Best known for their B:AssMaster fuzz box, Portland-based Malekko
Heavy Industry has steadily expanded and refined their line of stompboxes
over the years. Their latest effort is the Ekko 616 Analog Delay,
a bucket brigade-style delay stomper and arguably their most versatile
and affordable delay pedal yet.
Compact and Capable
At first glance, the Ekko 616 looks like a fairly conventional delay. But
sitting just above the three standard delay controls—Time, Mix, and
Regen—you’ll find additional controls for adjusting the modulation effects
available on this versatile pedal.
A white in/out push switch just above the Time knob engages the
modulation circuit. Next to this Mod switch, a red LED lets you know
whether modulation is on or off and flashes at various rates to indicate
modulation speed. This LED stays on even when the delay is turned
off, so you won’t be surprised by the modulation rate when you step
on the delay.
Two black knobs to the right of the Mod on/off switch control modulation
speed and depth. To the right of these is another white push switch
that changes the pedal’s bypass mode from true to buffered. It also has
a red LED next to it to tell you which bypass mode you have engaged.
Bucket Brigade Treats
Having cut my teeth on a Boss DM-2 analog delay, playing with the
Ekko 616 was like taking a trip down memory lane in a new car.
The Ekko 616 has the natural-sounding feedback degradation that’s
characteristic of a vintage bucket-brigade device (BBD)—only better.
On long regeneration settings, you can really hear the sonic changes
occur over time. The Ekko 616 also offers an impressive frequency
range that I believe is critical to the musicality of a BBD pedal.
The max delay time is 650 ms, and the shortest is 6 ms. This effectively
covers the sweet spot for delays, and if I needed something longer, I’d
probably opt for a sonically purer digital delay.
The sweep on the Mix knob is fairly sensitive. Just above hard left
gave me a subtle ghost of the original signal, 12 o’clock yielded delays
that were about equal to the source, and hard right generated a slight
bump in gain on the repeats. The Regen knob also had a fine sweep.
Its wide-open settings produced delicious infinite repeats and gobs of
sci-fi noise in the vein of Radiohead’s “Karma Police,” and cranking the
Regens down gave me a great rockabilly slapback flavor.
Dialing in modulation, however, was not quite as simple. Speed and
Depth settings above 9 o’clock were typically too heavy and odd. But
once I got accustomed to the way the modulation and delay controls
work together (they are part of the same effect circuit), I was able to
get shimmery tones I couldn’t achieve with only a delay or modulation
For example, setting the Time knob to minimum gave me a chorus
effect at various modulation rates that was quite dark without noticeable
delay. More aggressive modulation settings led to quasi-rotary
speaker and wild detuning sounds.
Having modulation in a BBD delay pedal is unusual, and it takes some
getting used to. But the payoff is a palate of unique delay flavors. The
Ekko 616’s circuitry—which applies modulation exclusively to repeats—
lends a clarity that’s uncommon in complex delay circuits or delay
effects modulated by other pedals. And that’s a huge dividend, given
how watery combined chorus-and-delay signals can sound. In terms of
value, quality, and out-of-the ordinary sounds, the Malekko Ekko 616 is
a stand-out performer.
you want an excellent sounding bucket brigade
analog delay pedal at a good price.
you need a sophisticated, programmable
digital delay or delay times longer than