Review: Crazy Tube Circuits – Echotopia

EchotopiaToday I’m going to test a very nice pedal: The Crazy Tube Circuits Echotopia.
The play of words with echo (resonance) and utopia (wishful thinking/illusion) describes the pedal quite well. The guys from Crazy Tube Circuits categorize the sound of the Echotopia as a retro tape echo for soundscapes.

Construction

To me, the design of the pedal that comes around in an unpretentious box and a textile bag, accompanied by a manual, is really attractive.
The size of the stable die-cast aluminum enclosure corresponds to the EHX POG2, thus the compact pedal does not need too much space on the pedalboard.

I really like the lacquering. The combination of light grey and turquoise reflects pretty well the flair of the 60s.
The whole construction seems to be quite robust. Both footswitches (on/off and tap tempo), as well as the pots and toggle switches have a pleasant touch and control range.

The digital delay emulates a vintage tape echo with 4 tape heads, similar to the Copicat or the Roland Space Echo.
The delay time can be adjusted from 40 ms (tone head 1) to 1.2 seconds (tone head 4).

Features

The Echotopia offers one mono input and two mono outputs and therefore can be used in stereo.
Beyond that, it has jacks for an expression pedal and a power supply on the side, what makes it even more space saving.

I personally would have liked an additional input for an external tap integrated to the expression pedal jack, thus you can synchronize the pedal with further devices. But this is absolutely subjective, could surely be retrofitted and should not be credited as a disadvantage.

Besides the usual delay setting options: feed (repeats) and time, you can also adjust the mix of the delay signal via the 4 virtual tone heads.
Mood controls the tone and Rate and Depth alter the amplitude and the speed of the repeats’ modulation.
A small toggle switch enables to adjust the subdivisions of the tap function. What I really love is, that the alteration of the subdivisions directly alters the delay time as well, thus you do not have to tap it again.

Sound

The sound of the Echotopia is indeed impressing. I start my test with the “standard” delay settings by activating the fourth tone head only. I tap quarters and create some repeats without modulation.
According to the respective adjustment of the Mood pot you will get numerous nuances: the wide range reaches from the darker sound of a heavy strained tape echo (Mood set to 7 o’clock) to a bright delay of an Echoplex.

One thing that is really nice is, that the brightest setting (Mood turned to 5 o’clock) adds a slight overdrive to the sound pattern. By this, the repeats sound really like a vintage tape or almost like a Magnetic Echo. Marvelous!
With a decent depth and speed of modulation and you can create a beautiful floating delay, that may sound like a gorgeous aged and drone out tape at a brighter setting.

With speed set to the maximum and a slightly reduced depth the modulation can create a really nice vibrato. This sound definitively reminds of a good old tape echo.

What else?

But the Echotopia is offers even more: By using the 4 volume pots of the tone heads you can, according to the respective mixing ratio, produce varying rhythms.
Especially if you run the Echotopia in stereo – the tone heads one and three lead to the right output and two and four to the left – you will get a wide stereo pattern which, complemented by some modulation is just amazing.
Internally, you can set the virtual tone heads manually to the respective outputs. But in my opinion, the stock setting is perfect.

If you only use one output for a mono sound (but who is really longing for this if he ever used the pedal in stereo?), all four tone heads will automatically be led to the left output.

An interesting fact is, that the volume of the first three tone heads and the effect of the feed pot are affected by the volume of the fourth tone head and the amount of the heights by the mood pot.

The rhythmical delays of the Echotopia distribute inspirations for totally new emphasizes while you play quite chopped and buffered. But trails as well will create marvelous ambient sounds which are, with a reduced volume and many repeats, perfect for soundscaping.

Keeping the tap tempo pressed, the delay will start to oscillate. Depending on the mood setting, the oscillation will become darker and spherical or brighter and blurred.

The mix of the fourth tone head (and thereby some kind of master volume) as well as the feedback can be controlled via the expression pedal. By a reduction right before the pedal starts to oscillate, you can create lovely soundscapes.

Conclusion

The Crazy Tube Circuits Echotopia is a marvelous delay, that creates spherical vintage style echos for rhythmical delays or soundscapes via its virtual tone heads, modulation and mood.
While you are playing, you are floating on a wave of repeats which fit perfect into the mix and fulfill the whole room.
You will forget time and space and get lost in the vastness of a stereo panorama.

It is really fun to vary the volume of the tone heads and by this, find new emphasizes and nuances again and again. The handling is intuitive and inspiring.

Ok, now I will go back to my pedalboard and play on.

Price: 299,- €/ 389,-$

Category: vintage oriented tape echo emulation

Valuation: Delay Dude approved with potential to become a legend…