THE PURPLE AND GREEN ECHO MACHINE
The first thing I assumed when I laid eyes on this robust little echo box was that J. Mascis had hired some boutique pedal maker to build him a modernized Memory Man. I soon found out that Osiamo distributes a handmade boutique product line that produces original circuits under the moniker Dr. J—which is a tip of the hat to another peerless guitarist with an affinity for purple of a more hazy hue.
Osiamo is perhaps most well known for distributing the super compact and affordable mini-clones of classic circuits offered from Mooer Audio. In comparison, Dr. J has taken the build quality, ingenuity and tweakability several steps further, while similarly offering the pedalboard-friendly size and extreme value-to-tone ratio that made Mooer pedals such a hit.
Looking at the controls, it is immediately evident that the Dr. J design team addressed all the common gripes that analog delay fiends frequently harp on about. You get all five controls, including: modulation on-off toggle, speed and depth controls, which are right on the face of the pedal. For such a compact unit, the controls are really well laid out. There is plenty of space around the true bypass switch to kick it on without nudging the knobs and I love that the time control is right on the corner edge so you can do some toe-tweaking if need be. This is an archaic method that may require an MXR-style rubber knob cover, but there isn’t a tap tempo switch or expression pedal input, so you will have to get old school with this little purple monster.
DELAY LINES IN THE SHADOWPLAY
Though the aptly named Shadow Echo churns out analog-voiced repeats of the darker nature, it is still clearer to my ears than most BBD delays. Even with the slight roll-off of the high end on the delay line, the diction from your initial pick attack is still present. This deals you a proper business hand to slap back a naughty back-talking rockabilly riff on shorter time settings. Staying in the shallow end of the feedback and time settings, you can engage the modulation toggle and enjoy a subtle-to-seasick pitch vibrato that borderlines on faux-chorus.
Curiously, the speed dial slows down the LFO as you turn it clockwise, which you quickly learn thanks to the handy pulsing red eye that is synced to the wave speed. Speaking of waves, the modulation depth control can paddle you out to the surfy haunting bliss-bends of Hank Marvin and The Shadows (oh the power of subliminal suggestion), or propel your tone to a place not of mind or of taste, but of Butthole Surfing. You could easily dial in Paul Leary’s terrifying acid bathtub-verb-vibrato that he corroded craniums with on One Hundred Million People Dead.
Venturing out to calmer seas, the 750 milliseconds of delay time on tap enables ambient washes of atmosphere to silhouette your lead work. The longer delay lines won’t easily run away into self oscillation unless you dime the feedback control and dig in harder on the attack.
What we like: Considering the build-quality and tone you get for so little money, the Shadow Echo is a no-brainer for both budget-minded gear heads and professional delay addicts alike. The purple puff paint finish and ectoplasm-green ninja scroll lettering perfectly compliment what’s lurking in the tone zone.
Concerns: If you must have tap tempo, you will have to look elsewhere. I personally love the ability to get super freaky, super fast with the mod-depth, but some will be frightened off by the monsoon of modulation madness that ensues.