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Unread 03-29-2013, 01:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

What to do on a warm, sunny spring day in Puddletown (Pedaltown?)? Pedal shopping! I stopped in at Pro Guitar Shop and grabbed their last in-store Empress Tape Delay with a $35 discount. This was the first day that PGS had the Ditto. For some reason, they only had five and they were long gone. I headed over to GC and snagged a Ditto with a $10 discount coupon.



I put both pedals on my board (in the amp's loop). The next thing I knew, I'd noodled-away two hours just on the Empress. I'm not really a delay guy (or maybe my TC Nova made me think I wasn't), but I wanted something for subtle slap-back and other potential uses. The ETD sounds really good, has three presets, and goes from 5-2800 milliseconds. Overall, the price seems pretty reasonable -- maybe even a great value -- for what it does.

There's more to the ETD than what I'll write about at the moment. It seems well thought out and doesn't seem at all fiddly. Since the ETD is new and popular, there are lots of reviews and demos already. Right now, my presets are: 1) Nearly imperceptible slap-back for fullness (instead of reverb), 2) ~350ms delay with ~five repeats, 3) ~350ms delay, repeats just short of oscillation. [There's no delay time readout, so I don't really know what the delay time settings are.] I'll probably be playing with the 'tape age,' filter, and modulation settings for quite a while. Right now, I'm really liking 'new tape' with no filter or modulation. It's very clean and nice, but doesn't sound 'digital' or sterile.

I do want to address one misconception that I had concerning tap tempo and presets: I had thought that enabling the optional presets disabled tap tempo, based on what I'd read in other threads. Not true. Tap tempo simply isn't available in preset mode. Flip the 'delay time' switch to 'tap,' and tap away. Take it off 'tap,' and you're back to the presets.

As for the Ditto, I haven't gotten to it yet. It's funny, as this was a higher priority for me. I need it for lessons and material I'm working on. First, I'm heading back to play with the ETD. Maybe I'll add some thoughts on the Ditto later.
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Last edited by StandingWave; 03-29-2013 at 04:19 AM. Reason: fixed typo; clarified sentence
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Unread 03-29-2013, 03:08 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

Wow, very nice! HNPDx2!!!!
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Unread 03-29-2013, 09:11 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

Excellent review as usual StandingWave! I'm starting to use my delay more and more and in almost exactly the same way. I have two slapback pre-sets for fullness and slapback and a solo delay set to around 310ms. All are tape delay with a little bit of wow and flutter.

It's all great fun to have extra texture to play with. . .HNPD!
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Unread 03-29-2013, 11:48 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

two pedals that have my antennae all twitchy, good scores!
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Unread 03-29-2013, 12:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

Very cool stuff, hnpd!
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Unread 03-29-2013, 05:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

Thanks, guys. It's a somewhat less happy morning after.

The Empress Tape Delay seems to have a knack for losing its presets. It may be something I'm doing wrong, but it seems that there shouldn't be anything wrong to do. The pedal also adds more white noise (hiss) to the signal than I'm ready to accept. Interestingly, the noise reduction in the Empress Buffer+ removes most of it pretty well. However, I need to run the ETD in the amp's loop, not the Buffer+ loop.

I have a couple of emails into Empress. If this doesn't work out (soon!), I have other delays on my list. You can read 1000 reviews, but nothing counts like first-hand experience -- in your own rig.
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Unread 03-29-2013, 05:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

aah, pooper - doesn't sound fun.
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Unread 03-29-2013, 05:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

Nice score ...and I love the signature.

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If cheap pedals sounded great, I would have a board full of them and a pocket full of money.
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Unread 03-29-2013, 05:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

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aah, pooper - doesn't sound fun.
The pedal itself is fun, and well worth checking out for the general quality of the delays. Losing presets is a show-stopper. If I didn't want presets, there are plenty of cheaper pedals around without them. Waiting for a response from support is not fun, especially with PGS -- and lots of other delay pedals -- 10 minutes away. I did my research and this was at the top of my list.

Going to the other extreme -- no tap or presets -- has anybody here tried the Montavillian?
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Unread 03-29-2013, 06:03 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

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Nice score ...and I love the signature.

Watch it magically go from up here/\
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Credit where it's due: It's a comment that I saw on TGP recently and appropriated.
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Unread 03-30-2013, 10:12 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

Interim update: I swapped the ETD for another copy after it exhibited another strange behavior. So far, the new(er) one hasn't seemed to lose presets. However, it seems that something changes the presets. I'm not sure yet if I'm imagining this or if some parameter changes are global. I just want to set the presets and have them stay the same until I change them myself.

The other issue (with both copies) is the white noise. It's not a lot, but it's there. If the ETD is in buffered bypass, it's there all of the time. It seems to be a non-issue when playing, but I question why the noise needs to be there at all.

Between the noise, apparent preset quirks, and an apparently bad pedal, I'm just about done with ETD. I plan to wait through Monday to hear back from Empress. If the presets are quirky, they need better documentation and I hope that there's a way to manage the quirks. I'd prefer to spend my time exploring the creative use of the pedal and my enthusiasm for the ETD is at a low point at the moment.
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Unread 03-30-2013, 10:19 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

Check and make sure that youre saving your own presets over the stock. I know on my DL4 It took me a while to figure it out but for a preset to save you had to hold down the tap switch until the light blinks. I assumed it just remembered and couldn't figure out why my settings were all jacked up. So I would check that.
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Unread 03-30-2013, 11:22 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

