Today’s list includes echo pedals from brands like Boss, Catalinebread, Wampler, T-Rex, JHS, Keeley Electronics, Zoom, Strymon, Universal Audio, Hotone, Nux, and Harley Benton.
Thanks to the detailed rundown of the features of each pedal, you’ll be able to decide easily which unit is the best for you.
We didn’t want to leave anything out, so we’ve added something for every skill level, genre of music, and price range so that you can make the perfect choice and pick a pedal that is going to serve you for all eternity.
Certain pedals mentioned here are purely designed for delivering tape echos, while others are echo pedals that get you close to the classic tape echo sound when you play around with the controls on board.
There is also a multi-effects pedal on the list if you want to get an all-in-one unit that does everything you want and more. But before we dig deep into the topic, let’s answer a few questions.
What is tape echo/delay pedal?
A tape echo/delay pedal is designed to mimic the echo produced by vintage tape echo machines commonly found in recording studios decades ago. With the advent of modern technology, these pedals have become drastically compact and can get you extremely close to the classic tape echo sound you’re after.
The 13 Best Tape Delay & Echo Pedals 2023
1. Catalinebread Belle Epoch
When it comes to state-of-the-art effects pedals, Catalinebread is a force to be reckoned with.
Preferred by an endless list of world-renowned guitar maestros, including Paul Gilbert, Eric Johnson, Noel Gallagher, Joe Perry, and Matt Heafy, Catalinebread’s product portfolio is nothing short of impressive. From rich overdrives and punchy distortions to immersive echoes and profound reverbs, no matter what you need, Catalinebread has it.
Inspired by the Echoplex EP-3 tape delay/echo unit from the late 50s, the Belle Epoch offers all the echoey goodness of the classic unit but in a much smaller packaging. Measuring just 1.96″ x 2.36″ x 4.33″, the pedal sits nicely on your board without taking up too much space.
The Belle Epoch uses passive mixer circuitry to recreate the Echo Volume control found on the Echoplex. As the name suggests, the mix control helps set the ratio between the dry and wet signal. Turning the knob fully to the left will eliminate the effect, while moving to the right will add more of the wet signal. When working with overdriven amps and effects, it’s best to keep the mix level on the lower side.
- Rec Level
The tone or record level helps you distinguish the dry signal from the echo sound the pedal can generate. Moving the knob to the right will make the echo sound louder and distorted. Cutting back on the rec level will produce more airy and subtle echo representations. The ideal setting for the knob control can be in the 9 o’clock to noon region.
If you’re looking for the wow and flutter echo effect tape machines that can produce, the mod knob is a good place to start. Generally, keeping the knob between the 9 to 10 o’clock domain creates a gentle but realistic warbling tape sound. However, If you’re looking for a more intense pitch warble, feel free to go all the way up.
- Echo Sustain/Echo Delay
This is where all the magic happens. You can get the utmost control over the pedal’s echo generation prowess by combining these two controls. With the sustain control, you can adjust how many repeats of a dry note are heard before decay comes into play. Moving past the 12 o’clock position will get you closer to infinite repetitions. Turn the sustain up to enjoy some intense self-oscillations. With the echo delay controls, the user can adjust the delay time between 80ms and 800ms, which is a wide range to play around with till you find the sweet spot. You can even generate some echo lags here, which was a popular feature on the EP-3 echo machine.
The pedal has a quarter-inch input jack on its right and a similar quarter-inch output jack on the opposite side. The output can be sent directly to an amp unit or the next pedal in the effects chain. Also on the left is a power input for a 9v power supply sold separately.
The tape echo pedal from Belle Epoch is an affordable and compact representation of the ever-so-popular Echoplex EP-3. You’ll find a tone of controls on the pedal that will help dial in the right echo sound for the situation. The echo delay and sustain features bring the best out of the unit allowing the user to paint an elaborate echo canvas to create a thrilling experience.
When engineering a tape echo pedal, the Echoplex EP-3 is a great place to start. However, the bar has been set so high that anyone who has experienced the EP-3 will tell you how the Belle Epoch falls short in that aspect. Furthermore, it’s challenging to maintain control of the echo’s delivery if you’re not too subtle with the echo delay and sustain adjustments.
2. Wampler Faux Tape Echo V2
A lot is going on under the shiny purply exterior of this attractive-looking tape echo pedal.
The great thing about the company is that the good people at Wampler keep their ears open and have an open mind regarding customer feedback. No wonder they can deliver such tonally diverse pedals to their worldwide audience. And the game plan for the Faux Tape Echo V2 was the same.
What sets the Wampler Tape Echo apart is what’s hidden inside the rugged metallic chassis. This handmade pedal employs PT2399 delay chips which not only deliver exciting digital delay with immense clarity but also deliver the warmth of an analog dry signal which combine to make the Faux Tape Echo V2 somewhat of a hybrid pedal.
- Rate/Depth Controls
Starting from the left, the pedal has depth and delay controls. Both these controls are closely related to the modulation. Thanks to both these parameters, you can achieve modulation effects very close to classic tape echo units. The speed of the modulation can be controlled through the rate knob, while if you’re looking to enhance the intensity of the modulation, the depth knob will do just that.
- Tone/Repeat Controls
The tone knob acts like a mini equalizer. You can make tone adjustments by moving the knob to the right to brighten or darken the sound by turning the knob down. If you’re unsure how many echo representations of the played note you want, the repeat knob can help you get things right. Cutting back on the knob will reduce the number of echoes. As you move to the right, however, more echo repeats can now be heard.
