Digging Deep with Dual Delay Lines
In an age where analog modeling is all the rage, it’s great to finally hear some modern pedals that bring that early ‘80s digital rack delay vibe into the 21st century. While most newbies discard digital delays as cold and clinical, those in the know scour the online auctions for characterful, legendary old rack units such as: Lexicon PCM 41, TC Electronic 2290 and the Korg SDD-3000. Some of these tried and true algorithms have even been rehoused and reincarnated in pedal format, while adhering to the heritage of the company and pleasing the target fan base. However, it was only a matter of time before the DSP deities at Strymon decided to tackle the Herculean task of comprehensively cramming all the vintage character of these digital delay classics into one, menu-less enclosure. When Strymon digs, it digs deep.
The DIG retains the compact, familiar format Strymon fans like me have grown to love with the El Capistan and Brigadier delay pedals. The Time, Repeats and Mix controls are self-explanatory, while the type switch offers three flavors to savor that cover the digital delay gamut. Adaptive Delta Modulation is an early ‘80s one-bit coding technique that imparts a hard-edged diction to the delay line. This is great for in-the-pocket dotted eighth note percussion. 12-bit PCM adds warmth and elasticity to the repeats, which is handy for gorgeous infinite pads (while holding down the tap tempo switch) and rubbery time control tweaking. And finally, the 24-bit setting acts as a modern mirror for perfect tonal reflections. Who is the fairest of them all? All three…
Pixelated Purgatorial Bliss
With twin delay lines, one can easily start galloping into soupy sub-divisions of rhythmic atmospheric bliss. Time 2 syncs and complements the initial delay line with triplet, eighth, dotted eighth, dotted quarter and even golden ratio repeats. With some clever dialing, a huge range of time-based effects can be conjured up. For instance, with light modulation, a doubling slapback from delay time 1 and a longer eighth dialed on Time 2, it is like having a chorus pedal running through a delay. Billy Duffy’s Dreamtime tones in a box—run it in stereo and prepare for a peyote trip to an ‘80s death rock reservation.
With deep modulation and a shortened slapback on Time 1, flanging and even faux reverbs are achievable in highly fine-tunable variations. Of course, like all of Strymon’s compact pedals, there are secondary functions that are tweakable on the face of the unit when the bypass and tap switches are held down simultaneously. In the DIG, they are Delay 1 Subdivision, Sync/Free mode, Delay 2 Repeats, Config and filter. The Config runs in Series, which is like having one delay fed into another, Parallel, which keeps the two lines independent and Ping Pong, which is seriously three dimensional in stereo. The filter can roll off the glistening sheen of digital top end for some analog-like character, or shovel out the lows to differentiate from the dry signal. Both these settings are fantastic for endless circular repeats when holding down the Tap button. It is almost like having a forgivable, easily synced looper or freeze function in live performance.
What we like: The DIG will defy any accusations of sterility from the digital delay cynic. It is anything but clinical—big, clean, warm and beautiful are the only words to describe the DIG. It has more outlandish character than many analog units and a world of time-based tone on tap that spans from the days of DayGlo to the infinite. Immersive stereo settings, expression pedal control and robust, no-nonsense USA build quality is icing on this Pop Tart. It is also pretty in pink.
Concerns: There are those that would have wanted a numerical BPM display and a reverse delay setting, but that would break Strymon’s lovely analog function—digital sound processing freedom. Also, synth players will want to steal this pedal from guitarists. It can take a line level with ease.