Empress Tape Delay Review
Tape delay’s are a very particular flavour and as a result of this guitar effect aficionados are very passionate about them. The original Echoplex and the Echosonic unit’s utilised tape to give the repeat by recording a signal to a tape and then the tape was played at a desired variable speed, this was then fed through a feedback loop to give the amount of repeats. This effect was popular in the ’50’s as to be honest, that was it, there was no digital delay then so everything with delay or echo was done so through these echo units. Due to the nature of the tape the signal would degrade quite quickly and the fidelity of the repeats was always coloured by the brand and quality of the tape, at first this sounds undesirable, but guitarists took no time in finding that the tone of the degrading signal has it’s own special beauty.
The main draw back to these units is their size and unreliability, it’s unnerving at the best of times when you step out on stage and you don’t need to worry about your gear not working while you are concentrating on playing. As desirable as these original units are, they will always be unreliable, which is cool, as we have to accept that these units were designed in the ’40s so this design is 70 something years old, the fault was largely due to moisture getting on the tape which caused the tape to leave ferrous deposits on the playback head. This is why digital effects first began with delays, they offered the same ‘effect’ but with the added feature of total reliability, if it’s on a chip made up of small switches moving between 0 and 1 then it will always do as it is told. Digital delays, while being very handy can sometimes sound cold, a common issue with anything digital, but over the last few years there have been leaps and bounds made in the design and research of convincing echo/delay pedals.
The Empress Tape Delay is a glorious example of modern technology getting to grips with old school lo-fi. The main feature of this above other tape emulators is it’s mighty impressed signal to noise ratio of 103db, which translates to very rich, organic and yet clear and precise repeats. The control panel on the Empress Tape Delay is well featured giving access to signal blend (Mix), Delay Time, Feedback and output level (great for boosting solo’s) above the dials there are four micro switches controlling tape age, delay time spectrum (tap, slow or fast), high pass and low pass filters and modulation control. All the controls you will need to get the most authentic tape delay’s you will ever hear from a digital pedal, plus with the tap tempo switch and delay time multiplier, you can get the most authentic Edge type delays with ease and accurately.
If you are looking for top drawer delay pedal, the Empress Tape Delay is in that special bracket of great pedals that will stay on players’ boards for a very long time.