- Delay/Delay Mix
These two dedicated knobs give you more control over the delayed sound. With the delay mix control, you can blend between the wet and dry signals to balance them or make one overpower the other. This can come in handy and has many applications in a live/studio setup. The delay knob is time-based and helps control the time between the echoes. You can increase this gap by turning the knob clockwise.
This is where things get interesting. Apart from the knobs, you’ll also notice a small button switch smack dab in the middle of the unit, with a strip of LEDs below it. The great thing here is that through the press of this button, you can select the echo to be heard as quarter notes, eight notes, dotted eighth notes, and even triplets, which is a dedicated feature you don’t usually see on other echo pedals.
The tape echo pedal measures 1.5″ x 3.5″ x 4.5″ inches, making it slightly wider than most single footswitch pedals. Speaking of footswitches, this one has two. The bypass switch on the right helps activate or bypass the unit, while the aptly named tap tempo button helps control the tempo of the echo depending on how quickly it is tapped. The unit’s cool tape reel graphic goes nicely with the “Tape Echo” logo. The top-mounted quarter-inch inputs and outputs and 9v-18v power input keep things nice and uncluttered on your pedal board.
Because of the precise controls on this tape echo unit from Wampler, you can shape your sound in any way fathomable. Modulation effects can be easily turned on or off, the speed and intensity can be set, and the repetitions and echo gaps can be adjusted instantly. Moreover, the subdivisions feature helps cycle between different note representations.
Since the unit has two footswitches to bypass or set the tap tempo, the pedal is a bit bulky and will take some sideways space on your pedalboard, which may or may not be a problem, depending on your setup. In addition, there are plenty of controls to work with, but even with everything turned down, the pedal does add unwanted color to your sound.
3. JHS Milkman Slap Echo/Delay
The Milkman Echo pedal is a result of a collaborative effort between the think tanks at JHS and Milkman Sound.
When Tim Marcus and Josh Scott got together to create a pedal that was unique in its abilities, the Milkman Slap Echo was born. In this oddly shaped pedal, you’ll find dual capabilities. The pedal features a slapback echo/delay and circuitry to boost your signal.
JHS has an extensive catalog of pedals. The newer three series has pedals for effects like chorus, flanger, compression, delay, distortion, fuzz, reverb, and more. The company also does artist signature pedals, from which the Paul Gilbert – PG 14 unit and Andy Timmons AT+ are some of the notable ones.
On the pedal, you’ll find a strip of knobs that control different aspects of the tone. Starting from the left, the slap control helps adjust the time between the repeats. Moving the knob to the left increases the time value, while moving it clockwise slows this value down to 240ms. Next to the slap knob is the mix control. If you want to hear more of the repetitions and less of the original signal, you can crank this knob up. Turning it the other way will lower the volume of the effect so you can hear more of the dry signal.
A very important parameter on any echo/delay pedal is the number of repeats. The repeat knob helps you control this aspect. Turning this knob down will give you fewer repeats. It is recommended to move clockwise gradually till you can find the number of repetitions you’re looking to get. Another desirable feature of the pedal is a separate tone knob so you can decide if you want to darken or brighten up your effect’s tone, depending on the situation. Finally, the last knob on the Milkman Echo/Delay is the red-colored boost knob. Simply turn it to the right to increase the volume and to the left to decrease the boost.
- Footswitches & I/Os
You’ll find dual foot switches on this unit. As you may have guessed, the slap and boost features can be activated or bypassed by pressing the dedicated and aptly labeled footswitch. The individual LEDs will light up to indicate which section is active. The pedal’s right side has a quarter-inch input jack, whereas, on the left, you’ll find a quarter-inch output. The 9V DC input can be found on the top of the device.
This offering from JHS delivers an impressive slap delay. Every little detail of the echo/delay is adjustable, thanks to the comprehensive controls on the unit. Furthermore, because of the dual functionality, you get two pedals for the price of one. You’re getting a pedal for your slap delay needs and another to boost your signal.
Because of its design, the pedal takes horizontal space to accommodate the two footswitches, which isn’t necessarily a con but needs to be considered if you own an already cluttered pedalboard. However, the Milkman Echo/Delay can effectively replace two pedals (boost and delay), so this may not be an issue.
4. Zoom MS-70CDR
We’ve all used a Zoom pedal or multi-effects unit during our guitar-playing journey.
The company has a knack for creating guitar effects-related products that embody out-of-the-box thinking and come at a highly affordable price point. Considering what is hidden inside the very compact MS-70CDR unit, you’re getting an excellent deal for your money.
One may be easily fooled into thinking that this offering from Zoom is a simple single-effect pedal with one foot switch. However, on closer inspection, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the number of effects you’re getting in a device that hardly takes any place on your board.
The Tape Echo 3 effect can be accessed through the delay effects category and is modeled after the vintage Maestro Echoplex EP-3, the gold standard through which many pedals have derived inspiration. The MS-70CDR also has a Drive Echo effect which focuses on recreating the echo sound delivered by the Line 6 M9 Tube Echo unit.
- Other Effects
This multi-stomp device has 137 effects placed in broad categories like Delay, Chorus, Reverb, and Dyn/Filtr. Some notable effects include phasers, flangers, tremolo, vibrato, auto-pan, pitch shifters, harmonizers, equalizers, noise gates, and much more. Also concealed in its rugged casing is a DSP microchip that equips the pedal with the ability to handle 32-bit floating point calculations to deliver all these complex effects.
