelity sound.

The Flight Time gives you plenty of options for crafting the perfect digital delay sound. You can set Delay level, Feedback, and overall Output level. Delay Time can me manually set in milliseconds or BPM or by using Tap Tempo and selecting from one of 10 subdivision options. You can set Modulation Rate & Depth for classic digital delay modulation effects. There are even dedicated Low Pass and High Pass Filters for creating a perfect delay tone to place in the mix. The unique Offset parameter lets you move the delay placement ahead or behind or a rushed feel or a behind the groove sound; this parameter is a subtle but very special aspect of the Flight Time that can enhance the feel of your delays and help place the repeats in your mix better. You can even flip the phase of the delays if needed.

There are some cool auxiliary features as well including a Trail function and the BPM Analyzer which activates an onboard microphone that will detect ambient rhythm sources and shift the BPM slightly to keep your delays locked in time. When I tested this function by playing along to recorded music and increasing or slowing the speed slightly, I was impressed that the BPM Analyzer actually worked as stated. This could be very useful when playing with a drummer who isn’t playing to a click track.

You can meticulously set the levels of all parameters and store them to 99 presets. You can also take control of most functions via MIDI. A novel Rec & Repeat function allows you to plug in an external foot-switch to gain use of very basic looping style functionality. I’m a big fan of the Hold function; while most of the Flight Time’s sounds are in a more traditional vein, the Hold could be used to trigger stuttering repeats at will. The only real drawback to the whole package is the fact that the Flight Time is mono only, but that’s perfectly fine if you’re running a conventional rig with one amp. And for live use it’s best to set up your presets and levels beforehand as you can’t quickly grab knobs for fine-tuning while on stage. But the precision with which you can craft your digital delays is second to none, and the Flight Time FT-2Y sounds flawless.

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Dr. No Effects Moon Canyon

Builder: Dr. No Effects, Pedal: Moon Canyon, Effect Types: Delay/Reverb/Overdrive

The Moon Canyon from Dr. No Effects was made in collaboration with Sarah Lipstate of Noveller and represents a bold artistic statement that goes beyond its aesthetic presentation. Just look at it – this is one of the most beautiful looking and artfully crafted pedals ever made and was clearly designed to inspire before you even plug in your instrument. Most importantly the Moon Canyon provides some unique sound design possibilities that warrant its inclusion on this list.

The Moon Canyon is actually a multi-effects pedal with delay being the final effect in the pedal’s signal chain. The delay circuit is based around a PT2399 digital delay chip, and the sound has been tuned to have a warm analog style character with a max delay time clocking in at a little over 500mS. The delay controls are simple enough with knobs for Repeats, Time, and Mix. The delays dissipate smoothly as you increase the Repeats, and as you push the knob past noon towards about 2 o’clock, the pedal will begin to oscillate for that runaway trails effect.

The Moon Canyon’s Reverb is placed before the Delay which goes against the convention of using delays before reverbs. But while this signal flow is less common and many guitarists seem to default to the standard “delay before reverb” pedal order, this aspect of the Moon Canyon is what contributes to its most unique sounds. The Reverb itself is a beautifully cavernous long reverb that also has a subtle modulation (which is more noticeable when you crank the Reverb knob and solo the effect). If you activate the Reverb & Delay together, you’ll feed the reverb into the delay, extending its ambience in a rhythmic pulse set by the Delay’s Time knob. In addition to the Delay’s ability to extend the Reverb decay, the Reverb will affect the sound of the Delay by imparting a diffused quality to the repeats which becomes more prominent as you increase the Reverb knob. Since the effects can be individually activated, you have performance flexibility to add Delay to extend the Reverb on a whim or play with a standard Delay before adding in Reverb to change the Delay sound; the foot-switches are also close enough together to quickly switch between both effects with a single stomp.

There are three other noteworthy features the Moon Canyon offers. The far right foot-switch activates a Drive section that brings in a very respectable 3-knob overdrive (with Tone switch) that is based around a JRC4558D chip, a revered IC that’s been used in the TS-808 and other noteworthy overdrive pedals. The Loop foot-switch activates an external effects loop that is placed between the Drive & Reverb, handy for adding in other effects. (I personally like to use the Moon Canyon’s Loop I/O to route the Drive and Reverb/Delay sections to two separate send & return loops on an effects switcher; this allows remote access to both the Drive and a Reverb/Delay combo setting.) The Moon Canyon also boasts two mono outputs for splitting the signal to feed two amps or separate effects chains. The Moon Canyon can satisfy your basic delay needs while adding some creative potential to your pedalboard.

Pre-Order the Moon Canyon at DrNo-Effects.com

 

GFI System Specular Tempus

Builder: GFI System, Pedal: Specular Tempus, Effect Types: DSP Delay & Reverb (Multi)

The Indonesian builder, GFI System, has been impressing guitarists for the past few years with their ultra compact and powerful Clockwork Delay & Specular Reverb, each currently updated to V3 revisions. The Specular Tempus combines all of the algorithms from both of these pedals into one powerful hybrid delay/reverb combo.

The Specular Tempus gives you 13 reverbs, 13 delays, 3 delay & reverb combos, and 3 diffused delay hybrids for a total of 32 unique algorithms. You can save and recall up to 32 presets, configure the pedal for on-board tap tempo, send the pedal’s tempo to other pedals, and even use a 3-button foot-switch to control bank scrolling and tap tempo externally. There’s already a Send/Return loop, and of course, MIDI. The free SpecLab app for Mac & PC lets you access more functionality as well.

A trio of “Classic” delay modes includes Digital, Analog, and Echoes. The “Hybrid” delays take those 3 delay algorithms and diffuse the repeats for a reverberated delay sound.

There are 10 “Esoteric” delay options with many of them offering entirely unique sounds. The Spectral, Filter, and Formant modes provide coloration and texture to your delays; I particularly like the envelope-controlled Filter algorithm. The Spectral mode sounds almost flanger-like while the Formant mode adds a throbbing, vowel-like effect to your repeats. The Transposer & Ambiental modes add pitch-shifting to your repeats. The Transposer lets you choose from intervals including Unison, Sub-Octave, Minor 3rd, Perfect 4th, Tritone, Perfect 5th, and Octave. The Ambiental mode, possibly my personal favorite delay mode, is a stereo algorithm that lets you use a “Glitter” parameter to gradually color the repeats with either a Perfect 5th or Octave voicing for a shimmer like effect; the first couple repeats will ping-pong across the stereo field before resuming straight through the middle channel. It’s a very unique algorithm. The Dual Stereo, Dual Dotted, and Dual Gold algorithms make further use of the stereo possibilities, and the MultiTap 3 & MultiTap 4 modes each provide 4 multi-tap delay variations to round out the pedal’s delay offerings.

Among the host of Reverb modes you’ll find 3 more “Hybrid” delay options: Reverb+Digital Dly, Reverb+Analog Dly, and Reverb+Echoes. There are many excellent reverb modes available as well with a few standouts being GFI System’s signature Spatium algorithm, their beautiful 70’s Plate mode, and an excellent Shimmer that’s among the best around. The Voices and Swell modes are great Shimmer variations, too, and the Anti-Shimmer in “Doppler” mode produces some interesting vertigo-inducing pitch descension.

