REVIEW: Vox Time Machine Joe Satriani delay

Joe Satriani has always been a fine proponent of great-sounding delay – where would a track like ‘The Forgotten Pt. 2’ or, well, “Time Machine,” be without those haunting echos? Or, for that matter, the song “Echoes”? Satch has used all sorts of different devices to generate his delays throughout the years before designing the Time Machine with Vox. It’s part of a series of Joe Satriani effects by Vox which currently includes the Ice 9 Overdrive, Big Bad Wah, and the one that started it all, the Satchurator Distortion.

The Time Machine is a large-ish pedal (in a groovy metallic green finish with creme chickenhead knobs – cool) which may take up a decent amount of space on your pedalboard. It contains four knobs: Level, Delay Range (abbreviated to “D. Range” – geddit?), Time and Feedback, as well as a Hi-Fi/Lo-Fi switch. The D. Range control offers four (maximum) settings: 125ms, 250ms, 500ms and 1000ms, which you can fine tune with the Time control. Or you can get up to a whopping 5800ms via the Tap Tempo switch. The minimum delay time is 30ms, which makes for a cool doubling effect.

The Tap Tempo switch also doubles as a delay mode switch for those times when you need to toggle between Modern and Vintage modes. Modern is a crisp recreation of the original note, while Vintage adds subtle modulation akin to a tape-based delay. Because there are no presets to worry about, it’s a cinch to use on stage: hit the Tap Tempo switch a few times to select your delay rate, and switch from Hi-Fi to Lo-Fi by holding down the mode switch. Easy!

The Time Machine has two outputs: a regular one labelled ‘Out’ and another labelled ‘Dry.’ When you use only the Out jack, you’ll hear both the original note and the repeats through the same amp. If you use the Dry output you can send the unaffected signal straight to one amp, and just the repeats to another. This is also ideal for using the Time Machine in a parallel effects loop: just plug a ‘dummy’ cord into the Dry output, turn the Level control all the way up to full (for maximum fidelity and minimum noise), and use the effects loop’s mix control to set the effect level.

The Time Machine’s tone is very natural. In Hi-Fi mode it sounds crisp and clear, but not disturbingly so in the way that some digital pedals do. You know the kind of digital delay that works great with keyboards but sucks with guitars? Well this won’t do that. Instead it will give you spacious, cascading repeats that tail off nice and evenly. The Lo-Fi mode is noticeably darker, and is especially useful with moody clean tones, especially bridge humbuckers – the balance of trebly guitar tone and dark delay tone just works. You can also get some great Eric Johnson “Cliffs Of Dover”-style delay sounds by setting up a bunch of fast repeats in Lo-Fi and Vintage mode and feeding the Time Machine with a fuzz box. The fact that you can mix and match Hi-Fi/Lo-Fi and Vintage/Modern modes means you can conjure up some pretty unique textures.

The Time Machine is one of the easiest delay pedals to use. There are a lot of great analog delays on the market that will give you a more authentic lo-fi tone but for the most part they don’t offer the benefits of tap control or dry signal output. The Time Machine doesn’t do a million different things in terms of presets, pitch control, ducking or stereo ping-ponging, but it does what it is designed to do with exceptional ease and remarkably low noise.

[geo-out country=”Australia” note=””]Vox Joe Satriani pedals at Musician’s Friend:

Time Machine Delay

Satchurator Distortion

Ice 9 Overdrive

Big Bad Wah[/geo-out]