Gear Review: Tonetuga FX Delphine Dual Delay

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Sometimes an idea is so simple and brilliant you wonder when you see and hear it, why somebody hasn’t done it before. Sure, there have been a few dual delays in the last several years but an analog-voiced dual delay with separate preamps and modulation on each channel, which can also be stacked?  Behold, the Delphine Dual Delay from Tonetuga FX.

I had the original iteration of the Delphine, which was great enough as it was, but Mike at Tonetuga FX has made some tweaks to the circuit for even more flexibility and delay goodness for this latest batch, available at his website and selected dealers right now. I went out and bought it again as I gave my original pedal to my nephew (i.e., he borrowed it and it ain’t coming back).

The Delphine is intended to simulate the classic tape echo machines from the classic era of rock n’ roll. It has two completely independent delay sections, which have their own separate modulation and preamp sections. This allows you to set one delay with potentially aggressive modulation and preamp choices and the second delay with just a hint of grit and much slower and wider modulation and of course, you can select both at once to run in parallel to create even more unique tone landscapes and madness. Or perhaps, and this is where I think the unit truly shines, you can set one side for a longer delay with greater feedback and the other channel with a slapback or shorter delay and switch back and forth on the fly during a song.

The feedback circuit on this unit is really beautiful and musical by the way. You can get full oscillation past two or three o’clock but you can also turn down the mix knob and have gorgeous, floating, modulated drones underneath your playing and it’s super authentic and beautiful. The chop function is the rate of the pulse for the modulation section and the wave sets the depth and it can get pretty choppy and wobbly at its extreme.

The delay time ranges from 50ms to 600ms, which is more than enough for most players and the stacking of the channels gets into some really rhythmic and ambient territory. The real hero of these units is the separate preamp sections on each channel. The preamp is modeled on the vintage echo units employed by Jimmy Page and Eddie VanHalen among others and while it’s not 100% a clone of that famous circuit, it’s plenty great on its own and more importantly works perfectly with this unit.  So well in fact that you can crank the preamp if you wish, turn down the delay and modulation and use one channel on the Delphine as a boost but the real magic happens when you combine all the functions together with the preamp and have one channel clean and another dirty. It’s a magnificent sound.  Unity is around 9 o’clock by the way for the preamps.

This is a perfectly designed and extremely useful delay that goes way beyond what appears on the surface. It allows for endless fun and creativity.  They come in several colors which seem to be going fast but there will be another run shortly I’m told.  Check it out at the Tonetuga FX website or through one of their dealers and demos online.  Street price is around $299.00.

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