Analog delay pedals occupy an interesting middle ground. Introduced originally as an alternative to expensive and failure-prone mechanical tape delays, they quickly developed a following of their own that endured after they were made obsolete, from a technical perspective at least, by the advent of the digital delay.
Partly due to wanting to sound similar to the tone of a tape delay, and partly due to the inherent character of the BBD delay chips used, they have a dark, warm-sounding delay tone.
The delay times available from a BBD device are dwarfed by digital devices, and additional features are harder to come by as the BBD is a one-trick pony, unlike the embedded computers used in most digital delays. But what a trick it is…
Maxon AD9 Pro
This reissue of the Maxon AD9 is in most important respects a faithful recreation of the original unit.
Its main concession to additional functionality is a toggle switch that is supposed to emulate a multi-head tape machine, doubling the delay line with a clever hack of the feedback loop. This lends the delays an interesting timbre, but it gives the impression of the lines treading on each other a bit at anything but longer delay times.
As a result, we stuck mainly to the single mode, finding a decent, if somewhat ‘tight’-sounding BBD delay tone with a good range of delay lengths available.
3 out of 5
Supro Analog Delay
They say ‘do one thing, and do it well’, and that’s what the Supro does, which is no surprise given that Howard Davis of EHX Memory Man fame was reportedly involved in the design.
Its core sound is smooth and musical, encouraging you to explore picked arpeggios and sparse chord passages that bring out the rich sound of this delay. The filter, which is a low-pass and band-pass combined, is a welcome addition for tone-tweaking, and there’s an expression pedal input, which can be assigned to time, feedback or mix.
This is a solid, no-frills analogue delay; for a shopping list of features, look elsewhere.
4 out of 5
Sinvertek Fluid Time Mk II
Apart from Chase Bliss, it’s hard to think of another manufacturer that can cram as much functionality into as small a package.
The Fluid Time’s core delay sound is brilliant, voiced somewhere in the ballpark of a Boss DM-2: warm yet characterful. It has a respectable 700ms of delay thanks to five reissue 3208 chips.
There are several expression modes, but more interesting are the weird and wonderful second functions. The first allows the second footswitch to be able to toggle between two preset delay time lengths, and there’s a pitch-shifted feedback mode, plus a momentary oscillation mode.
5 out of 5
MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe
There’s a reason that the Carbon Copy has been the gold standard for analog delays for a decade now: it sounds excellent.
This Deluxe version adds a few more modern affordances to the feature set of the original. First off, there’s a ‘bright’ switch that toggles the voicing of the pedal between its classic tone and the recent ‘bright’ version with more treble content. In addition to the ‘mod’ toggle button, there’s a depth and speed control for the modulation, which adds a whole new dimension to the pedal.
An LCD screen tells you the current tap division, and there’s a dedicated footswitch for tap tempo.
4.5 out of 5