Empress is well known for producing pedal after pedal that hits it out of the park. They have had a fantastic line of delay pedals and with the introduction of the Echosystem, the bar has been raised yet again. In a surprisingly small package, the Echosystem delivers a dizzying array of delay engines with a learning curve that is far easier that one would expect. Even if you are not in the market for a delay pedal, go find an Echosystem to try. This little machine can help open up a world of creative inspiration and sonic exploration.
External Control: MIDI/EXP
The Echosystem can be intimidating at first glance. With 12 delay engines, and mysterious knobs labeled Thing 1 and Thing 2, a novice could be put off by its potential complexity. However, after just a few minutes of use, even the intimidated novice will become comfortable with the Echosystem’s basics. Thing 1 and Thing 2 provide the biggest learning curve, as they function differently in each mode. However, their function is easy to hear and dial in in most cases, making the learning curve not difficult, but potentially long. Being that this pedal makes an almost endless pallet of sounds approachable and relatively simple to understand, it gets high marks.
The Echosystem is unquestionably one of the most versatile delays on the market. There are so many ways to use it, from the conventional to the bizzare. To add to its arsenal of sonic capabilities, the user can run the delay engines in single, dual parallel, dual serial, and left/right if you are running stereo out!
Tonal Reproduction: 4.5/5
Like many delay pedals in its class, the Echosystem can do amazing things with your sound. If you want pristine tonal reproduction, it will do that with ease. If you want to process your delayed sound to the point of insanity, that can be handle d by the Echosystem without blinking an eye.
Live application: 4/5
While this pedal can actually be inviting for even the most inexperienced pedal users, it can be difficult to manipulate on the fly. The multicolored LED’s certainly help that. Luckily, the Echosystem comes with 8 presets, allowing for recall of your favorite delays quickly. It also is smaller that you would expect, making it quite attractive in today’s space-concious world. With the use of MIDI control, this pedal could be truly astounding on stage. The ability to control its many parameters quickly and easily with MIDI control takes this pedal to the next level.
We were fortunate to have violinist Megan Shung with us as the pedal guinea pig for the Echosystem. Enjoy all of her awesome sound clips below!
Clip 1: DIGITAL - Each Mode on the Echosystem comes with three sub-modes, so we tried to create some really different types of delay here. But before going too far off the deep end, we started with some simple delay types. Above is a demonstration of one of the digital delay settings on the Echosystem
Clip 2: ANALOG - We chose a basic analog sound as well to demonstrate the difference, as digital and analog are two of the main delay classifications.
Clip 3: TAPE - The third main delay is tape delay, and the Echosystem has great quality tape delay. Note the difference in sound between these first three delay types, as they are types you will find on so many other delay pedals. As this clip goes on, the “Thing 1” switch is toggled up gradually, so see if you can spot the difference in the sound!
Clip 4: MULTI - this multi delay setting creates a really useful randomized bouncing effect when Megan uses pizzicato technique, and as she switches to arco, the effect is smoothed out.
Clip 5: DELAY/REVERB - this is a great setting that can also be used in parallel, series, or left/right with all of the other delay types. Just adding that slight bit of reverb does a WHOLE lot to her sound! This is a great example of some of the amazing bonus effects you can get purchasing a more expensive and versatile pedal. Without even having to have a reverb pedal, Megan can achieve some beautiful reverb sounds with the Echosystem alone.
Clip 6: REVERSE - The reverse delay in this clip is very low, but just the little amount that exists creates a really nice effect.
Clip7: REVERSE EX.2 - In example 2, we used the same reverse setting but continuously toggled Thing 1 and Thing 2. Interestingly enough, they added some delayed high and low harmonies, which make for a really interesting and unique delay preset.
Clip 8: STUTTER - This was easily the most interesting effect we stumbled upon in our Echosystem exploration. The stutter effect had an amazing response to some of her violin techniques, and chances are this preset would not react the same with a different wind instrument input signal. But reasons like this are why you buy such an amazing pedal. This one sound along could create an entire song!
