Smart People Factory I-5

Pitched as a one-second digital delay that employs “analog-style-filtering” to cop the sound of vintage tape and analog delay units, the I-5 ($250 retail/$199 street) is not intended for those seeking pristine repeats.
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Along with the usual Mix, Repeat, and Time controls, there’s a Warm knob that filters out high frequencies. The I-5 also has an expression pedal jack (for controlling delay time), and Send and Return jacks for inserting other effects into the delay loop. The pedal features true-bypass switching, and is powered with a 9-volt battery or a standard adapter.

The I-5 sounded good when set for short delays, but the longer delays were indistinct and noisy. There was little of the characteristic fatness associated with tape (which goes beyond simply filtering out the highs), and audible hiss was appreciable. The manual suggests turning the Warm control all the way up to compensate for noise when using long delays, but the extremely muffled sound that resulted was not very inspiring or musical. There was also a noticeable po when the footswitch was engaged. [SPF says the pop will go away when the switch is broken in.] Connecting an expression pedal to the I-5 (for controlling delay time) produced motorboating sounds, and inserting a fuzz into the effects loop produced equally unpredictable results, sending the unit into runaway self-oscillation on some settings (though it also produced some impressive Outer Limits sounds). The I-5 is not a conventional delay pedal, and it’s not for the faint of heart. If you are looking for a unique pedal that can emit wild and often nasty sounds, however, there’s lots of potential here.