Sioux Guitars’s new Dakota County Delay pedal is that rare specimen that will likely surprise some musicians. For $140, the pedal offers a tremendous value not only because of the pedal’s unusual, reassuringly solid housing, but also because the pedal offers noiseless switching, around one second or more of delay, and an all-analog signal path. For the price, it’s well worth the money.
First, a few words about the housing. Most pedal makers have figured out that pedals tend to be stepped on a lot. They have to take a lot of wear and tear. The smart makers tend to house the sensitive electronics within metal cases. Now, most of these metal cases are probably of the same strength, but every so often this reviewer comes across a housing that seems so strong, it’s worth devoting a fair amount of space to it. The Dakota County Delay is one such pedal. The pedal reminds one of a high-grade, military gadget—albeit a device that’s painted red rather than the usual olive green. Also, it’s heavy. It’s the sort of thing that could probably be thrown across a room and survive the landing (though this writer doesn’t recommend doing that). Now that’s value!
It’s a refreshing change of pace to review a delay, and one that’s as clean as the Dakota County. What the pedal offers is true analog delay warmth without any of the muddiness that lesser delays might produce. Indeed, so clean was the delayed signal that this writer imagined, at times, that he was toying with a digital delay pedal. Yet the pedal sounded too good, too warm to be digital, and the telltale turning of the delay knob produced none of the digital glitches to which contemporary ears have grown accustomed. But don’t let that be a reason to think that the Dakota County doesn’t sound good, dear readers who cringe at the mention of the “d-word.”
Although it’s true that the pedal will produce a wonderful slapback echo, it would be a shame to think that that’s all the pedal can do. Indeed, the pedal topped out at a little over one second of delay. In the higher delay settings, when the Delay knob at noon or beyond, the Dakota County will make you swear that you’re no longer in Kansas (or, Iowa, as the case might be). Playing with the Feedback knob will really demonstrate the pedal’s ability to keep a clean signal clean. As the Feedback knob approaches its maximum setting, the Dakota County will begin to feed back on itself. The delayed signal’s distribution of frequencies will shift from the “full” inputted signal to something more like a mid-range telephone effect. However, the transition was actually rather gradual, and never harsh.
Although the ability to digitally delay one’s signal by five seconds might seem like fun, the Dakota County Delay pedal offers a significant challenge to the dominance of the digital. Not only is the pedal surprisingly inexpensive, but it offers the sort of clarity and cleanness of signal that is matched, really, only by digital effects. However, in the Dakota County one won’t hear any stridency of tone or hokey glitches. Sioux Guitars’s Dakota County is truly a first-class pedal that’s built to last.
What we like: Fantastic, analog tone that the pedal’s circuitry doesn’t discolor; unusually solid and reassuring housing; extremely quiet operation. Best of all: it’s affordable!
Concerns: It would be pretty cool if the Mix knob could be adjusted so that only the delayed signal could be heard.