Four pedals that were barely even hinted at during NAMM 2017 have now very recently come to light. TC Electronic’s updated Hall of Fame Reverb (HOF2), and brand new Pipeline Tap Tremolo, Wampler’s combined Delay and Reverb - Ethereal, and Robert Keeley’s Pitch-Shifted and Arpeggiated Delay - Mesmer.
I guess you could quite accurately describe them all as fitting within the Ambient effects category, and 3 of them are largely or entirely tailored to that purpose. The Pipeline is TC Electronic’s first attempt at Tremolo in a regular-sized pedal, and with its TonePrint ability, it is capable of some remarkable ambient textures too.
Here follows a brief overview of each:
A regular feature on squillions of pedalboards, somewhat upstaged recently by Neunaber’s Immerse Reverberator. Looks like TC Electronic is back in the ascendancy by adding a new Shimmer algorithm - borrowed and evolved from the Sub ’N’ Up Octaver, as well as increasing the number of TonePrint presets to 3 - for even more tone-sculpting abilities.
The big news here though is the new ’Mash’ momentary footswitch with pressure sensor - which can swell / ramp up various characteristics within the chosen presets. Ever since I acquired my DigiTech Whammy Ricochet I wondered why more companies were not making use of such an expression-pedal-type momentary function. This sort of pressure-sensing technology has existed in mobile phones for years, so it’s about time we saw it utilised in effects pedals. I can see several applications for this - right across the board, and it is ingenious that TC Electronic have crammed so much functionality into a regular pedal size. They can surely combine it with the momentary function of the Spark Mini Booster and the recent Tap function seen it the new Pipeline pedal - all of that functionlity out of just a single footswitch button.
I also like what Foxpedal is doing with the soon-to-be released Novaplex and Quiver pedals - where there are two footswitches on fairly standardised pedal enclosures. With the new Mash technology, I can see all manner of clever innovations for this type of form-factor.
Ever since I acquired my now much loved Empress EchoSystem Dual Engine Delay, I have had lingering tonequest anxiety about what to do at the reverb slot of my pedal chain. I am largely satisfied with my Strymon BigSky, but there is a Dual Engine Ventris Reverb forthcoming from Source Audio, and also much to recommend the Empress Reverb still. I have also been considering the Eventide H9 as an extra (very pricey though). My current thinking is leaning somewhat towards acquiring this HOF2 - could be perfect to go after the BigSky to add some additional unique flavours - the above demo is quite superb really.
Not quite TC Electronic’s first Tremolo, we must not forget the long-discontinued Vintage Tremolo, which is re-introduced in part in this new pedal. It features the controls you might typically expect - Speed, Depth, Volume and Subdivisions. And there is a 3-way mode selector toggle - Vintage | TonePrint | Square - for plenty of variety - of course you can do all manner of things with the TonePrint preset.
The big news here though is the clever inclusion of Tap Tempo via just the single typical bypass footswitch. To activated Tap Tempo you simply depress the switch for two seconds - and away you go.
I guess this kind of functionality will appear next on the likely updated regular-sized Flashback - even though it has a different mechanic to set time at the moment (strum-to-sync).
Lots of pro players have been making use of the Mooer Trelicopter at the end of their pedalboards, the Pipeline will likely give that a run for its money. There’s lots of players looking for the magic vintage Reverb + Tremolo combination which typically adds substantially to the price of an all-inclusive amp. The Strymon Flint has been the go-to solution for many. With this new pedal, and since so many amps do have reverb onboard already, perhaps the Pipeline is all you need for that classic vintage sound.
Most of us Wampler fans have had an inkling about this pedal for a while, and as always, Brian never disappoints. You could question the lack of Tap Tempo for the delay portion - and nudge Brian to have a word with those clever chaps at TC Electronic, but that oversight does not really impact the grandeur of this pedal.
It has been specifically developed for ambient players, and with the 4th Delay Mode applied and both Mix dials cranked, the sound is just as glorious as you might expect. We have seen quite a spate of combined Delay and Reverb Pedals recently - such asa Foxpedal’s The Wave and EarthQuaker Devices’ Avalanche Run. And while the Ethereal is not quite as versatile as either of those, it does its business in a standard-size enclosure.
I think when space and simplicity are key concerns, then this pedal is a great solution. For my pedal chain, I am not sure I would find much use for it. I am currently looking at options for Dual Reverb to match the incredible versatility of Empress’s EchoSystem Dual Delay. But I can still certainly see a use for the Ethereal for a certain type of player, and within certain circumstances.
Following on from the quirky delights of the BubbleTron, Robert Keely brings forth another equally quirky speciality pedal - essentially a pitch-shifting and arpeggiated delay - for those looking for some truly trippy ambient effects.
There are 4 dials - Time, Feedback, Ramp and Blend - all fairly straightforward and understandable - indeed the Ramp is really the intensity and direction of the arpgegiation. Then we have a 3-way Mode toggle - 5’s | Pitch | Octave - which sets the intervals as much as anything else.
As you can see from Nick Reinhart’s (PedalsandEffects.com) above demo, this pedal produces some wonderful ambient textures.
As with the Ethereal, I am not sure I have any particular need for this pedal, I am though always looking our for interesting and off-kilter effects, but I really like the power of versatility too, which is why my fairly recently acquired Dr Scrientist BitQuest is such a good match for my needs.
Until such a time that Robert Keeley or Ryan and Tanya Clarke (Dr Scientist) come up with a more self-contained full-spectrum ambient pedal, I will probably just hold my horses a while longer.
Of all the pedals on this page, The HOF2 is the one that interests me the most - it’s really very affordable for what it does, I may well be considering this as an addition to my pedal chain - possibly to sit after the BigSky or perhaps even after the Mimiq? Time will tell, and I will update you all in due course...