The pedal has stereo inputs on its right. The input labeled “Mono” lets you connect your guitar/bass. The device can accommodate active and passive instruments. The pedal’s left side also has dual quarter-inch jacks, so you can record in stereo or send your outputs to different amps/speaker systems for interesting live applications.
Not only can the MS-70CDR be powered by a 9V adapter, but you can run the unit for up to 7 hours straight by using a couple of AA batteries. Furthermore, when batteries are inserted, the device will turn on automatically when a quarter-inch cable is plugged into the input. Through the power management section, the pedal can be programmed to turn off after a certain time of inactivity.
- Display and Knob Controls
The adequately sized screen does an excellent job of displaying the menus and effect parameters. Below the display are three dual-function knobs that can be pressed and rotated to control different aspects of the MS-70CDR. With the first knob, effects can be removed or rearranged in the effects chain. You can select and save patches and change patch locations through the knob in the middle. Finally, the third knob adjusts the selected parameters when a pedal is displayed on the screen.
- Footswitch & Cursor Keys
Whatever effects pedal is shown on the display can be activated or bypassed by pressing the footswitch. Pressing the footswitch for more than one second activates the built-in tuner. The tuner can be further customized by accessing the tuner menu. Neatly hiding around the switch are four rubberized cursor keys. The top and bottom cursors can be used to change the type of effect. The left and right keys can go through the various pedals in the effects chain.
With the multi-stomp MS-70CDR in your arsenal, you’ll be able to knock off a lot of the pedals on your existing pedalboard, considering the vast array of effects this single footswitch unit can so effortlessly provide. In addition, the pedal has 7 hours of functionality when powered through batteries, so you don’t need a power supply on hand.
Perhaps this pedal is a Godsend for musicians who are all about getting to the depth of things and micromanaging every tiny aspect of their sound. However, a specialist tape echo pedal may be more than sufficient for beginners and even seasoned players who don’t like going through a ton of menus to find what they need.
5. Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo
Strymon is a brand that has always impressed in the way it implements and executes its effects pedals.
With an abundance of very comprehensive pedals in its repertoire that is loaded with adjustable controls like the BigSky Reverb, Iridium Amp/Cab simulator, TimeLine multidimensional delay, Flint Tremolo, and the El Capistan dTape Echo, Styron seems to have the answer to most guitar effects related needs.
The El Capistan dTape Echo is an impressive pedal that accurately captures the tonal characteristics of physical tape echo machines from decades ago. You’ll find that the pedal not only delivers the same warmth in sound that vintage tape echo machines were famous for but also offers a boatload of modern features.
- Tape Heads & Modes
The pedal has two switches. The tape head switch helps choose between fixed, multi and single-head settings. When paired with the mode switch, three separate modes can be activated for each head at any given time.
Depending on what tape head is selected through the selector switch, the time knob helps control its delay time. If the single head is selected, the delay time will be changed, whereas, in multi and fixed settings, the tape speed can be adjusted through the time knob.
- Tape Age
The tape age mimics the wear and tear appearing on an actual tape machine over time. In essence, the tape age knob controls the bandwidth of the tape just as a physical tape’s bandwidth becomes somewhat limited after extended use. With the value turned down, an effect reminiscent of a new tape would be heard. As the knob is turned to the right, the sound becomes more aged and darker.
- Wow & Flutter
The wow & flutter effect relates to varying tape speeds. The result of speed fluctuations due to mechanical parts that result in natural modulations can be mimicked by adjusting the wow and flutter control. If you’re looking for the sound of a brand new or immaculately serviced tape machine, turning the knob counterclockwise will help achieve this. To create the sound of a machine that needs servicing, simply increase the wow and flutter value.
- Mix & Repeat
When the mix knob is turned to the left, you’ll hear 100% of the dry signal. On the other extreme, only the wet signal will be heard. Keeping the knob around the 3 o’clock mark creates a balanced (50/50) mix between the two signals. Next, the repeat knob decides how many repetitions are heard after the initial note is played. Moving the knob clockwise will increase the number of repeats till a level of infinitely saturated oscillations. The pedal also has a separate knob to add spring reverb to the overall sound.
- Footswitches & I/Os
There are two footswitches on the El Capistan dTape Echo. The left foot switch activates the tap tempo feature. Once tapped, the nearby led will blink to indicate the set tempo. The footswitch on the right bypasses or engages the pedal. The on light illuminates when the pedal is active. All the input/output options can be found on the back of the unit, starting from a low noise, high impedance quarter-inch input jack. Next to the input are two output jacks. An audio input selector switch can select mono or stereo output. Finally, the unit has a type C port to update the firmware and a 9V power port.
Experimenting with the various tape heads and modes can give several remarkable tonal results. Apart from the standard controls found on most echo pedals, the El Capistan dTape Echo has dedicated controls for tape age and wow & flutter, which open doors for unlimited possibilities. The tap tempo comes in handy for tempo setting, and an expression/midi input is a great feature.
While such detailed controls may be essential for some, there are always those who prefer the simplicity of a pedal that boasts controls at a more fundamental level. Also, measuring 1.75″ x 4″ x 4.5″, this bulky pedal will take up some space on your pedalboard. Finally, the El Capistan dTape Echo does tend to get a bit noisy in some setups.
6. Universal Audio Starlight Echo Station
This exciting pedal belongs to the family of pedals launched by Universal Audio called UAFX.
This series includes the Astra Modulation Machine, the Golden Reverberator, and the Starlight Echo Station, which we’ll discuss today. All three pedals have been kept simple and easy to operate with a user-friendly layout. The Echo Station comes in a modern appearance but packs a plethora of classic delay effects inside.
