BBD (Bucket Bridge Device) chips are very popular for delay and modulation pedals due to the musical and sweet analogue tones that they enable an effect with. BBD chips are increasingly hard to find though, as are the original pedals that utilised them. There has however been a resurgence of sorts with new versions of classic chips being made, and subsequently pedal manufacturers have been getting their hands on them and making sweet vintage style analogue effects with them. Among them is the sweet Malekko Ekko 616 Analog Delay.
Since getting my Hardwire DL-8 Delay/Looper, which has a sweet analogue delay tone, in with all the other great effects it has on board, I wanted to get myself a standalone analogue delay pedal so I could dedicate the DL-8 to digital and reverse delay duties. I noticed the Malekko 616 Ekko Analog Delay pop up on various websites, and was very keen to check it out. Thanks to Niche Music Supplies, the Australian Malekko distributor, I had an Ekko 616 sent out for me to review.
The Ekko 616 is a compact analogue delay pedal with 650ms of delay goodness. It also packs another awesome feature, a full modulation section. It has both true and buffered bypass switching, so you can choose which ever mode you would prefer for your setup. The Ekko 616 also packs an internal trim-pot that allows you to adjust the overall volume or gain of the effect to balance out levels.
I usually like a subtle analogue delay on when I solo, so I hooked up the Ekko 616 to the effects loop of my Blackstar HT-5 to see how it sounded in the way I typically use the effect. I dialled the Time control about 1 o’clock, Mix to about 11 o’clock, and the Regen to around 10 o’clock. I was greeted by sweet musical tones that filled out my lead playing nicely, and provided nice musical delays whenever I stopped playing.
The degradation of the delays is a wonderfully musical sounding thing, and cranking up the Regen control allows you to hear the full power and beauty of the Ekko 616. It really showcases the reason why so many prefer true analogue delays over newer digital delay technology, which provides perfect hi-fi replications of what was played, but does not sound so natural.
Turning the Mix control right up will make the effect slightly louder than the dry signal, which can be quite fun too. You can get some really atmospheric sounds out of the pedal, and it’s quite fun to play around with.
If you dial the Time and Regen controls right back you can get some sweet slap-back sounds going, and with a little spring reverb you can find the perfect country and rockabilly tones.
The bypass type switch is quite handy too. You can subtly control the tone of the delay by switching between the true, and buffered bypass modes. With the pedal set to true-bypass you get a slightly darker delayed tone than you would get with the bypass set to buffered. Unfortunately you cannot get tails happening when using the buffered mode. As soon as the pedal is switched off the delayed sound goes away. No extra noise is generated by the pedal either.
Switching on the modulation section of the Ekko 616, a whole new world emerges. It is somewhat an unwieldy beast, and is best used very subtly with the delay. There are Speed and Depth controls, and the LED for modulation flashes in time with the Speed setting.
Adjusting the two controls just a little above the minimum you can find some lovely chorus tone added to your repeats, and if you go a bit more extreme with them crazy pitch fluctuations can be heard in the delayed sound. Crank the Time and Depth and strange otherworldly pitch warbles can be heard.
What is awesome about the Ekko 616 though, is that it makes an excellent chorus pedal too. Turn the Time and Regen controls fully counter-clockwise and adjust the Speed and Depth controls with the Modulation turned on, and you will find lush chorus tones, where you can go for a subtle doubling effect to full on vibrato sounds, and Leslie speaker type effects. If you are like me and don’t have a use for a chorus pedal that often, but love analogue delay, the Ekko 616 can really be the perfect 2 pedal in 1 solution.
The Ekko 616 feels like a nice solid unit that will last a long time. The aluminium enclosure is nice and sturdy, the pots move freely, and the switch is a nice heavy duty 3PDT switch. Malekko do not have any rubber feet attached to their pedals, but they do provide them for you to install if you are not using velcro on the bottom of the pedal to attach to a pedal board.
The only real qualm I have about this pedal is that the markers on the two modulation controls are a little hard to see due to their small size and black colour. It would have been nice if Malekko had made the markers white so it was easier to note where the Speed and Regen controls were set.
Overall the Malekko Ekko 616 Analogue Delay is a phenomenal piece of gear. If you are looking for a sweet sounding analogue delay that’s a little different from the rest definitely try it out. The analogue delay by itself is so rich, and with the added modulation if really makes for one unique pedal.
Thanks to Anthony from Niche Music Supplies for providing the Ekko 616 for me to review.