The Prisoner should definitely be on your list of analog delays to take for a spin
Warm, clear delay sound
Makes your guitar sound bigger
Electronic pop when engaged and disengaged
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Analog delay sometimes gets pigeonholed as a compromise between the pristine, mirror-like reproduction of digital delay and the warm characterful sound of tape.
However, analog delay has secured its place in tone history, if only for the classic sound of the Electro-Harmonix Memory Man bucket-brigade delay pedal.
The Deluxe version of that effect offered the perfect combination of fidelity – just enough to not mush out when placed in front of a distorted amp – and frequency fall off to keep multiple repeats from muddying your mix.
The Prisoner BBD Analog Delay from Jacques offers some of that same ambient magic thanks to its use of high-quality N.O.S. BBD chips, which provide 0.3 seconds of hi-fi analog delay.
Cranking the delay to the full 300-odd milliseconds, turning on a few repeats, and dialing the effect level knob way up to about three o’clock hit the exact sweet spot for U2-style rhythms.
Bringing the repeats down to just one served up Albert Lee-style double-time tricks, and by dialing the delay time and level back a bit I was treated to a classic rockabilly, slap-echo.
The Prisoner’s fidelity is perfectly poised: dark enough to stay out of the way of solos when the level is low, but crisp enough to nail those rhythmic effects.
The modulation is also redolent of a coveted vintage Memory Man pedal. With the delay set very short, I enjoyed a chorus sound that was lush without sounding too ’80s.
I could raise the modulation level up as far as one o’clock for a series of different modulation characters, while a faster rate and more repeats gave me some Uni-Vibe-like throb.
I had to be careful when lengthening the delay with the modulation past nine o’clock, or the Prisoner would stray into seasick territory, but careful manipulation of the parameters gave me some of that early Bill Frisell “just the right side of nausea” tone.
Turning the Prisoner’s repeat knob all the way up will not result in runaway or even infinite repeats. However, they did last long enough to let me play with the pitch by changing the delay speed.
There was an audible click when turning the pedal on and off, loud enough to be a deal breaker if you are playing quiet gigs in small rooms or doing live studio takes, but it’s likely to be inaudible in a noisy bar situation.
While I’ve repeatedly referenced the Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man here, in fairness the Jacques Prisoner BBD Analog Delay has a sound of its own, and that sound is gorgeous.
It should definitely be on your list of analog delays to take for a spin.
- CONTROLS: Rate, mod, repeat, time, level
- EXTRAS: True bypass
- SIZE: 2 1/2” x 4 1/2” x 1 1/4”
- BUILT: European Union
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