Harley Benton Sugar & Spice: What is it?
Dual circuit effects pedals are not a new concept but their advantages are pretty obvious; they can save you space and power inputs on the pedalboard and money too. But there's other potential gains too. Many offer the option to run the two sides in different orders with each bringing different combined sound character and dynamics as a result.
While we're used to seeing overdrive pedals (opens in new tab) in dual circuit form, there's a lot of scope for other effects and Harley Benton is happy to explore it with a new range. This is aimed at acoustic guitar (opens in new tab) players; a market often passed over with effects in favour of their electric guitar brethren. But both groups are often interchangeable when it comes to stompbox suitability; so while Harley Benton says the chorus and delay here on the right hand side have been especially voiced for electro acoustic, there's no reason this pedal can't be useful for electric player too. And there's a good reason we're being open-minded when it comes to use.
Dual delay and reverb pedals are actually quite thin on the ground in the more affordable end of the market. Beyond the Nux Atlantic and Flamma Ekoverb we can't think of many other dual options around the £100 mark. And neither offer the modulation features of the Sugar & Spice.
So on spec, the Sugar & Spice is coming in looking strong. But it's the sounds and usability where this will have to hit the sweet spot for us. And this pedal reveals some depth.
Harley Benton Sugar & Spice: Performance and verdict
Size-wise these new dual pedals from Harley Benton (a series of eight pedals you can find here (opens in new tab)) are longer than two mini pedals would be joined together but width is where it counts on most pedalboards, and you'll be saving space in that regard over separate delay and reverb units. Add in the chorus features and this is a really efficient combination.
For those with basic needs the features offered here could replace all three of those effects. And really the modulation options here are beyond some budget standalone chorus pedals with the right-hand rotary dial selecting Classic chorus mode and Tri-Chorus (a triple chorus effect), along with serial versions of chorus into delay and vice versa. Plus a standard Echo delay mode.
There's familiar Rate and Depth controls for the chorus that double as Time and feedback pots for the echo delay modes to save space.
The decision to go with the vintage character of echo works well here and it can blend subtly with the chorus or get into psychedelic territory.
The sounds here would be ideal for anyone playing in a covers band and can comfortably get into Police, Nirvana, Purple Rain or Pink Floyd mode as required.
The Tri-Chorus is unsurprisingly less subtle but really pops in the mix and while the brighter digital modulated delay sounds don't offer the analog warmth of recent Bucket Brigade offerings from Pigtronix and the iconic Memory Man, they're a welcome addition and the combination with the echo will get you in that zone.
The reverb side will be a surprise for some; it's not a spring, plate and hall affair from these digital algorithms (HB's Duality (opens in new tab) reverb / delay pedal offers Studio, Church and Plate alongside three delay types).
In addition to dry/wet Mix and Decay controls that apply to all three algorithms, the role of the mini rotary control changes according to whether Reverb, Modulation or Filter is selected. It's somewhat bizarre calling one Reverb instead of 'Plate' as they are actually all different reverb types.
'Reverb' is a bright plate type, and it's interesting to see modulation making its was to the left side of the pedal. But, confusingly again, Filter is also described as a modulation, specifically a 'liquid-like' effect.
The latter suggests watery chorus but that's not what we found. The Modulation reverb delivers more of that and in bringing that to the left side of the pedal, it allows players another option to combine echo or a second kind of chorus an up the ante.
Despite the name confusion, we're pleased with what we find in these modes; the Filter reverb sounds like a light phaser effect with more of a spring-type digital reverb, and is actually very usable for an added texture that you could set to always-on.
The Modulation and Filter reverb also offer a lot more breadth of Decay with the standard Reverb a subtler but no less appealing option.
The option to change the order of the reverb and echo/chorus sides with a central mini toggle is also useful too. Great to experiment with for preferences and much easier to switch around than with individual pedals. And you can also set them as an either / or mode.
Combined with the array of options on each side we're pleasantly surprised with how far Harley Benton have taken the dual pedal format in the Sugar & Spice. We'd recommend spending time to try different orders, and modulation on each side, to find your sweets spots for tone. These two sides compliment each other well, and it's great for the '80s flavours that have been finding love again from artists like John Mayer and his Sob Rock album and The Midnight.
Alongside a compressor pedal and guitar tuner this could be all an electro acoustic guitarist needs for a variety of gigging tones, but electric players shouldn't miss out either. While there's hundreds of excellent overdrive pedals out there under £100, the delay/reverb combo format is not well catered for – especially considering how essential and mutually complimentary these effects are for players. Adding in the chorus options here makes this an especially good deal for all players.
MusicRadar verdict: This is a useful and usable combination of digital reverb, delay and chorus for acoustic and electric guitarists that could save you space and some money for your pedalboard.
Buy Harley Benton Sugar & Spice from Thomann (opens in new tab)
Harley Benton Sugar & Spice: Specifications
- TYPE: Reverb, echo delay and chorus pedal
- CONTROLS: Chorus/Echo A side: Level, Rate/Time, Depth/Feedback, Mode rotary knob; Reverb B side: Reverb, Mod, Filter mode mini toggle switch with Tone, Rate, Range mini rotary control for each; Mix, Decay, on/off footswitch, series/parallel/independent mini toggle switch.
- SOCKETS: Input, output, power
- TRUE BYPASS: Yes
- POWER: 9v PSU 200mA
- CONTACT: Thomann (opens in new tab)