The top 50 effects in the world today: Part two
Part one of our guide to the Top 50 Effects in the World Today explored 25 of the very best in overdrive, distortion, boost, fuzz and compression. This second instalment dives a little deeper, wading into territories of reverb, delay, modulation and more.
From old faithfuls like the Line 6 DL4 to newfangled favourites like the Meris Enzo, this list is brimming with potential additions for your pedalboard. Once again, in no order of merit…
Back in 1987, the Boss RV-2 became the world’s first digital reverb stompbox, and three decades later, the sixth edition of the pedal still flies the Boss flag high. Like the legendary original, the RV-6 is an affordable, unfussy compact digital ’verb that produces an impressive array of tones, with eight versatile modes on board, including a decent shimmer effect. With just three controls and the usual bomb-proof Boss build quality, the RV-6 is
the perfect digital reverb for people who want great sounds without too much hassle or tweaking.
Also try: TC Electronic Hall Of Fame, Neunaber Audio Immerse Reverberator
TC Electronic Hall Of Fame
Do you need one small form-factor pedal to cover all of your reverb needs and then some? Look no further than the Hall Of Fame from Danish pedal wizards TC Electronic. Featuring 10 different reverbs, along with TC’s innovative TonePrint system, there’s no limit to the number of algorithms the Hall Of Fame can provide. Now in its second iteration – plus a Mini version, which features one knob and is only tweakable via the TonePrint app – it’s easy to see why they nestle on so many players’ boards, and why TC Electronic have been making reverbs for film production and high-end recording studios for years.
Also try: MXR M300 Reverb, Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail
If the Hall Of Fame doesn’t quite have the amount of reverb you were looking for, then Strymon has the answer. Famed for its 12 different reverbs and 300 presets, the BigSky is the mothership of multi-faceted reverb pedals. Introduced as an updated and expanded version of Strymon’s blueSky, the BigSky provides all of the essentials you need, plus Strymon’s own formulas, sure to satisfy both enthusiasts and professionals alike. Also included are press-and-hold Infinite Sustain and Freeze functions, plus Spillover and Reverb Persist modes, which are all saveable to presets.
Also try: Empress Effects Reverb, Eventide Space
Neunaber Immerse Reverberator
Some might argue that price alone puts the likes of the BigSky and Eventide Space completely out of reach, and with good reason. Enter the Neunaber Immerse Reverberator, a compact reverb pedal with eight different modes and stereo outputs – all for under £230. Four knobs control level, time/tone, depth and varying types of modulation, and although things can get decidedly epic, you never become truly swamped. A richly atmospheric ’verb with lush modulation controls, this might be the best reverb unit available at its price point.
Also try: Eventide H9, Source Audio Ventris Dual Reverb
MXR M300 Reverb
The M300 was an instant success at Winter NAMM 2016. Featuring a simple three-knob configuration, the tone knob also allows you to cycle through six algorithms, from Plate, Spring and Room emulations to the more esoteric Mod, Epic and Pad modes. The M300’s low noise floor is also impressive, and while MXR took longer than expected to introduce a reverb to the market, it was definitely worth the wait. It’s relatively affordable, too.
Also try: Neunaber Audio Wet Stereo Reverb, Biyang RV-10
Described as “reverb and beyond”, the Eventide Space lets you explore the depths of the cosmos with 12 different reverb-and-delay combination effects, including BlackHole reverb with Gravity and Anti-Gravity features. It also covers your more rudimentary reverb needs back here on Earth, with spring, reverse and modulation types all included. This small metal box also includes over 100 presets, some of which have been generated by the likes of Justin Meldal-Johnsen and John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.). With its studio-quality reverbs based on the company’s flagship rackmount processors, there’s little chance the wonders and intricacies of Space will be unexplored for long.
Also try: Strymon BigSky, Boss RV-500
Catalinbread Belle Epoch
The Belle Epoch is effectively a digital/analogue hybrid of the famous Echoplex EP-3, and emulates it with remarkable fidelity. Catalinbread’s aim was to capture the ‘deficiencies’ of a classic tape delay that so often combine to produce unpredictable but wonderful results, and from the moment you switch it on, the results sound ‘right’. The crowning glory
is the way the Mod control emulates the wow and flutter in an authentically random and haphazard way, that leaves you in no doubt why Echoplex obsessive Eric Johnson calls this the best EP-3 recreation around today.
Also try: Jim Dunlop EP103 Echoplex Delay, Dawner Prince Boonar
Chase Bliss Audio Tonal Recall
The core of the Tonal Recall is built around a pair of reissued MN3005 bucket-brigade delay chips, resulting in an unmistakable analogue character and velvety tape-like modulation. But the digital functionality of the Tonal Recall really sets it apart – while the guitar signal remains 100 per cent analogue, the digital side means you get modern amenities such as tap tempo, optional bypass, expression control over any parameter and the ability to save presets, all while retaining thefidelity of the pedal’s classic analogue delay tones. Simply put, it offers everything you could ever dream of from an analogue delay pedal, and much more besides.
