Catalinbread Talisman

  • By David A. Evans @tonereport
  • March 12, 2015

Since the recent explosion of digital modeling, it seems that every Tom, Dick, and Harry has produced a reverb pedal. Frankly, this writer would not be surprised if even his own grandmother had one in the works. Unfortunately, some pedals just don’t sound as good as what they aim to emulate. Fortunately, the good folks at Catalinbread have introduced the Talisman, a plate reverb pedal that’s surprisingly true to the original analog units.

Unlike spring reverb effects that are either incorporated into an amplifier or given a separate, relatively compact housing, plate reverb units are massive. According to some rough calculations, the Talisman is therefore…let’s see, carry the two, the square of the hypotenuse…much smaller. In fact, Catalinbread claims that the Talisman is 479.99 percent smaller than genuine units. However, the Talisman’s sound is anything but tiny.

Perhaps the pedal’s greatest virtue is its tendency to keep the dry input signal in the foreground while cushioning it in a bed of reverb. Some pedals tend to overwhelm the dry signal and tend to pile on too much reverb—the Talisman is the exception to this unfortunate tendency, because from its lowest to highest settings, the pedal adds spaciousness to the signal without burying it under a blanket of noisy, digital reverb. At the noon setting of the Time (reverb amount) knob, the Talisman produced a relatively warm, spacious trail for the dry signal. Make no mistake, the Talisman can pump out heaps of reverb, but it tended not to muddle the dry signal in testing.

In fact, the decay on the Talisman is one of the more analog-sounding of the bunch that this writer has heard. Generally, these digital reverb pedals leave a telltale digital trail. Sometimes the decay is too crisp, while at other times the decay simply seems to be the original signal sampled and repeated. Not so with the Talisman—the signal actually decays as if it were an analog reverb, without the digital artifacts.

Catalinbread did a good thing by adding a High Pass filter to the pedal. Although the Talisman tended not to bury the dry signal, the High Pass filter worked to bring the latter even more to the fore. Even at moderate settings, the filter tended to produce a warmer, less shimmering sort of reverb. This filtered reverb also tended to place the dry signal more upfront without sacrificing the overall spaciousness created by the effect. Adding a bit of filtration would work well for a performer who needs to add presence without drawing too much attention to the reverb decay. In other words, the pedal can retain a longer reverb decay without calling too much attention to itself.

Finally, the Talisman’s Pre-Delay knob seems to transform the effect into something more than a standard reverb. With a bit of Pre-Delay, the reverb seemed to “whoosh” out of nowhere, and at times resembled the now-classic gated reverb sound. The Talisman might make for a good “alternative” short-delay pedal if only because of its reverb-treated effect: it won’t sound like a traditional delay, but it doesn’t sound like a regular reverb, either.

Although plenty of reverb pedals now crowd the market, the Talisman definitely stands out given the quality of its construction and its pleasing sound; the Talisman would make for a solid addition to one’s effects chain.

What we like: Surprisingly non-digital decay and up-front presentation of dry signal. Pre Delay gives the Talisman a hybrid delay-reverb sound.

Concerns: None.

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