The best thing about the GFI System Specular Tempus is the fact that if you’re not sure whether to get a delay or reverb next, this pedal can fill the duties of either very well with some solid options for use delay & reverb together. It’s also a great choice for a positioning between the delay and reverb you already have on your board for expanded ambient possibilities. And if you just want the excellent delays without the reverb, the GFI System Clockwork Delay V3 is also well worth considering.

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Catalinbread Belle Epoch Deluxe

Builder: Catalinbread, Pedal: Belle Epoch Deluxe, Delay Type: Digital Tape

The Echoplex EP-3 needs no introduction among tape delay connoisseurs. The legendary sounds of this machine’s smooth delay echoes, runaway oscillation, and sought-after pre-amp coloration give the EP-3 a reputation that has long spoken for itself. Catalinbread already found success with their Echoplex inspired Belle Epoch (Eric Johnson is a noteworthy fan and user). But Mr. Howard Gee sought to go further than any other pedal builder before and create the most accurate sonic reproduction of the iconic EP-3 in pedal form. His swan song of Echoplex emulation is the Catalinbread Belle Epoch Deluxe, the final word in attaining true EP-3 tone from a stompbox.

All the expected EP-3 amenities are here, from the juiced up 22-volt power rail and (late spec) JFET preamp to the articulate delay section that emulates the sound and feel of the Echoplex without the tape and associated maintenance. How does it sound? In a word: beautiful.

The Belle Epoch Deluxe’s primary controls for the delay are Echo Delay (delay time), Echo Sustain (feedback/regen), Echo Volume, and Record Level which sets the input signal level for when it hits the record amplifier. This unique control ranges from complete silence all the way up to a hot overdriven sound. It’s great for saturating the sound as it hits the delay; once it starts repeating, the delay signal will smoothly dissipate in a pleasing diminuendo to silence. The Echo Sustain can be set higher (around 1-2 o’clock before it starts oscillating) to really get those nice long decay times. The controls are highly interactive, particularly how the Record Level affects the Echo Level and likewise the decay from the Echo Sustain. As you refine the setting of one parameter, you’ll want to play with the others to get things just right. Luckily, it sounds pretty epic no matter where things are set; it’s just a matter of managing your levels and oscillation. And speaking of oscillation, there’s a dedicated foot-switch to kick on spires of oscillating repeats at will.

The left two knobs warrant some brief explanation. The far left knob selects one of six programs from the Echo Program Matrix. The Depth knob controls the depth of the accompanying unique modulation for each selected program. The Echo Programs include the Classic EP-3 tape voicing, a Dark “analog” voicing inspired by BBD analog delay pedals, a Roto-swirl setting that sounds like an EP-3 running through a Leslie, a Manually Sweeping Resonant Filter voicing that can produce wah-like sounds and other filtered tones, and two Deluxe Memory Man inspired modes, one for chorus and one for vibrato. An expression pedal is a must if you want to make the most of the sweeping filter mode or control the speed of the Roto-swirl’s rotating speaker effect. And a pedal is generally useful for adjusting volume on some settings or controlling the delay time, especially in combination with runaway oscillation.

This isn’t to be misconstrued as a review verdict or to heap more hype onto an already GAS-inducing pedal, but if you love tape delay, you need to try this pedal for yourself. And if you’re an EP-3 fan in any way, you likely need this pedal.

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Empress Effects Echosystem

Builder: Empress Effects, Pedal: Echosystem, Delay Type: DSP (Multi)

The Empress Effects Echosystem is the successor to the Canadian builder’s famed Superdelay pedal. And rather than simply add stereo and a few other improvements to its mono-only predecessor, the Echosystem lets you use one delay or two at once in dual parallel, dual serial, or panned left/right in stereo. Not only that, but the pedal gives you dozens of delay algorithms categorized into various types, and any combination of two (even two of the same) can be used together. Needless to say, this pedal is deep.

Forgoing the deep menu-diving of some other multi-algorithm delay pedals, the Echosystem gives you knobs for the units tweak-able parameters all on the surface. The Thing 1 & Thing 2 knobs control unique parameters that are unique to each algorithm. Other than that you get standard delay controls for Mix, Feedback, Delay Time/Tap Ratio, Tone (which may also vary per algorithm), and an Output control to set your overall volume level.

The Echosystem gives users 35 presets for saving your complex multi-algorithm delay creations. You can assign an expression pedal to control multiple parameters at one. It even lets you use MIDI to take control over nearly every function. Empress Effects recently updated the pedal with a Looper that can be used with the delays, greatly expanding on the Echosystem’s creative potential.

This pedal has so much going on for it that it was crowned the best guitar pedal of 2017. If you prefer to keep things simple the Echosystem may not be for you, but all the options it has and with Empress Effects continually adding new algorithms by user popular vote, for many guitarists this may be the last delay pedal you ever need.

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EarthQuaker Devices Avalanche Run V2

Builder: EarthQuaker Devices, Pedal: Avalanche Run V2, Delay Type: DSP Delay + Reverb

The idea behind the Avalanche Run V1 delay & reverb was to take the simplicity and sweet sounds of the best-selling Dispatch Master and expand on the options and usability (w/ Tap Tempo, Tap Divisions, etc.) while still maintaining ease of use (no Menus!). The Avalanche Run V1 was a big hit upon its release, quickly becoming what could arguably be considered the pinnacle representation of an EarthQuaker Devices pedal. The Avalanche Run V2 Stereo Reverb & Delay refines their flagship pedal with several notable improvements.

While the V1 had similar delay & reverb sounds, the Avalanche Run V2 now features a true stereo reverb which creates a bigger expanse of sound when running the pedal in stereo. The V2 also features EQD’s new “Flexi-Switch” functionality on the Activate foot-switch; this lets you press and hold the foot-switch for momentary operation so that you can use the delay/reverb on very short segments of your playing. Try this with the Tails Mode to apply repeats to certain notes that will then cascade over your dry playing. As with the V1, you choose between True Bypass mode and 5 different Tails Mode options.

An interesting V2 update change has been the increase of enclosure width to be slightly wider than the V1. While some pedalboard space obsessed guitarists might initially glare at this, I think it’s a refreshing contrast to pedals that squeeze foot-switches so close together and so close to the edge of pedals. If you’re not using a MIDI effects switcher and actually plan to step on the foot-switches of your pedals during live performance, you need a reasonable amount of space between foot-switches to be able to activate effects without accidentally stepping on others. (This enclosure width with additional foot-switch spacing has also been implemented on the new EarthQuaker Devices Pyramids pedal, so expect this to be the norm on EQD’s dual foot-switch DSP effects pedals.)

