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 few times 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. So, for all of you retro effects connoisseurs looking for a bit of natural “back in the day” echoes, look no further than the MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay pedal!
Unlike digital delay pedals that have to convert a signal from analog to digital, add the effect, then convert it back before it outputs it, the Carbon Copy features a complete analog audio path that ensures your effects tone will come out rich and warm. For those of you who have yet to try out both analog and digital delays, for comparison, the difference is similar to that of a vinyl and CD – the CD will give you a cleaner mix but will be more compressed and dry while the vinyl might not be as crisp but will definitely feel much more natural. Check out the Boss DD-6 digital delay pedal and match it up against this one and you will definitely hear the difference between analog and digital.
Alright, now that we know what were playing with let’s get into some of the Carbon Copy’s best features. The first thing you’ll notice when you take this baby out of the box is the three knobs on the top – Regen, Mix and Delay– as well as a MOD button on the upper left corner along with your standard foot stomp switch. Turning the Regen knob allows you to control the amount of echoes in the effect. Add just a little bit and you sound as if your playing inside a bathroom (I’m not the only one that does it for that echo sound, am I?) while turning it up at full blast will make you sound like you’re jamming in a deep cave with plenty of reverb. Delay is essentially the time of the delay. You want a quarter of a second worth of delay? How about half a second? Anyways, the delay knob will help you out with that. The Mix knob is basically the effects volume. Turn it down and you will barely hear the effect or pump it up and get tons of delayed signals.
As far as sound goes, this baby does analog like the best. As mentioned above, the Carbon Copy will give you a natural and warmer tone with a bit of a murky feel to it when compared to digital and even features 600ms of delay time which may not sound like anything to those unfamiliar with analog but let me just tell you that 600ms is outstanding for an analog delay pedal as most will give you about 300ms, more or less, although with digital delays you can theoretically get as much as you want – but it won’t sound like analog! The Modulation button is probably among one of the best extra features this pedal has to offer. With a click of the button, your sound will instantly get much more depth in tone and an overall spacey sort of feel, great for recreating that classic ‘60s vibe.
The build quality is pretty nice and the size is comparable to your standard single effects pedal much like the popular MXR Vintage Phase 90. It does feel a bit heavy when you hold it but the steel frame should keep those concerned about damage a bit more worry free. The Carbon Copy can be powered by either your standard AC adaptor or a 9 volt battery in case you would rather keep the plugs to a minimum.
Overall, the MXR Carbon Copy Analog delay is a solid and reliable delay pedal for a great price. Those looking to add a bit of an ambient feel with all the warm richness that analog has to offer will have a hard time finding a better pedal for the same price.
And don’t forget to check out the rest of PAL's huge effects pedal selection at a great price right here!