The delay pedal — one of the most popular effects for the guitarist — has gone through a drastic evolution since its inception. Sometimes, the manufacturer’s take on the effect is so varied that choosing the right pedal for your needs can be a real head-scratcher. Enter the Vox DelayLab.
Through the miracle of digital modeling, representatives of the great delay units are combined into the DelayLab’s quasi-vintage looking enclosure. There are also the other features guitarists will appreciate such as programmability, tap tempo and the unit’s ability to run off of battery power (6 AA). The DelayLab can also run off of external 9 volt power, meaning it can be dropped into most pedal boards without any further consideration.
The cream colored metal enclosure certainly looks and feels roadworthy. The chicken head knobs and a quartet of old-school inspired stompbox style switches complete the vibey looking package. The DelayLab has a pair of ¼” inputs to accept either a mono or stereo signal, a pair of ¼” outputs (mono/stereo), and a ¼” expression controller jack on the back panel.
The ten types of delay listed on the first rotary knob is slightly deceptive. There is also a category button which scrolls through three different models for the delay selected. For example: with the tape delay selected, the user can use the category button to select either Standard (in this case, a solid state tape echo model), Vintage (a tube tape echo) or Custom (a multi-head tape unit).
The models all sound great, by the way, with each capturing the defining characteristics (such as the tube pre-amp on the tube tape setting) of the delay they emulate. Perhaps the only disappointment is my inability to dial in the Ambience’s reverb setting to match that of my Fender Twin Reverb, though I was able to coax out some suitable substitutes to access without having to reach back to my amp.
Tempo can be dialed in or tapped with the footswitch, and fine tuned with a greater degree of accuracy. Repeats can also be selected to play on the taps, various sub-divisions, or values greater than the taps, such as the dotted quarter note effect so famously used by Albert Lee on “Country Boy At Heart.”
In many of the models, a specific aspect of their character can be exemplified and even used without the delay … sort of a cheater mode. One of the models is a modulation delay where the chorus effect is applied to repeats only. But with the delay time set on the lowest setting and the mix turned to 100 percent effect, then end result is chorused guitar. This can also be used with the phase shifter mode of the modulation delay, the saturation of the analog delay and others.
The Lab in the name summons up visions of experimentation and there’s certainly enough sounds and features in the DelayLab to give the title credence, and that’s even before diving into the looping function (up to 28 seconds in stereo). It would be easy to see George Harrison and George Martin hovering over this unit at Abbey Road and blowing minds with what they created. The DelayLab’s ease of dialing in models, tempos, repeats; along with the quality, character and variety of the sounds, makes this a first choice consideration.