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When a company touts a product as “the finest delay pedal ever,” as Pigtronix claims of the Echolution, my psychedelic third eyebrow raises a little. There’s plenty of competition in that area, both from classic stompboxes and newer innovations.
Nonetheless, if there’s a pedal manufacturer that can put its money where it’s mouth is, it’s Pigtronix. I had heard nothing but high praise for these Brooklyn soundsmiths, who operate under the motto of F.A.T., or Futuristic Analog Technologies. Pigtronix aims to make pedals with the tonal qualities we love in vintage gear, combined with the flexibility and convenience of digital technology.
The Echolution certainly falls under this banner. Straight of the box, I was dazzled by the array of features. Two independent delay modes for tap tempo and modulation, six multi-tap settings, reverse delay, looping, stereo outputs, an internal preamp – virtually everything you could possibly want out of a delay in a single unit. All of the features in every delay pedal I own combine for maybe half of what the Echolution can do.
The tap tempo mode gives you up to 20 seconds of delay. Yeah, you read that right. And, unlike most stompboxes, the Echolution’s tap tempo takes human error into account. Tap it more than four times, and the Echolution will average out slight rhythmic imperfections to create a rolling average. That means a much easier time synchronizing your delay with a band or drum machine.
In the modulation mode, you have access to chorus and tremolo with pots for delay time and LFO speed. The mod mode also has short, medium and long delay settings to adjust the range of the delay time from 10 milliseconds to 12 seconds. The short setting basically turns the Echolution into a tremolo/chorus pedal, and the medium setting emulates analog bucket brigade and tape echo sounds. The long setting, on the other hand, appears to have been designed for transdimensional travel.
The modulation mode is one of the Echolution’s biggest strengths, but due to the wide range of options, it’s not exactly easy to dial in. You’ll get far-out sounds no matter how you tweak the knobs, but it might take a while to get that perfect tone you’re looking for. (To help get you started, Pigtronix includes a few presets at the end of the manual.)
Pigtronix based the Echolution’s circuit after classic tape echo units, giving it a warm tone with plenty of character. You can adjust this further with the hi-cut filter, which can darken the delays (think Carbon Copy) or brighten them (think DD-7). The pedal also features drive and feedback knobs, which enable you to saturate and enrich the delays to your liking.
Of course, what would a tape echo be without multiple heads? The Echolution has that covered, as well, with six different heads set to various fractions. This gives you the polyrhythmic freedom that you could normally only get with multiple delay units, and because it’s all internally synced, it’s much easier to get precise rhythms. Plus, one of these virtual heads is set to the golden ratio (phi), which smooths out the other fractions as points along a spiral.
If all that isn’t enough for you, the Echolution is also loaded with a unique looping feature. Once you’ve frozen a phrase, you can manipulate its pitch and timbre, and modulate to your heart’s desire. Because of the way it’s designed, the loop function seems to work better for creating spacey drones and psychedelic soundscapes than for traditional looping. So, if you’re looking for a delay pedal that will double as a looper, you might want to look elsewhere.
As we all know, you pay for quality when it comes to gear. If the Echolution has a weakness, it’s the $480 price tag. That’s a hell of a lot to drop on a stompbox, but it’s reasonable when you consider that the Echolution is really several pedals in one. It’s no small investment, but depending on your sonic needs, it could very well be a worthy one.
[rating:5] – Build Quality: 5
[rating: 5] – Sound Quality: 5
[rating:5] – Features: 5
[rating:5] – Ease of Use: 5
[rating:overall] 5.0 Stars Overall!
Is it possible to give a pedal a 6 out 5? The only logical place where I could dock points from the Echolution is ease of use, but any potential difficulties there would be due only to the pedal’s sheer breadth of possibilities. This is a serious delay pedal that can shape your sound in truly remarkable ways. The finest delay pedal ever? Certainly the finest that I’ve ever used.