Price paid: $ 99
Purchased from: Pro Guitar Shop
Ease of Use — 4
Despite the wide range of delay models available, I would have preferred more reliable and easy operation from this box. Changing to different delay models often changes the delay time as well, which makes it hard to switch between modes and compare tones without having to monkey with the delay time constantly. For example, 11:00 on the delay time knob could be 350ms for one mode and 50ms for another. Also, the time knob seems to work in reverse on some models, instead of clockwise being longer delay, it will be shorter. I don't know if TC designed the pedal this way to emulate the way the knobs worked on the vintage units, or if there was just poor design or a software glitch that causes this. Either way, from a functionality standpoint it's a real pain. Even if I were used to the operation of even one or two of the vintage units (which I'm not, and I doubt the majority of users of this pedal are either), I would still prefer more uniform delay time settings across all modes. Adding insult to injury, the tap/strum tempo feature doesn't work reliably on many of the modes, so even trying to bypass the time knob issue by tapping in my own tempo often doesn't work. The bottom line here is that when users switch between modes on this pedal, they want to access different delay tones, not totally change the operation of the pedal and have to re-tweak the whole thing. Frustrating, and makes me very hesitant to change modes in a live situation, for fear of losing my settings. Sadly, there is no mention of this in the manual either. Compared to my Flashback, which I thoroughly enjoy, this unit is very confusing and difficult to use.
Sound — 7
With so many models of vintage delays, there's sure to be a sound in this box to suit anyone. I find many of TC's more modulated reverbs and delays, including some in this box, to be so modulated that they cause intonation issues, but there are still some very nice modes here. The Deluxe Memory Man w/Chorus is nice, although I would prefer without chorus. Other favorites are the Boss DM2 and Copykat. On the TonePrint setting, the Boss DM3 by Sweetwater is a nice addition to the pedal, similar to the DM2 but brighter. The ability to add toneprints is a sure way to make sure you'll have a reliable go-to mode on this pedal.
How close the models are to the vintage units, I can't say, but there are a few tones here that most players are sure to enjoy. However, I would also say that I think I would have preferred the original Alter Ego V1 to this pedal, because it featured less modulation on many of the modes.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Combining a rock solid, thick housing, sturdy knobs and jacks, and a soft switch footswitch, this pedal is not one that I worry about when gigging or transporting my board. The 9v external supply jack is robust as well, which is an area where even boutique pedals can feel flimsy. I currently have 3 TC pedals on my board, and haven't had a reliability issue with any of them. Actually, I wish more pedal companies would design their housing the way TC does. Paint still looks great as well. If you're looking for a delay pedal that can take some abuse, I would recommend these TC Electronic units.
Overall Impression — 6
I own the original Flashback in addition to this pedal, using the Flashback for delay on my lead tones, and the Alter Ego V2 on rhythm tones, when I want to let the tonal complexity of the delays carry the notes further, rather than the more "plain" delays of the Flashback which are just a little icing on my solos. If I had to pick just one delay unit, I would go with the Flashback. While the Flashback's modes are more generic, they still sound great, and most notably the Flashback has been much easier to use. Had I known that I wouldn't care for many of the modulated sounds on this pedal, and how annoying the time knob and tap tempo would be, I probably would've looked for something from another brand. The few favorites, along with the looper and toneprint feature, have kept it alive, but I won't be shocked to see it go eventually.