Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tapehead Vintage Delay (1776 Effects Multiplex Echo Machine)

Josh from 1776 Effects designed this über-cool delay circuit that emulates three vintage tape delay units: Binson Echorec, Roland RE-201 Space Echo and Echoplex EP-3. The design is based around popular PT2399 delay chip that is cheap and easy to obtain. It's a lofi digital delay chip that produces plenty of hiss and dirt, but combined with a right kind of filtering it can produce pretty convincing tape delay sounds.

I spend quite some time designing the graphics and aimed for a retro look with an Echoplex-inpired logo, MXR-style knobs and a jewel light for some extra vintage mojo! BTW. Here's a little tutorial showing how to use a jewel light in your DIY pedal project.

The true bypass switching is done with a relay based switching system and it's also from 1776 Effects. NEC 551-EA2-5SNJ and Panasonic TQ2-L-5V -relays are pretty hard to find in Europe and ordering from U.S. is not an option because of the ridiculous shipping prices. But Takamisawa AL5WN-K relay is a good replacement and easy to find on ebay (and usually with free shipping to Europe). Using a soft touch switch (with a relay) is a worthwhile upgrade over a regular 3PDT switch. I'm definitely using these bypass PCB's in my upcoming projects. 

Does it sound any good? Yes, it does! It sounds absolutely fantastic! The heavy analog-style filtering really works and repeats sit nicely "behind" the original signal. Like I mentioned earlier the PT2399 chip is noisy and lo-fi (especially on longer delay times) but IMO the noise just adds character and makes the effect sound more like a real tape delay. There's quite a bit of variation between individual delay chips and some are more noisier than others. So, I highly recommend that you use sockets. 

Overall this delay is a fantastic piece of gear and it's one of my all-time favourite pedals. I actually liked this pedal so much that I made another one for a friend of mine. He uses it with a Korg MS-20 analog synth and it sounds amazing. If you're looking for a good DIY delay project, this is it! The only thing I'm missing is a tap tempo switch.. :)

Here's a little live looping tune that I actually composed on my first day with this fine delay pedal:

Direct link to Youtube:

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