Instead of putting some standard digital plugins into a stomp box form factor, the creative people at Universal Audio went in a different direction. All the pedals in this series use a quad-core processor built from scratch after immense research to give the best value for money to musicians worldwide.
- Tape EP-III
The effects type switch helps cycle between three delay types. The Tape EP-III effectively recreates the vintage tape echo units from the 1970s. The characteristics of such classic machines come to life in the EP-III mode, including wow and flutter and splicing tape sounds. Furthermore, you can even achieve digital representation of varying echo effects generated by worn-out, used, or new tape machines.
- Analog DMM
If you’re a fan of creating intricate sci-fi sounds, mesmerizing whooshes, scintillating vibratos, and crazy chorus textures, which were a forte of the Iconic Bucket Brigade delay, switch to the Analog DMM mode of the Starlight Echo Station. The controls on board allow you to change various aspects like input gain and depth to get your delay sound right.
This is the mode where you get symmetrical mirror image delay repeats, impressive ping-pong repetitions, and shimmery modulations. The Starlight Echo station is designed to give you the ultimate control over the tone, rate, depth, feedback, and mix when in the Precision mode.
- Cooper Time Cube
A hidden feature of the pedal is that once you register the device on the Universal Audio website, you get access to another unique delay type called “Cooper Time Cube.” Dubbed the “most unique delay ever made,” the effect was designed and perfected by Duane H. Cooper and Bill Putnam back in 1971. This mode can be described as a garden hose-based delay which can be darkened or brightened by controlling the color knob.
- Delay & Feedback
The delay time can be adjusted using the delay knob. Depending on the type of delay selected, the delay time may vary. Furthermore, in some cases, the pitch may also be altered due to changes in delay time. The overall delay time the Starlight Echo Station can manage ranges from 80ms to 2500ms. The feedback control is similar to the repeat knob on some other pedals reviewed so far. So, the number of times the echo repeats can be set by adjusting the feedback knob. A remarkable feature of the pedal is that when the feedback function is turned up, you continue to hear the oscillations in the background, even when the pedal is turned off.
- Mix & Division
The mix control helps set the ratio between the original signal and the selected delay effect. The division knob is very exciting as it helps set the tempo of the repetitions based on quarter notes, dotted eighths, eighth notes, quarter plus dotted eighths, and quarter + eighths. So, you have a variety of tempos that can be set directly by turning this dial.
- Color & Mod
The color knob works differently depending on the selected delay type. When the Tape EP-III is selected, color controls the record level. In the Analog DMM setting, the input gain is affected, and in Precision mode, the tone can be adjusted through the same knob. The modulation control works similarly. The amount and rate of modulation can be adjusted depending on what you select. In the case of the Tape EP-III setting, the wow and flutter effect can be manipulated. In Analog DMM, the depth is affected, while in the Precision mode, the rate, depth, feedback, and max can be varied.
The pedal measures 2.56″ x 3.62″ by 5.55″ and weighs 1.24 lbs. The back panel has quarter-inch stereo inputs and a pair of similar seized stereo outputs. The C-type USB port helps connect the pedal to a computer so it can be registered to unlock the Cooper Time Cube effect. You can also do firmware updates this way. Lastly, the unit can be powered through the 9VDC port on the back. The pedal has two footswitches, one to switch on or bypass the unit, while the second switch can be used to set the tempo or recall a preset saved through the store switch.
If you’re looking for a professional-grade pedal that provides you with every possible recreation of vintage tape delay effects, you may not find anything better than the Starlight Echo Station. You also get ample controls to tweak the nitty gritty of your sound and get a total of 4 delay types for experimentation.
The unit has everything you’ll need to satisfy your delay needs and can be a very handy addition to your pedal board. Perhaps the only area in which the Starlight Echo Station lacks is an absence of an expression input which some players heavily rely on and thus will miss.
7. Keeley Electronics Halo – Andy Timmons Dual Echo
There’s finally a pedal that gets you the exact Andy Timmons delay sound that many aspiring musicians have grown to love.
The Dual Echo unit does what it says and delivers dual delays that mingle with each other in series to create mesmerizingly immersive sounds. The pedal is cleverly engineered so that the wealth of features can be effectively contained in the limitations of the knobs on offer.
The stompbox design of the Andy Timmons Dual Echo is quite deceiving, as one may even go so far as to say that the pedal has multi-effects capabilities. Some out-of-the-box thinking gives the Halo 4 preset banks that can be cycled through to save and recall different delay settings.
- Feedback & Alternate
The “FDBK” knob has a lot of responsibilities. You can select the number of delay repetitions by rotating it. When pressed, the pedal enters preset mode. The feedback knob is also crucial to the functionality of other knob controls, as pressing it activates the alternate function of the other knobs.
- Preset Mode
When the toggle switch below the feedback knob is moved to the right, you can access the four preset banks. The footswitches can be used to toggle through these banks. The preset lights illuminate to indicate which preset bank is selected. All the lights light up when in the 4th preset bank. Once the desired tone has been achieved by adjusting the available controls, any switch can be long-pressed to save the settings.
- Time & High Pass Filter
How soon the delay effect is offset after the dry signal is fed can be adjusted through the time knob. The pedal offers a time range of 5ms to 1500ms. When rotated while having the feedback knob pressed, the high pass filter is activated. This mode helps set the cutoff frequency. The frequency value can be set between 0Hz and 300Hz.
