GFI Clockwork Delay V2 Review
Echo-tailoring options abound in a thoughtfully engineered digital delay.
GFI is a small, growing Indonesian pedal company. They don't have a huge presence on forums where players gather to talk gear (yet). And as a reviewer, that means the chance to approach a pedal with few, if any, preconceptions. That’s twice the fun when you’re working with a pedal that feels as fresh and as full of options as the Clockwork Delay V2 digital delay, which combines the virtues of digital control and clarity with thoughtfully voiced analog-style textures.
Small Size, Big Punch
Although the Clockwork V2 is built in the sideways orientation that prompts ire among some pedalboard space planners, the layout is efficient and economical. There aren’t a ton of knobs and switches, but the multi-level functions keep things very interesting and open up a ton of echo options. Each delay has secondary controls that are accessible via the “param” knob. When using the lo-fi mode, for instance, the parameter knob adjusts.
In ambient mode, the parameter knob enables the addition of perfect fifth or octave harmonizing intervals on top of the delayed signal. The small variation switch enables moves between the tape, standard, and ambient modes. You re-dedicate the switch to multi-head selection by depressing the tap tempo and bypass switches together. You can also save up to eight presets, which is nice on a delay with this many disparate voices.
Blanket of Echoes
The basic digital voices can range from clear to colorful—often within the same mode. The very clean standard delay can be spiced up with modulation via the parameter knob. Tape mode has excellent mid-range degradation characteristics in the repeats. And the lo-fi mode, which models bucket-brigade analog delay, possesses an authentically haunting echo response, with blooming low end girth and slight low-mid grittiness that can be accented with modulation from the parameter control. The ambient mode, meanwhile, adds shimmering upper harmonic content response that’s ideal for ambient volume swells and gentle arpeggios.
Stereo functionality was definitely not an afterthought on the Clockwork V2. And if you don’t already use stereo delay, the GFI is a perfect reason to begin your journey of exploration. All the modes sound lush in stereo setups, but in the tape mode in particular (which uses the parameter knob to move from standard to ping-pong stereo), the stereo output swirled around the room like a mist you could actually inhale.
Multi-Tap Meets Multi-Head
The GFI is also rich with rhythmic echo tools, starting with a multi-head mode that draws inspiration from the Binson Echorec and Watkins Copicat. Like all the modes, it sounds fantastic in stereo. In multi-head mode, the parameter knob enables different combinations of virtual playback heads including 2-, 3-, and 4-head settings. The results range from never-ending slapback repeats to wide, odd-metered arpeggios and riffs. And when you widen the stereo image in a stereo rig, the complex rhythmic combinations are dazzling.
The Clockwork V2 pairs well with other effects. Overdriven tones are never made harsh, and fuzz sounds become positively colossal as they fade into spacious repeats. If there is a drawback to the Clockwork V2 it’s that it doesn’t excel at subtlety. The blend control could use a much smoother taper. It tends to have a sort of on-off threshold at around 10 o’clock.
The Clockwork Delay V2 is an intuitive delay that was clearly optimized for stereo use and sounds awesome in those applications. The voices are masterfully crafted, and tape and lo-fi modes have authentic and vivid degradation characteristics. The multi-head mode is not only reminiscent of rare vintage units, but has huge expressive potential. There is something here for anyone that loves repeats. And whether you like your delays down and dirty, clean and pristine, or warm and wide, you’ll find room to roam in Clockwork’s open spaces.