Friday, April 25, 2008

Multiple delays in their own effects loop

I haven't put together a "my gear" area yet, partially because I'm in the middle of a pretty big overhaul. I sold a lot of gear and bought some new and used stuff. Everything is ready to go except some custom cables I still need to solder and the dilemma of the night: how to make two delays sound good together.

I've had my DL4 for a while now and I really like the rhythm delays and lo-res but I've never been happy with the analog mods. Maybe because the ones I like are just digital delays and easier to copy with a digital pedal. I went on a quest for the perfect analog delay and found it in the Memory Lane by Diamond Pedals. After a 6 month debate over whether or not to get it, I finally did. I have no remorse as it sounds absolutely beautiful but I'll save the review for later.

Now that I have two delays I want to come up with a way to make creative use from them. I don't really want to put one after the other (so the second delays of the first's delays) so I looked at getting an effects loop pedal. The first one I got was the Radial ToneBone EFX. I thought I could use it to get parallel effects loops, meaning each loop would be independent of each other and let me use two delays that wouldn't affect each other. Their marketing images make it look like they're parallel but once I hooked it up I found out it's series... just like hooking one delay up after the other. Boooo. I checked the manual and sure enough, it only works in series.

I sent the EFX back and tried a Boss LS-2 line selector. I wish I would have tried this one in the first place. The only reason I didn't was because I was out of 9V adaptors on my Pedal Power (EFX didn't need power) but I didn't realize the LS-2 has a 9V out so it can power another pedal. perfect. The LS-2 is super functional, I can run it so it only plays the DL4 or Memory Lane, so it runs them in series, or so it runs them in parallel. In theory at least. I ran into all sorts of problems where the tone would change massively if one effect was on or off, volume would cut out, and things were just generally screwy. I don't think it's the LS-2's fault. I think it was a weird combination of using the delays "delay only" outputs and their mix outputs. It's like things freaked out because the original signal was or was not sent back into the loop. I eventually decided it wasn't worth $80 to have a headache.

After all that, I concluded that using two delays in parallel isn't that useful. I was doing dotted eighths in one delay and quarter-notes in the other and it sounded really jumbled. The most practical use for two delays I found was using one long delay and a second short delay and running them in series (long first, short delaying off the long delays). For now I'm just going to run the output of the DL4 into the input of the Memory Lane, then carry on as normal.

Has anyone else had experience with two delays and making useful sounds from it? Let me know!

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