- Level & Saturate
The level control sets the volume of the delay so that it can cut through the mix and be heard with more clarity. When the secondary function is activated, the saturation level of the sound can be set much like the gritty feel of vintage tape delays. Furthermore, low pass filtering can be achieved when the saturation knob is turned clockwise.
- Rate & Tone
Both the rate and depth controls are related to the modulation of the delay. The modulation time or rate can be set between 0.1Hz and 10Hz. The tone knob acts as the pedal’s equalizer. The tone can be shaped anywhere between 1000Hz and 8750Hz, depending on what is required.
- Depth & Rhythm
The depth knob also has dual functionality. Its primary function is to adjust the amount of modulation. However, when combined with the feedback knob, it gives way to several rhythm options. These include quarter notes, dotted eighth, Andy Timmons Halo, bucket brigade, and tape delay settings.
The preset banks offer eight delay effects right out of the box. Also, cycling through the dual features of the knob controls reveal some exciting functions like high pass and low pass filtering, saturation controls, and a comprehensive rhythm section.
While you get eight different echo/delay effects straightaway, selecting and cycling through the banks can be daunting. It will take a while to figure out how things can be done in the least number of steps.
8. Boss RE-2 Space Echo
Boss does a great job with this Space Echo pedal in that you get two pedals for the price of one.
You can simultaneously add echo and reverb to your sound. You can also turn one of the effects entirely if need be. Furthermore, the handy carry-over feature allows you to have the echo/reverb sound linger on even after the pedal is turned off.
The pedal makes excellent use of the limited space on the interface by assigning dual functionality to most of the controls. There are three concentric knobs where the inner knob controls one parameter, and the out knob adjusts something completely different.
- Echo & Intensity
Starting from the left, the inner knobs control different aspects of the Echo. The first parameter that can be adjusted is the level or volume of the echo. As the knob is rotated to the right, the volume gets louder and cuts through the mix easily. Similarly, the neighboring echo knob controls the intensity or, in other words, the amount of feedback. As you move the knob clockwise, you’ll hear more repetitions till the echo starts to self-oscillate.
- Repeat Rate & Wow & Flutter
The tape speed or intervals between the echoes can be adjusted using the repeat rate knob. As the knob is moved clockwise, the gaps become shorter. Varying tape speeds affect the tone, as with vintage tape echo machines. Another feature borrowed from classic echo machines is wow and flutter which occurs due to friction and slippage of the tape, causing varying tape speeds. This aspect can be controlled by adjusting the outer knob.
- Reverb & Tone
The outer ring knob on the left controls the level or volume of reverb. If you wish to use reverb only, the echo knob can be turned down. The outer tone control cuts and boost frequencies to alter the sound’s tone. Moving the knob to the right will brighten the tone, while turning it the other way will enhance the bass frequencies.
This is the feature that turns the RE-2 into an exceptionally versatile pedal. The pedal allows the user to combine three tape playback heads with reverb in different combinations for some fascinating results. Modes 1 through 3 select each of the three heads individually. Mode 4 merges heads 2 and 3, while modes 5, 6, and 7 combine each head with the reverb effect separately. You can merge any two heads with reverb in modes 8, 9, and 10. Finally, the 11th mode brings together all three heads and reverb.
- Inputs & Outputs
Like most boss pedals, a pair of quarter-inch stereo inputs can be found on the pedal’s right. Here you can also find a quarter-inch port for the expression pedal. In addition, the stereo outputs can be seen on the pedal’s left. The back of the unit has an input jack to power the unit.
The RE-3 Space Echo has two pedals in one, so you can do away with the reverb and echo pedals on your current pedal board. The mode section helps deep dive into different tape heads and reverb combinations to get the best tape echo experience. The multifunctional knobs are easy to use and prevent clutter on the interface.
Although the pedal does what it says and then some, it lacks warmth in its sound. Some other alternatives from Boss that do a good job in that department are the RE-201 and RE-20 units. So, if you’re after a sound like that, check these out before buying the RE-2 model.
9. Hotone Binary Eko Multi-Mode
This compact, easy-to-use double footswitch echo/delay pedal can be a great addition to your pedal collection.
The Eko Multi-Mode uses an advanced Comprehensive Dynamic Circuit Modeling system that delivers a realistic playing experience to the user. Not only that, but the Dual DSP circuitry inside ensures that you get pristine sound from this Eko unit. The unit also has a tiny screen that displays different parameter values.
As compact as it is, it would be hard to wrap your head around the fact that you get 17 high-quality echo and delay effects, including some CDCM-based classic tones and some great Hotone originals. The pedal comes with 10 presets organized in 2 separate effects banks.
This horizontal-style pedal comes with two footswitches. The left foot switch, when pressed, turns the unit on. This is indicated by a strip of knobs lighting up. The second switch, when tapped, changes the presets in the selected bank. Switching between the two banks is also easy and can be achieved by simultaneously pressing both buttons. Pressing down the right footswitch for a second activates the tap tempo mode. The switch can now be tapped to set the tempo of the echo/delay.
- Mix Control, A & B
Starting from the far left, the first knob in the strip controls the wet/dry mix. As you rotate the knob, the display shows the percentage value of each signal relative to the other. The A and B buttons will change different aspects of the delay preset selected. Parameters like modulation and tone can be set here. The display shows the previous value of each parameter, so you know the starting point while you make adjustments.
- Feedback & Time
The feedback knob adjusts the amount of echo/delay the pedal delivers when something is played. Moving clockwise increases the feedback value. The time knob controls the delay time or the time between the repetitions. Time-based subdivisions can also be set through the time knob when the pedal is in tap tempo mode.
