Read my first impressions article - here.
Strange as it may seem, but I’ve actually been waiting for such a pedal for quite some time. In my piece on the ’12 of the Best Tape Delay Pedals for Your Consideration’ I stated several times that I rather wanted a Multi-Head Binson Echorec 2 style delay, but it really needed to be stereo to fit into my own rig. Ideally there could be a pedal which combined the best of all those so-called tape-delay-effects - The Echrorec, Echoplex and Space Echo all in one box. Foxpedal does The Wave (all 3), Dawner Prince does the Boonar (Echorec) and Strymon has long had the El Capistan (General Magnetic) - which I felt was never quite feature-rich enough to cover everything I wanted it to do - moreover it only featured 3 playback heads, and not in nearly enough permutations to match the originals.
So Strymon has as it says itself delivered ’El Capistan on Steroids’ - you get to select each of the playback heads in any combination via the neatest easiest to use interface - and you can create further ambience by switching on the feedback for head tape playback head - which does not need to be selected itself to influence the rhythm of the playback. Further to this you are able to hold down the playback head buttons to reduce them to half volume - thereby accentuating the other ones in the sequence, and finally you can press each feedback button and use the Time dial to apply stereo-panning along the left-to-right axis for each Playback head - to delivery a proper Ping-Pong style delay.
Even though the overall layout is very much Echorec, the Volante actually gives you 3 core flavours - Drum (Echorec), Tape (Echoplex/Space Echo) and Studio (Reel-to-Reel). These flavours all have differences in warble, wow and flutter and ’Mechanics’ (rumble) and you can adjust those characteristics via the 4 left-hand dials - Record Level, Mechanics, Low Cut and Wear.
In the middle you have the Time / Speed dial - which can be further affected by the Tap Tempo Footswitch and 3-way Speed toggle switch Half/Normal/Double - this is then related to Repeats, Echo Level and the essential playback head Spacing dial - which changes the proportion / ratio between each of the heads, and thus varies the rhythm significantly - via Even/Triplet/Golden/Silver ratios - including in-between phases. Finally you have a Spring Reverb which you can adjust to taste via the final Spring dial - all work beautifully in combination for the deepest of ambient effects - with unexpected phasing and similar modulation occurring for certain more arrhythmic settings.
This device has all the usual smarts of Strymon legend - with plenty of alternative functions - including in the Footswitches. By default the Left Footswitch is On/Bypass, you hold it down for infinite repeats, the Favorite / Middle Footswitch activates your 8 presets which are accessed by holding down Favorite and Playback or Feedback button simultaneously (1-8), finally you have the Right Footswitch which by default is the Tap-Tempo. If you hold down the Right Footswitch you activate a sort of mini looper or ’Sound on Sound’ (SOS) mode - where the Left Footswitch becomes Reverse, Middle Footswitch becomes Pause and Right Footswitch becomes Splice.
All in all this really seems to be the perfect execution of just such a pedal - note that the different Speed settings have the following Time Ranges:
I most definitely desire the Volante and I will get it - my principal delay pedal will go full circle back to Strymon again - I started off with the TimeLine which I still have and love, but the Empress EchoSystem took over on main duties - while I now feel that the Volante will become my principal Delay of Choice. Strymon is taking pre-orders currently and advises delivery in 30-60 days which likely means end of March for us Brits. We will assume dollar to pound parity - which has usually been the case for Strymon pricing in the UK - which means and outlay of $399/£399.
I believe this pedal is a winning combination of the usual pristine Strymon high-fidelity tone output, combined with the ideal control interface and essential for me - it is fully stereo! Sure it does not have the same range or duality of the EchoSystem which will still get its rotation in the principal delay slot, but there is little that compares with atmospheric tape delay when done properly - which I wholly trust this is.
I was starting to worry that Strymon were moving entirely over to Eurorack Devices as there hasn't been much pedal-wise to report from them for a while. I am delighted they are back on track - and that my complement of Strymon pedals can go back up to 3 in the chain - I of course started with the Stryfecta (BigSky, TimeLine, Mobius), but have ousted those from principal position while the Riverside and Sunset drive pedals still remain firm favourites in the chain!
I will leave you with Strymon's launch / overview videos - including the new MultiSwitch Plus intro - which I've still not made up my mind about!: