This newsletter is in honor of the new Taps pedal release! I feel really good about this pedal... not only did Taps turn out to be a really cool effect (exceeding my expectations) but it also paves the way for the next pedal releases. It does so by proving out the pedal design - the PCB, aluminum case, parts assembly, fit and finish, and even a good portion of the firmware. Man I can't wait to get going on those other effects! We do need to sell these Taps pedals to fund further pedal development so please spread the word about Taps :-)
Taps Modulated Multi-Tap Delay Echo
*Note the image above is a prototype. In the production unit, 'OUTPUT' has been renamed 'MIXER', and 'SWELL' has been renamed 'VOICE'.
HOW TAPS CAME TO BE
To be honest I wasn't particularly interested in doing the Taps pedal at first. I've heard the Echorec and while it's iconic and a cool idea, it just didn't do that much for me. I coded up the beginnings of the Taps and in the process of adding additional features, I really started to get excited about it. The Echorec rotating drum with one record head and four playback heads is a great starting point. Each of the heads can be enabled resulting in 15 combinations. It's an elegant and simple idea to create timed and rhythmic delay patterns.
Taps of course uses that idea a starting point but then DOUBLES YOUR PLEASURE ... two rotating drums with a shared record head and two sets of four playback heads that are synched up and optionally skewed in time. Send one set of taps (the playback heads) to the left channel and one set to the right. VOILA! Stereo separation, ping ponging ... it immediately proved fun and mesmerizing. And with feedback for reverberation, the stereo and even ping-pong effects persist into the echo/reverb tails.
OK good start, very promising... add some modulation features, feedback and diffusion, and filtering/overdrive and this pedal become flexible beyond what I had in mind. Did you hear the demos? Sounds range from obvious Echorec-like playback, to chorus and flanging, to reverb. Lofi and Hifi. Still or moving and warbly echos.
TAPS HI-FI DEMO
Listen to the TAPS move through 4 sets of parameters; knob settings are shown in the graphic overlay!
WHAT MAKES OLD EQUIPMENT SOUND 'GOOD'?
I, like many of you all, have been interested in what makes old equipment sound 'good'. And we all know that analog stuff isn't perfect. There's variation in timing due to warping and friction, 2nd and 3rd (and beyond) harmonics due to analog circuitry, and other random events like noise. But the Taps is all digital and while the two sets of left/right taps make for some nice stereo sounds, it's going to sound full range but perhaps too dry to some - good or bad depending on what you like.
TAPS FEATURES ADD IN ANALOG IMPERFECTIONS
That's where the other Taps features come in to the picture. The PITCH, DELAY, and VOICE effects groups were originally there to bring back some of the analog imperfections. But I realized that while they work great for that, we can also allow those knobs to mess things up beyond just 'analog warmth' to really expand the multi-tap (or multiple playhead) idea to pitch modulation, delay, and overdrive effects that are fed with this multi-tap audio. Each of those effects groups by themselves can take the original multiple-play head idea in an interesting direction, and all of those effects groups (PITCH, DELAY, and VOICE) create some new and original sounds that I've never heard before!
EFFECTS GROUPS OVERVIEW
The PITCH knobs control an LFO that modulates the positions of the left and right taps (or of the playback heads). This can be applied subtly to add that slight imperfection seen in analog equipment, to chorus and flanging, on up to full-on trippy warble and warping. The phase of the modulation between the left and right set of taps can be set from 0 degrees to 180 degrees so that left and right audio separates. And the PHASE knob moves the right taps out of phase with the left for yet another approach to creating stereo separation. Lots of delay equipment for regular delay, echos, reverb, and everything in between are analog and there's always so much good to be said about those devices.
The DELAY knobs set up the type of regenerative sounds using feedback. The DIFFUSE knob turned down maintains the distinct percussive nature of the equally spaced taps (playback heads) while lots of diffusion give the sound a mix of chorus and reverb like sound without a reverb tail. Shorter delays (especially with some modulation) result in chorus (no feedback) or flanging (moderate feedback). Feedback is controlled by the REGEN knob BTW.
Being digital, the audio may be too 'clean', so I added a VOICE section that adds saturation and low/high pass filtering to the tap (playback heads) signals ... and also to the audio that's fed back into the delay (when REGEN is used). The saturation creates both even and odd order harmonics while the filters reduce the full-range response. This gives the audio some warmth and more resemblance to yesterday's analog devices. As with all other knobs, things can be pushed to extremes. Heavy saturation and lots of lo-fi filtering is 'on-tap'. In the demo I turned those knobs up with a lot of delay and you can hear the clean signal followed by a rhythmic dirty lo-fi copy.
So there you go.
Check out Taps and as always your thoughts, feedback, concerns, etc. are welcome!
BYGONES PRO PRODUCTION UPDATE
Bygones Pro Batch 1 and 2 are in progress now and coming along swell! Unless there are unforeseen delays, we expect to begin shipping Batch 1 Pro's in late October. Batch 2 will follow in early to mid November.
REWIRE PRODUCTION UPDATE
Rewire Batch 3 is in final testing, and will start shipping out this weekend! Sales are now open for Batch 4.