Many of us are looking for something a little different these days and are enjoying the process of seeing how higher-end manufacturers are putting a new spin on things. We bring certain expectations to any pedal, be it a fuzz box, tremolo, delay, etc., but also want to find new things – new parameters, new approaches to functionality and of course, new sounds. Needless to say, I was excited to test drive Boomerang’s E-155 Chorus-Delay pedal, a boutique dual-function pedal that looks more like a 70’s video game console but with its wiz-bang circuitry gives you the best of what a chorus and delay are capable of doing alone and together.
Out of the Box
It’s easy to dig the Boomerang E-155 right out of the box. For starters, our review model came with a 9V power supply and the phone number of the actual guy who built the pedal in case we had any questions. Nice touch.
The manual is not only written in English, it is written by a guitarist for a guitarist and maintains a laid-back, conversational tone. For example, when describing the “Shimmer” setting on the Chorus, the manual says:
“This style has a wavier texture. Is 'wavier' a word?”
Yes it is, as any experienced any guitarist will tell you and the tongue-in-cheek folks at Boomerang know that. Maybe if more manufacturers wrote their manuals like this more of us would read them.
I am a creature of habit, however, and had to noodle around a bit before I actually cracked the manual. Within three to five minutes I had gone through the sequence of factory-stored effects. The E-155 has Chorus in three modes: Classic, Shimmer and Lush – they are very reminiscent of the best types of stereo chorus I have used over the years. It also has three styles of delay: Clean, Tape, and Reverse – all very nice and suitable for a range of applications.
These effects are combined in the eleven factory presets or by you for eleven custom presets that can be recalled from a two-button system. The clock-like display is large, which is greatly appreciated by some of us older farts. I had no problem understanding where I was within the parameters at all times.
By the time I had gotten familiar with the pedal and was ready to open the manual to harness the less-intuitive controls the E-155 has to offer, I was itching to get a little deeper. I’m not a big manual guy, but because of the way it was written I was able to follow along and run through each function. I was tweaking some wicked chorus settings, testing the boundaries of the delay, storing presets, recalling presets and rocking my expression pedal (not included) to morph between presets (i.e. slow to fast Leslie). The E-155 allows you to use just about any old passive volume pedal for expression (no mono jacks). I tested all of the functions and was not once stymied by the manual or the product.
One of the pedal’s nice surprises was its ability to input my guitar in its “Air Mix” input, which gives the pedal a dry output to one amp. This created the ability to dial in how much space my sound would take up in the room. Naturally, it offers stereo ins and outs, too.
So how does it sound? I found the fidelity of my sound was not changed by the circuitry. I heard no noticeable masking of frequencies or mid-range humps that change the core of my sound – just incredibly transparent effects. This was refreshing. How many times have you noticed that a delay sound is okay until you switch on the overdrive pedal, and then everything goes into mid range honk and overexaggeration? None of that here. The range of effects was pretty much endless, with particularly useful setting already loaded in the presets. I was able to go from just a whisper of stereo chorus to a Leslie-gone-mad. Morphing between them with the expression pedal was a snap.
The delay offered a world of options to work through. The "Clean" setting gives you an exact reproduction of your signal. The "Tape" setting is dejavu all over again for those of us who remember and are fond of the less-than perfect tape units from the 60's and 70's. The "Reverse" setting is downright spooky but cool. You'll immediately conjure up ideas for implementing backwards leads or the soundtrack for a Tim Burton flick.
With a little experimentation I was able to simulate the quick tap/repeat of Albert Lee/Danny Gatton-style playing as well as echoplex-like long cascades. The reverse echoes were a trip, too – no, really – they made me feel like I had been smoking hash.
The Chorus' "Classic" setting is what you would expect and then some -- in this mode the Mix pot controls chorus delay, not effect level, while the Depth pot controls the effect intensity. "Shimmer" is a good word for the Chorus' second setting, as it shapes some wavy curves and a noticable sheen into your sound. The "Lush" setting is where you can multi-tap to your heart's content and put a liquidy edge on everything.
The overall build of the E-155 is sturdy and well thought out. I could go out tonight and play a gig with just this and an overdrive pedal (which I actually might use less now), and really enjoy the night. I love it when my equipment makes my job easier, not harder, and I suspect that would be the case with this pedal. It’s versatile, great-sounding, easy to use, and is built to last a long time. I see how it could be a bit much for some players, both price and features-wise, but by the same token, I also hear how some players might buy it for its quality Leslie abilities alone.
$389 (street price) is a lot to spend on a pedal, especially if you're the kind of person who just can't bring yourself to spend $200 for a pair of sneakers or $5 for a cup of coffee. But keep in mind, the E-155 is two pedals in one – more like two-and-a-half pedals in one if you consider the mad settings and air-mix abilities you just don't get with other dual- effect efforts on the market. Plus, this pedal can be linked with other Boomerang pedals to store/recall presets that will fire on all them with a single touch. If you have certain expectations from chorus and delay pedals, are searching for new sounds and even new ways to push boundaries, The E-155 will give you what you're looking for.