Review: Erica Synths – Zen Delay Part I

Zen delayActually, Erica Synths are famous for modular synthesizers. But the Zen Delay is a delay pedal that could be really interesting for guitarists.

I got the chance for an extensive testing and here, I would like to present the first of two parts of the review.

Construction

The Zen Delay is about the same as the Deluxe Memory Man and comes around in a beautiful black lacquered robust metal enclosure.
The tube sits enthroned at the middle of the pedal and is secured by a silver/grey hoop guard.
Pots for delay time, feedback and wet/dry allow to adjust the delay unit.
The delay time pot is pleasantly big and can be adjusted quite sensitive. With the tape mode activated, you can create beautiful wow and flutter effects with it – but more on this later.
The range of the delay time reaches form 3 up to 3000ms or rather from 1 to 5000ms with the midi sync mode activated.
While you synchronize the pedal via midi, the delay time pot serves to adjust the subdivisions.

Feedback

The first specificity of the Zen Delay is the feedback pot.
It works pretty sensitive as well and provides a great range, that reaches from a simple repeat to 4-8 repeats (which I prefer most) to a slow self-oscillation.
Attention should be paid to the wide range of almost endless repeats with delays that never start to oscillate. Perfect for ambient sounds.

Wet/dry

The wet/dry pot controls the proportion of the clean and the effected signal. For this pot is situated at the end of the signal chain, it can also be used to control the proportion of the overdrive and the filter.
Pretty sophisticated!
You can also choose between the delay modes tape and ping pong, digital and ping pong digital and vintage. For all the ones that miss an analog delay emulation: by using the filter, you can adjust tape or digital in a way that they sound like the perfect analog delay.

Tape mode

With the tape delay setting, you can create nice wow and flutter effects by rotating the delay time pot slightly. This simulates the slipping of the tape inside of a tape delay in a perfect way.
Rotating the pot more powerful, you will get pitch shifting effects.

Digital mode

The digital delay mode reacts in another way. For the repeats won’t be cut off by altering the delay time, you can create interesting effects that remind of reverse delays. And you can also produce almost seamlessly rhythmical delays by a variation of the delay time.

Gain

The input pot controls the master volume of the pedal. Situated at the beginning of the effect chain, it is suitable to keep the volume constant or to boost the signal.
gain level stays active all the time for the bypass switch which controls delay, overdrive and filter is placed behind. This is actually the point where it becomes clear that the builders of the Zen Delay have their origin in the world of synthesizers.
In contrast to a boost pedal, the Zen Delay thickens the signal instead of simply boosting it. Thereby, it becomes more dynamically and seems as if you are considering the signal by a magnifying glass. Nuances of the playing become more prominent and delicate at the same time, the whole sound seems refined.
We are aware of the similar effect with the sound of rack effects like the 2290 or the SDD3000.
Initially, these effects have not been created for guitarists, but the higher headroom makes the sound incredibly three-dimensional.
Mostly, these racks are used for this effect only.
The Zen Delay as well is also able to work as a sophisticated sound refiner. I would not have thought, that you will ever find this effect of the 80s racks in form of a pedal.
But here it is!

The drive pot controls the gain of the tube which is allocated in front of the delay circuit. The tube makes the sound even thicker and creates a beautiful overdrive.

The second part of this review is dedicated to the quasi endless filter options, the sound and, of course, the final assessment.