But aside from the Avalanche Run V1 vs V2 changes, what really makes this pedal such an inspiration machine are its killer delay modes with the optional reverb for incredibly lush ambience. The pedal gives you Normal, Reverse, & Swell modes. The Normal is a standard hi-fi digital delay; you can use the Tone to roll off the high-end if you want a darker, more “analog” sound. The Reverse is a killer backwards delay; it’s a must-try with expression control for switching between normal and reverse delays at will. The Swell is a great ambient digital delay that swells in your repeats while you play; shoegaze fans will dig this one. My favorite mode is the Reverse, particularly for using like a standard delay but with the different textural sound of the backwards echoes. It’s killer with the reverb for floating, cloud-like ambience. The reverb itself is like a large room or hall for a nice, full sound, and you can use the reverb’s Decay & Mix to dial in something subtle or massive.

The Avalanche Run V2 is one of EarthQuaker Devices’ best pedals and still one of the best delay pedals available.

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Strymon TimeLine

Builder: Strymon, Pedal: TimeLine, Delay Type: DSP (Multi)

While many builders have encroached on Strymon’s commanding lead in the area of multi-algorithm delay pedals, make no mistake, the Strymon TimeLine is still the boss when it comes to immaculate delays in a single self-contained pedal.

The Strymon TimeLine felt like a second coming in the world of digital delay and DSP processing. With a hulking colossus of a processor and an engineering team who knows how to make the most of it, Strymon dropped a bomb on the pedal world when they released the TimeLine. With 12 of the best delay machines the world has ever heard (and an excellent 30-second Looper) there is a breadth of delay sounds on tap that few pedals can even hope to contend with. The TimeLine is also a standout delay pedal in terms of MIDI implementation; it allows you to control any parameter or function (including all Looper functions) from any MIDI-compatible controller, pedal switcher, or sequencer/DAW such as Ableton Live. Whether you just want to drop it on your pedalboard and play or integrate it into your mad scientist MIDI guitar rig, the Strymon TimeLine covers all grounds with ease and efficiency and still holds its own in a sea of formidable competitors.

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Chase Bliss Audio Thermae

Builder: Chase Bliss Audio, Pedal: Thermae, Delay Type: Analog / Pitch-Shifting

Chase Bliss Audio already pushed analog delay farther than any other builder with the universally acclaimed Tonal Recall and Tonal Recall RKM, and they’ve somehow managed to do it again. The Chase Bliss Audio Thermae is an analog delay and pitch shifter that utilizes 4 MN3005 chips to achieve some unbelievably amazing delay sounds unlike any that have been heard before.

The Thermae is a complex pedal that may initially seem overwhelming not only for delay pedal novices but even those already familiar with Chase Bliss Audio’s other master-crafted pedal designs. But after you wrap your head around the basics, you’ll be in for some of the most original and beautiful sounds you’ll ever hear from a delay pedal… even if you still don’t quite understand exactly how you’re achieving the sounds you’re hearing.

Here’s brief explanation of what the Thermae does and how it works…

With the Int 1 & Int 2 knobs pointed up at noon, you’ll essentially have a standard analog style delay. Instead of setting tempo with a “Delay Time” knob, you tap in your tempo with the left foot-switch. Standard stuff, but it sounds killer. You can use the resonant LPF to sweep the tone all the way down to silence, and pressing and holding the left foot-switch induces self oscillation.

Flipping the Modulation dip-switch on the top of the pedal allows access to the killer mod section. You get controls for mod Speed & Depth, a flip-switch for selecting triangle, sine, and square shapes, and a middle toggle control at adds glitchy warbling anomalies to the modulation for some extra bubbly textures. This is a unique difference from Tonal Recall and Chase Bliss Audio pedals that feature “ModuShape”, and it’s a really fitting addition to the weird sounds Thermae can make.

With the Modulation dip-switch in its normal “Off” position, the Int 1 & Int 2 knobs and their adjacent toggle-switches offer some wild sound design possibilities. The two knobs control a pair of pitch-shifting intervals that range from -2 to +2 octaves. The row of 3 flip-switches will set the tap-division of the delay and 2 sequenced pitch-shifting intervals. The sequence repeats at the tempo set by the Tap Tempo foot-switch (or MIDI Clock/MIDI Taps). The real complexity is in trying to wrap your head around intentionally creating sounds you think you want to hear, but I’d recommend not thinking about it too much and just enjoying the endless happy accidents you’ve stumble into. Just remember to save those discoveries as presets!

The Thermae is without a doubt the most original and innovative release from Chase Bliss Audio and definitely one of the most inspiring pedals to consider if you’re looking for something different than your run-of-the-mill delay pedal.

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DOD Rubberneck

Builder: DOD, Pedal: Rubberneck, Delay Type: Analog Delay

DOD is a beloved classic pedal brand that has been on a big upswing in the past few years thanks to the efforts of Tom Cram and a team of talented individuals. DOD pretty much rose from the dead with its moniker appearing on several solid pedals in recent years, the greatest of which is arguably the DOD Rubberneck Analog Delay. Not only is it the best pedal in the DOD renaissance lineup, but it’s arguably the best analog delay pedal in the $200-300 price range.

The Rubberneck is loaded to the brim with features including some you won’t find in any other pedal. The most unique aspect of the pedal is its namesake “Rubberneck” feature that lets you stretch and compress the delay time to shift the pitch of your delayed signal up or down an octave, fitting for a pedal from a sister brand of DigiTech, the brand responsible for the Whammy.

The 3 large knobs provide controls for Time, Repeats, and Level. The smaller dual-concentric knobs give you control over modulation Rate & Depth and Tone & Gain, the latter parameters being particular useful for coaxing the best delay tonality and saturation out of this pedal. There’s also a tap division flip-switch and another switch that lets you activate delay spillover Tails and mute the dry signal. Pressing and holding the Tempo/Regen foot-switch activates oscillation, and a small mini-knob next to the foot-switch sets the onset for the regeneration. The Rubberneck effect is initiated as a momentary function of the Effect On foot-switch with the Rubberneck Rate mini-knob adjusted whether delay time is stretched or compressed and how quickly it happens.

Aside from all that surface control, there’s a Send/Return jack on the back that allows you to use a TRS cable to insert other effects in the delay chain. Another jack allows connection of the DigiTech FS3X Footswitch to remotely control Rubbernecking, Modulation on/off, and Tap Tempo/Regen.

The DOD Rubberneck is one of the most feature-packed and versatile performance analog delay pedals ever seen and an exceptional product that showcases the dedicated passion of Tom and the talented team who spared no attention to every detail when bringing this pedal to life.

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Electro Harmonix Canyon

Builder: Electro Harmonix, Pedal: Canyon, Delay Type: DSP (Multi)

The Electro Harmonix Canyon Delay & Looper is an incredibly versatile and value-packed multi-algorithm delay pedal. It gives you 10 excellent delay modes and a capable Looper. It also gives you tap tempo with selectable sub-divisions.

While the pedal has many modes, it’s the quality (not the quantity) of them that makes the EHX Canyon a standout value. It has modes that emulate the venerable EHX Deluxe Memory Man, a great Tape setting, Echo for a straight digital delay, Mod for rack-style modulated digital delay, Multi for multi tap delay effects, a solid Reverse delay that intelligently detects your playing to generate its repeats, a Delay + “Verb” mode that applies a plate reverb to your repeats, a killer Pitch Fork inspired Octave delay mode, a Shimmer mode that also draws on EHX’s killer pitch algorithms, and a great Sample and Hold mode that can achieve some awesome stuttering delay effects. Add to that a 62 second (!) Looper, and you’ve got a sure-fire hit pedal.

