REVIEW: TC Electronic Alter Ego V2 Vintage Echo

I recently checked out the TC Electronic Alter Ego X4, a vintage-vibed delay unit occupying the same footprint as the mammoth Flashback X4 Delay. That pedal offered a wealth of old-school sounds curated by US store ProGuitarShop. The Alter Ego X4 is a huge, hulking pedal that’s perfectly designed for stage use, but perhaps you don’t want a single pedal with the footprint of a lunchbox on your pedalboard. Perhaps you want a more conventional compact delay pedal that’s still packed with vintage tone. Well, my friend, meet the Alter Ego V2 Vintage EchoBuy the TC Electronic Alter Ego V2 Vintage Delay here.

alter-ego-vintage-echo-v2-perspThe Alter Ego V2 Vintage Echo is built into the same style enclosure as the Flashback Delay, Hall of Fame Reverb and other pedals that ilk. It features nine exclusive deal sounds crafted by TC Electronic and ProGuitarShop, based on specific iconic vintage delays (some of them quite rare and not usually found among the usual gang of suspects found on analog-inspired digital delays). There’s verything from sweet saturated EchoPlex-style repeats to the magnetic drum delays of the legendary Echorec, an exclusive modulated take on TC’s own 2290 delay unit and more. There’s also a TonePrint memory slot so you can download a preset via USB or smartphone (hold your phone up to your guitar’s pickups, hit a button and the preset will be sent as digital chatter through your guitar to the pedal) – or you can make your own with a desktop program on your computer. There’s also a looper mode, with 40 seconds of looping

There are four knobs: time, feedback, level and mode. And a subdivision mini-toggle lets you select quarter notes, dotted eighths or a dual delay combination of both. There are stereo inputs and outputs, so you can discreetly process a stereo signal or split a mono signal into stereo delays. This pedal has a few other tricks up its sleeve too. For example, you can use the footswitch for tap tempo if you don’t want to set it using the time knob: hold it down and play short quarter-notes in the desired tempo then release the switch: the pedal takes its tempo cues from what you just played. And like all TonePrint pedals you’re given the option of true or buffered bypass depending on your signal processing needs (by removing the back cover and accessing a little switch). The dry signal stays all-analog, and there’s another mini switch alongside the true/buffered bypass switch which lets you mute the dry sound altogether. This is handy if you’re using a parallel effect loop (so you don’t get weird phasing/delay issues) or if you’re using a wet/dry/wet effect rig.

The Alter Ego V2’s tones are incredibly warm and ‘non-digital.’ A lot of care has gone into making them as funky and distinctive as the original units they’re based on, and this means some of them will have an acceptable level of grit and growl, or warble and flutter: whatever is most appropriate for the sound being modelled. But the option of stereo operation really opens the unit up to wider experimentation than would be possible with a vintage unit. Naturally it sounds great in an effects loop whether you’re running a clean or a dirty tone, but one of the real joys of this pedal is when you plug it through a clean amp’s front end to really warm up the tape-style delays. The 2290 reverse mode is plenty of fun for psychedelic sounds, and the model based on the BOSS DM-2 is uncannily similar to my memories of the original. There’s a great Space Echo mode too which is perfect for Devin Townsend-like background spaciness.

If you’re after clean, electronic-sounding digital delays then you really owe it to yourself to check out the Flashback or Flashback X4 because they’re just loaded with modern sounds and they deliver them in a really clean way. But what really makes the Alter Ego V2 kick butt is the way it captures the smears, smudges and artefacts of old-school pre-digital delay units. Many players will want both types of effect in their rigs, but if you’re after one delay that can do it all – up to about the early 1980s – the Alter Ego V2 is a must-try.

Buy the TC Electronic Alter Ego V2 Vintage Delay here.