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Two traits distinguish analog BBD delays from digital ones: darker-toned echoes and a unique sort of distortion I’ve always thought of as “crumbly.” It’s easy to fake those dark tones digitally, but the quirky distortion is difficult to model (though a few new pedals and plug-ins are finally nailing it). Still, the quickest way to get a BBD sound is with a BBD chip.
Some nouveau BBD effects, like JAM Pedals’ original Delay Llama and the popular Dunlop Carbon Copy, are simple, three-knob affairs in the DM-2 vein. Others introduce new wrinkles. And then there’s JAM’s reimagined Delay Llama Supreme, which has more wrinkles than a litter of Shar-Pei puppies.
Llama Llama Ding Dong
The Llama Supreme’s bells and whistles encompass some of the coolest features of previous BBD delays: You can tap in tempos (shades of the Cusack Tap-A-Whirl). Two jacks let you connect controller pedals (not included) to vary the delay time and wet/dry mix (shades of Moogerfooger’s MF-104M). You can set the rate and depth of an LFO oscillator for warped/detuned echoes (shades of the EHX Memory Man). You can also choose from three tap-tempo subdivisions—a useful feature for players who find it tough to tap one rhythm while playing another. (Naturally, there are the usual time, repeats, and mix controls.) A hold function enables you to induce self-oscillation and release it just as quickly.
It doesn’t stop there. A low-pass tone control lets you trim additional treble for even darker echoes. There’s a variable Q (filter feedback) control that adds resonant feedback at the tone knob’s cutoff point. This can lend a slight edge to echoes, or conjure wild whistling and oscillation at high settings with the modulation section engaged. Even better, there’s a dedicated effect footswitch, so you can toggle between bypass, lovely retro delays, and wild, warped stuff. For noisy fun, crank the repeats knob for runaway feedback with the effect section engaged. Or unleash hell by altering the delay time with a foot controller.
Serious BBD Business
The Llama’s large-format, hand-painted enclosure is whimsical fun, but inside, it’s all business. Jacks and switches are mounted to the enclosure, not the two circuit boards. The boards are densely but neatly populated with modern full-sized/through-hole parts, including a new-production MN3205 BBD chip (the same part used in some DM-2s and the original Aqua Puss). Have you ever peeked inside an analog delay? The number of parts is stupefying! Thankfully, this is a reassuringly solid build.
Given its quality construction, formidable part count, and cornucopia of clever features, it’s no surprise that the Delay Llama Supreme sells for a bit over $400. You definitely don’t need to spend that much to get fine BBD delay sounds, and if you’re chiefly interested in simple analog echoes, the Supreme is probably overkill. But if you’re intrigued by the idea of crafting wild new variations on a classic color, you’ll love the Llama’s expanded sonic repertoire. I certainly do!
Watch the Review Demo: