HI, Brian from World Music Supply here again to bring you your usual dose of guitar and gear reviews. For today’s blog, I got the chance to review two of the best delay pedals on the market today, the famous Line 6 DL4, and the up and coming VOX delay lab. Outwardly these two pedals share a lot of similar features, they have four buttons, five knobs, tap tembo buttons, tons of blinking LEDs, an expression pedal input, and more delay modes than you can shake a stick at. However when you plug them in, and really get to know them, you realize these are two wildly different beasts.
The Line 6 DL4 is probably one of the, if not the most used delay pedal on the market delay, I mean its honestly astounding how many famous guitarists carry one, two or even three of these in their rigs. Plugging one into the effects loop of our resident test amp, the Randall RT503H, it is clear why, this guy does just about everything. The tube echo tones were warm, and sensitive, giving me a very “Gilmour” like warmth and body. The tape sounds were appropriately realistic, and warbly, which I was able to control with the Tweak, and Tweez knobs. The Lo-Fi sounds were cool, and very early 80s sounding, with tons of mid range garble and garbage that was degraded, and just delightful to use, if you wanted to sound like your delay was running through a glitched out, or circuit bent pedal, although I’m sure that’s the point of adding a lo-fi setting.
The digital sounds were all crisp and pristine, with tons of delay time on hand. The stereo and ping pong were very spacious and useful, the latter of which was great for doing Brian May esc Brighton Rock style harmonies when you set it just right. The reverse delay was interesting, although a little weird to use. The rhythmic delay had a fun, U2 like feel to it that I honestly could just use for everything if I really felt the need to. Lastly lets not forget the looper function on this bad boy, as I was able to use it as just a simple phrase looper, and play lead over a rhythm part, or I could use it to build up whole songs, and beats by just drumming on the guitar, playing some bass lines with an octave pedal, and within minutes have a decent souding four piece band all from one little stomp box.
The DL4 is famous for a reason, it has seen countless stages for a reason, because it gets the job done and it doesn’t make a fuss about it. I’ve personally owned one of these for years, and I can tell you, they are amazingly road worthy; they are built like a tank. For what it is, the DL4 goes above and beyond the call of duty, and as such the DL4 receives a solid 10 out of 10.
Next up is the newcomer, the VOX delay lab, which has everything from artist and song presets to strange pitch shifting delay settings. The Delay Lab has a lot of very out there sounds in it, and it honestly feels like a slightly more out there version of the DL4, with filter sweep delays, pitch shift delays, and plenty of other song specific delay tones rather than delays that will be used on many songs, the Delay Lab feels like something you might base riffs and solos around.
Sure all of the “normal” delay sounds are there, with bucket brigade tones that are warm and fat sounding, and as someone who owns a vintage BBD equipped pedal, it is atleast as accurate as the DL4 at recreating the soft and spacious effect of a BBD pedal. The tape echoes are warbly and appropriately vintage feeling, great for everything from Pink Floyd to Elvis. The Tube tones are warm and wide sounding, with added harmonic content to the delay sound, and the digital tones are bright and punchy.
This pedal takes a quick left turn when you start really delving into it, and especially when you add the expression pedal. My favorite by far was the pitch shifter delay, as I was able to make crazy Star Trek noises, with sweeping atonal, almost ring modulator sounds. The second in line on the favorite list has to be the reverse delay, as it was very psychedelic sounding, with an almost sitar like quallity to it. For all of its weirdness, the VOX is still a great run of the mill delay pedal, but if you’re looking for a weird out there, signature type of sound to build yourself around, the VOX just might be it, which is why it receives a well earned 10 out of 10.
The VOX has a sound all its own, and a much more vintage vibe to it than the DL4, and while they have many of the same style of tones to them, they do each have their own personality and power. The Delay Lab is made to be a center piece, with tones that stand out, but also tones that are very standard on a pedal like this. For all of its power and dexterity, the Delay Lab can be a bit daunting to someone who just wants a “normal” delay pedal. The DL4 is the ultimate standard delay pedal, as it does everything you could ever want one to do, stores three different mains sounds, and if you’re anything like me, this pedal will probably remain on all night, just switching through a preset here or there, or tapping the tap tempo button once in a while, it’s a great pedal, and its clear why its so famous. The trusted friend, with everything you could ever need, or the new one with tons of weird out there sounds that you are just excited to get to try out, it might just pay off to have both on your board.