This one took me almost a year to experiment with and review. This is probably not the best thing to say if you want to attract manufacturers to invite you to review their, products, but I’ll say it nonetheless: this pedal almost broke me, but in a good way. Not only it sounds good, it is also fully featured, making this probably the best delay pedal in its price range (less than €100).
This little green stomp box offers 3 switchable types of delay line with adjustable modifiers, 11 delay modes, as well as the traditional REPEAT and TIME knobs for controlling the number of repeats and the time between them. The time can also be sync’ed to a TAP TEMPO, and 3 subdivisions are available by default. There is also the customary TAILS switch which allows the effect to keep going even if you choose to bypass the newer notes. The pedal works in stereo, with some modes adding an extra panning to enhance the effect.
The build quality is ok, on part with the other pedals from Behringer’s 600 series. It is much less fragile than its older siblings (like the DW400 I reviewed in the past), but is not a sturdy metal box. For a keyboard player like me, this pedal is fine, but may not take a beating from a metalhead.
Regarding the controls: there are two switches and five knobs, as well as the stomp switch which will also serve to tap in the tempo. The three knobs on the upper left side of the front panel are MIX, REPEAT and TIME and are pretty standard in delay pedals. The first one adjusts the MIX between the echo and the dry signal, the second set the number of repeats (it can repeat indefinitely) while the third one sets the time between repeats. TIME can be set to very short intervals that create almost a reverb-like effect (although sometimes with an unpleasant ringing overtone, it can also be set to very large time intervals. In this latter mode, and with the REPEAT set to max, you can even get something like a poor man’s looper out of this pedal, which allows for an acceptably large number of overdubs. You can also use the tap-tempo mode, in which case the pedal can handle some acceptably long delay times, such as quarter notes at 20 bpm. By the way, entering the TAP TEMPO mode is quite easy: just press and hold the stomp switch for 2 seconds… it is even written on the front panel! To exit, repeat the same procedure.
The 11 modes of delay range from three different subdivisions of the tempo (either set by the TIME knob or by tapping the tempo): quarter note, eight note triplets, and dotted eight notes. It also features a slap echo with very short delay times (the TIME knob can still be used to adjust the time between in this mode, but apparently, this mode changes the range of the TIME knob).
The following two modes: swell (SWL) and sweep (SWP) add amplitude and filter modulation to the echo lines, respectively. They also somehow affect the panning of the echo. For best results when using a dual-mono synth like the Volca Keys, you should consider connecting only one of the channels to INPUT A and leave INPUT B open. Like the RV600, the EM600 also has a ducking mode, where the echo lines are reduced (volume-wise) if there is audio coming from the inputs.
Two multi-tap delay modes (MULTI1 and MULTI2) produce different rhythmic patterns with the echo. I found these two very interesting for coming with new rhythmic ideas, but also a little bit too rigid to actually making the resulting echoes to be added to the finished tracks. I’d say these modes are more geared towards a composer rather than the performing musician.
Finally, there is the traditional PING-PONG mode. Again, feeding both channels of the volca (or even a stereo synth playing a patch without any panning) will kill the PING-PONG effect, and all you will hear is a straight delay. There is also a REVERSE mode, were the echoes are inverted. The NUX Time Core also had this mode, and I did not enjoyed it at all, but the implementation made by Behringer on the EM600 makes exploring this mode worthwhile, specially at low MIX levels. All these delay MODES are selected using a single knob on the upper right part of the front panel. Because they are som many, I devoted the first video of this review only to show these modes in action.
All the 11 delay modes can be used with any of the three delay type algorithms available on the pedal (TAPE, DIGITAL and ANALOGUE), giving a total of 33 delay lines. What is more, the MOD located on the lower left part of the front panel allows you to dial in additional modulation to the echo lines, giving you even more options to sculpt your sound.
The TAPE delay type does a pretty nice emulation of a tape delay, although a high fidelity one (it could have a little bit more bite in the high frequency region) It does alter the attack transients, which is an aspect of using tape usually disregarded on other tape delay emulations (specially at this price point). The MOD knob allows you to dial in some wow and flutter to the sound, making this a very interesting mode, both as an emulation of a tape delay, but also as a performance tool. Using very short times between delays, the TAPE algorithm also allows you to construct a very convincing chorus effect.
The DIGITAL delay type is not as plain as one would expect. With the MOD knob all the way to the left it behaves as a plain DIGITAL delay, but dialling in the MOD, the EM600 will add chorus to the echo repetitions. This additional chorus is very deep and expressive, and work well with any type of Electric Piano patch for that romantic late 1980’s feel. Using it at very short delay times can give a reverb-like character to the sound, although with an unpleasant ringing in the high and upper-mid frequencies.
On it’s turn, the ANALOG delay is a good emulation of a bucket brigade delay… So much so, it actually sounds strange if you try to enter large times between repeats. The MOD knob adds vibrato to the delayed signals, which again aids in creating very expressive sounds from a limited hardware set like a volca and a few pedals.
This pedal is priced in the sub-100 euro region. As I was writing this review, it was priced at about US$50 on Amazon, and £44.5 on Amazon (UK). You can also try to fetch it from E-bay with a similar price tag (and perhaps save from postage and customs if you manage to find a local dealer).