The Tap In jack that allows users to tap in a tempo via an external foot-switch may be the selling point that tips the scale in favor of this pedal over other single-stomp delay pedals. As great as the Canyon’s modes are, it begs us to wonder what a flagship EHX multi-algorithm delay with presets, MIDI, and a cooler name with less cringe-inducing artwork would be like. (Please, EHX, don’t call it the “Grand” Canyon. Ugh.) But the Canyon shows that EHX is more than capable of creating plenty of world-class delay algorithms. The Canyon has one of the best pedal releases of 2017 and is easily among the best affordable delay pedals you’ll find in 2018.

Read the Electro Harmonix Canyon Review

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Source Audio Nemesis

Builder: Source Audio, Pedal: Nemesis, Delay Type: DSP (Multi)

The Source Audio Nemesis Delay is a pedal I’ve been looking forward to for quite a long time (…since Winter NAMM 2015, Summer NAMM 2015, & Winter NAMM 2016). It’s a powerhouse digital delay pedal in a reasonably compact format that features 24 delay engines (12 onboard, 12 accessed via Neuro app). That’s a pretty big deal already. Then there’s Stereo I/O, Tap Tempo, Hold a.k.a “Freeze” control, and complete MIDI functionality with up to 128 presets recallable via MIDI. And that’s just scratching the surface really.

The Neuro Mobile app offers incredibly deep control and preset management along with access to the 12 additional delay engines. Any of those delay engines can be downloaded and “burned” to any slot on the rotary encoder knob. The extra delay engines are definitely worth exploring as you’ll find a dark and warbly Oil Can delay, a Complex Rhythmic delay that offers more multi-tap variations, a high-passed Dub delay, and much more.

The real genius of the Nemesis Delay is in the sheer amount power it offers from its simple-to-use surface knob layout. No menu diving needed. Couple that with world-class delay sounds, and the Nemesis Delay is a winner if flexibility, impeccable sound quality, and ease of use are paramount to you. And should you want to explore everything this pedal has to offer, the MIDI functionality and Neuro Mobile app possibilities are a huge bonus when you want to get adventurous and want to dig deeper.

Be sure to explore the Intensity knob with each delay type as it functions differently in each mode. For example, in Analog Delay mode, the Intensity will act as a tone style control, giving you range of Dark, Warm, & Bright sounds. In the Shifter Delay the knob will select from pitch shift options including -1 Octave, +Minor 3rd, +Major 3rd, +4th, +5th, & +1 Octave. This gives you deeper control from the surface of the pedal without the need for menus.

Source Audio have been doing great things for about a decade now, but the Nemesis Delay will no doubt be the pedal that takes this ambitious builder to new levels of success. It was a long time coming, but the Nemesis Delay was well worth the wait.

Read the Source Audio Nemesis Review

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Eventide H9 Harmonizer

Builder: Eventide, Pedal: H9, Delay Type: DSP (Multi-Effects)

Yes, the Eventide H9 Harmonizer is much more than a delay pedal. It’s the ultimate multi-effects stompbox. But if you were to use the H9 on your pedalboard for just its delay sounds alone, it’s still an exceptional value and may replace any other delay pedal you currently use.
A standard H9 comes preloaded with the Vintage Delay and Tape Echo delays. Additional delays can be purchased from the H9 Control app. An H9 Max comes loaded will all algorithms gives you all 9 acclaimed delays from the Eventide TimeFactor… and then some. The H9 exclusive Ultratap algorithm is a one-of-a-kind multi-tap delay that’s inspiring to behold. Then there’s also the recently released SpaceTime algorithm with fuses the TimeFactor’s Vintage Delay with a huge plate reverb and some modulation for good measure to create an outstanding all-in-one algorithm that’s an excellent last effect in your signal chain.

And let’s talk about the Eventide TimeFactor. I still remember when the pedal was first announced. Yes, I joined the many guitarists whose jaws collectively hit the floor when first hearing that Eventide would be bringing their acclaimed studio effects expertise to stompbox pedals. The TimeFactor was one of their first guitar pedals and is still going strong today. The biggest draw of this pedal is its use of twin delay lines across all 9 of its cutting edge delay algorithms, allowing rhythmically complex and tonally diverse delays that no other pedal can match (except the H9, of course). Its brilliant knob layout makes dialing in syncopated twin delays a synch, too. There’s also a dedicated (and recently refined) Looper, and I personally like “hacking” the pedal for series operation by cascading one delay into the other and using it in my amp’s effects loop. But if you don’t need the looper and want the amazing algorithms of the TimeFactor plus a whole lot more, the Eventide H9 Harmonizer might be the way to go.

Read the Eventide H9 Harmonizer Review

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Strymon DIG

Builder: Strymon, Pedal: DIG, Delay Type: Dual Digital Delay

Simply put, the Strymon DIG is an immaculate sounding digital delay pedal. It’s one of the easiest to use twin delay pedals out there and has plenty of options for creating complex or subtle rhythmic delays. It has 3 modes – adm, 24/96, 12 bit – that each offer a difference in character, adapting this pedal to different styles of playing. Tap tempo, expression control, and stereo outputs (and optional stereo ins via TRS cable) add extra utility. Be sure to try the secondary functions as you can further tweak the tone, change the delays from series to parallel, and even activate a ping pong delay mode when using it in stereo among a few other things. The DIG is Strymon’s magnum opus in the realm of 80’s rack delay emulation.

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SolidGoldFX Electroman MKII

Builder: SolidGoldFX, Pedal: Electroman MKII, Delay Type: Modulated Digital Delay

The SolidGoldFX Electroman MKII is a modulated digital delay that has a unique sound and character quite unlike any other digital or analog delay. Using a pair of PT2399 digital delay chips the Electroman MKII utilizes these chips in tandem with a unique modulation section and “Color” control to produce a refreshing flavor of delay is hard to classify yet is incredibly musical and pleasing to hear. This pedal may be the best use of the PT2399 chips from a perspective of rating the tonality of the delays produced.

The Electroman MKII excels by giving you plenty of control over dialing in your delay voicing. In addition to the typical Repeats (feedback), Time, and Level controls, the aforementioned Color knob gives you a wide range of control over the voicing of your delay and seems to be highly interactive with the Flutter knob which dials in the depth of a beautiful modulation that falls somewhere between the sounds of a classic analog delay pedal and a warbly tape echo.

The flip-switches bring even more options. The Mode switch selects between a standard delay and a Dual Mode with a 2nd delay at half speed to affect the rhythmic feel of your repeats. The Warp switch adjusts the onset intensity of the Warp function (activated via momentary foot-switch). Speed gives you 3 choices of modulation speed. The Tails switch gives you optional delay spillover.

