Review of: Strymon DIG Dual Digital Delay
Reviewed by: Gabriel TanakaRating:5On April 13, 2016Last modified:April 23, 2017
The Strymon DIG Dual Digital Delay pedal follows in the foot-steps of the widely acclaimed El Capistan & TimeLine delay pedals and is aimed at replicating and expanding upon classic rack delay units from the 1980’s. The DIG features 3 delay types – an early 80’s inspired adm mode, a mid 80’s 12 bit mode, and an ultra high fidelity 24/96 mode. Aside from the various digital delay voicings, the biggest draw may be the unit’s twin delay lines which can be run in series, parallel, or ping pong (in stereo) configuration. There are 3 tap divisions for the main delay line and 5 subdivisions for the second delay line which let you create a wide array of offset rhythmic patterns. And yes, there’s even modulation for adding movement to the delays and of course stereo for pro rigs and complex twin amp setups. The DIG looks like a real powerhouse delay pedal. Let’s run down its full feature set and dig in.
- Two simultaneous, integrated delays, with unique digital rack delay voicings
- Five dual delay adjustment and tone shaping knobs: Time, Time 2, Mix, Mix 2, Repeats
- One modern and two classic digital delay voicings: 24/96, adm, 12 bit
- Five rhythmic subdivisions: Triplet, Eighth, Golden Ratio, Dotted Eighth, Dotted Quarter
- Three choices for delay line modulation: Off, Light, Deep
- Five “hidden” knobs for deep dual delay control: Delay 1 Subdivision, Sync/Free Mode, Filter, Config, Delay 2 Repeats
- Selectable Free Mode disables subdivisions and synchronization
- Press and hold Circular Repeats effect
- 20ms – 1.6s delay range (40ms – 3.2s with Half Note Delay 1 Subdivision)
Ins, Outs, Switches
- High impedance mono input, with selectable TRS stereo input
- Stereo output
- Three signal routing configurations: Series, Parallel, Ping Pong
- Tap tempo and Bypass footswitches
- Expression pedal input allows the connection of either an expression pedal (for selectable control over any knob parameter), external tap pedal (for remote control of tempo), or Favorite switch (to save a Favorite preset)
- Super low noise, high performance 24-bit 96kHz A/D and D/A converters
- 115db typical signal to noise
- Analog dry path for a zero latency dry signal that is never converted to digital
- +8dBu maximum input level easily handles instrument and line signals
- 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response
- Premium analog front end and output section
- Super high performance SHARC DSP in a compact form factor
- 32-bit floating point processing
- True Bypass (electromechanical relay switching)
- Selectable Trails Mode with high quality, transparent Analog Buffered Bypass mode
- 9V center negative DC power supply included, 250mA current draw
- Strong and lightweight anodized carnation pink chassis
- Designed and built in the USA
The DIG comes in the familiar smaller housing that’s recognizable from Strymon’s Deco and El Capistan dTape Echo pedals. It has a classy minimalist appeal with the control knobs and foot-switches sensibly spaced out atop its clean, anodized aluminum enclosure. The inside of the pedal shows a continuation of Strymon’s precision engineering and attention to detail with components cleanly mounted.
The pedal has dedicated Time and Mix knobs for each delay with both delays sharing a single Repeats knob. The Time knob is the master delay time knob, and the Time 2 knob sets the offset subdivision for Delay 2. A Type toggle-switch selects from the 3 available delay modes, and a Mod toggle-switch lets you select from 2 preset modulation amounts (light & deep) or no modulation.
The Tap foot-switch overrides the value of the Time knob for setting your tempo easily during a performance by simply tapping in your desired tempo. Easy to use and essential for accurate delay timing.
While the DIG features a single input and 2 dedicated stereo output jacks, you can open the pedal and flip the jumper to configure the input for TRS stereo operation (same as with the Strymon Deco and many of their other smaller pedals). This allows for full stereo integration in your rig including placement in the effects loops of 2 amps at once. Check out our video below to hear how that sounds.
The Science of DIG
A brief excursion before we continue. Strymon also published extensive information about the DIG regarding the rack delay technology it draws upon and the research that went into the pedal’s development. The DIG Digital Delay Technology White Paper is worth reading to understand the science behind the sounds you’ll hear. While many companies employ crude methods for attempting to emulate iconic sounds from the past, it never ceases to amaze how much rigorous effort Strymon puts into the creation of their pedals and their effects algorithms.
The adm (Adaptive Delta Modulation) delay draws off a conversion method that was originally utilized in telecommunications. The shortcomings of that conversion process created the sought after percussive delay characteristics that are recreated in the DIG’s adm mode. Strymon also sought to emulate the sonic characteristics of the circuitry in these classic rack delays, and the 12 bit delay type shows the most distinct tonality in its warmer, lo-fi texture. The 24/96 algorithm is an exercise in pristine digital precision, seeking to reproduce the full sonic integrity of the source material with subtle dynamic attenuation to let it better sit in the mix with your dry signal.
Sound & Performance:
First, let’s talk about the delay types available and their associated aural qualities in use. Taking you back to the early 80’s, the adm mode has a sharper sounding attack that lends itself well to rhythmic delay playing. It’s generally useful when you want a delay sound that has a percussive bite. Each repeat hits with a distinct clarity and makes them noticeable even in a busy swirl of lingering echoes. The 12 bit mode has a noticeably darker sound in comparison to the other modes and is the warmest of the three. It’s a bit grainy but not quite as dirty as a typical ‘lo-fi’ digital delay pedal. Still, the 12 bit mode has the most distinct ‘character’ to its sound and can pass for an analog style delay that’s cleaner than most. The 24/96 mode is a full-on pristine digital delay with a hint of dynamics processing. The result is a very smooth delay sound that works great whenever a super clean delay is called for. I’d particularly recommend this mode for use with overdriven and lead tones to preserve the tonality of the distortion you’ve already dialed in from your amp and other pedals.
