Digital Means for Making the Deluxe Memory Man Scene
Economical controls make this DSP-driven homage to the DMM an affordable, clever, and compact compromise. The Premier Guitar Mojo Hand FX Dream Mender review.
Warm analog-like tones that stroke a nice compromise between digital sterility and analog quirkiness. Controls have great range and sensitivity. Fair price. Compact.
No input gain control. No independent control of modulation intensity.
Mojo Hand FX Dream Mender
Ease of Use:
Though they’re stone-cold classics, vintage Deluxe Memory Man pedals demand compromise in return for those warm, sweet analog echoes. They’re massive by contemporary standards, aging specimens are fragile, and components are prone to drift. Fear of loss—or for breaking something I couldn’t fix—made me retire mine years ago. It stinks, because I don’t have a delay or echo that sounds quite like it.
A lot of people feel equally attached and anxious about their old DMMs. And compact analog and digital alternatives that offer Deluxe Memory Man characteristics without the stress have been around a while. Many digital multi-delays even come with DMM-inspired presets and voices. But these takes on the DMM can have shortcomings of their own. Few can replicate the ergonomic possibilities of a vintage unit’s control layout, which enables creative, nuanced, on-the-fly manipulation of controls with a single hand. Better digital emulations, meanwhile, can be expensive.
Mojo Hand FX’s Dream Mender, however, cleverly navigates the compromises inherent to building a small-form, digital homage to the DMM. And while it lacks the variable input gain control and an independent modulation intensity knob purists consider essential to the DMM formula, it offers a very nice take on the classic DMM voice and many of the chorus and vibrato textures that make the original Deluxe Memory Man so dizzyingly rich.
Streamlined Mojo Machine
The Dream Mender is no space hog. It’s about the same size as an MXR pedal. It’s also difficult to tell what might be going on under the hood, because the circuit board is flipped and occupies the entirety of the enclosure space. But like most Mojo Hand FX pedals, it’s very well put-together. The switchwork and jacks are all high-quality stuff, and the knobs turn with a satisfying resistance and precision that makes manipulating the rangy controls a tactile treat and a powerful expressive method.
For a DMM-inspired pedal, the control set is economical. Delay and feedback knobs work conventionally, though the delay time control gives you access to about twice the delay time of a vintage Memory Man (which tops out at about 500ms). Where the DMM featured a modulation section with a vibrato/chorus switch and modulation intensity knob, the Dream Mender employs a smart, space-saving workaround: The vibrato/chorus switch remains as a small push button, but the modulation intensity is controlled by the delay depth/mix control. This control is a 2-way knob.
Counter clockwise from noon, the knob regulates delay intensity exclusively. Clockwise from noon, it controls delay and modulation depth together, and the intensity of both effects increase together. The drawback, of course, is that you can’t control delay and modulation intensity independently, but it’s a smart design compromise given the pedal’s modest price and size, and it’s the source of some amazingly wobbly and, yes, very dreamy delay textures.
The other notable DMM feature that the Dream Mender omits is the input gain knob—a function that shapes many of my favorite tones on the Deluxe Memory Man. If you use other sources of boost and overdrive, you might not pine for this feature. Still, many players that like a minimal setup built around DMM tones might miss the way the input gain can add low-end mass, compression, and, at least in the case of my own DMM, a little extra top-end definition. (It bears mentioning that high input gain settings on an original DMM can turn into a blurry, compressed mess when mixed with fuzz, aggressive overdrive, and even deep modulation. Also, many classic DMM tones are partly attributable to the Deluxe Memory Man’s 24V circuit, which means more headroom for the overtones from the boosted output).
In the absence of a gain control, the Dream Mender’s basic voice sounds a lot like a vintage DMM operating in the cleaner, lower third of its drive range. It also tends to be stronger in the midrange than a vintage Memory Man. Again, such differences might let down players that want the most authentic vintage DMM tones in a minimal rig. But that doesn’t mean the Dream Mender doesn’t generate awesome and unique tones. The Mender’s narrower, more controlled midrange frequency emphasis means repeats can sound more distinct when paired with other effects. It also generates beautiful sounds and colors regardless of comparisons to the Memory Man. Slapback tones have focus, presence, and snap, and very cool tape-like wiggle with vibrato mixed in. More surreal textures, like the wiggly vibrato and chorus delays at high depth levels, will entice players that love the Cure, Slowdive, and Ride, as well as ambient players and composers.
For 159 bucks—a price that slots between the most basic analog delays and more feature-rich digital units—the Dream Mender is a good deal, particularly considering the deep and unique textures you can extract from its simple control set. It’s more colorful than a basic digital delay, and more controlled, and generates authentically analog color without the clock noise and touchy temperament of true BBD analog units. Its essential voice is also distinctly in the Deluxe Memory Man range, if a bit mid-focused. And while the lack of independent control of the modulation intensity diminishes the Dream Mender’s flexibility relative to a vintage DMM, the modulated delay textures are immersive and intoxicating. But beyond comparisons to the Memory Man, the Dream Mender is a great analog emulation—particularly if you love the fluttering, hazy tones of modulated delay.