The Warp function is a big draw, having its own dedicated foot-switch for kicking in the self-oscillation at will for as long as you hold the foot-switch. This gives you great musical control over the effect. If you still want more varied delay sounds, use the TRS Send & Return jack to add other effects into the wet signal path for unlimited tonal possibilities. Until SolidGoldFX strikes again with an MKIII, the Electroman MKII will like remain one of the best and more original PT2399 delay pedals.

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Strymon El Capistan

Builder: Strymon, Pedal: El Capistan, Delay Type: Tape (DSP)

There are lots of delay pedals that try to emulate the sounds of a classic tape echo, many of which do a pretty solid job, but the Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo is without a doubt the final word in authentic sounding tape echo delay in a compact pedal. With 3 different tape machines, each with 3 different modes of operation, there’s a huge foundation available for building the ultimate tape echo sound. While the 5 surface knobs make it easy to dial in your tone, there are 5 more “hidden” knob functions (including reverb!) for 10 total adjustable parameters. And while it certainly sounds amazing, it’s the tap tempo that really pushes this pedal over the top for me. Once you’ve dialed in the ultimate tape echo sound, you’ll always be able to sync it right along to the music via tap tempo without fiddling with sliding heads or tape speed. The El Capistan is a marvel of modern technology and the ultimate tribute to the tape echo machines of old.

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Rainger FX Echo-X

Builder: Rainger FX, Pedal: Echo-X, Delay Type: Digital

What happens when the mad genius behind the Dr. Freakenstein fuzz pedal decides to make a delay? Apparently, you get the Rainger FX Echo-X Digital Delay. This little monster is one of the more original and adventurous interpretations of a digital delay pedal I’ve come across. The Echo-X is an ambient digital delay that smears your repeats into long cascading trails of atmospheric bliss. You can use the included Igor foot controller to modulate the Rate or Feedback or even use it in Send mode to have only certain portions of your playing feed into the delay effect. Very fun. You can also adjust the input signal going into the pedal and overall output volume in addition to the standard 3-knob delay controls of Rate, Feedback, & Level. It’s also worth noting that the Echo-X’s compact form-factor has top-mounted jacks for super convenient placement on any tightly packed pedalboard. A killer design from one of the true punk outliers in the pedal game. Rainger FX nailed it.

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Red Panda Particle

Builder: Red Panda, Pedal: Particle, Delay Type: Granular Delay

The Red Panda Particle is the ultimate wildcard on our list. With so many delay pedals remaining grounded in the past, this pedal blasts forward into uncharted territory. Using granular synthesis, the Particle chops your playing into tiny samples and warps your signal, often beyond recognition, in wondrously magical ways. This pedal is for those truly adventurous guitarists who want radical new ways to manipulate their sound. The Particle packs all kinds of otherworldly, ambient delay effects, wild machine-like glitch delay sounds, a great reverse mode, and plenty of sounds that cross pitch-shifting with delay for a playground of twisted delay phantasmagoria. It’s been around for a few years, and while we’d love to see an update with tap tempo, presets, and MIDI functionality, the Particle remains one of the more original and inspiring delay pedals around.

Read the Red Panda Particle review

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TC Electronic Flashback 2 Delay

Builder: TC Electronic, Pedal: Flashback 2, Delay Type: DSP (Multi)

TC Electronic has been at the forefront of delay innovation for decades. From the legendary TC 2290 to pedals like the Flashback X4 Delay & Looper, Flashback Mini Delay, and Flashback Triple Delay, this builder’s delay algorithms have long been held in high regard.

The Flashback 2 Delay takes their standard-sized stereo delay & looper pedal to some interesting new places that warrant a closer look even if you’re already familiar with TC Electronic’s previous delay releases.

Let’s start with the delay modes available on the surface of the pedal. The lower right knob starts with the classic 2290 mode, recreating the sound of one of the most renowned digital delays ever made. The ANA mode delivers a pretty convincing analog delay sound complete with some subtle modulation. The TAPE mode is another classic delay variation with subtle modulation movement for a sound similar to the wow and flutter of aged tape. DYN is a dynamic delay that ducks the repeats while you play; as you play more softly or rest, the delays swell up in loudness. The MOD mode adds modulation to the classic 2290 sound; select the ¼ note + dotted 8th subdivision and you’ll have a convincing setting for The Edge’s Where the Streets have No Name sound. The CRYS setting features the excellent octave sounds from the Sub’n’Up, resulting in one of the best shimmering octave delays I’ve heard. RVS achieves an excellent reverse delay sound; use a Reverse TonePrint with “Kill Dry” On for classic psychedelic solos. The LOOP setting turns the pedal into a Ditto Looper style looping device. The last 3 options have default TonePrints already stored, but you have easily save and recall artist TonePrints or use the TC Electronic TonePrint Editor to make your own sounds.

The TonePrint Editor is huge draw here, and I applaud TC Electronic’s decision to make space on the surface selector knob to store 3 TonePrints. The app gives you immense control over tweaking the sound of your delays, even offering multiple modulation options, various stereo options with some templates, the ability to overwrite and set up to 3 parameters to be control from the pedal’s knobs, and more. There are over 50 delay templates to choose from with some recalling the sounds of other classic delays. Templates including BinsonEchorec, Echoplex, MemoryMan, RE101, CapstanDelay, and many, many others provide great starting points for tweaking your own sounds. I recommend the many “Dual” and “PingPong” variations if you’re into stereo delays.

Perhaps the coolest new selling point of the Flashback 2 is TC Electronic’s new MASH functionality which lets you press down on the foot-switch to activate real-time expression control over various parameters. The various onboard modes and TonePrints already have some default MASH options to give you a taste, and you use the TonePrint Editor to assign up to 3 parameters to be controlled by MASH. It’s a killer performance function that is not to be overlooked or underestimated. Try creating your own “Space Echo” inspired TonePrint and use MASH to crank the Feedback and Delay Time to send your delays out of orbit.

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That concludes our Top 20 Best Delay Pedals of 2018. Thanks for reading!

 

Tell us your favorite delay pedal in the comments!

Review: Electro Harmonix Canyon Delay & Looper

 

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!

Source Audio Nemesis Delay Review – Best Overall Delay Pedal?

source-audio-nemesis-delay-review-best-overall-delay-pedal-01

There are a handful of big names when it comes to all-encompassing multi-mode delay pedals. Boss, Eventide, Strymon, & Empress Effects all spring to mind. But while Source Audio has been on the scene for several years providing guitarists with unique primarily DSP based effects pedals, they’ve just released their boldest effort yet, a pedal that clearly puts them in the big leagues and seals their place among the upper echelon of delay pedal giants. This pedal is the Source Audio Nemesis Delay. And it just may be the king of the delay pedal hill.

Meet Your Nemesis

We first saw the Nemesis Delay back at Winter NAMM 2015, then again at Summer NAMM 2015, and finally at Winter NAMM 2016 before it was finally released. The Nemesis looked more impressive each time, and the result of Source Audio’s efforts has been unleashed upon the masses. The most exciting aspects of this pedal for most guitarists will be its compact size and 12 onboard delay modes along with tap tempo, selectable tap divisions, and an array of parameter knobs for quickly dialing in the perfect delay sound without menu-diving. But for those who dig a little deeper, the Nemesis gives you 12 more (and counting!) effects engines via the Neuro App, in-depth preset customization, very thorough MIDI implementation, and much more. Let’s find out if the Source Audio Nemesis Delay is the new best overall delay pedal.

