DELAY IS ESSENTIAL IN ANY GUITARIST’S sonic arsenal, whether for a simple slap or a range of ambient sounds. The Vox DelayLab ($230 street) offers delay deluxe in a solid cast-metal housing with vintage-style pointer knobs. Analog, Tape, Digital, Multi Tap, Dynamic, Dual, Modulation, Stereo, Ambient, and Reverse delay are selected via rotary switch. Pushing the Category button scrolls through three different types of each, for a total of 30 effects. The Time knob controls delay length in milliseconds, or, when the Sync button is engaged, selects subdivisions of the time tapped in with the Tap/Bank footswitch. When held down, the Tap/Bank switch scrolls through ten banks; you choose three delay presets for each bank with footswitches A, B, and C. The four footswitches also double as controls for a 28-second looper that offers reverse and trigger modes. There is no half-speed option, however you can add digital, analog, or pitch-shifted delays pre-loop.
Modifying a preset and saving it is a simple matter of turning the Time, Feedback, Tone/Speed, Intensity, and Mix knobs until the desired sound shows up, pressing the Write button, selecting the location you want, and then hitting Write again.
Testing the DelayLab with a Fernandes Stratstyle guitar and a Fender Blacktop Jazzmaster through an Egnater Rebel 30’s clean and drive channels, I found the 24-bit/48kHz sounds to be uniformly high quality. The Tape Echo setting offered rockabilly-approved slap and authentic speaker-busting runaway feedback; the bucket-brigade Analog patch fattened out solo excursions, and volume-swelled chords colored by the Ambient Space setting offered a wealth of orchestral-like pads. With the Digital delay set in Pitch mode, I could tap in subdivisions of dancing fifths or octaves.
An (optional) expression pedal increased the fun exponentially. I could program the pedal to control any parameter—or more than one. Setting it to adjust the mix meant that the amount of wet signal could be quickly modified from song to song, or be optimized for the dryness of the room. I could also use it to fade the looper, control runaway feedback effects, or go from a short wet delay to a longer dryer one, without switching patches.
The DelayLab buffered my sound, resulting in direct and delay signals that were clear but warm. The tone control also worked well for rolling off highs, to keep repeats from stepping on my original signal.
I kept looking for a flaw, but manual aside, I couldn’t find one. Within its parameters and price, the DelayLab deals beautifully in delay, offering a brilliant palette of ambient colors. Add optional battery operation, the ability to employ any standard 9V 200mA adaptor, and actually usable factory presets, and the DelayLab pedal rates an Editors’ Pick Award.
KUDOS A great-sounding panoply of programmable standard and exotic delays. Easy to use. Reasonably priced.