TESTED BY BARRY CLEVELAND
The Quicksilver continues Blackbox Electronics’ “everything including the kitchen sink” tradition of pedal design. In addition to offering two independent delay lines in a single stompbox, the hand-painted teal and silver Quicksilver is chockablock with knobs, jacks, and switches, all of which contribute something substantial to the pedal’s impressive feature set. Basic delay effects are easily achieved, but the Quicksilver is also capable of some fairly sophisticated sonic manipulations.
At the heart of the Quicksilver are its two high-quality digital delay circuits. Only one delay may be used at a time, but each has its own delay time knob, and there’s a footswitch for toggling between them. The Short delay covers delay times from a few milliseconds to approximately 300 milliseconds, whereas the Long delay extends out to 1.2 seconds. Connecting an optional expression pedal allows you to make on-the-fly adjustments to the delay length (without producing nasty digital zipper noises, which is itself an impressive bit of engineering). The overall sound quality is excellent, though there is some noticeable noise and fuzziness when using the longest delay settings.
Although the Quicksilver is a digital device, its fat and warm delay sound is reminiscent of vintage tape echo units and analog delay pedals—and its Tone knob provides additional flexibility, allowing you to roll off the highs on the delay repeats should you wish to emulate the very limited bandwidth of the earliest analog delay pedals.
Wobbles & Loops
Early rack-mount digital delays (such as the Lexicon PCM-42) usually included modulation circuitry that enabled them to produce flanging and chorusing effects, and a big part of the sound of tape-delay units (such as the Echoplex) is the “wow and flutter” inherent in moving tape. The Quicksilver’s Speed and Wobble controls work independently or in tandem to produce many of the same sounds, as well as borderline ring-modulation effects. Speed dials in mod rates ranging from very slow (approximately 0.5Hz) to very fast (approximately 22Hz), creating flanging/chorus effects when used with short delay times, and waves of modulation at longer delay times. The Wobble control covers a range of warble from slightly unstable to “time to replace the motor” fluctuations. Cranking up the Repeats control while modulating the signal produces some truly bizarre sounds—from comb- filters to self-oscillation—and messing with the delay time simultaneously can lead to total sonic freak-outs.
The Quicksilver’s effects loop allows you to insert additional effects before each repeat. This capability may be a tad esoteric for some users, but with a little imagination and experimentation, a nearly unlimited number of sounds and textures may be created. For example, inserting an envelope filter and adjusting the delay length to match the song tempo generated some extremely funky rhythmic accents, an aggressive compressor produced wild “squashed” delays, and a distortion pedal created shimmering layers of sustained tones.
The hand-assembled Quicksilver is more expensive than most other delay pedals—even other “boutique” models—but it produces an astonishing variety of interesting and unusual sounds that are simply not obtainable from more pedestrian stompboxes. If you only require basic echo effects, this may be more pedal than you need. But if you love vintage sounds and crave creative options, the Quicksilver could become an invaluable aid to your personal tonal alchemy.