Review: Pigtronix Echolution 2 Ultra Pro

The original Pigtronix Echolution delay pedal introduced in 2009 had eight knobs, ten mini-toggle switches, and three footswitches.
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The original Pigtronix Echolution delay pedal introduced in 2009 had eight knobs, ten mini-toggle switches, and three footswitches. It could do things that other delays couldn’t, and all those switches and knobs allowed you to do many of those things on the fly—but it wasn’t possible to save the resulting settings as presets. Subsequent versions of the Echolution retained most of what made it so cool, while revamping the control layout and adding new features, including presets. The Echolution 2 Ultra Pro ($449 street) continues that evolution and quite possibly completes it—as it is difficult to imagine many ways in which this pedal could be improved upon. For starters, it is jam-packed with enough features and control capabilities to make your head spin, yet its user interface is so intelligently designed that you will likely be spared that indignity.

The pedal’s true stereo inputs and outputs accept both instrument-level and line-level signals, allowing it be to connected to just about anything. There are also MIDI In and MIDI Out connectors, as well as a USB port for interfacing with a Mac or PC, and jacks for an optional expression pedal and the optional E2R Remote Switch ($49 street), which provides additional preset loading capabilities and direct access to the Jump (multi-octave shift) and Freeze (looping) functions.

Even more significant than its robust feature set and intuitive interface is the Echolution 2’s remarkably luscious sound. The pedal’s dry signal path is entirely analog, and analog filtering and saturation stages impart analog-like warmth to the sound of the 24-bit multi-tap digital delay line. That delay line also behaves much like an analog delay or tape echo when you manipulate its controls. For example, turning the Time knob produces a clean smear from one delay time to the next, rather than unmusical noise. The interface makes good use of the pedal’s available surface space. Although there are numerous deeper functions accessed by pushing and holding one or more buttons, for the most part the Echolution 2’s parameters are in plain view and easily accessible. For example, to select one of the eight modulation waveforms you just push a button and the six LEDs in a small display combine in various ways to indicate your choice. Locating the footswitches on the far corners of the pedal, where they are easy to press without inadvertently stomping on something else, is also a sage touch.

My only gripe with the interface is that preset names are not displayed, and neither are delay times and tempo rates. Most other delays in the same price range at least display recognizable abbreviations of preset names, which serve as mnemonics and are considerably more useful than numbers. The preset number display is also relatively small and located in close proximity to two knobs, which could present viewing problems onstage—especially outdoors in bright sunlight. The good news is that there are also no edit windows with menus and lists of parameters to navigate.

Delay times range from ten milliseconds to ten seconds. The Time control may be assigned to one of three ranges—Short, Medium, and Long—by pressing a button. A second button puts that delay into Pong or Halo modes, the former available only during stereo operation for obvious reasons, and the latter being a classic pitch-shifted delay effect (also sometimes called Shimmer). Similarly, the Taps button cycles through five delay tap options, using either the tap tempo rate or the delay time as the base; for example 3/4 of the tempo/rate, 2/3, 1/2, etc. A long press locks in the first selection and allows you to combine it with a second, creating syncopated rhythmic effects, including some reminiscent of those produced by vintage multi-head tape echo machines.

It would take the remaining space in this review to simply list all of the Echolution 2’s additional features, much less describe them, but they include eight modulation waveforms, eight filter modes, independent pitch shifting for the two delay taps, five key parameters that may be controlled with an expression pedal or an onboard envelope filter, multiple bypass modes, reverse and ducking delays, and near total MIDI control. And that’s not to mention the semi-hidden features and an entire layer of “Advanced Boot Options.”

I tested the Echolution 2 in mono between several guitars and an amp, in stereo mode between my pedalboard’s stereo outs and a Fractal Audio Axe-Fx, and as an “outboard processor” in my studio (via a Universal Audio Apollo Quad interface). Although it sounded quite good and surprisingly uncompromised in mono, its sonic splendor was only fully revealed in stereo. The Echolution 2’s great-sounding presets are quite varied and at the very least serve as good starting points for programming your own sounds—but even though there are 60 of them, they only hint at the Echolution 2’s vast capabilities. Suffice to say that the delays are spectacular, with the Taps options offering lots of musically useful possibilities. The reverse delay, too, is quite impressive. Ditto for the modulation and filter effects.

It is the more oddball stuff, however, that really puts this pedal over the top. Comb and sweep filtering, square-wave and sample & hold modulation, multi-octave-jump and bit-crusher delays, LFO sync to external sources, and the ability to control several “action” parameters with an envelope filter all contribute additional quirk to its coolness. Personally, I also really appreciated the Echolution 2’s ability to effectively simulate old-school tape looping (think Terry Riley, Brian Eno, and Robert Fripp), where the loop content gradually fades out gracefully as new layers are added.

Note that Pigtronix also offers a free app for PC/Mac that makes programming the Echolution 2 even easier (and does include preset names, delay times, and tempo rates), as well as handling utilitarian tasks such as preset management. Another big winner from the cadre of mad scientists at Pigtronix, the Echolution 2 Ultra Pro earns an Editors’ Pick Award.

Kudos Frighteningly flexible. Superb sound. Intuitive interface.
Concerns Preset names and tempo rate/delay times not displayed.
Contact pigtronix.com

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