Delay effect comparison
I've been through a bunch of delay effects, and I've loved `em all...
Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man
I love the sound of analog delays, with their syrupy warm echo decays. The DMM also has a built-in modulation LFO which lets you get as close to the sound of a well-worn tape echo machine as I've ever heard. And of course you can tweak the delay knob and get pitch-shifted echo repeats, or crank the feedback control for runaway feedback. Very psychedelic. The downside of the DMM (and most other analog delays) is that you can hear the compander working; the box adds a noticeable thump to your pick attack.
Small and full-featured, the 301dl has two programmable delays selectable by a footswitch. And there are a lot of parameters to tweak: predelay time, delay time, lo-cut, hi-cut, repeats, feedback, echo volume and ducking. A lot of these parameters are only seen on rack delay units. Ducking is very cool: it lowers the volume of the delays while you're playing and brings them back up when your guitar is silent. The downside is that the controls are a bit confusing with eight parameters mapped to four knobs. Also, it can be noticeably noisy.
The DD-5 is another small, full-featured unit. This one has crystalline-clean tone and some nifty features like tap tempo and reverse delay. The downside is that you need an extra footswitch to take full advantage of the pedal.
Morley ECV (Echo-Chorus-Vibrato)
This is kind of a spiritual cousin to the DMM. The cool thing about the ECV is that delay time is controlled by the treadle. The compander artifacts on this were practically absent; I don't know if that's normal for this pedal or just the luck of the draw. I had the original version of this pedal, which is big and heavy and runs off the AC line. I believe there's a reissue which is slightly smaller and takes power from a wall-wart.
This is an inexpensive 1/3 rack-space unit. I had a couple of these in my rig about five years ago, running in the FX loop. They're really touchy about input levels, but they offer some beautiful reverbs and a couple of modulation effects in addition to the delays.
Fulltone Tube Tape Echo
I never actually owned one of these, but I had a brief affair with one at the local dealer's shop. If you liked the old Echoplex boxes, you'll like the TTE. It works just like the old ones, and has a few extra controls to boot. Everything that was wrong with the Echoplex is still wrong with the TTE: you have to replace the tape periodically, there's some mechanical noise while in operation, and it's damn near impossible to smoothly transition from one delay setting to another like you can with an analog delay stompbox. If your're prepared to accept those quirks, the TTE is almost perfect. The one thing that irks me is that the pinch-roller lever, which you push to one side and hold in the "on" position with one of your instrument cable plugs to engage the rubber wheel that pulls the tape past the heads, is inexplicably associated with the output jack instead of the input jack as was the convention on the original machines. What this means is that you can no longer shut down the Echoplex by unplugging your guitar; you have to turn off your amp and then unplug the cable from the TTE to the amp.
And my current love (yes, I'm a serial monogamist)...
This is the one that I'm using now. It's a digital delay with an analog vibe. You can get near-infinite repeats, but no runaway feedback. Twisting either of the delay knobs gives you a smooth pitch-shifting effect on the echo repeats. The second delay knob, which can be disabled by turning it fully counterclockwise, adds a second independent delay tap that combines in strange and beautiful ways with the primary echo. The echo repeats on the Redux have that gorgeous syrupy decay that I normally associate with analog delays. The downsides are that the controls can interact in unexpected ways, and there can be some noticeable hiss depending upon the control settings.