Review: Strymon Volante part 1

Strymon VolanteThe Italian as well as the Spanish word “Volante“ means wheel or travelling/flying.
I think, it refers to the magnetic disc of a Binson Echorec, for the Strymon Volante emulates its sounds (as well as further tape echo sounds) in a very special way.

Construction

The enclosure of the Strymon Volante comes around in a new size and with a new design. Its dimensions are somewhere between the big Strymon pedals like the Timeline or the Big Sky and the smaller ones like the El Capistan or the DIG.
For an easy handling, Strymon avoided the use of any multi-function pots like they did before with the El Capistan for example.
The enclosure is familiar robust and lacquered with a wonderful golden color that reminds of the old Echorecs.
Besides the usual delay pots for time, repeats and echo level, the Volante offers some special features.
Rec level controls the gain of the analog FET preamp and is able to make the signal a bit dirtier. The pot interacts beautifully with the echo level pot and thereby becomes capable of controlling the master volume (similar to an old tape echo).

The mechanics pot emulates the condition of the respective tape machine and reaches from a well-maintained tape echo to a furious wobbling old machine.
This is far from the standard sinus modulation and provides a very organic timbre.
The higher you set the knob for low cut and wear, the more the low end, respectively the treble will be cut.
Besides, the Volante also offers a spring reverb effect with a really nice drip.

The switches operate as on/off switches, preset control and tap tempo.
While the looper is activated, these switches get additional functions for recording, start/stop, tape stop and reverse of the virtual tape.
At the front side, the Volante offers two inputs, two outputs, midi in/out, a 9V power supply input and an expression (multifunction) jack.

Sound

Although many people would characterize the sound of a tape echo as dark, the typical sound of a tape machine as well as the sound of a magnetic drum echo is pretty bright and percussive. This sound can be adjusted in a beautiful way by using low cut and wear.
Three types of sound are provided for your selection: disc, tape and studio.
According to the adjustment of the speed (half, normal, double) the sound as well as the respective type of modulation vary. Thus, you will get numerous setting options and possibilities for a fine tuning.

One special thing about the Volante is the opportunity to select the playback and feedback heads. Thereby, you can create different rhythms of the delays, that can be placed independently in the stereo image. Additionally, you can also vary their distances by using the spacing pot.
The adjustment of a half or a full volume of certain tone heads, you will get an unbelievable number of possibilities.

The Volante keeps what it promised. Starting with the first tone, the percussive and clear tape/ disc sounds, that can be finetuned marvelously via the tone pots, float through the air.
By using the wear as well as the mechanics pot, you will be able to create the beautiful sound of an aged tape.
The disc mode provides a clear and direct sound.
If you cut the low end a little bit and add some modulation, you will get a really nice Echorec sound, that can (according to the selected tone head) become rather rhythmical or spherical.

Part 2 will be published the next week. There you will learn more about the sound of the Volante and all about the golden and the silver spacing.