We’ve already covered the more all-rounder digital delays within the ’Digital Workstation Pedals’ article from a couple of months ago. This piece focuses on more specialist delay pedals - which do one or a few things really well rather than cover all the different delay algorithms possible.
There is a tiny undercurrent here of modulated delays, often with 3 modes, and some really spacey effects. Some of these pedals are more vanilla in their approach - the Mad Professor Deep Blue Deluxe for instance, while others are more out there - like the Montreal Assembly Count to Five and the Red Panda Particle.
I personally am just looking for added flavours here, so the more out-of-the-ordinary one here have a little more appeal. In previous articles on this site I have already made mention of my fondness for the Tera Echo, Count to Five and Red Panda Particle, and I would probably add the Alexander Pedals Radical Delay II Plus to that list - it’s such a clever pedal that contains a lot more than it looks to have via the really smart ’Tweak’ dial - alongside smart modes and onboard tap-tempo and divisions. There is three pedals here I am likely to want to acquire at some stage - the two first listed, and the Count to Five.
Pedals are listed alphabetically by brand:
This is a really cool affected / modulated delay pedal which can add all manner of cool artefacts to the delays - glitches, choruses and vibrato style modulation - with tap tempo via the footswitch and sub-divisions. There is a 3-mode toggle - Mod | Glitch | Bend - but this pedal does a whole lot more than that depending on where you position the 'Tweak' dial. This is a really cool and unusual delay pedal which gives you a lot of bang for your buck - it's definitely on my wishlist.
This is a really lush dynamic ambient delay - using Boss's fairly recent Multi-Dimensional Processing (MDP) algorithms to render beautifully spacey delay + reverb in full stereo. On Andy Martin's demo above it sounds incredible on the Radiohead Subterranean Homesick Alien cover. This is one of the reasons to get the DD-500 as it is included on that. I however truly love my Empress EchoSystem, so I might be getting this separately at some stage - sometime in the not-too-distant future!
A recreation of quite an old-school slightly left-field delay, initially used mostly for slapback type effects because of limited delay time. The original analogue oil can delay assembly was a rather complex mix of electronics and an oil-filled cylinder. With digital signal processing Catalinbread has been able to significantly increase the range and versatility of the original. It certainly has its own 'tone', but I'm not sure I would ever find a significant use for this - really quite specialist.
This is really quite a unique modulated delay - giving you all manner of quirky artefacts, and allowing you to mix in some fuzz as well. It's a relatively large pedal too for one so specialised, so you really need to love it to want to apply it. I really like that it exists, but fear it's a touch of an acquired taste for most.
I find it great that EHX is launching more pedals within regular-sized enclosures. I've always found that the EHX pedals tended to be a little on the large side, so it's nice to see what they are getting more accommodating - with pedals like the Pitchfork and now this one. The Canyon has 11 different modes including Memory Man, Reverb+Delay and a 62 second Looper, alongside smart tap-tempo and sub-divisions. A really neat and compact multi-effects pedal that could only really be improved by stereo outputs.
A very significant number of players use mostly 2 different types of delays - one short and one long to accompany either rhythm playing or solos. This forthcoming Mad Professor delay should really be called the Matt Schofield special as he traditionally uses two Deep Blue Delays, and this is simply a consolidation of that. When I look at Mini / Compact delay pedals, like the TCE's Mini Flashback, I've often wondered why they don't have some sort of smart function which allows you to alternate between short and long delay types. The same could be applied to reverbs too, as they are typically used in conjunction with the delays and require similar complementary characteristics. So back to the Dual Blue Delay - this simply combines two of the single pedals into a more singular enclosure - for more convenience I suppose (and less cables)!
This is another really cool modulated delay peda with 3 modes - Vicodin | Morphine | Oxygen - and where the modulations are controlled per mode via the 'Mutation' dial. First mode is tape with warble, second is standard with light modulation, and final mode is warm delay with auto-filter. There's no tap-tempo here, just a pulse dial. The delays sound pristine for sure, but I feel that pedals like the Radical Delay have a slight edge through more features - similar core concept though.
This much loved and unique granular and looping delay is really a very special and distinct pedal, and has been on my wishlist for a very long time. Unfortunately these are all made by hand in very small batches, and I've seen no availability in the last 12 months or so. They are so well loved that you almost never see second-hand examples. You really have to watch the above video to get a feel for what it does. I keep checking in on Reverb.com and Montreal Assembly to see if any more of these are in the wild - but no luck yet!
Yet another 3-mode modulated delay pedal, but this one is really special, it's not quite as feature-rich as the Radical Delay up top, but possibly its modulation modes may be more interesting to you - Stutter | Whirl | Sheer. I feel that the Radical Delay, The Surgeon and this Mondegreen are all built on very similar principles - I would be torn between choosing this one or the Radical one - go for the former if you value a greater feature range and tap-tempo, or the latter if you prefer its slightly more unusual output. Right now I am leaning very slightly more towards the Radical Delay.
This is another really clever modulated delay - with an even richer feature set than the Radical Delay, though without the tap tempo which that one has. Here we have 5 key modes - Density | LFO | Reverse | Pitch | Random - with 5 further dials to tweak parameters. The expression pedal can be very cleverly controlled here - where you can alternate between affecting - Density | LFO | Detune. It's the same height as a regular compact enclosure, but nearer the width of two - its width and lack of tap tempo are really the only things it has going against it.
For a long time this was one of the preferred digital delays for those not wishing to go the whole hog with a Strymon Timeline or one of those bigger boxes. I feel of late though that the pretty much same-size Source Audio Nemesis has stolen its thunder somewhat, as have more cleverly modulated compact pedals like the Radical Delay. IF you want a largely pristine clean digital delay with tap-tempo and subdivisions then this is still a great proposition. The vogue though seems to be moving more towards those sci-fi modulated effects which this pedal really does not do. I had near enough every Sttymon pedal on my wishlist at one stage, I seem to be increasingly learning though that for my taste there are often more fitting solutions to be found elsewhere.
This is another neat compact modulated delay pedal - here with 4 program modes - Analog | Digital | Lo-Fi | Slap Back - and with tap-tempo and divisions / ratio onboard. The 'X' dial adjusts modulation and filter width, and this is more of a traditional sounding, kind of edited-down version of a delay workstation. The delay output is pristine though, and this is a really quick and easy pedal to work with.
I already have an Empress EchoSystem and Strymon TimeLine - and those pedals cover near enough every delay you might need. What they don't do so much is the more left-field modulations, or the really intricate granular delay effects. There are several highlights here - I would though probably pick out the Radical Delay II, Tera Echo, Count to Five and the Red Panda Particle. The first three are definitely on my wishlist, and my overall winner here is likely the first one featured.