Also try: MXR Carbon Copy, Neunaber Immerse Mk II
Dawner Prince Electronics Boonar
When you’ve got the likes of John Mayer and David Gilmour putting your vintage-style echo on their pedalboards, you must be doing something right. So it is with the Boonar, crown jewel of up-and-coming Croatian boutique builder Dawner Prince. The Boonar is a digital simulation of the classic Binson Echorec multi-head drum echo, with the valves and drum replaced by FETs and DSP. But while digital recreations sometimes lack the organic nature
of an analogue device, the Boonar is endlessly fascinating, occasionally unpredictable and never less than beautiful sounding, all in a tiny footprint.
Also try: Catalinbread Belle Epoch, Jim Dunlop EP103 Echoplex Delay
Line 6 DL4
Despite being over 20 years old now, the Line 6 DL4 remains a staple of pro and amateur pedalboards the world over. Okay, so it might not be the best-looking, most reliable or most space-efficient pedal in the world by modern standards, and these days digital delay pedals have much more DSP power under the hood to model authentic-sounding repeats… but yet, there’s something amazing about this green monster. Whether it’s the ease of use,
the affordable price, the compelling sounds or the remarkably creative onboard looper, the DL4 continues to capture the imagination long after it might have been rendered obsolete.
Also try: Strymon TimeLine, Boss DD-500
MXR Carbon Copy
It seems like every year, delay pedals are constantly getting more complicated and more involved, and while for some of us that’s a great thing, many guitar players don’t need a vast array of buttons, knobs, modes and sounds – they just want a simple, great-sounding delay pedal that doesn’t require you to read the manual beforehand. And that’s
why the MXR Carbon Copy remains one of the most beloved and popular delay pedals around – with 600ms of delay time, a modulation switch and just three controls, there’s almost nothing to get between you and all the warm, lush analogue-delay sounds you want.
Also try TC Electronic Flashback, Electro-Harmonix Memory Boy
Many Strymon fans argue that the TimeLine is the best delay pedal in the world… maybe even the best of all time. That’s all subjective of course, but there’s no denying that the TimeLine has brought an unprecedented level of versatility, control and straight-up processing power to the world of floor-based effects. Utilising powerful SHARC DSP, the TimeLine delivers studio-quality sounds on your pedalboard via 12 ‘delay machines’, with a granular level of tweakability that means you may well find a use for all 200 of the user presets. A delay pedal for those who really do want everything.
Also try: Eventide TimeFactor, Line 6 DL4
Old Blood Noise Endeavors Dweller
Type: Modulated delay
It’s hard to describe exactly what the Dweller does – OBNE describes it as a ‘phase repeater’ modulation and delay, but it’s probably best just to categorise it as one of an increasing number of ‘extreme soundscaping’ pedals out there. Smashing together delay and modulation creates a whole range of curious and compelling sounds, and if you add an expression pedal to the equation, things get crazy very quickly – in a good way. Hugely inspiring.
Also try: EarthQuaker Devices Space Spiral, T-Rex Reptile
SolidGoldFX Electroman MKII
Type: Modulated delay
The second generation of SolidGoldFX’s popular oscillating delay monster takes everything people loved about the original unit and adds on even more features and functionality. The core of the Electroman MKII is a pair of cascaded delay lines which, when melded together via the mode switch, blur the lines between analogue warmth and digital spaciness. Crucially, the ‘Warp’ switch has been retained, now switchable to control just how much it sends repeats ramping up to self-oscillation for ambient textures and spatial soundscapes. With all that, plus an effects loop, true bypass and more, it’s a great choice for space cadets.
Also try: T-Rex Reptile, Seymour Duncan Andromeda
Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl MkII
While most modern chorus pedals are designed to modulate at a perfect pitch, the Warped Vinyl was designed to do something a little bit different, and a little bit more organic. As the name indicates, the Warped Vinyl was designed to emulate the sound of a warped vinyl record, with all the unpredictable chorus and vibrato effects that this entails. As is the way with Chase Bliss Audio, the combination of analogue circuitry and digital control delivers a staggering amount of flexibility and options, giving you the ability to create chorus effects that you won’t find in either a fully digital or wholly analogue design.
Also try: Walrus Audio Julia, Boss CE-5
Walrus Audio Julia
Fully analogue and packed with interesting features, the Julia is a one-stop shop for all your wobbly modulation needs. Key to the Julia’s vast selection of sonic possibilities is the fact that, unlike many combined chorus and vibrato pedals, you don’t have to choose which single effect to have on at any one time – thanks to the Dry-Chorus-Vibrato knob,
you can blend just the right amount of wet and dry signal to give you the perfect effect for your needs. All this, combined with a Lag knob that lets you set the centre-delay time that the LFO effect modulates from, makes the Julia a wonderfully musical box to have on your board.