While the 3 delay types do have subtle variations in tone, you can further sculpt your delay sound with the Filter (secondary function of the Mix knob). This lets you roll off either the highs (turn left) or lows (turn right) or maintain a flat signal response (leave at noon). You could further darken the 12 bit mode for an even more analog-like response or maybe cut the low end in adm mode for brighter rhythmic comping.
The DIG’s Secondary knob functions access more options.
The Mod switch brings in two preset variations of modulation movement: light & deep. The light setting is very subtle and is a great always-on setting for most use if you like a hint of movement in your delays. The deep setting is more prominent without being too overwhelming. Try using modulation when using both delays with a higher Repeats setting; the subtle pitch variation helps the delays breathe, creating more depth and a huge atmospheric sound.
Master of Duality
Aside from the gorgeous sounds of the delays offered, it’s having 2 separate delay lines that makes the DIG such a standout pedal. Bringing up the Mix knob lets you hear Delay 1. The timing of Delay 1 can be set with the Time knob or tapped in via the Tap foot-switch. The default subdivision for Delay 1 is quarter notes, but you can also select half notes or dotted eighth notes (Delay 1 sub-function). Not only are these 3 of the most commonly used subdivisions for general single delay use, but they’re arguably 3 of the more useful subdivisions to start with for a dual delay setup. The default quarter note setting is a great place to start to become acquainted with the rhythmic variations you get when blending it with Delay 2 via the Mix 2 knob.
Delay 2 is offset from Delay 1 by the subdivision set with the Time 2 knob. The 5 available subdivisions for Delay 2 are: triplets, eighth notes, golden ratio, dotted eighth notes, and dotted quarter notes. This provides plenty of rhythmic variation for your delays. I often gravitate towards the dotted eighth note setting, but the other options are worth trying as well. The golden ratio setting is particularly interesting as this adds an unorthodox feel to your delay rhythms. You can also activate Free Mode (Time 2 sub-function) to use both delays out of sync from each other. Very cool for dual slapback echoes at lower settings or chorusing when the knobs are rolled all the way counter-clockwise and some Mod is added.
The DIG’s default configuration is Series mode which lets the delays cascade into each other. With a higher Repeats setting the delays will start with an interesting rhythmic burst and then wash out in a thick ambience of echoes. It’s often best to keep the Repeats set reasonably low if you want to retain a prominent rhythmic dynamic while you play in Series. If you switch the pedal to Parallel, the 2 delays will trigger separately and remain in sync if DIG is in Sync mode. The rhythms may be somewhat less complex than if you feed them into each other in Series, but you’ll maintain the rhythmic definition even when using a very high Repeats level. Parallel mode also sounds amazing in stereo (see our video above). The Ping Pong mode will function the same as Series mode in mono. But if you’re playing in stereo, the delays will interact and bounce across the stereo field as you play. Be sure to have both Mix knobs set reasonably high to get the full effect.
The Circular Repeats effect allows you to grab the audio that’s currently being delayed and extend the repeats for as long as you want. The effect is activated at any time by pressing and holding the Tap foot-switch. It simply continues the repeats at the current volume level without fading until you release the foot-switch. You can play over what’s repeating without the DIG delaying what you’re playing over the Circular Repeats. It’s a very cool function that can add some unique delay sounds to your live performances. Try it after reverb or other delay pedal; using the DIG’s Circular Repeats to repeat the echoes of an analog delay without inducing oscillation is mesmerizing.
The EXP jack allows you to plug in an expression pedal, an external tap foot-switch or Strymon’s Favorite switch to save/recall a single preset. The expression pedal is set to control the Time by default. Make sure Delay 2 is synced to Delay 1 to control the timing of both delays at once. You can get some crazy warped sounds with higher Repeats settings. Considering the complexity of sounds offered by the DIG, it’ll be most tempting to use the Favorite switch to be able to recall a particular complex sound.
The only real flaw with the DIG is that it’s so good and there are so many possibilities available that you’ll wish for more presets. I’d personally like to see Strymon implement MIDI on their smaller guitar pedals including the DIG as this could facilitate CC control and preset selection for guitarists with high-end MIDI-enabled guitar rigs. It would be especially awesome to use a MIDI CC message to trigger the Circular Repeats function. But While the Strymon TimeLine remains their flagship delay pedal (and arguably one of the best delay pedals around period), the DIG is holding a space of its own to make it a very worthwhile consideration for anyone seeking a simple or rhythmically complex digital delay sound. And for the record, the DIG is so good that it could sit alongside a TimeLine on your pedalboard and might even get my vote for the best individual delay machine Strymon has released to date. It’s that good.
The Strymon DIG is an absolute masterpiece in the realm of digital delay pedals and nails the vibe of those classic 80’s rack delay sounds while offering pristine modern digital delay tones as well. This pedal would be my first recommendation for anyone seeking one or two outstanding digital delay sounds to be used during gigs. The 3 delay types are sonically gorgeous. The basic controls are simple to use and dial in. And the rhythmic complexity of the DIG’s dual delay lines makes for some very interesting delay sounds. Guitarists with pro rigs might wish for more presets and MIDI implementation, but less complex rigs won’t miss those features. And, yes, playing the DIG in stereo is on another level altogether. Dig it?
That concludes our Strymon DIG review. Thanks for reading.
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