It seems like many new delays these days seek to replicate some other now-defunct delay from a bygone era. The new Pigtronix Echolution 2 Deluxe, however, wanders down the road less traveled, letting you create your own journey. There is so much to explore and create with the E2, it’s likely you’ll come up with combinations not previously heard from a delay.
The E2 is a hybrid delay, with an all analog front and back end, yet it features a variable digital clock that makes it fairly unique among digital delays. Packed with features, the E2 is easy to use, and you can go pretty deep. There are six main knobs that control the basic settings: time, mix, repeats (the standard fare), a preset knob that I’ll discuss later, and two modulation controls for speed and depth.
There are also six little “screens” with LED bars that have either one or two buttons to change parameters. Pressing these buttons for more than a second allows you to engage two different parameters at the same time. For example, on the Taps menu you have five choices: 1:1, 1:¾, 1:½, 1:¼ and Phi at 1:.382. Hold that button down longer and you get dual taps: 1:1 plus 1:¾ for a very interesting effect.
The heart of this pedal, perhaps, is found in the Filter settings. You can choose to have no filter and get a clean delay tone – which sounds clear, but never sterile or bright. In essence, what you play is what you hear. For a more interesting sound, choose LP (low pass), which reduces the high end after each repeat, giving you a warm, analog-like effect. Or try the Tape setting, which cuts out some of the low end and is reminiscent of a tape machine, especially when you dial in some added modulation.
There are two other unique filters, Comb and Sweep, which imparts some very interesting effects as well. For something outrageous, try the Crush filter. This filter destroys the signal with a bitcrusher type effect – which is impacted by how hard you play. As if choosing one of these filters isn’t enough, you can toggle through them and get two filters at the same; for example, LP and Sweep, Tape and Sweep, or even Comb and Sweep.
WHAT WE LIKE:
I enjoyed how the E2 acts like a blank canvas, giving you a palette of options to choose from and allowing you to create your own masterpiece. You can set up just about any combination of parameters – filters, tap settings, and modulation.
There are additional advanced features like Ping Pong - that bounces back and forth between two amps. Try the Duck for a less pronounced type of delay while you’re playing but gets louder once you stop picking. Need something even more interesting? Then try the Halo option, that with each repeat the notes go up a full octave.
Don’t forget that you also get a choice of LFO waveforms: triangle, square, ramp, random, and any dual combinations of these. Press it long and you get the LFO sync that synchronizes your delay time/tap tempo/MIDI beat clock. Finally, the kill dry option plays only the reversed delayed notes. Simply put, I love how the E2 gives you the tools to create something unique.
With all of this flexibility, how can you possibly remember which function does what? Here is where the presets come in handy. Once you’re done tweaking and have found that “just right” delay setting, engage the preset mode by holding down the tap-tempo toggle switch, and presto! You’re in preset mode. Tap it again to go up, or hold long to toggle down. When you find your preset, tap the on/off button and you’re out of preset mode. Easy right? There are 6 banks of presets with 10 presets assignable to each bank, for a total of 60 presets.
The E2 Deluxe also can be partnered with a separate two-button footswitch that in preset mode can be used to select four of your favorite presets per bank. Like everything else on the E2, the footswitch also has two unique features when not in preset mode. The right button is a “Freeze” control that will freeze your delayed notes for about a second, playing this short phrase continuously while you play non-delayed notes over it. Press it again to turn it off. The other button is a “Jump” control that uses the Halo effect, giving you a quick burst of upper octave notes before it disengages on its own.
Initially I thought the lack of an LED screen might make this pedal hard to read or understand, but very quickly I found this to be a nonissue, and in fact I liked not having to wade through menus and sub menus. You can’t really tweak the E2 on the fly all that easily – it isn’t set up that way. Instead, you build the delay sound you want to hear, tweak it until it’s just right, and then save it to a preset. In other words, if you’re averse to saving presets, this might not be the right pedal for you. With that said, it’s so easy to use I can’t really see this being a problem for anyone. Additional MIDI connections give you an almost unlimited amount of flexibility in storing and manipulating presets too.
TONE: 5 out of 5 STARS
The E2 sounds great, period. You can keep it simple or go crazy; the choice is yours. The E2 can sound like a tape machine, or an analog delay, or a spaceship invading planet Earth. I liked using the LP filter with a fair amount of modulation to make it sound analog-like, sometimes selecting dual taps for a vintage type tone. Another interesting thing you can do with the E2 is to select one of the three delayed time ranges: Short (10ms – 100ms), Medium (100ms – 1 sec), or Long (1 sec – 10 sec), instead of using tap tempo. Hold the button long, and you will see that all three time ranges are selected. What you get are no delayed notes at all, yet the filters still work. Using either the Sweep or Comb filters gives you some unique tones, especially when combined with, say, fuzz. Suddenly your Fuzz Face sounds like an Octavia - very cool!
BUILD QUALITY: 5 out of 5 STARS
The E2 feels like a well-built machine. It’s also a compact pedal for all that it does. It features stereo ins and outs, a MIDI input control, an expression pedal input that is fully assignable to one of five basic controls, and the external foot control remote. The labeling is a bit small, but once you have figured everything out and saved to presets, it doesn’t matter much.
VALUE: 5 out of 5 STARS
The E2 is not inexpensive, but if you’re a delay aficionado and want one that sounds great, gives you tons of options and flexibility while being simple to use, it’s really hard to beat the value of the Echolution2. Having the external footswitch is a nice bonus, as well. Factor in its MIDI controllable and a USB port in the front for any future updates, it all adds up to be a great value.
OVERALL RATING: 5 out of 5 STARS
The E2 was three years in the making, and I can see why. It is an extremely well executed piece of gear. The fact that it can do so much, and still be easy to use is a mark of great engineering. It gives the user the tools to be creative in an easy to use platform that is fully capable of future expansion. It is an inspiring pedal that will give guitarists countless hours of inspiration.
Note: At the time of this review, there were some additional software features that were not loaded onto my demo E2. TRW will report back on some of the new features that will be on the actual pedal once it goes on sale, including 60 preloaded presets to which you can use right away or alter to your heart’s content. Stay tuned.