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7 Great Compact Multi-Mode Delay and Reverb Pedal Duos

Alexander PedalsBossDelayDelay WorkstationDigital DelayDigital ReverbDigiTechElectro-HarmonixOld Blood Noise EndeavorsReverbReverb WorkstationTC ElectronicWalrus Audio+-
2018AfBlg7DelayReverbCompactDuos700-min

Most of these were included in my Comparative Compact Pedal Acquisition overview - I’ve just added the OBNE Mondegreen and brand new EHX Oceans 11 into the mix. I had expected there to be more pairs here - and while for instance we have the excellent Mad Professor Kosmos, MXR M300, Neunaber Immerse and Shift Line A+ Astronaut Reverbs, those companies don’t have an equivalent Multi-Function Delay. The same can be said of the Chase Bliss Thermae and Tonal Recall, Montreal Assembly Count-to-Five and Sinvertek Fluid Time in the other direction in that those makers don’t have equivalent Multi-Function Reverbs. So the companies that have both roughly equivalent Multi-Function duos in this are are actually rather few and far between, and those I could find fall into roughly 3 or 4 different categories as we will see.

 

For me the current champions of this arena are TC Electronic, followed by Boss and DigiTech - each providing full-range Multi-Function Delay and Reverb pedals in full stereo - in and out. Next it’s a toss-up between Electro-Harmonix and Walrus - in that EHX provides the same number of algorithms as TC Electronic - or namely 11 - but with slightly less control and no stereo output. The Walruses on the other hand have really smart control topologies alongside dual footswtiches for tap-tempo etc. but are limited to 4 algorithms and no stereo.

 

Finally we have the Alexander Pedals and Old Blood Noise Endeavors Effects offerings which provide more unusual sounding multi-mode Delays and Reverbs - they don’t quite have the range of features or degree of control of the others, and are not stereo either, but each pairing has something to recommend it.

 

I recently did a piece on Mid-Size Delay and Reverb Pedal Duos and most of those have the added advantage of presets onboard - which is what you get when you go up a size. Obviously at the larger end of the scale you get the wholly full-featured Workstation Pedals with a trio of footswitches which give you all manner of advanced controls and as many as 200-300 presets. So in this instance it really depends on what sort of utility and control you’re aiming to have over your unit. On a simpler level - many players have solely short and long delay + reverb options and simply use just two of each pedal to switch between for playing live. More advanced players will use the larger workstations though with full midi-controllers for stomping between a whole myriad of different settings.

 

The TC Electronic Flashback and HOF are brilliant of their own accord, but you cannot easily change between settings during a live set - for that you really need presets. I came up with my perfect compact pedal design (Prototype X) to cover just such an eventuality - where you have dual footswitches for tap-tempo etc. and you can press on both together to advance along one preset - like the Stone Deaf pedals do, and which I consider a really smart solution for that function. in fact the Alexander Quadrant has presets too where you hold down the Bypass footswtich, but I prefer the dual-press-approach of Stone Deaf.

 

I currently live with the larger pedals solutions for my Delay and Reverb needs. I initially had a Strymon TimeLine and BigSky, and then Empress EchoSystem and Boss RV-500, currently I have an EchoSystem plus RV-500 plus Eventide H9 Max, and will add the Source Audio Ventris into the mix in a short while - as my principal Reverb pedal. I will still keep my Boss and Strymon equivalents as they are all excellent in their own way and offer different amazing tones and algorithms. I have a methodology for Primary and Secondary pedals, and with my extended pedal-chain I do switch things up and around fairly regularly - and it’s always good to have options!

 

I am currently not in the market particularly for a Compact Delay or Reverb Pedal, but if I had to buy some right now I would likely go with TC Electronic - because of their number of algorithms, stereo output, plus MASH, and TonePrints - that’s a winning combination!

 

Pedals are listed alphabetically by brand:


Alexander Pedals Quadrant - £199 & Alexander Pedals Sky-Fi - £199

Alexander have been putting out some really innovative NEO pedals of late - using the height of smart digital control within this compact format. They tend towards the more quirky side of things and doing this differently and very obviously in their own way. All their NEO pedals now come with a separate Shift/Secondary function button as well as presets onboard. Here you have 4 flavours of Delay:

  1. MAG : Tape
  2. BBD : Analogue
  3. DIGI : Digital
  4. LOFI : Lo-fi

and 3 flavours of Reverb:

  1. Wash : Building Swooshing Reverb
  2. Gleam : Shimmer
  3. Echo : Slow-building§ Reverb + Delay

Boss DD-7 Digital Delay £118 & Boss RV-6 Reverb - £121

Boss have long been the benchmark standard for compact delays, although their 40 year old hinged plate design is starting to look old-fashioned now, and is lacking in some of the more modern control topologies including dual footswitches of course. Nevertheless both these pedals do clever things and the Delay has tap-tempo enabled on the same single footswitch plate. You really can't go wrong with a Boss, they're not always the most innovative necessarily, but they are always solid, robust and reliable choices and much love by professional players. I find in this particular area their previous supremacy is now being eroded somewhat by TC Electronic, and DigiTech and Chase Bliss Audio to a lesser degree. The delay has 8 Modes:

  1. 50ms
  2. 200ms
  3. 800ms
  4. 3200ms
  5. Hold
  6. Modulate
  7. Analog
  8. Reverse

and the Reverb also has 8 Modes:

  1. Room
  2. Hall
  3. Plate
  4. Spring
  5. Modulate
  6. Dynamic
  7. Shimmer
  8. + Delay

DigiTech Obscura Altered Delay - £107 & DigiTech Polara Reverb - £108

DigiTech has long has some really strong offerings, and with sister brand Lexicon - is capable of some very high fidelity reverbs in particular. Yet for DigiTech it's seemingly a matter of ever the Bridesmade and never the Bride - in that they don't often land first on the pecking order even though there is merit there. Both these pedals are smartly thought out, with clever control topologies featuring dual-concentric dials and full stereo ins and outs. The Delay has 4 Modes:

