For those on the hunt for a vintage tape echo unit, Strymon may have a contemporary alternative: the Volante. The “magnetic echo machine”, as the brand dubs it, packs a suite of effects. These include three vintage echo emulations, a sound-on-sound looper and a vintage-voiced spring reverb.
In classical music notation, “volante” refers to a movement with light rapidity. The namesake pedal achieves this fluttery effect with a stereo multi-head emulation – meaning you’re able to adjust the panning, feedback, integrity and levels of four ‘playback heads’. The Volante even has a JFET preamp, whose gain is tweakable via the Record Level knob, to add a ‘saturated tape effect to the delay trails
The stompbox has three modes: drum echo, tape echo and studio echo.
The drum delay option is designed to reproduce the sonic qualities of vintage drum echo units, including the fresh-from-factory and classic road-worn tones. Meanwhile, the tape echo mode, which gives you the richness and sophistication of a classic tape echo. And finally, the studio delay setting simulates the full-bodied warmth of reel-to-reel tape.
The other big feature on the Volante is a sound-on-sound looper, identical to the one in Strymon’s El Capistan. You can manipulate these individual loops, too. Change their directions, speed, and pitches, or hit the Infinite Repeats footswitch to create an infinite loop with the tape head disengaged.
Taking after certain old-school tape echo units with in-built reverb tanks, the Volante has a vintage-voiced spring reverb. Strymon describes its ‘verb as “a gorgeous, gentle character that stands on its own, in addition to enhancing delayed signals”.
With this much going on under the hood, the Volante’s controls are understandably complex. Here’s a brief rundown:
- Type: Selects between the three echo machines
- Speed: Selects between half, normal, and double delay speed options, which proportionally changes the Time knob’s delay range
- Record Level: Controls the analogue gain of the signal fed into the record head
- Mechanics: Controls the amount of friction, creases, splices and artefacts in the tape effect
- Low Cut: Controls the amount of low end in repeats
- Controls the ‘wear’ of media and playback heads
- Set to minimum for more high-fidelity sound
- Controls the delay time of the fourth tape head
- The first three heads subdivide proportionally according to the Spacing setting
- Repeats: Controls the feedback of tape heads with feedback enabled
- Echo Level: Sets the overall delay signal level
- Spacing: Adjusts the spacing between the heads, another nod to past units
- Spring: Controls the output mix of the reverb
- Playback row:
- Selects which individual playback head is engaged
- Press and hold to toggle between half and full volume
- Feedback row: Engages or disengages feedback of selected playback head signal
- Turns the effect on or off
- Press and hold for infinite repeats
- In looping mode, this reverses playback
- Press to recall active favourite preset
- In looping mode, this pauses the loop
- Tap: Sets quarter note delay time for the fourth head
Read our review here.