Electro-Harmonix Nano Deluxe Memory Man Review
The king of bucket brigade echoes downsizes and brightens its voice.
Impressive ability to replicate big-box DMM functionality in a compact stomp. Extra toppiness sounds great in slapback settings.
Modulation controls can feel vague. Might be too bright for some DMM traditionalists. Modulation features may not justify extra expense over comparable BBD delays.
Electro-Harmonix Nano Deluxe Memory Man
Any time I go anywhere to record anything, I bring along an old Deluxe Memory Man as insurance. I’m not sure I can say that about any other instrument, pedal, or amplifier. As anyone who has used one knows, it’s a beautifully moody sounding echo. It’s also a brilliant design: an ergonomic, interactive, and handsome pedal that, at times, feels almost alive.
My well-travelled and much-abused ’90s edition is now noisy, dented, scratched, and wobbly in the knobs. But if there isn’t an Echoplex or Space Echo on hand, no delay sounds better or feels as good to use. The way it encourages performative, improvisational delay expressions means I’ll always come up with a cool sound of some kind—even on my least inspired days. It literally expands my musical vocabulary.
EHX’s newest take on the Memory Man circuit, the Nano Deluxe Memory Man, is the most compact DMM ever. And though its basic voice is brighter and slightly less widescreen than an original, it sounds like a proper old-school bucket brigade analog delay should and facilitates creative, on-the-fly adjustments in spite of the space constraints.
Unwinding in Tight Quarters
By virtue of its size and control orientation, the Nano Deluxe Memory Man is a very different iteration of DMM architecture. Though the six small knobs are tightly clustered, they turn with resistance uncannily similar to the knobs on an original Deluxe Memory Man. And the spacing between them is just enough that you can make simultaneous adjustments to mix, feedback, and delay time, provoking the weird, wild oscillation and pitch shift effects that are DMM hallmarks. The close quarters and tiny knobs make it hard to achieve the same ergonomic satisfaction and freedom of movement that come with operating an old big-box unit. But the fact that EHX managed to replicate any of the tactile experience of an original on an enclosure this small suggests they thought a lot about retaining a vintage unit’s interactive capacity.
Less Haze in Your Daze
Most players love DMMs for their “darkness”—more precisely, the way successive repeats dissolve like foggy miasma behind the initial attack. Relative to my ’90s vintage Deluxe Memory Man, the Nano sounds toppier and a little less mellow in the repeats. That quality is underscored when you add gain from an overdrive or fuzz.
For some artists, the extra top-end definition in the Nano’s repeats will be a silver lining.
Compared to most digital delays (at least those not trying to emulate old analog units), the Nano’s repeats are still pretty dusky. How that suits your style is a matter of personal taste. Some players that rely heavily on high-gain fuzz sounds actually prefer the cleanliness of digital repeats after they’ve stacked several sources of filth. So, for some artists, the extra top-end definition in the Nano’s repeats will be a silver lining.
Compared to digital delays like the Boss DD-5, the Nano DMM’s repeats are hazier and more glued together—particularly with overdrive or fuzz upstream. They aren’t quite as midrange-y as MXR’s Carbon Copy Bright (an analog BBD delay that bumps high-mid content to cut more like a digital delay), but the Nano DMM does, perhaps, concede to contemporary production values by offering a more mid-oriented voice.
This sonic signature is really cool in certain applications. Slapback tones, for instance, take on a brash attitude that shines in recording situations where a lead or hook has to stand out. And it still has a subtle compression effect on distortion, lending a cohesiveness that sounds nice when using long washes of repeats.
One big difference in the Nano that old-school DMM heads will notice immediately is the presence of rate and depth knobs for the modulation section (the original had a single depth knob) and the absence of a vibrato/chorus switch. EHX says that the rate knob effectively stands in for the chorus/vibrato switch and that the 9 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions achieve the same sounds as the original’s chorus and vibrato, respectively.
I didn’t find the correspondence quite so direct. Just as the darkness in a vintage Memory Man mellows repeats, it also tames peaks in intense modulations. Conversely, the Nano’s brighter voice makes modulation peaks a little more intense, so you may not be able to use quite as much depth as you would on a vintage unit. There are still cool textures to be found, though. The chorus is a very nice, if subtle, sweetener at lower depth levels, and the vibrato generates cool tape wobble and psychedelic pitch effects that add a mesmerizing sense of animation. Players intent on using aggressive depth settings may want to mind the effect level, however.
Like most old pedals, original Memory Man units are a varied bunch. That means there is no one standard to measure the Nano against—at least in terms of vintage authenticity. But outside issues of authenticity, the Nano fundamentally sounds like a really good bucket brigade delay. Most vintage DMM users will find the Nano’s repeats comparatively toppy. And experienced DMM users should expect very familiar sounds, although not overtone-for-overtone equivalents. But what the Nano does not achieve in perfect vintage correctness, it makes up for in utility and a distinctive tone signature for players that want a touch of shadowy bucket brigade personality without surrendering their tone entirely to analog haze.
