When it comes to echo and delay pedals, guitarists have a choice of analog or digital, each of which has its pros and cons.
While analog units typically create the most natural-sounding repeats, they dull the fidelity of the source signal and don’t provide precise control over the timing of the repeated signal. Digital units, on the other hand, offer more finite control and pristine sound processing but lack warmth and are known to inject digital artifacts.
Ibanez’s ES2 Echo Shifter combines the best of both worlds by mating a superb, no-compromises, all-analog audio path to a digital control circuit. Better still, the Echo Shifter features unique oscillation and modulation circuits that add greater versatility, letting you create everything from subtle to extreme sonic weirdness.
Features: There’s a lot to love about the Echo Shifter, from its Seventies-style wood-and-stamped-steel housing to its well-placed controls and classic and clean styling. The smooth mixing-console-style center slider governs the delay time (30 to 1,000ms), the feedback control sets the the number of repeats, the mix knob balances the ratio of wet/dry signal, and two clicks of the tap button sets the delay’s tempo/speed through an ultra-accurate digital circuit.
So far, it’s pretty familiar stuff, but the Echo Shifter’s oscillation control takes things into an entirely different dimension. Activating it pumps the delay gain by 15db, allowing the Echo Shifter to feedback infinitely and produce extreme and otherworldly delay effects, drones and dissonance. There’s also a modulation feature that can add subtle chorusing, vibrato-like flutters or slow groaning siren sweeps, depending on the depth control setting. The Echo Shifter features 1/4-inch mono input and output jacks and is powered by a nine-volt battery or adapter.
Performance: Hats off to Ibanez for the pure sonic integrity of the ES2 Echo Shifter. It’s one of very few under-$1,000 delay units that doesn’t degrade the signal, add compression or produce changes in feel or response. Whether placed in the effect loop or in front of the amp, the pedal sits in the mix as well as a good tube reverb tank. Whacked-out space effects are easily obtained when you engage the oscillation and modulation switches and venture into the controls’ upper ranges. Serious musicians will also appreciate how the ES2 preserves their signal and note attack, regardless of their amp’s gain setting.
List Price: $214.28
Manufacturer: Ibanez guitars, ibanez.co.jp
Cheat Sheet:The all-analog signal path creates organic, accurate repeats from 30 to 1,000ms.
Deep layers of unique delay responses are achievable through the oscillation and modulation circuits in combination with the depth control.
The Bottom Line: Ibanez’s multidimensional ES2 Echo Shifter is the tone purists’ budget delay pedal, offering phenomenal sound quality that competes with professional rack units and adds unique oscillation and modulation features.