I’ve always been something of a fan of the TC Electronic Flashback series of delays and Hall of Fame series of reverbs, although I’ve not found use for either type yet in my chain - preferring instead flagship workshop pedals from other pedal builders - Boss, Empress, Eventide, Source Audio and Strymon to date.
At one stage I was considering adding a Compact Hall of Fame 2 Reverb as a secondary Reverb to the chain - but that was before I acquired the Eventide H9 and Empress Zoia. The Hall of Fame is brand new in this format, while the Flashback has been updated and enhanced. Note the significant girth of these pedals - a Strymon workstation is 171mm wide - the 4 footswitches of the TC Electronics need 235mm of space to be accommodated - so these are significantly large/wide pedals.
In many ways the Flashback is the preferable format of the 2 as the 4 footswtiches work really well for the secondary looper functionality. Otherwise I really don’t understand why TC Electronic doesn’t follow suit with others and just have 3 footswitches with dual-press up/down scrolling preset functionality.
I have a slight issue with pedals where so much of the settings are configured via App - and that is very much the case here - with significant reliance on the TonePrint App to get your own in-depth presets sorted and saved. Also the Hall of Fame hasn’t fully kept abreast of current Reverb innovations - as you cannot parallel stack the button selection - you just have singular select of individual effects in 2 banks of 4 per the number of footswitches. The main advantage being that each footswitch is MASH enabled - which means it has pressure sensitive + momentary expression control for each preset.
The major update here is really the inclusion of MASH functionality on 3 of the footswitches - otherwise control topology is largely the same as it was. Besides those 3 + 1 footswitches you have Mode | Subdivision (x10 + 1 Custom) | Delay | Feedback | Level, and Bank 1/2 / Preset Store toggle-switch.
16 Modes are as follows:
With Loop / Footswitch Looper functions being Record | Play/Pause | Play Once | Undo/Redo
I believe this is the first time the Hall of Fame gets in on the X4 format - so you've never had so many Reverb options from TC Electronic before. And for the Hall of Fame 2 X4 - each of the 4 footswitches is enabled with MASH expression control functionality - which makes it really handy - as I said combining momentary functionality with pressure sensitivity for ultimate expression control - albeit I have found MASH trickier to use say than just the straightforward momentary functionality of many of my other pedals. What TC Electronic really needs is a small dial on the surface or rear of the pedal to calibrate 'MASH Sensitivity' otherwise that's all down to TonePrint settings.
You get 6 controls like on the Flasback X4 - Mode | Decay | Pre Delay | Tone | Level, and Bank 1/2 / Preset Store toggle-switch.
16 Modes are as follows:
These 2 new TC Electronic pedals are better than ever - and obviously with the dual aces of TonePrint and MASH Expression Control functionalities. Yet I still have several reservations for my own purposes. I have long had an issue with pedals where I could not access all the functions through the pedal interface / control topology itself - and that is very much the case here with both of these - which really rely on the TonePrint App to get the most out of them.
Having some sort of display screen here would undoubtedly have helped - or they could have gone with Empress's scrolling LED solution to represent presets. Yet having to switch between 2 banks of 4 via toggle switch is clunky in the extreme. The 4 footswitches make more sense for the Flashback's Looper functionality - where it is very convenient to have all 4 - despite the enormous real estate they take up. Yet I would probably still have preferred the 3-footswitch arrangement with the Strymon-type dual-press bank up bank down - that would make these pedals so much more versatile.
I still feel these are great propositions in their respective categories - and certainly good value for money. Yet neither gets into my top 5 in those categories. As I mentioned I have some slight problems with the MASH technology - per my recent acquisitions of Quintessence Harmonizer and BrainWaves Pitch-Shifter Pedals. I really think these pedals could do with a small 'MASH Sensitivity' calibration dial being surfaced somehow as different players have very different sensitivities in how hard they 'stomp'.
Modes-wise you are very well catered for, and having TonePrint available to you means you are able to create some extraordinarily unique and potent algorithms / presets. Yet there is a learning curve and considerable time-investment required to get the most out of these. Neither offers the recent trend of being able to stack 2 different presets in sequence or parallel and something in me feels they aren't quite in step with all the latest innovations coming from other pedal builders - but they do of course have TonePrint and MASH which no one else has - so there is always that.
My current principal delay pedal is the Strymon Volante Magnetic Echo, where I will be using the sleek new Boss DD-200 to supplement that. I still have my Strymon TimeLine and Empress EchoSystem in the rotation on occasion - both of these I much prefer to the Flashback. There are undoubtedly players that will gravitate towards the Flashback 2 X4 and it really provides excellent value for money here compared to near enough all alternatives.
For a Reverb workstation my current preference is for the Source Audio Ventris, with the Boss RV-500 and Strymon BigSky on understudy duties. I will also be getting a Meris Mercury 7 for the rotation, and most likely a GFI Specular Tempus too at some stage - albeit a while after I get the Meris.
So in short I feel that these are decent propositions with unique advantages, but also in some ways behind the pace of innovation we've seen elsewhere - and with a very significant footprint. I'm sure they will still find plenty of support amongst more ambient players in particular.