Megan Shung, Violin - "As a larger variety of sounds become available by the increasing number of pedal companies, efficiency and space on the board is becoming a valuable asset. The Echosystem is a duel engine delay (+ more) that allows any two of its functions to be used simultaneously, a great function to save space and weight. I, a 5 foot tall girl who travels to perform constantly, get more mobility to travel with a small pedal board without sacrificing my “sound needs”.
Most FX-pedals were made for guitars, and the delay gives this strumming instrument the ability to expand and sustain its sound. The violin handles sustain and vibrations naturally, but struggles with the clarity of the attack. I have found that one of the ways to use this pedal effectively with the violin is to use it to simulate the sound of different concert halls. Classical violinists will often adjust how “wet” or “dry” they play depending on the acoustics. Few concert halls have the ability to adjust the wetness of the hall, which is adjusted based on the need of the music or instrument that is performing. For example, solo Bach violin pieces requires a decent amount of delays and echo to give the illusion of sustained chords. I was able to use the Echosystem at an intimate “dry sounding” jazz venue to create the illuision of a cathedral that Bach had envisioned the pieces to be performed in.
The Echosystem does an excellent job simulating a natural echo. Its in depth functions give the performer a tremendous amount of control to adjust for the best sound to suit the needs of the venue and speaker. Compared to Strymon’s pedals, the Echosystem has more of an organic and raw analog sound which I really like. Another favorite setting of mine is the “Whiskey”. It gives the sound of raining glitter - from a few drops to a rain storm of it. “Whiskey” Works best with pizzicato as accents or ornaments. I also really love the intuitive color coded setting design. Some may argue that having a display would improve the pedal, but I find the simpler the design easier to use. Not to mention, the pedal is asthetically beautiful and a display would clutter the simple beauty of it.
The only downside of this pedal is in order to fully incorporate what the Echosystem is capable of, you would need the ability for output stereo, meaning two channels in the house — common to ask for as a guitarist but not so much for a violinist. Perhaps that’s just a culture shift that aux instrumentalists can start to demand for :)
36+ studio quality algorithms and counting - The pedal has 12 algorithm types, all with multiple variations. For example, there are 4 different tape delays on tap.
Classic Sounds - Emulations of classic tape and analog units are available, as well as our take on these types of delay.
Easy to use and fast to dial in - All the algorithm controls are sitting on a knob in front of you, no fiddling through laborious menus.
Tap Functions - Global tap tempo as well as local tempo with lots of subdivisions are available on all modes, in addition to being able to set the delay time directly with the knob.
Low Noise signal path - Features a signal to noise ratio of >104dB and maintains an analog dry path.
Dual Delay Engines - 2 delays can be used at the same time, each with its own full set of controls and routed in serial, parallel or left/right.
Up to 35 Presets - Settings can be saved to 35 presets. With three stomp switches, accessing the presets is easy.
2 Preset Modes - Bank style or scrolling style preset modes.
True Bypass and Buffered Bypass - It can be configured to run with true bypass or buffered bypass if you want to hear trails.
Cabinet Simulator - 3 variations to choose from, perfect for recording, practicing or for gigs without an amp.
Output Transformer - Get hum-free operation when operating in stereo with two amps. Output 2 is isolated with a transformer to eliminate nasty ground loops.
High Quality Audio - 48kHz sampling, with 24 bit conversion and 32 bit internal processing.
Analog Dry Path - Dry signal is left untouched, and blended with the wet signal using VCA. (no zipper noise, hooray!)
Unsurpassed Connectivity - The Universal Control Port allows you to connect an expression pedal, external tap switch, control voltage, external audio input and MIDI - all using a standard 1/4" jack!
Advanced Configuration Menu - The Advanced configuration menu lets you configure how your delay works. Select from true or buffered bypass, 0-35 presets, MIDI configuration, Control Port(expression pedal, external tap, control voltage and MIDI) as well as which style of preset system to use, input signal pad, output transformer enable and more!
Small Size - The enclosure measures approximately 5.7" by 3.75" by 1.75", which is delightfully small when considering all the features packed into this unit.