All-in-one ambient pedals are a relatively new thing. I had toyed with including ones like the Mooer Ocean Machine and the Boss RV-500, but I ended up leaning more towards slightly simpler pedals which give you those lovely ambient washes when you crank up the reverb - and fill in the spaces between with elegant musical repeats generated by simultaneous delays.
The first of these I experienced were the EQD Avalanche Run and Foxpedal The Wave - which are at the more feature-rich end of the spectrum of those featured here. I only knew of Hungry Robot pedals in passing, and had never run across Quiet Theory before. Yet 2017 has seen a plethora of new entries here, possibly most notably the Wampler Ethereal and the very new Keeley Caverns V2.
Yet all of these are gorgeous in their own way, mostly around the £200 / $200 mark and some yet to hit mainstream distribution. Only ’affordable’ one here is the always dependable Mooer - EchoVerb - which though tiny, gives you just enough wash to make it all worthwhile. It cannot really compete with the larger pedals here - particularly the already highly regarded Avalanche Run and The Wave.
As always I try to cater for a variety of sizes and budgets, and there should be something for everyone here. I love the idea of ’The Wave’, but I already have a couple of significant Reverb + Delay pedals in the Boss RV-500 and the Empress EchoSystem, so for added texture I would really be looking at something smaller - I really like the Sky Fi, then ’The Wash’, then Ethereal, and finally the EchoVerb. In any case there are plenty of options out there - so take your pick!
Pedals listed alphabetically:
Of the 9 pedals featured, this is the one I would be most likely to acquire - it has very simple dial settings - Reverb | Delay | Mix | Repeat, but 3 flavours via toggle switch - Wash | Gleam | Echo and a smart momentary 'Hold' function on the footswitch. This gives you lots of variety in a most elegant format - the only improvement I could see here is to have two footswitches - one for Reverb and one for Delay - to give you more versatility for live playback, nothing really to complain about here though.
This is likely the one that popularised the Reverb + Delay format, at least in its current incarnations - lots of controls - Time | Repeats | Tone | Mix (Delay) | Expression | Decay | Mix (Reverb) | Ratio and with 3 modes - Reverse | Normal | Swell. The pedal has tap tempo and smart expression options, and really set the bar high for this format. Though for my taste I for a full-featured version I would tend more toward 'The Wave' or 'Caverns'.
This is probably my favourite pedal featured here, bar for its size. It combines 3 legendary 'dubby' tape delays - the Echorec, Space Echo and EP-3 Echoplex with dual delay options and Reverb. You have separate footswitches to activate Reverb and Delay, and a third momentary 'hold' / Wash switch. You can also fine-tune modulation on either of the delays, but not both. There are 9 dials and a modulation toggle to help to dial in a variety of tones - controls are as follows - Mix (Reverb) | Decay (Reverb) | Delay 1 | Delay 2 | Mix (Delay) | Feedback (Delay) | Rate (Modulation) | Depth (Modulation) - Modulation Del1 | Del2 | Off - then Mode : Binson Echorec | Roland Space Echo | Echoplex EP-3. The only improvement to be made here is doubling the functionality of the Wash footswitch to accommodate tap-tempo, and possibly an additional dial for subdivisions. This is a great pedal really, but has a very significant footprint and overlaps functionality I mostly have in other pedals already. The most feature-rich on this page though.
'The Valley's secret sauce as such is 'The Hollar' toggle option which only applies reverb to the delay repeats. Otherwise this is another pretty slick ambient 'wash' pedal with separate footswitches for Reverb and Delay, and dial controls for - Delay Time | Delay Repeats | Delay Level | Verb Wet Level | Verb Dry Level. It's a large pedal for sure, and possibly the real estate here is too significantly on the large side. Yes it has a fairly unique feature - but it's nearly the same size and price as the 'The Wave' while it offers a lot less.
There are two versions of the V2 Wash - one with tap-tempo footswitch and one without. The pricing is for the 'with' version which is more versatile. The V2 is significantly streamlined in terms of its now shrunken enclosure and crams in a lot of functionality for a relative compact size - making this the second most practical pedal here for me - Controls - Delay Mix | Delay Repeats | Delay Time (up to 1000ms) | 'Wash' dial | Resonance | Ripple (Modulation). The two footswitches are bypass / on and tap-tempo.
The Caverns V2 is hot off the presses, and not yet into full distribution. The graphics on the enclosure have been updated since its Summer NAMM debut. This was one of the standouts at Summer NAMM, and it's nice to see it further refined here. It has separate footswitches for activating Reverb and Delay, two toggle switches - one for type - Shimmer | Spring | Modulated and one for Modulation Rate - Light | Deep | Off, then 4 dials for Reverb - Blend | Decay | Warmth | Rate and 4 for Delay - Blend | Time | Rate | Repeats. Another great ambient pedal in a relatively compact enclosure - at that sort of size it competes well with the Avalanche Run and 'The Wash' - although each pedal has its own strengths - and you get to weigh up whether you want tap-tempo, or separate switches for Reverb and Delay.
This tiny pedal cannot fully compete with the larger alternatives on this page, it does though offer up some pretty powerful functionality in a tiny format. We have 3 dials and a toggle switch which allows you to alternatively adjust Delay and Reverb settings, there is also a button for tap-tempo. The dial functions are as follows - for Delay - Time | Feedback | Level, and for Reverb - Tone | Decay | Mix. As with most Mooer pedals - great as a backup, or if you want a very specific effect / texture and are limited for space / pedalboard real estate. Does not have a huge range of 'Wash', but you can get suitably satisfactory results if you near enough dime the Reverb Mix.
Quite an elegant Delay + Reverb pedal from a maker which is quite new to me. Here you have individual footswitches for Reverb and Delay - tapping each one 5 times in quick succession activates momentary / 'Burst' mode - 5 taps does seem excessive though! In addition you have 3 toggle switches - the top one is True Bypass | Trails, and 2 tone toggles - Bright | Medium | Dark for each of Reverb and Delay. Then 2 dials for Reverb - Mix | Delay, and 3 for Delay - Mix | Feedback | Time. As stated, an elegant pedal which does what you need it to in this context - the 5 taps for momentary function does seem to be a touch of an oddity though.
Brian had been teasing the launch of this pedal for quite a while now, and it is understandable that it's taken a while to get everything working perfectly. The pedal works nicely even with quite signifcant distortion / saturation. There are 5 dials for control - Feeback | Tone | Delay Mix | Delay | Reverb Mix along with 4-mode button selector for subdivisions. Only a single footswitch for on | Bypass, but there is also a Trails button on the side. Would have been nice to have a momentary function on the footswitch - like the Sky Fi - which puts that one slightly ahead in the pecking order. Usual high quality from Brian Wampler with lush results. This offers something slightly different to the others at this format size. As previously stated though, my RV-500 and EchoSystem have more than enough between them to take on most of what is on offer here. It largely depends how simple you want your setup to be, and how much real estate you have. All of these are viable ambient solutions. For me 'The Wave' is the most impressive, and I also like 'The Wash' and the 'Sky Fi' - the last mentioned being my most likely acquisition, although way down the current list of priorities.