december 2017

Tap tempo is king in a multi-voiced digital delay with creative echo-shaping controls.

Recorded with Schroeder Chopper TL and Wooly Coats Spanky MKII
Clip 1 - Lo-fi mode, eighth-note repeats
Clip 2 - Slapback mode, eighth-note repeats

Delay has evolved so much and become so functionally varied that whole user factions with independent value systems now exist. There’s the slapback set, the ambient adventurers, analog adherents that like it dirty, and digital surgeons that prize pristine clean sounds. With a raft of modulation textures, filters, and colors ranging from filthy to squeaky clean, Walrus’ ARP-87 addresses the needs of many of these groups. But it seems especially geared toward a unique breed of delay user known as the tap-tempo control freak—so much so that the pedal disposes of a time knob entirely and relies exclusively on a tap tempo switch and a subdivision knob to determine repeat rates.

Space Ranger Switches On
The ARP-87’s 6-knob array isn’t crazily unconventional, but it may throw trad-minded, 3-knob analog delay fans a curveball or two if they dive right in without referencing the manual. Apart from level and repeats, and perhaps the ratio knob, which enables selection of subdivisions, the individual controls declare their intent rather obliquely. They are, however, pretty easy to figure out on the fly. Dampen is a tone control, which is useful for taking the sheen off the digital delay or brightening the “analog” voice. X increases modulation intensity in slapback, analog, and digital modes, and adjusts filter width in lo-fi mode. Program enables switching between those four algorithms. The switches themselves have no detents, which can make adjustments tricky in the dark. Here again, though, the options are manageable enough in number to sort in the heat of performance.

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Multiple shades of overdrive and boost come alive in a compact stomp built to last.

Radial is famous for reliable DI boxes tough enough to double as ball peen hammers. But the company’s utilitarian image often seems to obscure how thoughtfully designed and musical their stompboxes can be. Those qualities are easy to hear, see, and feel in the Tonebone Texas Pro.

Like Radial’s DIs, the Canada-built Texas Pro is ridiculously robust: heavy gauge steel, smooth, precise, and sensitive controls with perfect resistance, a smart effects loop, and switches and jacks that seem impervious to wear. The layout, too, is simple and sensible, with streamlined control sets for the boost and overdrive arrayed across the compact 4 1/2" enclosure.

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