In some respects, Red Panda’s Raster pitch-shifting digital delay evolves from modulating analog delay units like the Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man, which added chorus or vibrato to its delay repeats. The Raster, however, combines a digital delay with a highly tunable pitch shifter that delivers sonic mayhem way beyond what the Memory Man provided. The results veer from subtle to cacophonous, from gentle chorusing and throbbing repeats to synth-like tones and all-out self-oscillating madness.
Portrait of a Serial Shifter
The Raster’s maximum delay time is 750 milliseconds, which should be plenty for most players. There are controls for delay time, feedback, and wet/dry blend. The feedback control unleashes infinite repeats as it approaches the 3 o’clock mark and distorts them at higher levels.
The feedback mode toggle selects between reverse delay, continuously shifted repeats, or a cool “single-shift” mode in which only the first repeat is pitch-shifted. The top-left knob (or an optional expression pedal) controls the pitch shift amount.
The rightmost 3-way shift-mode toggle transposes pitches by ±12 semitones, tunes them up a minor third or down a fourth, or shifts the phase, introducing near-flange-like textures. The shift mode is also footswitchable, so you can change modes without having to reach down. A 9V adapter powers the pedal.
You don’t have to get tricky with the Raster—it sounds great with simple echoes. Using a Gibson Les Paul, a Soldano Lucky 13 half stack, and the Raster sans shift mode, repeats were clear, but with a slightly lo-fi decay in the highs. The effect is clearer than on a Memory Man, though players who seek the clarity of, say, a Boss DD-6 may want to look elsewhere.
The real fun starts when you activate shift mode. It would take pages to describe the possible textures—at times the Raster has the chaotic personality of an old synth. One of my favorite settings is feedback mode set to continuous repeats, the shift knob at 5 o’clock, and transpose mode on. Long delays become flurries of repeated arpeggios that sounded like some alien organ. The shift knob lets me to “tune” the arpeggios to the root note of the melody I’m playing, making the eerie effect relatively musical and controlled. Shifts generally sound smooth and accurate, though higher-pitched repeats have a squeaky quality that sometimes gets a little harsh.
My favorite transpose-mode setting is delay knob to 10 o’clock for closely spaced arpeggio repeats, with the blend control at unity volume. When I play palm-muted notes on a low string, the repeats cavort and gyrate in a strange, evil rhythm. It’s an intense and metallic-sounding effect—not for the meek, or anyone who can’t stand processed-sounding pitch shifts. Metallic warts aside, I’ve never heard anything quite like it, and the available control blew me away. It’s a mesmerizing effect.
Red Panda’s Raster is an excellent digital delay for both conventional echoes and radical noise making. It doesn’t chase the warmth of analog echoes (though it possesses warm qualities at certain settings). Most interesting is the way it embraces the darkly pulsating side of digital, metallic aftertaste and all. Those eerie pitch shifts alone are worth the price of admission. For players seeking a sound-effect secret weapon, the Raster delivers the otherworldly goods by the bundle.