- Global Settings
Pressing this button opens a menu with different adjustable features that apply to the overall effects on the pedal. You can toggle between mono and stereo inputs, set the delay trail to on or off, and decide the delay time (ranging from 1,000ms to 4,000ms). You can also set the behavior of the expression pedal by setting its range and assigning different effects to it depending on the situation.
- + & – Buttons, Save & Edit
The + & – buttons are handy and help scroll through the delay types quickly. These include a vintage rack, dual echo, ping pong, sweep echo, warm echo, 999 echo, and many more. Once you’re where you want to be, you can simply press the save button to finalize the changes. Changing any preset is also a cinch, as you can press the edit/save button to enter edit mode.
The back of the unit has all the I/O options lined up neatly. There is a quarter-inch input jack and an expression pedal input next to it. On the right side is a pair of quarter-inch stereo outputs. The 9V power input sits in the center above, which is the C-type USB input to update the firmware.
This tiny pedal is excellent when it comes to sound quality. The clarity of the signal is quite amazing and sounds more analog than digital, so you don’t need to worry about unwanted artifacts. The level of detail you can assign to the connected expression pedal is also fascinating.
There are some strange issues with this one. For starters, when the pedal is turned on, the global settings are reset, so you lose all your changes from the last time. The unit also seems to be a little unpredictable with some power supplies. Both these are factors you can get around, though.
10. Keeley Electronics Magnetic Echo – Modulated Tape Echo
Keeley’s Magnetic Echo pedal creates a digital simulation of a vintage-style tape delay machine.
The pedal has been equipped with Lo-Fi delay circuitry and a filtered echo response to deliver the same kind of warmth that was made by famous classic tape echo units of years past. You can also use modulation to add the wow and flutter effect to your guitar tones.
The pedal measures around 2″ by 2.35″ by 4.41″ and weighs 0.61 lbs. Thanks to its single footswitch design, it’ll be easy to accommodate it on your pedalboard. In addition, the analog tape-style delay produced by this pedal is sure to impress the guitar player in you.
- Time & Regen
The intervals between the echo repeats can be set using the time control knob. The time value can be set anywhere between 40ms and 600ms. The regen or regeneration parameter helps control the number of echo repeats. As the knob is turned clockwise, the number of repetitions will increase to the point where infinite oscillations may occur. Shorter time and regen can create slapback echo effects which sound great with distortion.
- Level, Depth & Speed
The level control is simple but effective. You can control the volume of the delay effect through this knob. This comes in handy if you want to let the echo shine through or make it mellower so that the dry signal is heard more. Depth and speed are both modulation-related controls. You can change the intensity of the modulation on your wet signal by increasing the depth. Moving the knob fully counterclockwise, however, will eliminate the modulation. The speed knob can adjust the rate or speed of the modulation effect. Aligning it with the tempo of the song gives the best results. The modulation section can also simulate the wow and flutter of old tape units.
- Footswitch & Ports
Things are kept relatively simple in the I/O section. The pedal’s right side has a single quarter-inch input, while on the left, a quarter-inch output can be found. The top of the pedal has a 9V port for the power supply. The single foot switch powers or bypasses the unit.
The pedal’s simplicity makes things very easy, and dialing an echo tone becomes a cinch. A great feature that most pedals overlook is that the circuitry is very transparent and doesn’t add color to the sound. The modulation section is great for dialing in choruses and setting the intensity and rate relatively quickly.
Unfortunately, the pedal doesn’t have a separate input for an expression pedal which can be a deal breaker for guitar players who rely heavily on it. Secondly, the unit doesn’t offer stereo inputs/outputs, so a Boss pedal may be a better option if that is a preference for you.
11. NUX Tape Echo
Nux is slowly gaining popularity thanks to its innovative and economically priced guitar effects units.
This offering from NUX is inspired by the Roland Space Echo Delay from the 1970s, which had physical tape inside. Instruments such as guitars could be recorded on the recording head and then played back on up to three playback heads, conjuring some warm and rhythmically intricate delay effects.
The same concept has been carried over to the NUX Tape Echo unit, where you can also see the three digitally represented tape heads displayed on the screen while the pedal is operating. NUX also has a single footswitch version of the Tape Echo pedal called the Tape Core with slightly limited features.
- Time & Repeats
The pedal has two rows of controls. The time knob controls the time between the echo/delay repeats. Going clockwise will increase this interval. The repeat knob helps set the number of repetitions you’ll hear after the dry signal is fed through. You can set the pedal to just one repeat or infinite oscillations by cranking the control knob up.
- Level & Reverb (spring)
The level control lets you adjust the volume of your echo effect to separate it from the dry signal and make it more audible. Finally, a reverb knob is also available, much like the spring reverb control on the original Space Echo unit. Experimenting with the reverb can create some nice effects. As you move the knob clockwise, you’ll also hear some elements of a tape or hall reverb, which is lush and rich sounding.
- Two Band EQ
Contrary to the single-tone knob that most echo pedals talked about thus far have, the NUX version has a two-band equalizer with separate bass and treble controls. You can cut back on the treble and increase the bass if the sound is too shrill. If the tone is too dull, you can reduce the bass and add some brightness by increasing the treble.
- Display & Select Knob
The select knob is an essential control on this pedal. Much like the modes section on the Boss pedal reviewed earlier, this NUX pedal also gives you access to 7 head combinations where you can either use each head separately or try different dual head configurations. You can also turn all the heads off and hear only the reverb effect. The helpful display tells you which head combination is activated at any given time. The select knob, when pressed down for a second, activates the secondary functions of the pedal, and you get access to options like wow and flutter to change the age of the tape.
