The Tonal Recall is a really interesting delay pedal and #ChaseBliss have really gone to town on it, making it hugely versatile and, most importantly, giving it a wonderful core sound. Take a peek at the video link at the bottom for a demo of the sounds on tap.
The sublime tone is due to the chips used in the Tonal Recall, which are reissued versions of the bucket brigade (BB) MN3005. The originals can be found in pedals like the Electro Harmonix Memory Man and the Boss DM-2 delay, which are famous for their lush sound. These reissues are produced by Xvive, who invested heavily in r&d to create a similar sounding chip, and for good reason as using the original Panasonics 'new/old stock' was starting to become prohibitive for companies due to their increasing scarcity and, therefore, price.
Xvive use the new chips in their own pedals too, for example in the W3 Memory Analog Delay. The new design has generally garnered a positive reaction, however, whether or not the new or old chips are better is not really the debate here as what is important is that they certainly sound amazing in the Tonal Recall.
What is a Bucket Brigade anyway?
This term is often bandied about and can be seen all over the internet when looking at delay pedals, but what does it mean? The use of the BB chips was a solution to an existing problem made possible by the advancements in technology. Initially, tape was used to create delay or echo effects in units like the Echoplex built in the late 50s and early 60s. However, they were always problematic with tape tangling and degrading with use, and were also cumbersome and expensive. So, when transistors came into common usage, these replaced the tape element of the delay pedal, enabling better consistency and smaller, cheaper units.
The Bucket Brigade chip works by simply delaying the incoming signal as it's passed down a line of capacitors, filling and emptying with that signal. This results in a pure analogue signal path which brings with it an innate warmth due to the filtering which takes place.
This is often in two stages: one to remove excessive high end as the BB chips don't like it too much and can leak signal resulting in aliasing artefacts, the second to remove the clock noise. The clock is simply the control used to tell the capacitors when to move the signal along, so in other words, it controls the delay time - the 'rate' knob on a delay pedal controls the clock speed. It does, however, introduce a ticking noise which the second filter helps to remove.
Tonal Recall Controls
Joel and the Chase Bliss team really went to extreme lengths with this pedal and have produced something rather special. Not only does it have the beautiful warm tones associated with a great BB delay, it also has an amazing level of control and variation available for the user. This comes down to the company motto: Digital Brain, Analog Heart.
As although the tones are all analog, the controls are digital which means there are unprecedented features on this pedal such as tap tempo and a recall of two presets.
Here are the controls available:
Tone / Ramp
This acts as a low pass filter for the delay repeats. However, as it's a digitally controlled pedal, this control can be assigned to any of the other controls instead - mix, rate, time, regen, depth. This can be set using the dip switches on the back of the pedal.
As with many similar pedals, this sets the mix between the dry and wet signal - the volume of the delay.
This controls the space between the delays to a maximum of 550 ms.
Moving this control clockwise will result in more delay repeats, all the way into self-oscillating, whirling soundscape madness.
This controls the rate of the LFO on the modulation of the repeats.
This controls the intensity of the modulation.
SLB Toggle Switch
This is a wonderful addition and controls how many of the MN3005 chips the signal is passed through: S for one, which provides a short delay - up to 275ms, L for two, providing a longer delay - up to 550 ms, and B for both.
Wave Shape Toggle
This selects the shape of the wave use for the modulation of the delay signal: triangle, sine and square.
Approaching the Tonal Recall can be a little daunting as it's got a lot of controls including the dip switches on the back. However, the most important aspect of this pedal is the basic tones available because if they aren't great then added bonuses such as modulation and presets aren't really that important. So I hooked up the unit to my pedal board, turned on my Two Rock Studio Pro 35 and grabbed my humbucker equipped Frank Hartung Embrace with a great deal of excitement.
Setting the pedal for a simple delay of around 300ms, I hit the first chord and was rewarded with exactly what I was hoping for - a warm, rounded delay that sounded wonderfully musical.
I then moved on to experiment with the delay times and was able to achieve anything from a lovely slap-back all the way through to the maximum 550ms delay, which sounded absolutely amazing, especially when combined with a Keeley D&M drive.