Stompbox Fever(13)

Akai Headrush E2 and VanAmps Reverbamate
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Credit: Patrick Wong

Kudos 16-bit/44.1kHz audio. Three delay modes. Extremely flexible. Concerns Must tap in delay times. 869-8870

The Headrush E2 ($399 retail/$249 street) updates Akai’s popular Headrush E1 by improving the overall sound quality, extending the delay times, and adding a Loop Level switch. Like its predecessor, the E2 has three modes, with controls that change function depending on which mode is selected. Delay functions in the standard way, offering 0.5 to 23.8 seconds of delay, though you have to set the delay time by tapping it in rather than setting it with a knob. The frighteningly flexible Tape Echo mode emulates a vintage 4-head tape echo, providing individual outputs for each “head,” and controls for adjusting the relationships between them, as well as damping the high frequencies.

The Looping Recorder provides 23.8 seconds of loop time (11.9 with overdubs), or 35.6 seconds (17.8 with overdubs) at a reduced 29.4kHz sampling rate. The looper sounds great, it’s easy to operate, and there are several nice touches, such as a blinking LED that warns you when you’re approaching the maximum delay time—at which point the recording is automatically looped back to the beginning—and a limited “undo” function that removes all overdubs while retaining the original loop. This cool pedal is worth every penny of its very reasonable price. —Barry Cleveland

VanAmps Reverbamate

Credit: Patrick Wong

Kudos Great sounding spring reverb in a small, affordable package. Concerns You need a two channel amp to balance wet/dry signal. 529-1206

Pushing a signal through a set of springs may seem like a primitive way to obtain reverb, especially considering the considerable advancements in digital technology. But to my ears, there is nothing sweeter than the drippy, organic reverb textures that only springs can deliver. The VanAmps Reverbamate ($279 retail/street N/A), which houses an 8" Accutronics spring reverb tank inside its tweed-clad, aluminum (black, brown, and cream tolex are offered as well) enclosure, offers Dwell and Output Level controls, dual outputs (Direct and Reverb), and Reverb On/Off and Auxiliary footswitch jacks. And let me tell you right now, if you have an amp you absolutely love, but are pained by its lack of swampy reverb, prepare to be impressed.

With the Reverbamate’s outputs plugged into both channels of my 50-watt Marshall, I was blown away by the cavernous decay. From such a small tank, this is a major coup. There’s even a nice “drip” attached to each note’s attack, which is an essential part of the spring reverb experience. I was able to conjure subtle touches of wash for ambience, or rolling waves of cacophony bordering on out-of-control that were just too cool, because in my world, being able to convincingly ape Dick Dale’s “The Victor” through a Marshall is cause for celebration. Although it’s technically a pedal, the Reverbamate can get pretty crashy with overzealous stomping, so either engage the footswitch gingerly, or park the unit on top of your amp and leave it on all the time. Still, that’s a small price to pay for giving your favorite amp the coolest guitar effect of all time. —Darrin Fox