What are the most essential effects pedals for a guitar player? For most, a delay pedal would be close to the top of the list. Along with overdrive, distortion, and reverb, a delay is one of the most versatile effects pedals every guitarist should own. However, there are loads of choices available, so it can be confusing deciding which one to pick.
And of course, you also have the ‘big’ decision. Analog vs. Digital delay?
And that’s not an easy question to answer. There are certain advantages to Digital Delay pedals. They are much more flexible, usually include preset memories, and give you greater control over the delay times. Additionally, the delay times can be much longer, and the sound is usually cleaner.
Why choose analog?
So, what is the point of choosing an Analog Delay pedal? The simple answer is; the sound. You give up a bit of control, longer delay times, and other digital features. But you give them up because of the sound.
Analog is darker and much richer with a more musical and natural feel. Some Digital delay pedals will claim to emulate an Analog one. But in truth, they can’t. At this stage, they are not able to because they are digital. Some of them might get close, but you can hear the difference.
Its heart and soul…
At the core of any analog delay pedal is the ‘bucket-brigade‘ design. The signal passes through a series of capacitors and is repeated once in a cycle. There are limitations, as we have said. For example, the chip dictates a smaller amount of repeats than is possible, as well as limiting the length of the delays.
That being said, those repeats have a warmth and darkness that is rich and lush. Often more so than the original signal that was fed in. As a result, you get that distinctive Analog Delay sound. A real Analog Delay pedal will give you very real depth to the sound that is just not there with a Digital delay.
With that in mind, let’s get into our in-depth MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay Pedal Review. But first, who are MXR?
MXR was founded in Rochester, New York, in 1972. Originally it was two friends working from a basement repairing audio. Their first pedal was the ‘Phase 90’. Eddie Van Halen used it on his first two albums, and that gave MXR the credibility they needed. It was followed by the Dyna Comp, and they realized they were quite good at building quality effects pedals.
The product range grew to encompass a variety of very good pedals. They also acquired some more street credibility when Dave Gilmour began using some of their rack-mount effects. Dunlop acquired the brand name in 1987 and continues to produce MXR favorites to this day. The Carbon Copy is one of those well-respected pedals, so let’s have a closer look.
MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay Pedal – Overview
This is a Delay pedal with an analog audio path. If you are looking for a rich and warm delay sound, welcome to the Carbon Copy. Of course, this is made possible by the ‘bucket brigade’ technology.
It gives a very impressive delay time along with optional modulation. The layout and controls are simple, and it is all built-in to a remarkably compact delay pedal. Width and modulation rate controls are adjustable to provide a wide range of tones. The controls deliver everything from crisp echoes to sweeping delays at the turn of a knob.
This is not what you would call a basic pedal at all. It includes a range of tones and sounds delivered with customary analog richness.
There was a time not so long ago that MXR started using plastic casings on their pedals. This was an attempt to compete with some of the Japanese manufacturers, who were noticeably cheaper. But you won’t find any plastic here. The metal casing ensures this is a tough and durable delay pedal.
It is quite compact, measuring 5.5 by 2.5 by 4.5 inches. Plus, it has a very noticeable design that says this pedal is ready to work. Taking center stage is a footswitch that looks like it will be able to take a few stomps.
Trying to make changes to a pedal’s settings while on stage can be problematic. One that is often compounded when the stage is especially dark or poorly lit. To offset that, this pedal has been given some blue LEDs. They glow nicely in the dark, and you can immediately see where everything is.
It runs off of a nine-volt battery or through an AC mains adapter. However, the adapter is not included. We would like to make one comment here. The battery life is not particularly good. And as the battery life begins to expire, the performance of the pedal goes with it.
You would expect that, of course. But it does use up the battery quite quickly. So, if you are using it on stage, it might need a new battery for every performance. In our view, using it via the mains adapter would be better and safer. Shame that MXR doesn’t include it.
All very basic and simple, but it is all you need. Why complicate things by including anymore if it isn’t needed.
Whilst you might be interested in the build quality, it is the performance that most will want to check out. And in this department, you won’t be disappointed. As we said, it uses a pure analog path featuring a bucket brigade design. This is going to give you what you might be hoping for.
If you have only ever used cheap digital delay pedals, then give this little guy a listen. The difference in sound will stand out.
Delay time for this pedal is 600 milliseconds. Quite good for an analog pedal, and it gives you plenty of space to work with. Certainly enough to create some of those ‘Gilmour-Esque’ swirls. You can even emulate some of those early echos that the tape machines gave you.
Sustain and chorus…
A major benefit of using a delay pedal, such as this one, is the sustain that it can produce. It is natural and not forced, allowing it to soar and create a fat, full sound. Another great asset of this pedal is the modulation button. You can set this up to give the sound an almost ‘chorus-like’ feel once the delays kick-in.
Something we do feel has been omitted has been a tap tempo control. Therefore, you have no way to control the tempo or subdivisions. Something that we feel probably should have been included.
The controls are all located for easy use on the top of the housing. It is a three-knob design. There are controls for the delay time and the ‘Mix,’ which is the blend of the wet and dry signal. There is also the ‘Regen’ or Regeneration control for determining the delay repeats.
It features the standard ¼ inch sockets on both sides for input and output connections. We have already referred to the Blue LEDs, which light up when in use. These make the pedal easier to see and use on stage. And as we have already observed, simple and basic. But every aspect of the control of the delay and its sound is covered.
MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay Pedal Review – Pros and Cons
- A good sturdy build with a tough footswitch.
- Compact design.
- Blue LEDs for use in poor lighting.
- Mains or battery powered.
- True Bypass.
- Creates great sustain and an almost Chorus-like sound.
- Rich and dark delay sound.
- Delay time of 600 milliseconds.
- Easy To use.
- No tap tempo or control of subdivisions.
- Battery performance is not so good.
- No mains adapter included.
Looking for Something Else?
It’s easier than ever to find the right effects pedals. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Guitar Pedals for Blues, the Best Mini Guitar Pedals, the Best Reverb Pedal, the Best Compressor Pedal, and the Best Flanger Pedal you can buy in 2023.
You may also want to take a look at our reviews of the Best Looper Pedals for Electric Guitar, the Best Tremolo Pedals, the Best Fuzz Pedals, the Best EQ Pedals, and the Best Volume Pedals currently on the market.
MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay Pedal Review – Final Thoughts
We quite like this pedal and the sound it offers. And we prefer the analog delays to the digital versions. However, it isn’t without one or two issues. The lack of a tap control feature is unfortunate in our book, but for the size and price, for an analog pedal, understandable. Plus, the battery life is a bit of a letdown. The price is comparable with the Boss DD-8, although that is a Digital Delay pedal.
However, if you are looking for one of the best analog delay pedals you can buy, then this would be a good option to look at. It has all you need, and the sound is very good. A great option in our view in a very competitive market.
Until next, we hope your music makes you smile.