- Looper & Footswitches
The device also has a built-in looper, so you can press both footswitches to record your sound and then playback and overdub over it as you like. The left footswitch also bypasses or turns the pedal on, while the right footswitch can be used for the tape tempo feature.
Connecting the pedal to a laptop via USB will help access all the unit’s features through the Tape Echo software that comes with the NUX Tape Echo. The software puts everything on a single layer so you can select the heads, select the reverb, adjust aspects like wow and flutter separately and even change the saturation of the echo. You can also modify what the external expression pedal (if connected) does through the software.
The pedal purely focuses on delivering tape-based echoes and makes a plethora of features available that can be easily accessed directly via the pedal or through the handy tape echo software that comes with the pedal. Also hidden in the pedal are other goodies like different tape head combinations and a looper.
It’s challenging to find a con for this one. Everything is well executed, and you have plenty of controls to get everything sounding just as you want. Perhaps it could come down to preference. Some of you may go for a more straightforward unit, while others looking for all the bells and whistles would be inclined to try the Tape Echo.
12. T-Rex Tape Echo Replicator D’Luxe
Perhaps the most peculiar-looking Tape Echo pedal on the list is the Replicator D’Luxe from T-Rex.
If you’re looking for an old-school tape delay in a compact unit that can be adjusted easily on a pedalboard and has some new-age embellishments for the modern guitar player, few can compete with this outstanding tape echo unit from T-Rex. The moment you set your eyes on it, you know it’s the real deal.
By no means a delicate delay effects pedal, this rugged device has a wide array of controls to micromanage your delay sounds. Turning on the pedal will give you goosebumps as you hear the motor fire up and see the little tape reels in motion. However, the unit is nice and quiet when connected to the amp.
- On/Off & Heads Switches
The pedal has a strip at the bottom with four footswitches. You can power the unit with the on/off footswitch on the far left. The corresponding LED indicates that the device is ready to go. Next to the power switch is the footswitch that helps select the playback head. When the nearby light turns green, the longer delay head is selected. When the red light is on, the shorter delay head is selected. Finally, both heads are selected when the light is orange.
Next to the heads footswitch is the chorus switch. The amount of chorus can be dialed in through the corresponding chorus knob. The footswitch can be used to activate or deactivate the chorus feature. The chorus creates warbling and motion sounds by varying the tape speed.
- Tap Tempo
With the tap tempo switch, you can alter the speed of the reels in the tape section, which is very cool to see. Slower taps make the reels rotate slower. There’s also a delay time knob that can be turned to achieve similar results by altering the physical speed of the tape reels.
- Feedback & Delay Level
The feedback knob controls the amount or intensity of regeneration. As the value is increased, the number of repeats also increases. The delay level knob comes in handy to set the volume of the delay effect to make it subtle or louder and more audible.
- Saturate & Master Volume
Finally, the saturate knob works like an input level. Cranking it up will add more saturation or distortion to make the delay sound also break up. The master volume knob controls the pedal’s overall volume and comes in handy when merged with the saturation control. This way, you can increase the saturation and still have the overall volume at an adequate level. Similarly, you can clean up the sound and boost it by adding more volume.
- Back Panel
On the back of the pedal, you get a quarter-inch input and a single quarter-inch output. The 12VDC power input can also be found here. The back also has a kill dry switch that helps eliminate the dry signal so only the wet signal can be heard. There’s another saturation knob here that makes the delay sound grittier reminiscent of the EP-III style repeats.
If you think about the hefty price tag, you’re also getting great value for the money as the tape echoes and delays this device so accurately mimics come in a much more expensive package, that is, if you can manage to get your hands on a vintage tape machine in this day and age. Also, adding a power supply to the package is a welcome feature.
Measuring a whopping 3.15″ by 6.85″ by 6.89″, the pedal is enormous and will require you to clear up a significant amount of space to make room for it. Also, the reel motor is considerably noisy, so you can’t expect a very quiet operation regarding this Tape Echo unit. However, the loud motor doesn’t affect the sound coming through the amp.
13. Boss RE-202 Space Echo
The RE-202 Space Echo takes things further than the RE-2 echo unit reviewed earlier.
Improving on its predecessor, the RE-201, 50 years its senior, the RE-202 brings back the Tape Echo in all its glory along with a boatload of adjustable controls and multiple modes while still keeping things compact enough for your pedalboard. Delay effects can now be easily saved and recalled.
Also, with the available I/O options, you never need to worry about a situation where the 202 would fall short. The controls are laid out in an organized manner. The different modes are easy to decipher thanks to some helpful LED representations, and the multifunctional footswitches can control various aspects of the pedal.
- Saturation, Wow & Flutter
You can easily set the saturation of the delay by adjusting the saturation knob. Turning the knob to the right adds distortion to the delay, while cutting back on it keeps things relatively clean. If you’re interested in experiencing wavering of the delay occurring from varying tape speeds caused by tape slippage and resistance, the wow & flutter controls can easily manage that.
- 2 Band EQ & Reverb Volume
The good thing about the RE-202 is the presence of a two-band EQ. Not only do you get a separate treble knob to control the brightness of the tone, but you can also boost or cut the lower frequencies to make the sound darker and mellow thanks to the bass control. The reverb section of the pedal also gets a dedicated volume control which sits right next to the EQ knobs.