  1. Tape
  2. Analog
  3. Reverse
  4. Lo-Fi

The Reverb has 7:

  1. Room
  2. Plate
  3. Reverse
  4. Modulated
  5. Halo (Shimmer)
  6. Hall
  7. Spring

Electro-Harmonix Canyon Delay & Looper - £132 & Electro-Harmonix Oceans 11 Reverb £136

I just recently reviewed and introduced these on a separate post (previous) - in particular the brand new Oceans 11 Reverb - these certainly match TC Electronic in the number of algorithms stakes (11 apiece) and have an ace up their sleeve in their Freeze/Hold mode, there are however other pedals that overshadow in control topology and overall pedal feature set - which still makes TC Electronic the winners in this category for me. For many though this potent pairing will be more than suitable, and you really do get your bang for you buck here. 11 Delay Modes:

  1. ECHO : Digital Delay
  2. MOD : Modulated Delay
  3. MULTI : Multi-Tap Delay
  4. REVRS : Reverse Delay
  5. DMM : Deluxe Memory Man
  6. TAPE : Tape Delay
  7. VERB : Reverb plus Delay
  8. OCT : Octave Delay
  9. SHIM : Shimmer
  10. S/H : Sample and Hold
  11. LOOP : Looper Mode

And 11 Reverb Modes:

  1. HALL : Concert Hall Reverb
  2. SPRING : Fender® 6G15 Tube Spring rReverb
  3. PLATE : Classic 80's Plate Reverb
  4. REVRS : Reverse Reverb
  5. ECHO : Recirculating Echo through a Plate Reverb
  6. TREM ; Wet and Dry Hall Reverb plus Tremolo
  7. MOD : Modulated Reverb - Chorus and Flanger combined
  8. DYNA : Swell, Gate and Duck Reverb
  9. AUTO-INF : Auto-Infinite Reverb
  10. SHIM : Shimmer Octave-Shifted Reverb
  11. POLY : Polyphonic Reverb

Old Blood Noise Endeavors Mondegreen Delay - £199 & Old Blood Noise Endeavors Procession Reverb - £199

The OBNE pedals are most similar to the Alexanders in this listing, with a touch less digital innovation, they are though more on the unusual side and give you different flavours to the mainstream. The Delay features 3 modes:

  1. Stutter : Delay with Percussive Tremolo on trails
  2. Whirl : Modulated Chorus Delay
  3. Sheer : Delay with increasing Octaves on repeats

Reverb also has 3 modulated Modes:

  1. Flange
  2. Filter
  3. Tremolo

TC Electronic Flashback 2 £159 & TC Electronic Hall of Fame 2 - £125

In most ways these are the most flexible and powerful of the compact Delay + Reverb pairings - with easily the most features onboard, but still lacking in a couple of essentials for my taste - namely second footswitch for tap-tempo, and onboard presets. Other than that they are really very formidable with built-in expression control via MASH technology, as the ever versatile and deep-level fine-tuning of the TonePrint functionality. In fact you could use the 3 TonePrint slots very much as presets with everything precisely calibrated, but you still have to manually move the dial between settings!


11 Delay Modes contained as such:

  1. 2290 (TCE Digital Mode)
  2. Analog
  3. Tape
  4. Dynamic
  5. Modulated
  6. Crystals
  7. Reverse
  8. Loop
  9. TP1
  10. TP2
  11. TP3

Reverb also has 11 Modes:

  1. Room
  2. Hall
  3. Spring
  4. Plate
  5. Church
  6. Shimmer
  7. Modulated
  8. LoFi
  9. TP1
  10. TP2
  11. TP3

Where TP = Individually definable TonePrint


Walrus Audio ARP-87 Multi-Function Delay - £199 & Walrus Audio Fathom Multi-Function Reverb £199

In several ways me favourites in this listing - particularly as regards control topologies and overall looks. I love dual footswitches too. Not stereo though, and not quite as full featured as some of the others here. I would like to see next iteration with stereo outs and presets! 4 Delay Modes:

  1. Digital
  2. Analog
  3. Lo-Fi
  4. Slapback

Also 4 Reverb Modes:

  1. Hall
  2. Plate
  3. Lo-Fi
  4. Sonar

Final Thoughts

I gravitate more towards the slightly larger form factor reverbs and delays as they tend to have more features onboard, with presets, tap-tempo etc. and stereo ins and outs. That said all that functionality is featured across the range here - The Quadrant has Presets, several here have Tap Tempo, and 3 pairs have Stereo ins and outs. Would be nice to see all those features within a single enclosure.

 

If I was in the market for one of these right now I think the TC Electronic duo is overall the strongest proposition - but it will depend on your own criteria - there are no duds here really, all have merit. I obviously have a stereo rig and so that is an important consideration - I do though also like tap-tempo and extensive feature set, so several here recommend themselves.

 

Lots of pedal-makers though tend to stick with variations on one type - there are a plethora of Analog or Tape Delays and Spring or Plate or Shimmer Reverbs. There's also a number of pedals which combine both Delay and Reverb in clever ways (like in fact the Ski-Fi and RV-6 do here) - and there is a little crossover of that in evidence here - particularly of Reverb + Delay modes.

 

Within all of this there are also consideration with how good these algorithms sound and how adaptable and controllable they are - can you easily tune them in for just the right degree of effect? Whichever way you think of it, there are some here which are significantly stronger propositions for specific use cases, though none are yet quite 'perfect' enough for me and all have room for improvement...

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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