There is no save function. There's a way to lock the presets, but you have to remove power and go into advanced config to do that. I won't be surprised if that's the solution, but it seems a bit inelegant and inconvenient -- although not difficult to do. I will explore that, though. My first copy of the pedal seemed to lose presets when unplugged (possibly in combination with something else), so I never tried the preset lock. Also, I'm not a fan of devices where I have to memorize things or look in a manual to do common tasks -- not that the ETD manual covers this in any depth. It simply states that there is a lock, and recommends using it.
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Unread 03-31-2013, 01:57 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

Standing,

I am pretty sure you are going to have to lock your presets. If you don't, anytime you change something, it saves that. It is really pretty simple. I went through each color and when I got what I liked I went on to the next one. When done I locked them and they have been fine. A small pain to go through for the otherwise simple pedal that sounds great.
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Unread 03-31-2013, 03:45 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

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I am pretty sure you are going to have to lock your presets. If you don't, anytime you change something, it saves that. It is really pretty simple. I went through each color and when I got what I liked I went on to the next one. When done I locked them and they have been fine. A small pain to go through for the otherwise simple pedal that sounds great.
Thanks for your thoughts. I don't mind the ETD saving on-the-fly changes to an individual preset while in that preset -- that's actually what I want at this point. I'm suspicious that the presets may be getting 'updated' when switching to tap tempo mode and changing settings there. I could be wrong about that, and I still need to test it.

Update: After 1.5 hours of noodling and goofing around, the unlocked presets appear to be staying intact. At some point, I may lock the presets. Right now it's new toy time, I'm exploring the possibilities, and I want to keep things fluid.

So there's another 'problem' with the ETD: that time just disappeared (as have quite a number of hours during the last couple of days), the mark of an inspiring pedal. I feel like I just got my first delay, although I've had a TC Nova ND-1 for a year and a half. I never had a honeymoon with the Nova and figured that I just wasn't a delay guy.
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Last edited by StandingWave; 03-31-2013 at 05:55 AM. Reason: added update
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Unread 03-31-2013, 07:40 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

I'm going to say what we're all thinking, but first remember that we all love you. ok?

good.

f*ck it off and get an el capistan

glad the presets have started to behave, man. I need to hear this noise floor though, that sounds like it'd be a deal breaker for me
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Unread 03-31-2013, 09:51 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

Standing,

Something to check, as I never have. Do you have to switch to tap tempo if you are in unlocked mode? Fore some reason I don't think you have to, but I may be full of it. Glad you got it figured out for now. It is a fun little pedal. I am using mine a little different than you, as I figured out after getting it, I like my delay with the top end rolled of.

Have fun,
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Unread 03-31-2013, 10:25 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

El cap is good but if you want tape delay go get the catilin echo for multi delay styles get the time factor or timeline.
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Unread 03-31-2013, 01:54 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

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f*ck it off and get an el capistan

glad the presets have started to behave, man. I need to hear this noise floor though, that sounds like it'd be a deal breaker for me
Let's make sure that I have this right: El Cap has one preset, and you have to build/buy a button in order to use it. Right? The noise floor might be a deal-breaker for me too.
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Unread 03-31-2013, 02:02 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

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Something to check, as I never have. Do you have to switch to tap tempo if you are in unlocked mode? Fore some reason I don't think you have to, but I may be full of it. Glad you got it figured out for now. It is a fun little pedal. I am using mine a little different than you, as I figured out after getting it, I like my delay with the top end rolled of.
I don't think that this has anything to do with locking. You have to switch to 'tap' to get tap tempo. How are you using your differently? I'm curious, as I'm all over the map right now. I've noticed that the repeats on the ETD do not get very dark at all. One can roll them off a little, but not much. I think I'm fine with that as they blend well.
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Unread 03-31-2013, 02:09 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

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El cap is good but if you want tape delay go get the catilin echo for multi delay styles get the time factor or timeline.
What tape delay does C'bread make? I'm not aware of any as the Belle Epoch doesn't exist yet. If you're referring to the Echorec, it's is a drum delay emulator w/o presets or tap.
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Unread 03-31-2013, 02:19 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

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Let's make sure that I have this right: El Cap has one preset, and you have to build/buy a button in order to use it. Right? The noise floor might be a deal-breaker for me too.
yes. but it sounds AAAAAACE
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Unread 03-31-2013, 02:41 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

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yes. but it sounds AAAAAACE
No arguments about sound quality. I want presets.
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Unread 03-31-2013, 03:50 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

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No arguments about sound quality. I want presets.
fair enough. i just use that and the echorec, although i did recently steal Boff's strymon switch so i can now have the dizzy heights of three delay sounds
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Unread 03-31-2013, 05:21 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

Hnpd!
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Unread 03-31-2013, 05:47 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

The Empress Tape Delay is Elvis. Elvis has left the building.
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Unread 03-31-2013, 06:45 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

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The Empress Tape Delay is Elvis. Elvis has left the building.
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Unread 03-31-2013, 08:32 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

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The Empress Tape Delay is Elvis. Elvis has left the building.
i don't blame you, man. i HATE it when silly crap like that happens on an otherwise good pedal. Hope you find a replacement soon
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Unread 03-31-2013, 09:34 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

Thanks, Snare. It is a shame, I'm not aware of anything else quite in its class. I'm open to suggestions: presets, excellent sound quality, tap tempo -- and not huge, noisy, or much more expensive.
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Unread 03-31-2013, 10:16 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: NPDx2: Empress Tape Delay & TC Ditto Looper

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Thanks, Snare. It is a shame, I'm not aware of anything else quite in its class. I'm open to suggestions: presets, excellent sound quality, tap tempo -- and not huge, noisy, or much more expensive.
Eventide Timefactor. . .

It's bigger and more expensive but it is quiet, has superlative sound quality and 198 presets.
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