Another hopefully not too dumb question: why are preamps always paired w/ delay pedals?So many cheap pedals around if you just want slapback. My grab n go at the moment is the Tone City Tape Machine. Small, does one thing good. Like the Dano fab echo, Mooer reecho, Nux, loads of em. But the preamp combination is a different matter and the Mystery Brain seems to be king. Milkman sounds interesting.....and I dunno why Dunlop don't combine their Echoplex delay and preamp into one pedal. Of course, the Belle Epoch does that, temptingly!
It goes back to real tape echo machines. Some people found they liked what it did to their signal even if they weren't using it as a delay. There was just something about the preamp in those tape echo units that was very musical and pleasing on it's own. Pedals that try to emulate that tape echo sound often have a preamp that mimics the preamp from a tape echo.
So can I for the same reasons. So I do tend to care how it sounds - and I like grainy dirty repeats for most delay although I have a Flashback that does the pristine stuff when needed.Yep, agreed, although I haven't played in front of an audience for almost a decade, so I have higher expectations and can tell the difference
Adding anything to the signal path will erode or degrade the signal - even just a long guitar chord will do that - a preamp can add that back kind and serve as a buffer. A delay is of course adding a signal that never existed so it must use some sort of pre/amp to create the sound. As you've noted, analog delays can lose a bit of the highs (analog delays have their own sound, that's why people want them). I've heard that DMMs are notable for being brighter but also noisier than other analog delays because the preamp adds back highs and in the process also amplifies any noise.
Virtually every pedal has, at the very least, a unity-gain preamp in it. Signals require careful handling, to get from your guitar, to your amp. A signal leaving a device should be low impedance, and when the signal enters a device, that device should be high impedance. This minimizes loss.
It was in this moment that you realized you need two delay pedals. I'd get the Aqua-puss or Strymon Deco for slap/modulation and then a more flexible delay like the flashback or boss for all else.Well, I've now had some time with each of the following. Some notes, my thoughts on each: (can't figure out the formatting for an unordered list..)
* Way Huge Aqua-Puss -- great, targeted pedal, does one thing and does it well. Probably has the best analog sound of the three -- probably best-looking too, if that matters
* Boss DD-8 -- very versatile, from crystal clean repeats to darker delay modeling, and plenty of tricks up its sleeve. I can't tell if it's because it's buffered bypass, but if I listen real close, this appears to be the cleanest/brightest/least-treble-rolled-off of the pedals by default, in the "Standard", or whatever it's called, setting, ever so slightly. Bonus: looper functionality
* TC Electronic Flashback 2 -- very similar to the DD-8, essentially offers comparable tricks in its bag, plus something called "MASH", which is..when you *mash* the pedal, you get an effect, custom to the delay setting, that scales with the pressure applied to the pedal. Bonus: also looper.
Both the digis offer analog and tape modeling, and versions each of more modulated delays, reverb delays w/ octave effects, etc. The footswitch on the Flashback is a bit odd, no real click to engage the pedal -- haven't had any real issues with that, might just take some getting used-to. The *mash* functionality may have been better served by a Boss-style footswitch. A fast tap de/activates the pedal, and applying subtle pressure activates the *mash*.
The Flashback might actually be the most full-featured of the pedals. I'm wondering though how much time I would actually spend goofing off in the other modes, or, necessity being the mother of invention, I'd be better served going with something like the more bare-bones DD-3T. Actually that one does appear to have greater travel accuracy in the delay time knob -- it's actually kinda hard to dial in slapback on the others -- you can easily over/undershoot.