tc electronic - Flashback X4 Delay and Looper
Typical price $250 US
[UPDATE: 3/12/13 EDITOR AVAILABLE:
Amazing internal params on the editor.
Editor modulations include: 3 CHORUS- chorus-std, adv chorus and full 6 param Tri-chorus; 3 FLANGERS - flange, adv. flange and through zero flange, and a vibrato mode modulation.
You can just turn the delay mode down and turn the pedal into a lush chorus or flanger, even a vibrato pedal or add some slight delay in the background or any level of modulation to the delays with EQ and filter adjust.
Within the editor is also an easy access kill dry switch and complete control over the 2290 dynamic delay params, assignable control and complete range of internal params to unit control knobs allow you to set the response curve and range of each knob as well as up to 3 simultaneous params to each pedal knob. You can map each knob w up to three param controls, increase a param while lowering another, limit the range or response, just amazing control options here. Internal editor high and low cut filters. The addition of this editor to customize your own personal toneprints puts this units features light years ahead of more costly units and it sounds great.
Editor is new and just out of the gate, beta testing is underway to work through the bugs and improve the documentation.
Just FYI, it does not have the ability to read or show the settings of an existing toneprint, designed to customize the pedal just for the user.
Shame the scale only goes to 5 not 10 anymore, as this is a 10 unit in every way, so we will settle for 5 stars. I cannot imagine anyone having this unit, running it through the paces and not keeping it as certainly is as good as it gets for a delay, and in my opinion better.
A superb update and extension of the smaller tc Flashback with an added modes, making 16 different delay modes, 12 selectable delay modes and 4 selectable toneprint slots. A 40sec full controllable looper, very long 7sec delay range even on analog modes, button tap tempo. This delay for the money compares with units costing twice as much and usually has more delay time and looper time then the more expensive. Compared side by side in an A/B one cannot tell a difference in the quality of the delays.
As an additional noted feature I just firmly understood on this unit- The dry input signal from your guitar or instrument is sent through the unit untouched it is not DSP ADA converted as many units tend to be wired. This no doubt helps the quality of this unit to blend with ones tones and sit more in the mix.
The tc X4 represents a flag ship delay unit, an excellent buy for the money, for the features nearly untouchable.
There is not a bad sounding delay mode on this unit, the choice is merely what suits your needs or ideas at the time. There are dirtier, low fi, and analog delays as well as the high quality 2290 modes, reverse and ping pong. Stereo ins and outs, expression pedal jack and pretty much anything one could imagine in a delay.
Tap tempo on this unit has been changed from the unique strum timing on the small unit to a more std footwitch tap temp method, why I do not know, as I though the strum method was rather unique and more real feeling.
There are loaded samples in the preset slots when new, a Eric Johnson type delay in A, B has a delicious 2290 modulated delay in ¼ and 1/8 note which does the Edge U2 thing like it used to take two units to attain, C is a more traditional delay. I tended to keep the A especially B and loaded my experiments In C.
You find yourself constantly wanting to save better and better delays. The unit pretty much inspires that as it is such a tasteful delay.
If you’re into using loopers or you want to start there hardly a better one than the X3 affords. Super long time and one is given the option of using a mode set delay on your overlays or turning the delay level all the way down and just use uncolored loop builds.
Any loaded preset in memory can be modified using the control knobs or switch mode and save it again or just leave the memory intact and use your amp loop switch to shut off the delay without having to overwrite your presets. This feature allows you to change delay settings during your play and still have the presets intact.
There is also the small switch to select more std 1/4 repeats or dotted 8ths, or both for a multi tap sound. Another small switch turns on the looper and the preset buttons change to looper controls while one can select and use any delay mode and param on the unit panel in their loops or turn the delay level in min and just record straight uncolored parts.
FYI: The bottom plate base screws are for some reason rather fragile, prone to strip and cross threading, TorX T10. Be very careful when removing to get access to the buffer switch or dry kill toggle on the bottom right of the board. Be very careful with these screws and use only the Torx head. Why they chose to use such a bad taste in plate screws after the rather ingenious large thumb screw on the smaller tone print pedals is a mystery indeed.
Be advised as well that one does not want to "stomp" on the preset switches, judging by the spring loaded design underneath, they are not gorilla proof. That being said sensible pressing, and taking care of the unit makes relative sense for anything costing $250. Despite what I would term not the greatest choice in plate screws or heavy duty switches, this is still the most featured and fun delay unit you are going to ever mess with. Sound quality is excellent and that element of tc electronics' name remains top shelf.
You can tell by the following mode descrriptions that tc seems to like appealing to the more low brow player, I found their manual to be pretty useless. I had to ask them what was the ms range on each mode, something like that should be in a manual. They came back w 6sec on all modes except slapback and did not bother to state what that as. Also the pedal is a 7sec delay range not 6, so I guess that's why they must think players are too stupid to have a public param editor. tc electronicx=genius engineering w stupid service dept. Instead of the guy answering my question about a stripped out screw, he gave me a URL to tell me what screw head they were, and the link did not work, was it too much effort to say Torx T10, much less with a rounded out head what good might that do for me? Genius engineering - idiot customer service.
BYW, exchanged the 1st unit for failed A switch, no issue w my vendor, 2nd one was fine.
