The 1990s: MN3005 bucket brigade chip
While it was the ‘70s that originally saw the introduction of the MN3005 bucket brigade chip, it wasn’t until the digital delay boom of the late ‘80s that manufacturers realized that some folks preferred the dirty, murky repeats that only analog devices can offer. Even throngs of engineers with large budgets failed to come up with thoroughly convincing analog modes on digital boxes—if the heart wasn’t there, the sound would never be. The ‘90s saw reissues of the Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man, complete with two MN3005s. Unfortunately, due to surging sales, counterfeits were covertly introduced into the market that look identical to the originals. The last remaining stalwarts of MN3005 usage have been subtly phased out—the Diamond Memory Lane 2, Moog MF-104 and Ibanez AD-9 have fallen victim to the MN3005 drought. Most companies currently producing analog delays opt for other, more inexpensive bucket-brigade options.
The 2000s: Princeton Technology Corp PT2399 delay IC
The PT2399 isn’t so much a chip that was everywhere (even though it is) so much as it represented the boutique pedal boom of that decade. While some boutique pedal manufacturers were in full swing at the turn of the century, they were largely limited to mods and dirt boxes. However, when PTC released the 2399 chip, the boutique world feasted on it. The 2399 is an all-in-one digital delay device—the datasheet for it even includes a schematic for a rudimentary digital delay centered around the chip. In fact, only 23 extra components are needed to build the suggested delay. The implementation of the PT2399 chip expanded to include other effect types—you can find them in reverbs, EarthQuaker’s Sea Machine, the Mid-Fi Clari(not) and many, many others. This simple chip vastly expanded the repertoire of boutique manufacturers everywhere.
The 2010s: Spin Semiconductor FV-1
The Spin FV-1 does today for effects what the PT2399 did for builders a decade prior. For the price of around $15–20 a chip, plus the cost of a development kit, boutique manufacturers can create incredible effects like never before. Pedals like the Mr. Black Supermoon and Dr. Scientist BitQuest utilize the FV-1’s capabilities with amazing results. The ROM programs on the chip include Chorus, Flange, Tremolo, pitch effects and reverb—all with an incredible amount of control available for end-users. The BitQuest is housed inside a 125B enclosure (think EarthQuaker Hoof or Dr. Scientist Elements) and contains a rotary to switch between eight different modes, fully exhausting the FV-1’s features. Due to its powerful core and programmability, the FV-1 will surely be a staple of effects yet to come.