Also try: Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl MkII, MXR M68 Uni-Vibe
The olive-drab finish, faux-old-school label maker scripts and ruggedly retro knobs give the F:13 an unmistakably vintage military vibe, and that’s not by accident – this flanger is designed to sound like “alien mojo meets military tech, circa 1958”. A flanger is, of course, the perfect pedal to take inspiration from Area 51 and in reality, what you get is an exciting and feature-packed box that includes a dynamic mode that changes the nature of the flanging effect based on playing intensity.
Also try: Keeley Bubble Tron, Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress
MXR M290 Phase 95 Mini
Part of a wave of mini-pedals to come out over the past few years, the Phase 95 takes the classic Phase 90 template, shrinks it down a bit, and adds two different toggles to channel different periods of MXR’s phasing past. For one, you can select between the standard four-stage phaser of the Phase 90 or the slightly subtler two-stage phasing of the Phase 45. The ‘script’ toggle refers to two different eras of vintage Phase 90 production. Engaging that button will remove some feedback from the mix, creating a somewhat mellower tone.
Also try: EarthQuaker Devices Grand Orbiter, MXR EVH90
Electro-Harmonix Nano POG
Since the 1960s, octave effects have been a part of the guitar wizard’s arsenal, especially when combined with fuzz – just ask Jimi Hendrix. But when EHX released the Polyphonic Octave Generator, it was manna from heaven for creative guitarists, offering four distinct octave voices to ornament the dry signal. The likes of Jack White and Nels Cline wasted no time in putting the POG to good use and since then, it’s been available in smaller and smaller packages, culminating in the Nano POG, which also sports improved tracking
and silent switching to make it an even more powerful creative tool.
Also try: DigiTech Whammy, EarthQuaker Devices Organizer
Stone Deaf Tremotron
The Tremotron is unlike any tremolo pedal you’ve seen before. With a fully analogue signal path under the hood, it also has additional digital controls, allowing two VCA-based tremolo controls to play at once (if you don’t attempt How Soon Is Now? with this pedal, you’re missing a trick). It also includes nine different waveshapes and switchable presets and a MIDI Out, too, for when you want to push your onset headache into migraine territory. It’s not cheap, and you’ll need 250mA to power it, but the Tremotron is unmatched for its versatility and innovation.
Also try Mooer Trelicopter, Fulltone Supa-Trem ST-1
Vox V847 Wah pedal
Based on the pedal built by Lester Kushner and Brad Plunkett that helped soundtrack the Summer Of Love in ’67, the reissued V847 is a lovingly created homage to the wah pedal that started it all. Updated to include a buffered input jack for smoother tone when not in operation, the V847 also features SMD resistors and a redesigned inductor for a truer replication of Vox’s vintage wah-wah tone. Despite its sub-£100 price point, this treadle is not to be sniffed at; it’s built to exact vintage specs to ensure your Hendrix or even Clyde McCoy impressions are second to none.
Also try: Vox V845, Xotic XW-1 Wah
Meris’s Enzo pedal is difficult to categorise. Is it a synth? Is it a modulation pedal? What we do know is that it sounds otherworldly. Offering mono and polyphonic synth modes for guitar, it also features an arpeggiated-synth feature and perfect tracking. With just six knobs and two switches, the Enzo also features an Alt button, providing each control with a secondary function. If that’s not enough, it also includes a six-mode filter, built-in compression, a dual delay line and tap delay, ring modulation, MIDI controls and an expression-pedal option. The Enzo isn’t so much a guitar pedal, but more an entire musical instrument in itself.
Also try: Pigtronix Mothership, Electro-Harmonix HOG
Fish and chips, lager and crisps… tremolo and reverb. It just works. Some argue it’s all any
guitar player needs in their arsenal. Strymon’s Flint provides exactly that, and then some. Based on the classic amps coming out of the Fender factory in the early 60s, Strymon’s digital processing impressively recreates the sultry throb of three great analogue tremolos. Married on the other side by three reverbs based on a 60s spring reverb, a 70s plate and the hall reverb from an 80s rack, the Strymon Flint leads the way in stompbox recreations of vintage-amp effects.
Also try: Mr Black Deluxe Plus, Fender TRE-VERB
TC Electronic Ditto
Sometimes the best things do come in the smallest packages. While you can buy much bigger and more complicated loopers, TC Electronic’s pocket-sized unit has found its way onto thousands of pedalboards because frankly, looping doesn’t get much more intuitive than this. 24-bit uncompressed audio and unlimited overdubs mean you never
have to stop playing along with yourself, while true bypass and analogue dry-through mean
that it won’t mess up your core tone.
Also try: Hotone Skyline Series Wally Looper, Pigtronix Infinity Looper
Packing reverb, delay, modulation and pitch-shifting effects into a box smaller than a CD case, the H9 offers everything that a budding effects astronaut could want. And when those sounds come direct from Eventide’s studio-quality TimeFactor, PitchFactor, ModFactor and Space units (plus the bespoke UltraTap delay), you know that you’re in for a good time. It’s not even tricky to get to grips with, as the H9’s one-knob interface makes navigation a dream. There’s also an iPad app for deep editing. One of the finest multi-effects units of all time and a go-to for professionals.
Also try: Line 6 Helix Floor, Mooer Black Truck
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