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Earthquaker Devices Disaster Transport SR Pedal Review

July 11, 2013

EarthQuaker Disaster Transport SR - Delay A & B moving from parallel to series via bleed knob.

The Disaster Transport SR—an evolution of EarthQuaker Device’s superb Disaster Transport modulating delay—is an elegant and versatile beast for which the company’s cephalopod-limbed skull mascot is an apt visual metaphor. For while it seems to do the job of about eight pedals at once, this twin delay with reverb and modulation moves from vintage echo tones to endlessly unfolding realms of the bizarre with an ease that doesn’t require extra appendages.

Deceptively Simple
The Disaster Transport SR’s topmost row of knobs is dedicated to delay A. You get controls for time, repeats, and a wet/dry mix, as well as depth and rate controls for modulation, and a bleed control that’s one of the SR’s real secret weapons. The second row is dedicated to delay B—again, time, repeats, and wet/dry knobs—plus a reverb knob.

The SR has dedicated footswitches for each delay, and a bypass switch lets you shut off the effect without trails. Further, you can tweak both repeats and bleed setting via two expression pedal inputs.

Transgalactic Sonic Traveller
The SR’s basic delay voice is lush, expansive, with a trace of the natural-sounding ghost reverb that colors the richest-sounding analog delays. With judiciously applied time-modulation settings, delay A (30–600 ms) lets you approximate the chorus and vibrato modulation tones you’d hear from an Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man—lovely stuff if you’re into the spare, quavering atmospherics of the Edge’s harmonics and high-register arpeggios in “The Unforgettable Fire.” And depending on depth and mix settings, you can induce vertigo-inducing pitch wiggles, more subtle Echoplex-type wobbling, and modulations that walk the line between chorus and rotary speaker sounds.

Ratings

Pros:
A delay for every taste and occasion. Unique series/parallel bleed feature opens new sonic realms. Expression pedal options add serious flexibility.

Cons:
Despite streamlined design, some knobs may be hard to discern on a cluttered pedalboard.

Tones:

Playability/Ease of Use:

Build/Design:

Value:

Street:
$345

Company
earthquakerdevices.com

Delay B’s shorter range (30–300 ms) makes it the best of the two for dedicating to slapback effects, and this ability to move from slapback to longer delays can really expand your vocabulary and capacity to cover different feels in a song or set. Using a short delay on delay B also highlights the good sense EarthQuaker had to place the reverb on the shorter delay channel. While the delay and ’verb lack some of the grit that hardcore, vintage-correct rockabilly fanatics mighty demand, the slapback and reverb are an excellent approximation in most applications. And a more extreme reverb setting with shorter delays enables a cinematic, fade-to-dream-style take on country chord melodies that ride into the sunset in the most surreal, widescreen sense.

The bleed knob manages the relationship between the two delays. Fully counterclockwise, it places them in parallel, making the delays distinct, separate entities—it’s a lush, relatively uncluttered sound, depending on reverb and modulation amounts, as well as how complex your summed repeat pattern is. With both delays on, moving bleed past zero makes the signal part parallel, part series—i.e., part of delay A’s signal goes through delay B. With delay B off and bleed beyond zero, the delays are in series, which can create a significantly deeper, more complex sum of the voices that can sound rich, feverishly nebulous, or downright opaque.

While you can blow minds by mating wildly wobbling oscillations with disparate delay times, some of the nicest sounds often come from subtle time disparities (or more precise and even divisions) between A and B, and careful use of the bleed and mix knobs. Shape these worlds carefully, and you can add color to spare suspended chords or build simple melodies into Daniel Lanois-style minor epics.

The subtlety of the SR’s reverb may disappoint those hoping for transgalactic sounds, but it’s a great match for the delays. Your signal hits it before delay B, so you won’t lose the intricacies of a complex delay recipe in a reverb wash.

The Verdict
It’s hard not to be struck by the combination of elegant simplicity and nearly infinite possibility that you get from the Disaster Transport SR. The layout and switching setup let you easily go from wildly chaotic to conventional delay-and-reverb voices. And being able to run the two delays in parallel or series—or a mix of the two—makes the SR adaptable to varying stage setups and songs. Add a musically voiced reverb, powerful modulation, and switching that enables clever delay combinations, trails, or hard-bypass switching on the fly, and you’ve got a delay for almost any situation—whether you’re an experimentalist or a roots rocker, or move between the two in a single night. Considering how many pedals it could take to achieve a similar breadth of sonic possibilities, the SR adds up to an excellent value, too.