Features:

  • 12 Factory Delay Engines – Slapback, Digital, Diffuse, Analog, Tape, Noise Tape, Degrade, Shifter, Helix, Reverse, Sweeper, Rhythmic
  • 12+ Neuro App Delay Engines – Resonant Analog, Tremolo, Sequenced Filters, Dub, Chorus, Flanger, Double Helix, Complex Rhythmic, Lo-Fi Retro, Warped Record, Compound Shifter, Oil Can – coming soon: Binson Drum Echo (Single), Binson Drum Echo (Multi-Head)
  • 128 Presets – 8 accessible via onboard controls, up to 128 recallable via MIDI
  • Stereo I/O – can create ping pong delays, stereo phase inversion, and external effects loops pre or post delay
  • Tap Tempo – with onboard settings for quarter notes, dotted eighth, and triplets
  • Hold (a.k.a. “Freeze”) Control – holding Tap foot-switch freezes delay in a continuous loop
  • Neuro Mobile App – allows deep editing functionality, saving & sharing presets, and downloading bonus delay engines
  • Complete MIDI Functionality – MIDI Clock, CC parameter control, PC preset selection
  • Multiple Bypass Modes – True relay bypass, Buffered bypass, Soft bypass w/ Trails
  • Expression Control – assign any combination of knobs and their ranges for real-time expression control
  • External Preset Switching – via ¼” tip TRS foot-switch
  • Powered by included 9VDC 300mA power supply (current draw 200mA)

Visit Source Audio for more info about the Nemesis Delay.

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Sound & Performance:

Good things are worth the wait. The Nemesis is one of those things. It’s also a noteworthy example of a change that’s been happening to digital guitar pedals. Hardware & software are reaching a stage where a new digital frontier is at hand. We’re at the point where DSP processing power is so powerful, that sheer specs alone aren’t as impressive as they used to be. While hardware still matters greatly, especially to tone obsessed musicians, engineers, and guitarists, it’s the software engineers who develop for today’s modern DSP pedals who are contending in an arena where the depth of their programming ingenuity and coding expertise can have an arguably greater impact on the quality of sounds produced than the hardware itself.

But let’s talk about the actual physical pedal itself first. The Nemesis Delay’s compact & sleek black aluminum enclosure houses an efficiently laid out array of knobs and foot-switches, making it known that this pedal is first and foremost about live performance. The bypass can be configured for true relay bypass or buffered if you need to drive long cable runs with the Nemesis at or near the end of your signal path. Delay trails are also available for those who like spillover.

The 6 parameter knobs have a nice solid feel and provide easy access to on-the-fly adjustments if you need to reach down to your pedalboard for a slight tweak during a gig. The top middle knob selects from one of the 12 delay engines. I’m not completely confident about the quality of the plastic pot of that knob. A misplaced foot during an erratic display of stage showmanship could cause an unfortunate mishap. In a rack unit or studio environment, I wouldn’t question it at all. But the straightforward ease-of-use of the Nemesis Delay will appeal greatly to anyone who wants tonal options without the menu-diving or a space consuming presence of a larger digital delay pedal.

source-audio-nemesis-delay-review-best-overall-delay-pedal-02Tap tempo is an infinitely valuable function as always, and Source Audio have improved it’s precision in the latest firmware (along with adding several other minor updates and optimizations, a testament to their continued work on improving this pedal). The tiny flip-switch above the Tap foot-swich gives you quick access to a change in delay feel with quarter notes, “The Edge” style dotted eighths, and triplets are among the initially available choices.

source-audio-nemesis-delay-review-best-overall-delay-pedal-03The Preset Select/Save button and accompanying 4 LED’s indicate which preset you’re using. Select selection just takes a simple press of this button. Pushing and Holding the button saves a preset. Be sure to visit the Hardware Options in the Neuro App to extend the range to 8 presets if you’d like more to be quickly accessible. And of course, up to 128 presets can be recalled via MIDI if you need them.

We’ll touch on a few other hardware aspects later, but it’s worth emphasizing how efficiently laid out this pedal is if you prefer straight-forward, hands on control.

Now let’s talk about the the delay engines on the surface.

Factory Delay Engines

Out of the box the Nemesis gives you 12 different delay types. Any of these can be overwritten if you’d prefer a different algorithm from the Neuro App. (More on that later.) But these are some pretty great starting points for getting acquainted with the Nemesis. Let’s talk about their sounds in depth.

source-audio-nemesis-delay-review-best-overall-delay-pedal-04Slapback

The slapback delay provides those classic single repeat delays from early guitar recordings and rockabilly music. Dial in the Mix around 50%, put the Time a little past half-way, cut the Feedback, and you’re there. The Intensity lets you warm up or brighten the tone for a dark, neutral, or twangy sound. You can get weird with modulation or better yet, crank the Feedback to around 3 o’clock and reduces the Time for bizarro dreamland sound effects. The digital nature of the Nemesis has potential to take traditional sounds to unconventional new places.

Digital

This is your expected pristine digital delay. Add a little modulation, tap in some dotted eighths, and get your “Edge” on. The Intensity can provide either a low cut for clearing up the low end and getting a brighter Edge-ier sound or a high cut to roll off some treble for a warmer sound. Think TC Electronic 2290 or other similar variation.

Diffuse

Here’s our first surprise. The Diffuse engine smears the attack of the delay for a smoother repeat that has an ethereal quality to it. Pair this with reverb and you’re going places. If you’re a shoegazer and love atmospheric guitar-scapes, you’ll definitely have fun with this one. I also like to crank the Mix to fully wet & the Intensity knob to maximum Diffusion while cutting the Time to minimum for a soft-attack, pad-like guitar sound that, again, loves reverb. Boost the Feedback for a reverb-eque quality as you extend the trail of the padded sound.

Analog

The Analog setting gives you a warmer, darker sound reminiscent of some of the classic analog delay pedals of old. Think Electro Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man or Boss DM-2, only cleaner. The Intensity here can brighten or darken the tone for a clearer or murkier delay sound. The Feedback can give you super long trails that don’t overly saturate the way analog delay pedals often do. I personally rather like the hybrid sound of digitally recreated analog delay algorithms for the extra versatility they provide. While the sounds of this delay engine may not be as lo-fi or gritty as what you’d hear from actual BBD chips, the tones produced are beautiful and well worth exploring.

Tape & Noise Tape

Here we have a duo of classic inspired delay engines. Tape delays get 2 dedicated spots on the dial obviously because guitarists really love tape delays. And of course, the Nemesis may want to dethrone the Strymon El Capistan as your tape delay pedal of choice. The Tape engine gives you cleaner delays of the two. The Intensity can warm up the sound on the left and add some mild saturation and artifacts. The Mod & Rate knobs give you the wow & flutter of a warbly tape machine. The Noise Tape is darker, grittier – but not so much so. It’s a groggier sounding, swampier delay. The Intensity goes from pretty warm to really dark. It never gets too dirty, definitely not taking your guitar overboard, but it provides enough grit and mojo for a tastefully restrained, moderately warn out tape echo before the machine gets to the point of needing emergency care.

