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Visual Sound is among the fastest-rising manufacturers in the effects business. Touring pros who use the Nashville pedal company’s wares in their rigs include Robben Ford, Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon, and Gym Class Heroes.
The Dual Tap Delay is the first pedal from the company’s V3 series, and the first new delay offering from Visual Sound since the GarageTone Grease delay. With the Dual Tap Delay, Visual Sound successfully integrates digital and analog technology. But it also brings two delays together in one unit with a master tap tempo, so players can tackle the challenge of needing, say, slapback and long delays in a single tune.
Powered by a 9V DC power supply, the Dual Tap Delay is enclosed in a sleek gold casing that is slightly smaller and thinner than a Line 6 DL4—which is to say, it’s big, but still more compact than a lot of dual-pedal devices. This casing is home to a very streamlined, clean layout that basically features two delays side-by-side with the signal path going from delay 1 into delay 2. There are two sets of independent knobs for each channel: time division, which gives you four rhythmic repeats to choose from (eighth-note triplet, dotted-eighth, eighthnote, and quarter-note), manual delay time (with a corresponding switch below that chooses between manual or tap modes), repeats, and effects level. With a modulation knob for adding a chorus-like sound to the repeats, delay 2 can also approximate mild tape warble for a touch of cranky Echoplex.
Under the knobs are two very tiny tone pots for each channel, which act as high-cut controls for the repeats, as well as footswitches for turning each channel on or off. The unit’s tap-tempo switch requires only two taps to set the speed. The pedal’s rear panel features jacks for input, external tap or click input, output 1, and output 2.
Kickin’ the Bucket
Armed with a Gibson Les Paul Standard, I plugged the Dual Tap Delay into the effects loop of my Fender Super-Sonic 1x12 combo. The first thing I noticed was that the Dual Tap Delay is extremely quiet and well behaved, which is a big deal when you’re talking about delay. There have been many occasions where I’ve run things into my effects loop and was greeted with squealing or crackling noises. It’s worth mentioning that the potential for a delay to exacerbate noise issues is considerable.
The Dual Tap Delay uses a custom programmed DSP chip for the basic delay and time functions. The controls and tone shaping sections are all analog however. And if you just listen with your ears, rather than fixate on the digital side of the pedal’s construction, you’ll find the Dual Tap Delay to be among the warmest delays on the market.
My explorations began with the chorus/ verb setting suggested by the included instruction sheet. The setting subtly thickened my tone, especially when I goosed the modulation knob a bit. With a little overdrive, it can sound massive—giving my guitar an authoritative voice that could cut through a dense mix, even though the delayed tone itself is pretty girthy. When I cascaded a longer delay from delay 1 into the modulated delay 2, the blend became positively arena-sized.
The tone controls also make a huge difference in contributing an analog or digital flavor to the sound. Fully counter-clockwise gives you a darker tone. As you rotate the knob, the repeats become crisper and more defined, but not harsh or cold.
Good Time for All
With the clearly labeled time division knob, which visually displays the different possible rhythmic subdivisions, I was quickly able to get delays in time with specific rhythms with the flick of a switch. Although it may seem like a no-brainer to have the different rhythms visually laid out on a knob, many delay units that offer exact rhythmic subdivisions do not clearly or conveniently label the beat division options and many leading delays only illustrate subdivisions in the manual, which isn’t much use when you leave it behind at some bar gig.
The Dual Tap Delay offers four of the most common rhythmic subdivisions, although since Visual Sound went this far, it would be nice to see some longer or shorter patterns like half-notes, quarter-note triplets, and 16th-notes. But the Dual Tap Delay offers the subdivision most delay users will reach for—the dotted-eighth delay, which spawned many of the Edge’s famous guitar parts, as well as Eddie Van Halen’s jaw-dropping “Cathedral.” And with the ability to cascade delays and employ dual outputs, U2 fans might finally find the delay pedal they’re looking for.
For all its capabilities, the Dual Tap Delay provides a refreshing simplicity—and this simplicity doesn’t come at the expense of happening tones. The Dual Tap Delay is incredibly lush and full sounding, and enables dramatic delay effects that can transform a bland passage in a big way. Most impressively, the Dual Tap Delay inspires playing rather than tweaking. In the end, that’s what it’s all about. And the elegance of Visual Sound’s engineering should be praised on that count, along with the sounds this fine delay will add to your bag of tricks.
you want a gorgeous sounding, complex delay that doesn’t require a manual to get up and running.
you absolutely need a bpm or delay time display.