<< back to reviews
By Ulf Edelönn, UGG
In recent years there has been a revival of delay pedals built around traditional old school technology. Small boutique outfits like Tone Czar and Diamond Pedals have made excellent pedals using the BBD chip. Fulltone has even released a full blown tube driven tape echo! It seems like digital delays are either cheaper mass produced pedals, or the modelling type which have a lot of features, but that doesn’t quite appeal to a die hard delay snob.
There used to be digital delays made in the 80’s that actually sounded great. Some of these are still being used by high profile players. A delay that has been talked about a lot over the years is the Chandler Digital Stereo Echo. It fits in nicely with units like Korg SDD 3000, Roland SDE 3000 and Lexicon PCM 42 in that regard that it is a digital rack mounted delay that has been out of production for a long time and that’s beginning to get collectable.
In the never ending search of the holy delay grail I decided to get my hands on a Chandler echo. It wasn’t easy. The prices have climbed drastically and supply is beginning to dry up. When I did get hold of one I was immediately floored. What a great sounding peace of equipment! It had plenty of the magic that you normally associate with a tape echo. When my first excitement had settled, the questions how to actually use the delay started to rise: The echo is rack mounted- I have a pedal board. It has just one setting of no programmable controls- I need at least two separate delay settings.
When pondering this problem I talked to Kjell Ternström. Kjell and I had been in contact since he first showed me the Memoryplex. This fabulous devise is an analog echo with several unique features which he had built, so I knew what he was capable of. I had tried to buy it from Kjell for a long time but he always refused to sell it. When he asked me what I wished the Chandler was able to do, that it didn’t in its current shape, I, just for fun, put together this list:
# A pedal, I need a pedal. The rack format is of no use to me.
# I’d like two independent delays with their separate sets of switches and controls
# Having the modulation section footswitchable
# Being able to get the delay to self oscillate
# Having the choice of true bypass or the units own bypass
# Having an expression pedal controlling the feedback on one channel
And of course, I wanted all this in an attractive package without jeopardising the inherent magic of the delay, and the weirdness of the modulation section. Ha! What do you say now eh? To my infinite surprise Kjell replied: “No problem, if you want it we’ll build it for you”. Six months later I ended up with “The Digiplex”.
So, what does it sound like? Well, the pedal has really exceeded my expectations. Now I have at my feet a gorgeous looking pedal with all the features I loved about the original Chandler devise, but with the improvements I had wished for. It still has that “floating” quality. The echoes never steps on your original tone or gets harsh or to pronounced like many modern digital delays do. The modulation section adds the shimmer that makes the Chandler sound as close to a tape echo as I ever heard a digital delay do. The Digiplex have two completely separate delays that you can get to self oscillate in a very “analog” way. The red channels feedback can be controlled with an expression pedal. There’s a switch on the back that determines the bypass mode. In its original form the bypass mode affects the sound in a cool way. It adds some fatness and compression that is very appealing, but I wasn’t sure I’d always like it. Now I have the option of true bypass.
This has been a team effort by Kjell and his tech wizard friend Agne Mattsson. They have put a lot of time and energy into building The Digiplex. When I asked Kjell if he’d be willing to build some more pedals, his reply was: “ This was more of an isolated experiment, but if someone have a Chandler echo that they’re willing to sacrifice, wait a long time and spend a lot of money, then perhaps”.
Group photo note:
A rehoused Arion Chorus, A rehoused BJF Pale Green Compressor, The Digiplex and the Illustrious Memoryplex.
<< back to reviews