One of the most popular effects in the world of music is the use of delay. Its implementation is simple and straight forward – take the signal, double it and play the copied one back a bit behind the original one causing a very well known echo sound – but trying to control it and tweak it as you would other effects is not as easy as it might seem, at least not back then when it was first introduced. Way back when rock ‘n roll was still in its infancy, delay was purely an in studio effect that had to be done manually through a series of tape loops using analog systems that involved manually changing the speed of the echo by adjusting the length of tape. Although this setup was a bit time consuming and the constant looping of analog tapes caused problems with sound fidelity during recording, the pure natural tone of analog delay was still highly regarded.
Nowadays, digital progress has made the delay effect a much simpler process for both live and studio work, giving players the option to tweak all the little things that would have been a pain in the ass to do back in the ‘50s with just a twist of a knob and a stomp of the foot, and just as it was when music went from analog to digital, there are plenty of musicians out there that swear by the sound of the old school. For those of you out there who want the signature delay of the Memory Boy but maybe want something either a bit less expensive or something a lot more straight forward, then the Electro Harmonix Memory Toy might be exactly what you are looking for. Coming at you with the very same analog delay but with everything you need and nothing that you don’t. Read on and check out if this toy is worth your time.
This is pretty much as straight forward as an analog delay pedal can get without having to strip out any of the core functionality. You have your three control knobs and a modulation switch – no more, no less. Your Delay knob lets you control the time of the delay from 30ms up to 550ms which is exactly the same as the Memory Boy but much better than other pricier vintage delays such as the Way Huge Aqua Puss which only comes with a maximum of 300ms. The Feedback knob controls the amount of repeats you will want in your effect; give it a little and you will only get a repeat or two or crank it to its maximum to get the Memory Toy to start self oscillating (which simply means a continuous loop). And finally, we have the Blend knob which lets you change between a 100% wet signal (signal with effect), a 100% dry signal (raw with no effect) or any combination of both. Setting the Modulation toggle on will enable a slow modulation on the delay time similar to the chorus modulation of the Deluxe Memory Man. Set the MOD switch to the OFF position to disable all modulation. All in all, it’s good for added versatility. For comparison, the Memory Boy has these three knobs plus an added Depth knob and two toggle switches. The depth knob does give you a bit more control of the sound but not nearly as much as the main three already included on the Memory Toy and as far as the two extra toggles are concerned – one was absolutely useless and the other was more for quick effect changes and use of an expression pedal. All in all, cool extras on the Memory Boy but the Toy has the meat of what you need in a delay pedal for a better price.
Like other Electro Harmonix pedals, this thing is built to last. Although the pedal itself is small and very lightweight, the diecast metal used in the chassis is as good as any and should stand up well against your normal wear and tear. I haven’t had this in my collection that long so only time will tell how much mileage I will get with this pedal but if its anything like the Memory Boy, you shouldn’t have to worry about it breaking on you unless you spill water on it. This pedal offers true bypass which is always a great feature to have especially if you are looking to add this bad boy (or should I say, bad toy) in your effects chain. The Memory Toy is powered by either a 9 volt battery or an optional 9 volt ac adapter. The battery on the Memory Toy is pretty good and should last you for more than just a few gigs with normal usage so as long as you have a spare 9 volt with you, no need to worry. There is also a manual in there that reads pretty straight forward, although the Memory Toy is simple enough so that you don't actually need it.
If it sounds like this conservative approach to delay will mean a conservative amount sounds possible then put those fears to rest as the amount of rich delay tones this pedal is capable of producing is right up there with more expensive analog delays. There is honestly tons of sounds that can be had by this little pedal. It might not seem like three knobs can do so much but once you mess around with it for a little while, you’ll hear exactly what I mean. Most of the combination of settings sound great and are a breeze to control. The only sound I didn’t really find much use for (nor did my ears agree with) was the self oscillating feature that comes up when the Feedback knob is set on full blast. It can be a bit much but this feature is present in most delay pedals so some players out there must be using it in some way. You can easily attain a soft twangie slight reverb like that of rockabilly or a deep and eerie delay with plenty of character. Whether you like the big echo of arena sound or simply a little touch of reverb, the Memory Toy has you covered!
For a slightly over $100, the Memory Toy is truly an outstanding buy for anyone that just has to have true analog delay with plenty of variations in sound AND at a great price. Sure, it may not have as many settings as the Memory Man or the Memory Boy, but Electro Harmonix made sure that they kept everything that mattered most when creating the Memory Toy. If you want something with just a bit more versatility, you can unpgrade to the Memory Boy for about $25 more but with up to 550ms of delay time and the rich signature sound of an Electro Harmonix Memory pedal, the Memory Toy is definitely worth every penny and then some.