Vox makes a welcome return to GI's pages with, no, not one of its iconic amps, but a delay pedal which it bills as 'the ultimate delay effect'. Can Vox really take on the big guns of the FX world? We asked Tom Quayle to find out.
Vox has always been renowned for its fantastic amplifiers, defining perhaps an entire era of musical history. In recent years, though, the company has been branching out with some very well received guitars and effects products and the Vox Delay Lab is the latest high tech item to bear the company's name. Described by Vox as 'the ultimate delay effect' the Delay Lab features thirty different delay effects, including modelled vintage, tape and analogue BBD chip delays, dual and multi-tap, modulated, reverse and dynamic delays plus a fully featured looper that can be used in conjunction with the delay programs. The unit includes full stereo operation, 24bit/44.1Khz convertors, seamless patch changes/bypass and expression pedal control over all parameters, although an expression pedal is not included in the package.
Constructed from die-cast metal, the Delay Lab looks and feels like a well made product with a very attractive design and easy user interface. Vox really seems to have done its homework with regards to user friendliness and has avoided making the product overly complicated given the number of features on offer. A quick perusal of the manual is all that's required and I have no doubt that you could get off the ground by just fiddling with the Delay Lab straight out of the box, although you may miss some of the deeper and cooler features.
The upper row of dials controls all of the standard delay parameters, such as delay time, feedback and mix. The tone and speed knob controls either the delay repeats tone or the modulation speed of delays, coupled with the intensity dial to govern the amount of modulation. A small row of buttons above access synchronized delays, allowing the user to dial in delay times in either 'ms' or tempo values, assigning a sub-division to the latter for cool rhythmic effects a la 'The Edge.' Fine control over delay times is also available here as is access to each delay category with each delay type having three sub-delay types for even more sounds. Presets can also be stored here and assigned to one of the three A, B or C buttons with a series of banks providing thirty presets for the user to place sounds. This lower section of the pedal also provides access to the looper functions by way of Rec/Play/Overdub, Stop/Clear, Reverse and Trigger controls.
As I say, the construction of the Vox Delay Lab is very high quality with its attractive metal housing and brushed front panel finish. Stereo ins and outs plus a control pedal input allow for flexible operation and all the dials and knobs feel solid and responsive, giving accurate control over parameters and making sounds easy to dial in on the fly. You certainly won't begrudge the Delay Lab visually on your pedal board and even though it is on the larger side, its array of features more than makes up for its big footprint.
To test the Delay Lab, we plugged it into the effects loop of our studio amp, rather than the front, and the first impression was of an extremely quiet and pure signal path with no loss of tone or audible hiss/noise. In bypass mode there were no level drops compared to having the pedal out of the loop and no loss of high end. When engaged, the factory presets range from crystal clear digital delays to beautiful, modulated soundscapes with a huge amount of control over the sounds on offer. Vox has also included ten song presets to get users right to the most appropriate delay settings for these famous songs.
Versatile and studio quality are the two terms that spring to mind for me having used the Delay Lab. Tonally it is every bit as impressive as other high end delay pedals on the market and the array of delay options is extremely impressive given the asking price. Adding in the looper functionality with trigger and reverse functions in combination, plus the ability to use the loop function alongside the delay sounds, gives a pedal that, at this price is very hard to beat. Some professional users may miss the MIDI functions for switching presets but that would bump the price up considerably and won't be missed by the average user.
This is a great delay pedal that certainly stands out in a crowded market and delivers exceptionally high quality sounds at a bargain price. Top marks.