This is a guest post by Kyle Reynolds
The Carbon Copy is MXR’s entry into the affordable analog delay market and it packs some real value for the price. Offering 600ms of delay time, the basic essential controls (Delay, Regen, and Mix), and a ‘mod’ switch, MXR gives us a simple interface, with a very appealing warm, analog sound. Using vintage ‘Bucket Brigade’ technology, and with the (adjustable) ‘modulation’, this is easily the best approximation of a classic tape delay in this price range. You could spend twice the amount to enter the territory of better analog delay, yet not achieve the quality offered by the Carbon Copy.
On the control panel, Regen controls the amount of delay repeats, Mix provides control over the blend of dry signal vs. effected signal, and Delay sets delay time. There is also a small ‘mod’ switch that turns off/on the ‘modulation’ effect, which is a very subtle chorus-like effect that mimics the warble of the tape in an old tape echo unit. The modulation’s width and rate are also adjustable via two internal trim pots if you open the pedal. The factory settings are very subtle, which are perfectly acceptable as is for what this feature is meant to mimic.
The real sonic beauty of this pedal is that the repeated signal is a degraded one. Unlike digital delays, which very accurately mirror the original signal, the repeated analog signal is darker, has noticeably less treble, and becomes more low-fi with each repeat, eventually reaching a quiet, subtle fuzz-like sound. For those looking to repeat the initial signal perfectly, you’ll be disappointed and should look to the digital world, but the Carbon Copy provides a warm, luscious repeat, very ‘musically’ degraded.
If long delays or heavily effected sounds are not your thing, consider the Carbon Copy for this purpose: Set Regen to almost nothing, Mix just a bit of wet signal to the dry, and bring delay times down to just a sliver, turn the modulation on and you have a very slight signal thickening effect. Not as ‘tinny’ as a reverb, and not as distracting as a full-blown delay, but certainly adds life to a recorded guitar part.
The Carbon Copy also plays well with others. It is true-bypass, and unlike many other delays, it seems to sound good in the effects loop, or at the end of the signal chain, or in more unorthodox positions out of the effects loop or near the beginning of the chain. I found some very pleasant sounds moving this pedal around and trying it before and after various other pedals. You’re not stuck with traditional wisdom as far as pedal placement goes with this unit.
There are certainly better-sounding and more feature-packed analog delays out there, but not anywhere near this price. The Carbon Copy can be had most anywhere for around $150. It is simply the best in this price range – easy on the ears and the wallet.
View the MXR Carbon Copy on Amazon.