A real tape echo is pretty sensitive and needs a lot of care so that everyone who does not want to face this challenge might fall back on a good digital emulation.
Here I would like to present two pedals that already exist for a long time and as so- called “sleepers” are which are highly underestimated.
Hughes & Kettner Replex
You have to admit that the Replex is not much smaller than a real tape echo but therfor it offers numerous features.
With the “drive” and the “volume” pot all of the tape echo sounds are infinitely variable – from clean to overdriven and boosted.
The second footswitch activates a nicely done reverb. With the reverb pot completely turned down you can use this switch to activate the boost/overdrive.
The actual delay can be adjusted by “volume”, “feedback”, “single head time” and “vintage factor”. While the first three mentioned are self-explanatory, the “vintage factor”-pot reduces bass and treble and overdrives the signal lightly.
To me, this sound is pretty felicitous and offers many sound options.
With the second switchable “dual head delay” you can add a second, virtual playback head that is able to create rhythmical delays.
Besides this digital delay has got a tube which effects the sound of the pedal. In this context it is worth it to experiment with different types of tubes (12AX7, 12AY7, ECC83) and varying manufacturers.
Once the new price of the Replex has been 500, 00€ and today it is not produced anymore. For a used one you will have to pay around 280, 00€.
The T-Rex Replica also exits for a long time and still is one of the best tape echo emulation pedals.
The compact pedal has tap tempo and a pretty nice sound that cuts perfectly through the mix.
By using the “brown switch” you can darken the repeats. But the second option of the “brown switch” which creates a clean and percussive signal is even more close to the sound of a real tape echo.
The “echo” pot can be used to add the delay signal to the dry signal, while “level” controls the volume. “Repeat” and “tempo” should be self-explanatory.
The “subdivision” switch changed the subdivision of the tap tempo. You can set quarters or dotted eighths.
And one thing you should keep in mind: set the subdivision first and tap the tempo second – the other way around the subdivision will not be adopted.
In comparison to a real tape delay the Replex has more bass and sounds less transparent.
Nevertheless the sound of the Replex is quite close to the sound of a real tape echo.
A demo video of the Replex is coming soon.
Both pedals presented here have no modulation. This means that they emulate the sound of a well- maintained and technically faultless tape echo. But to be honest: who would have used a wobbly and badly adjusted tape echo?
If you still long for a wobbly sound, you can also add a modulation pedal after the delay.