Degrade

If you want noise and artifacts, Degrade is the first place you go. It starts with a clean digital delay line, but cranking the Intensity thins out your tone, anti-aliasing the wet sound until it’s reduced to bit-crushed robot chatter. Lots of fun to be had here. Use expression control to gradually bring in the noise to make your audience feel like there’s a glitch in the Matrix.

Shifter

This engine gives you a static pitch-shifted delay. The Intensity chooses the interval among Octave Down, Up Minor 3rd, Up Major 3rd, Up Perfect 4th, Up Perfect 5th, & Octave Up. The shifting has that slightly glitchy, old-school warble characteristic of more primitive pitch-shifters. It would normally put me off a little, but I like how you can use the Mod & Rate to accentuate this sound for very interesting vibrato effects on the delays. Try maxing the Rate with a hint of Mod, moderate Feedback, and Octave Up for mesmerizing results.

Helix

An octave up reversed delay? Yes, please. This shimmery gem is another standout engine, perhaps only topped by the Neuro App’s Double Helix (more on that later). The Intensity adjusts from a brighter or darker sound and helps the delay blend into the mix. This engine will have your audience scratching their heads at how you’re producing such bizarre textures from your guitar. Pro Tip: Use the Neuro App to select different pitch shift intervals. You can select from -2 octaves & a perfect 5th all the way up to +2 octaves & a perfect 5th. Also, the Helix engine must be heard in stereo. Use the Neuro App to play with the Tap Panning for a bigger sound.

Reverse

You gotta have a Reverse mode in any fully featured multi-algorithm delay pedal. But the Nemesis has its own spin on the classic sound of 60’s psychedelia. The Intensity will gradually blend in the sound of more delay taps, creating a pulsing, breathing delay sound that sets this engine apart of the usual uninspiring, run-of-the-mill reverse delays. Sure, you can crank the Mix to fully wet and get the whole Jimi Hendrix & Beatles Revolver thing going on, but try blending in your dry signal and experimenting with the Feedback and Intensity for some very original reversed delay sounds.

Sweeper

The Sweeper applies a low pass resonant filter to the delay line. The Intensity & Mod control the Q & Depth of the filter, respectively; Rate controls speed. Since it’s different to sync faster speeds with your delays via knob control, I generally like to go with a long, slow filter sweep that extends over several measures. If you want to get more out of this mode, use the Neuro App to lock the LFO with the delay time. Cool, but still limited. I’d like to see a future Neuro App update that allows different multipliers, so you could have the filter sweep lock into your delay at contrasting divisions – for example, a long whole note sweep over a dotted 8th delay. There’s some potential to improve the applicability of this engine, and I think Source Audio can address this easily in a future update.

Rhythmic

The Rhythmic engine gives you a clean digital delay with 8 selectable multi-tap delays, each with 3 taps and various rhythmic feels. This engine is a good place to go with you want little more rhythmic variation than a simple dotted 8th. This is another engine that shines in stereo. Be sure to fire up the Neuro App to play with delay Tap placement.

Neuro App Functionality & Additional Delay Engines

source-audio-nemesis-delay-review-best-overall-delay-pedal-05The Nemesis comes with a 1/8” to ¼” cable for connecting to a compatible phone with 1/8” headphone jack. Download the Neuro App, power up your Nemesis Delay, and you’re good to go.

General operation is straight-forward. Select the Nemesis pedal from your touch screen and dive into the Sound Editor, Browse Sounds, or Hardware Options tabs. Browsing for sounds is a fun way to discover new ideas through other people’s preset creations. Not that you’ll ever run out of inspiration, but loading up some of these sounds can offer a fresh perspective. The Hardware options panel is essential for selecting bypass mode, activating trails, selecting MIDI channel, or allowing effects loop routing among other things.

Sound Editor

The Sound Editor is where you go to get deeper parameter access and load up the additional delay engines. 12 Neuro App exclusive delays were available at launch, and more are on the way. You can manually set BPM and delay time, set the Maximum Delay Time, and apply some parameters from other delay engines to others of your choosing. You can add Diffusion, Distortion, Sample Rate Reduction, and even apply the resonant low pass filter. You can then send these changes to the pedal and even “Burn” a particular delay engine over one of the pre-existing Factory Delay Machines.

The Neuro App is generally pretty easy to use for sound editing, but as I mentioned previously, I’d like to see selectable divisions when syncing the LFO to the delay time. Also then trying to adjust some parameters, the interface can be a little challenging to dial in precise values. The Pitch Shift Interval comes to mind as it’s tough to select that perfect interval from the touch-screen. I’d like to see slower tracking speed for easier adjustment of Pitch Shift Interval and other parameters.

Now let’s talk about the bonus delay engines available through the Neuro App.

source-audio-nemesis-delay-review-best-overall-delay-pedal-06Neuro App Delay Machines

Resonant Analog

The Resonant Analog engine was inspired by the MXR Carbon Copy & Way Huge Aqua-Puss, mid-range present analog delays that are regarded as classic among their many fans. This engine does a great job of emulating that style of analog delay, complete with saturated self-oscillation. With the Intensity at noon the sound is more mid-present. Lowering it darkens the sound into Boss DM-2 territory. Raising the Intensity brightens the delays for a cleaner sound. I do like the original Analog engine, but it can be very tempting to Burn this one over it. Another winner.

Tremolo

This engine applies Tremolo over your delayed signal. Intensity sets the depth of the tremolo. You can also add vibrato with the Mod knob. Rate controls the speed. I find it challenging to get much out of this engine without selectable locked LFO divisions. This engine could be greatly improved with a Neuro App update. In the meantime try the Reverse engine with higher Intensity for tremolo-like ambient delays.

Sequenced Filters

The Sequenced Filters delay engine applies a filter across 4 delay taps, each being centered at different frequencies for a step-sequencer style sound. This engine is great for rhythmic delays with added harmonic interest as the filter cascades down with each success delay tap. The Mod section gives you standard pitch modulation for even more movement. I personally enjoy this more than the default Sweeper filter delay. Sequenced Filters is a solid Burn candidate.

Dub

As the name implies the Dub engine evokes the sounds of those high-passed delays you hear in dub music. The delays have a bright, diffused sound and sit in the air above your playing. The Intensity takes the tone from bright to very thin. This one’s especially fun to play with higher Feedback settings as you can let the trails build up without cluttering up the mix too much. Add a little modulation and you’re set.

Chorus & Flanger

The Chorus & Flanger engines are similar beasts in that both replace the standard modulation with unique modulation effects. The Chorus provides a lush stereo chorusing effect; the Flanger gives your delays those classic jet flanging sounds. The Chorus’ Intensity warms and brightens the sound while on the Flanger it takes you from a neutral tone to a thinner, brighter flanging sound. Both are excellent at slow Mod & Rate settings. With the Flanger I like cranking the Mod to max and keeping Rate slow for those churning flanger sounds. The effect isn’t overly prominent so your dry sound will still come through clearly with the flanging behind it.