What tc electronics has to say about the various modes: TAPE
Who doesn’t love the smooth sound of an old tape echo machine? The “Tape” setting makes for an overall great starting point with its mellow and “warbling” sound. TUBE
This delay type has been tweaked to sound like an old tube tape echo – much like the “Tape” setting, but with a bit more warmth.
Use this setting if you want your fans to check the stage for hidden vintage gear… SPACE
It’s hard not to like the luscious tape sound of the original Roland® Space Echo*. The “Space” setting instantly gives you rich echo sounds with a bit of Space Echo* mojo. ANALOG
This is as close as you can get to the charming nature of an old analog transistor bucket-brigade delay without buying the real thing! With every repeat you get more of that old-school “fade to grey” vibe. ANALOG W/MOD
Take a trip down Memory Lane with this rich and larger-than-life sounding delay. “Analog w/mod” will definitely spice up your sound. REVERSE
If you’ve been around for some time, you know the drill: Record a guitar part on tape. Flip the tape over. Play it back. This is a classic effect made famous by guitar legends such as Jimi Hendrix – and although it’s kind of “old school”, the reverse effect still seems to inspire people to try out new things.
Turn the FEEDBACK knob all the way down to hear only the re¬versed signal. DYNAMIC
Imagine you had someone turn up the volume of your delay pedal as soon as you stop playing for a second… and turn it down again when you resume playing.
Why not let the Flashback X4 Delay & Looper be that someone? That’s what the “Dynamic” delay type does. It’s especially useful for fast solo parts where you don’t want the delay repetitions in¬terfering with your playing. 2290
Once upon a time… (i.e., back in 1985) TC Electronic released the 2290 Dynamic Digital Delay. It set the bar for professional delays for years to come and is still held in high regard among delay en¬thusiasts.
Use the “2290” setting for the most crisp and clean delay you can imagine. This is the standard. 2290 W/MOD
Take the 2290’s pristine sound, send it through three (!) chorus pedals… et voilà. If you’re into the sound of The Edge, you don’t want to miss this setting.
Oh, and while you’re at it, try playing around with the SUBDIVISION SELECTOR Switch. SLAP
A delay type for all things country – but you can also use this for many other genres.
Use this setting to get your rockabilly on and pay homage to the rich staccato heritage of Brian Setzer, Chet Atkins and Scotty Moore, or as an alternative to reverb. LOFI
Fed up with hi-fi? Try the “Lofi” setting to get that dirty feel.
From punk to rock – play around with the knobs, but no matter what you do: It ain’t gonna sound pretty. PING PONG
Like the ball in the eponymous game, the delay repeats jump from left to right (provided you’re using both outputs for a stereo sig¬nal). The effect is really wide.
Ping Pong is a lot of fun to play around with in stereo – but it sounds great in mono, too.
Comes with 4 loaded preset slots:
Delay TonePrint by Steve Morse
Basic Delay TonePrint by Bumblefoot
Basic Delay TonePrint by Doug Aldrich
Synth Delay by James “Munky” Shaffer
Loaded preset slots:
A = an Eric Johnson type tape echo tc design
B = a superb Edge U2 2290 mod delay w 1/4. 1/8 repeats
C - a more simple basic delay
If you're like me you will keep the B one as the U2 thing is just plain fun. Pretty amazing one delay unit can render the Edge style so well.
If you're in the market for a new delay or just want a great featured and sounding unit, my opinion, this puppy is a treat. At pretty much half the going rate of a Strymon, Eventide, etc, this jewel can beat them in features like ms and time looper ability. Having heard it side by side with more expensive units, I never heard anything worth twice as much or a delay so long you forgot it was returning.
I'm building a live set up for a theatre production and am running a mic and synth from a mixer into a Digitech DL-8, also a delay & looper, and then to the Flashback. First, both pedals can receive line level inputs with no problems - the Flashback automatically adjusts itself to line level inputs. The DL-8 is a really interesting delay in that almost all the delays create dramatic modulation when you tweak the Time knob, so I use that with the Repeat turned all the way up to create sustained warbly effects. By contrast, the Flashback sounds warmer and creamier and the Time factor has much more subtle artifacts (even in Tape, Analog w/ mod and 2290 w/mod). The looper runs simultaneously with the delay (one of the main reasons I bought it), so you can record a processed riff into the loop, change the delay (say, you record first loop with Analog, and switch to Reverse), then add the next layer with Reverse effects, etc etc. I don't use the tap tempo because I'm creating more ambient soundscapes, but it's handy to have when I'm occasionally working with arpeggios and more percussive sounds. So, with two delays and loopers with different characters I've been able to do lots and lots of cool stuff.
The only downside to the Flashback in my opinion is that the buffered bypass does not work in Looper mode, so - in Delay mode, you can switch the delay off and your sound will ring out with the delay. But when you stop your loop - it's a sudden cut. Same as when you switch from Looper back to Delay mode - the loop just cuts out abruptly. I'm planning to add a cheap reverb pedal to the end of the chain to fix that.
I've tested the EHX Memory Man w/ Hazarai and the Flashback side by side for over an hour at the store before picking the Flashback. The Memory Man is a different beast sonically, and in a really cool way, but I also found it a bit harder to operate. The Flashback is SO straightforward and sounds absolutely fantastic.