The Best EHX Delay Yet? Electro-Harmonix Nano Deluxe Memory Man Demo | First Look
- Electro-Harmonix Canyon Review - Premier Guitar ›
- J. Rockett Clockwork Review - Premier Guitar ›
- Digital Means for Making the Deluxe Memory Man Scene - Premier ... ›
- Electro-Harmonix Unveils the STRING9 - Premier Guitar ›
- Electro-Harmonix J Mascis Ram's Head Big Muff Pi Pedal - Premier Guitar ›
- Electro-Harmonix J Mascis Ram's Head Big Muff Pi Pedal - Premier Guitar ›
Sweetwater vs. Reverb
Which one do you prefer?
Rhett and Zach unpack the big news for secondhand guitar sellers and buyers: Sweetwater has launched their new Gear Exchange. How does it compare to Reverb, Craigslist, and Marketplace? To find out, Zach takes the site for a spin and buys a pedal. He calls the process both “very easy” and “normal.” They discuss the pros and cons of the various used-gear outlets and share tips for not getting got when buying gear. Plus, Zach grew a mustache, Mythos Pedals is moving, and he talks about his forthcoming line of Strat pickups inspired by Hendrix’s reverse-stagger setup.
Sweetwater vs. Reverb
Get 10% off from StewMac when you visit stewmac.com/dippedintone
Supro Introduces All-New Royale Head and 1x12 Cab
The Royale was designed to deliver loud and vivid clean tone with a responsive, tactile low end.
Designed to offer massive headroom, the 50-watt Royale Head lets you indulge in smooth clean tones at even higher volumes on stage without any breakup. Select between class A and class AB modes, with its variable mode switch, so you can choose between gushing Supro tone or a punchier, tight midrange response.
Introducing the Royale Head & Extension Cabinet | Supro
The Royale 1x12 Extension Cabinet features the custom Supro BD12 high-power driver, offering the same mid-range punch and clean articulation as the Royale combo but with additional stage volume. More info: suprousa.com.
Royale Head | $1,499.99
Royale Cab | $669.99
D’Addario Foundation Kicks-Off Education Initiative with Online Auction
D'Addario Foundation's education project sets out to help schools throughout the country and kicks off with an online auction.
The D’Addario Foundation will host a virtual auction from November 9 to November 30, 2022, with the overarching goal of raising $30,000 for the D'Addario Foundation’s Immersive Music Challenge.
Inspired by a new study published in the Journal of Youth Development, the D'Addario Foundation recently launched the Immersive Music Challenge. This ambitious project will help school districts and charter systems throughout the country boost academic achievement by implementing effective, multi-day-per-week music-based mentoring programs that include training, administration, and evaluation. The D’Addario Foundation has invested in an incredible team of consultants that include school superintendents, public health experts, and data analysts to ensure sound results. In addition, D’Addario is actively seeking corporate partners to support the establishment of these programs and champion their success.
Thanks to the generosity of D'Addario artists and industry partners including Gibson, PRS Guitars, D'Angelico, Taylor Guitars, and more, one-of-a-kind items & experiences are up for bidding. Some of the items include:
- Evans Drumhead signed by Anderson Paak
- ESP Mirage Deluxe '87 Signed by Bruce Kulick of KISS and Grand Funk Railroad
- Gibson Les Paul Custom electric guitar
- D'Addario bass string set signed by Bryan Beller of the Aristocrats
- PRS S2 McCarty 594 Singlecut
- Virtual Lesson with Marty Schwartz
Xotic Effects Introduces Revamped RC Booster
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Xotic Effects unveils an updated version of their classic boost pedal.
Xotic’s RC Booster pedal is back to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The RC Booster’s original design was a customer favorite due to its versatile clean boost, active treble, bass, gain and volume controls. This classic reissue will join their regular pedal lineup permanently.
• Transparent boost pedal for electric guitar
• Up to 20dB of boost for adding volume or sending your amp into overdrive
• Treble and bass EQ controls with +/-15dB range for fine-tuning your sound
• True bypass switching removes the effect from your signal path when disengaged
• Powered via 9-volt battery or optional AC adapter (sold separately)
• 9-18 volts
The first 1000 pedals will contain a special limited edition packaging with special items and actual guitar picks from Andy Timmons, Paul Jackson Jr, Dean Brown, Kirk Fletcher, Allen Hinds, Chris Duarte, Scott Henderson, Oz Noy, Michael Thompson, Yuya Komoguchi, Toshi Yanagi.
RC Booster with limited edition packaging street price is $172.00. More info: xotic.us.