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Malekko Heavy Industry Ekko 616 Pedal Review

Bucket brigade-style delay

Download Example 1
Delay Max
Download Example 2
Just Delay
Download Example 3
Med Chorus Delay 1
Download Example 4
Shimmer Repeats
Download Example 5
Download Example 6
Clips recorded with 1991 Ibanez Sabre into Marshall JMD:1 on JVM410H preamp model, emulated speaker out via XLR to E-MU USB0404 into Cubase 5 44.1k 24bit. 
Best known for their B:AssMaster fuzz box, Portland-based Malekko Heavy Industry has steadily expanded and refined their line of stompboxes over the years. Their latest effort is the Ekko 616 Analog Delay, a bucket brigade-style delay stomper and arguably their most versatile and affordable delay pedal yet.

Compact and Capable
At first glance, the Ekko 616 looks like a fairly conventional delay. But sitting just above the three standard delay controls—Time, Mix, and Regen—you’ll find additional controls for adjusting the modulation effects available on this versatile pedal.

A white in/out push switch just above the Time knob engages the modulation circuit. Next to this Mod switch, a red LED lets you know whether modulation is on or off and flashes at various rates to indicate modulation speed. This LED stays on even when the delay is turned off, so you won’t be surprised by the modulation rate when you step on the delay.

Two black knobs to the right of the Mod on/off switch control modulation speed and depth. To the right of these is another white push switch that changes the pedal’s bypass mode from true to buffered. It also has a red LED next to it to tell you which bypass mode you have engaged.

Bucket Brigade Treats
Having cut my teeth on a Boss DM-2 analog delay, playing with the Ekko 616 was like taking a trip down memory lane in a new car. The Ekko 616 has the natural-sounding feedback degradation that’s characteristic of a vintage bucket-brigade device (BBD)—only better. On long regeneration settings, you can really hear the sonic changes occur over time. The Ekko 616 also offers an impressive frequency range that I believe is critical to the musicality of a BBD pedal.

The max delay time is 650 ms, and the shortest is 6 ms. This effectively covers the sweet spot for delays, and if I needed something longer, I’d probably opt for a sonically purer digital delay.

The sweep on the Mix knob is fairly sensitive. Just above hard left gave me a subtle ghost of the original signal, 12 o’clock yielded delays that were about equal to the source, and hard right generated a slight bump in gain on the repeats. The Regen knob also had a fine sweep. Its wide-open settings produced delicious infinite repeats and gobs of sci-fi noise in the vein of Radiohead’s “Karma Police,” and cranking the Regens down gave me a great rockabilly slapback flavor.

Dialing in modulation, however, was not quite as simple. Speed and Depth settings above 9 o’clock were typically too heavy and odd. But once I got accustomed to the way the modulation and delay controls work together (they are part of the same effect circuit), I was able to get shimmery tones I couldn’t achieve with only a delay or modulation pedal.

For example, setting the Time knob to minimum gave me a chorus effect at various modulation rates that was quite dark without noticeable delay. More aggressive modulation settings led to quasi-rotary speaker and wild detuning sounds.

The Verdict
Having modulation in a BBD delay pedal is unusual, and it takes some getting used to. But the payoff is a palate of unique delay flavors. The Ekko 616’s circuitry—which applies modulation exclusively to repeats— lends a clarity that’s uncommon in complex delay circuits or delay effects modulated by other pedals. And that’s a huge dividend, given how watery combined chorus-and-delay signals can sound. In terms of value, quality, and out-of-the ordinary sounds, the Malekko Ekko 616 is a stand-out performer.

Buy if...
you want an excellent sounding bucket brigade analog delay pedal at a good price.
Skip if...
you need a sophisticated, programmable digital delay or delay times longer than 650 ms.

Street $150 - Malekko Heavy Industry -

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