- Repeat Rate, Intensity & Echo Volume
The repeat rate knob changes the interval between the echo repeats. When the knob is turned clockwise, the breaks or gaps start to decrease. You’ll also be able to pick a slight change in the tone as you adjust this parameter. The intensity knob controls the amount of feedback. You can achieve trippy self-oscillations by moving the knob to the right. Finally, like the reverb control, the echo also gets a separate volume knob.
- Button Controls
Also found on the pedal is a pair of button strips. The tape button can be used to toggle between and brand-new tape machine and one that is aged. The nearby led lights up to indicate which option is selected. The input button can be used similarly to toggle between guitar and line inputs. Above this is the memory button that can be used to recall effects. You’ll also find four memory indicators here. Apart from the four memory slots on board, memories 5 through 127 can be accessed via an external Midi device.
This section is similar to the mode menu found on the more basic RE-2 unit but with a slight addition. You can now choose a combination of four heads. You can activate the first three heads individually by selecting modes 1, 2, or 3. You can choose any two or any three heads at a time. And in mode 12, you can combine all four playback heads.
Much like most Boss pedals, the RE-202 offers mono and stereo inputs. Next to these is a pair of quarter-inch outputs. You’ll also find a ctrl/exp input for the expression pedal and Midi in and out on the back panel. Finally, you can power the unit by using the input on the back and the included power supply.
A significantly improved version, the RE-202 does an excellent job of bringing truckloads of exciting tape echo-related features in a single pedal. And, of course, you also get a decent reverb on board. The 202 sounds very warm and delivers great tonal clarity. The saturation and wow, and flutter controls are very accurate.
The bulky unit measures 2.04″ by 7.55″ by 5.23″, making it difficult to add to your pedal board. Perhaps the RE-2 can be much more your cup of tea if you’re looking for a more compact version with similar features.
Harley Benton Duality
This list just wouldn’t be complete without a mention of a pedal by this insanely economical brand.
Harley Benton, the house brand of the German music manufacturer by the name of Thomann, has been turning heads for many years with its wide variety of stringed instruments, guitar effects pedals, amps, cabinets, and a lot more. What’s more, the quality is always decent, and the price tag is negligible.
Measuring 3.7″ by 1.5″ by 4.7″, this nicely crafted sky-blue unit with a white lightning bolt right down the middle has a lot to offer. At first glance, you can tell by looking at the three silver switches that several different modes are on offer. Adequately named “Duality,” this pedal has two effects in one.
- Echo Types
The lighting bolt graphic divides the pedal into two sections. On the echo side of things, there is a switch that helps select one of three echo types, i.e., Analog, Real, and Tape. As you would guess, the analog delay sounds relatively smooth and warm. The real mode sounds like a natural echo delay should sound. The tape delay takes a page out of the classic tape echo machines available in the 70s.
- Level, F.B & Time
The echo section has three adjustable parameters. The self-explanatory level knob is used to set the volume of the delay. The F.B. or feedback knob controls the intensity or repeats of the echo/delay effect. Finally, the time knob selects the interval between the delay repeats. The time can be set anywhere between 5ms and 780ms.
- Reverb Types
The pedal also offers three reverb types: Studio, Church, and Plate. In the studio setting, the reverb mimics the sound of a smaller room or studio setting. When a church is selected, it gives a more prominent/expansive hall-type feel that is smooth and natural. Finally, the plate setting sounds like the sizeable classic plate reverb units commonly used decades ago.
- Mix, Tone & Decay
The reverb section has its own set of controls. The mix controls the ratio of the dry signal versus the reverb. The tone is like an equalizer and, depending on the requirement, brightens or darkens the reverb sound. Finally, the larger decay knob controls the decay time or how long the reverb lingers on.
- Combination Switch
Here is where things get exciting. The third switch sitting in the middle of the pedal, is a combination switch. There are three options here, and some of them are unique. The first option activates echo and delay simultaneously, but the signal goes from the delay section to the reverb effect. Conversely, you can also decide to have the signal go through the reverb section first and then hit the delay effect. Finally, in the third mode, you can choose which one of the reverb or delay effect you wish to have activated. The relevantly labeled footswitches come into play here.
The Duality pedal is surprisingly versatile because you get reverb and delay effects in one pedal. Furthermore, each effect can be subdivided into three types, so the user gets much to choose from. Finally, you can decide how the signal is directed through both available effects sections which is a unique feature.
The pedal is quite exciting, thanks to the loads of variations that come with it. However, what could make the package complete would be the inclusion of an expression input. That would give the maximum control to the user. Also, having an included power supply is always an appreciated feature.
All the pedals discussed today can deliver some exceptional tape echo sounds reminiscent of classic tape echo machines from decades ago. The exciting thing is each brand’s approach to providing the best package for the target audience.
The Boss RE-202 and RE-2 units provide several tape head and reverb combinations to let your creativity run wild. The Nux Tape Echo unit has a similar approach, although the number of combinations is somewhat limited. If you’re hoping to replicate that classic Andy Timmons’s echo sound, the Keeley Halo can be a great option.
The Universal Audio Starlight, Strymon El Capistan, and Wampler Faux Tape Echo are all very versatile pedals that bring a ton of modes and subdivision settings to your pedal board. Finally, if you’re leaning towards a multi-effects unit that delivers a solid tape echo and truckloads of other effects, you can’t go wrong with the Zoom MS-70CDR.
Sultan Zafar is a guitar player from Islamabad, Pakistan. He has been playing music with various mainstream musicians for over 20 years. He is a song writer and music producer. These days he spends his time exploring different music genres and collaborating with fellow musicians on various projects. Read more..