I’ve played a few Mr. Black pedals recently, and they all have one thing in common: they beg the player to be ready and expect the unexpected. The Tranceportal is no different. You see, Mr. Black doesn’t do ordinary; Mr. Black specializes in things outside of the mainstream. Are you looking for the latest tape delay simulation? Want another nice simple analog delay? It’s been done before, and done well—go get one of those if that’s what you need.
Instead, the Tranceportal while still simple to use being a three knob delay pedal, it is at the same time quite different. The three controls are for Level, Time and Regen (number of repeats), yet it has a delayed tone that is very unique. How so?
That’s because the Tranceportal has two other things going on at the same time: a bit of modulation to give it a more spacious, 3-D sound, and a shimmer effect that gives you almost an octave-up type feeling, for a mesmerizing, ethereal quality. Delayed notes tend to have less bass with each repeat, and more of that high-frequency shimmer that pours through.
It might be important to point out that the added modulation and shimmer are inherent throughout the delay’s range and cannot be turned off, but you can alter their effects to a degree by manipulating the three controls. If you want less shimmer, reduce the Level and Regen. Want more shimmer? Max out the Regen and Level, but make the delayed time shorter.
At its shortest delay time, the Tranceportal gives 20 milliseconds, which can give you a slapback effect like a lot of delay pedals can do, but the added shimmer does indeed give it a different quality. If you like things simple, you might even be able to use the Tranceportal for both reverb and delay.
A couple of interesting notes: While the delay time isn’t exceedingly long at 650 milliseconds, it’s sufficient and about all I need these days. The Regen control can give a lot of repeats, but never goes into self-oscillation, which sort of surprised me. And I almost wished the Level control was a mix control so I could get it 100 percent wet, with only the delayed notes coming through. Given its shimmer and modulation vibe, this would have been a cool feature to have added.
Any unique tones? How about turning everything up, all the way! Not often do I set a pedal this way and actually like it, but the Tranceportal actually sounds pretty cool at this setting. It takes over your tone, but if you’re into that sort of spacy, trance-like music, this can get you there in a heartbeat.
WHAT WE LIKE
If you’re looking for something different, something a little out of the ordinary, something that will help your creative side be, well, creative, the Tranceportal might be just the trick. Delayed notes give you that haunting, transcendental, moody type of feeling that might be just the thing for your musical style.
Not so much a concern, but the Tranceportal is obviously not a delay that will be useful for all musical genres. If you’re a blues or classic rock player, this might not be the right delay for you, but not every pedal needs to appeal to all players. Life would be boring if everything was the same, and Tranceportal ain’t boring, that’s for sure!