Double Helix

Double Helix is one of my favorite Nemesis delay modes, and it might be tempting to “Burn” this over the Helix engine (or any engine that isn’t getting much play time). It adds an additional repeat of the non-shifted signal and has a different movement feel than the original Helix setting. Be sure to select your own pitch interval in the Neuro App. One of the times I loaded this engine, I accidentally selected Octave up + a 5th and went on a magical delay journey. Also, I made two Instagram clips that were performed with this algorithm. Here’s one:

Complex Rhythmic

Similar to the default Rhythmic engine, Complex Rhythmic gives you an extra 4th delay tap with 8 options based on subdivisions of 8 and 5 options based on subdivisions of 6. If you love rhythmic pattern delays, this adds even more flexibility for finding a rhythm that suits your tastes. Between the 8 options under Rhythmic and 13 options here, that’s 21 different delay tap pattern sequences to choose from. Like the standard Rhythmic engine, this mode also shines in stereo.

Lo-Fi Retro

Comparing this engine to Degrade, Lo-Fi Retro is darker and has more of a brooding quality that I really like. Cranking the Intensity yields plenty of that bit-crushed, 8-bit brunch, but less dramatic settings reveal a delay decay that seems to chew up your guitar with each repeat. It’s totally rad. Sounds as if your guitar is being force fed into the chomping jaws of an original NES console.

Warped Record

In the manual it’s called Warped Record. In the Neuro App it’s called Warped Vinyl. Either way, it should be clear that this engine is inspired by the sounds of an old LP left in the dust under the sun for too long. The modulation adds warble; the Intensity brings in distortion and filtering. I wouldn’t say it’s the most authentic warped record emulation I’ve heard, but this engine seems to have its own flavor of lo-fi, artifact ridden coloration and movement to add to your delay line. Certainly fun to play around with.

Compound Shifter

This is another standout for those who like it weird. The Compound Shifter pitch-shifts the delayed signal with each echo being further shifted by the selected interval, “compounding” the shifting effect. By default the Intensity selects from Octave Down, Up Minor 3rd, Up Major 3rd, Up Perfect 4th, Up Perfect 5th, & Up Octave. Try setting it to Up Minor 3rd for ascending diminished harmonies. The Up octave does the shimmer delay effect well with repeats cascading up out of audible range. A fun and essential thing I must recommend is to assign the Pitch Control to the Intensity knob in the Neuro App. This lets you use the knob to select plenty more possible shift intervals. Try setting it to a half-step up or down for dizzying stepping delays that will induce vertigo. And be sure to explore the many other descending delay intervals aside from just the Octave Down. Fans of Helix & Double Helix need to try this one.

Oil Can

The Oil Can is inspired by those old oil can delays and provides some of the darkest, murkiest, swampiest delays you’ll hear from the Nemesis. The Intensity goes from dark to extra dark, so you’ll have no problems dialing in a shadowy delay that swims in the tar pits below your dry guitar signal. I like to crank the Feedback relatively high with this one. Modulation helps as well. The delay’s saturation isn’t overly distorted, and the warmth this engine imparts makes it a viable alternative to the Analog & Resonant Analog engines.

NEW: Binson Drum Echo (Single Head & Multi-Head)

The latest firmware adds these 2 new variations of the classic Binson Echorec. They’re not yet available from the Neuro App, but when they are I’ll update this section with my impressions. But it’s great to see Source Audio extending the Nemesis Delay’s machines beyond the initial 24 offerings.

source-audio-nemesis-delay-review-best-overall-delay-pedal-07MIDI Functionality

I’m a huge proponent of MIDI implement in digital pedals. What first caught many guitarist’s attention when seeing the Nemesis was the thought of Strymon TimeLine caliber functionality in an El Capistan sized enclosure, including MIDI I/O. Source Audio went above and beyond in this department. The Nemesis has a separate Nemesis MIDI Implementation manual, and the pedal pretty much gives you MIDI access to every parameter and function. If you want to control and automate the Nemesis from a DAW like Ableton Live, you can. If you just want to select presets from a MIDI compatible effects switcher, you can. MIDI Clock sync? It’s here, and Source Audio has made continuous effort since the Nemesis Delay’s release to further optimize MIDI functionality in recent firmware updates. The Nemesis is a win in this area.

Stereo & Routing

The Nemesis is massively flexible in terms of I/O routing. Playing the unit in stereo is an exercise in consciousness expansion. Basic ping pong, delay to one side, and Kill Dry (for wet/dry guitar rigs) are all available. And as I’ve said before, be sure to get into the Neuro App and play with the Tap Panning options. You can create some massively expansive delays that play and dance across the stereo field. If you’re running the Nemesis in Mono you can use Input 2 & Output 2 as an effects send & return pre or post delay for coloring your guitar sound with other effects. Infinite creative potential here.

source-audio-nemesis-delay-review-best-overall-delay-pedal-08

Express Yourself

Whether via MIDI control or with a dedicated expression pedal, the Nemesis Delay begs to be controlled in real-time. Plug in an expression pedal and hit the Control Input button, and you’ll access exp based volume control, great for creating pad-like delay swells. You can also set the range of the expression pedal from the Nemesis as well as easily programming the automation for up to all 6 knobs. All of your exp configuration settings can be stored with the preset, so you can create unique expressional control for each one. There’s also an input port for connecting the Nemesis Delay to Source Audio’s Hot Hand Motion Controller, Neuro Hub, and other interfacing products.

I Am Nemesis

All-in-all I think Source Audio have done a commendable job at incorporating the most essential functionality into the surface controls of the pedal. Some guitarists will gripe about having to rely on the Neuro App to access the mostly excellent 12+ extra delay engines. Also, I’d like to see the Neuro App tweaked a little for easier delay tweaking. As for the hardware design, everything feels solid except for the flimsy plastic potted engine selection knob. Feels okay for general turning and should be fine in the studio, nestled in a rack unit, or on a bedroom guitarist’s board. But if you’re a world touring pro and take your pedalboard on stage night after night, just don’t let a drunken stage diver trample on your ‘board and jam this knob. But in terms of sound quality, the Source Audio Nemesis Delay sets the stage for world class delay sounds in a dual-footswitch, Tap-Tempo enabled compact delay pedal.

source-audio-nemesis-delay-review-best-overall-delay-pedal-09

Overall-Rating-4.5

The Source Audio Nemesis Delay is arguably the best overall dedicated delay pedal in an enclosure this size thanks to the many high quality delay sounds it offers. If you just need a versatile Tap Tempo enabled delay pedal, the Nemesis is a win. If you want a dozen easily accessible & tweak-able onboard delay engines (plus 12+ more via the Neuro App), the Nemesis has you covered. If you want stereo, MIDI, presets, effects send/return, expression control, and more, the Nemesis is very hard to beat. And Source Audio is continuously adding features (and new delay engines!), making the Nemesis an exceptional value and dangerous rival to any other delay pedal that might still be lingering on your pedalboard. 

That concludes our Source Audio Nemesis Delay review. Thanks for reading.

 

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