Sound — 10
Let me start by saying that this pedal sounds great. I usually prefer to practice unsafe guitar and plug it straight into the amp, but the Flashback is very transparent and doesn't degrade my tone. I usually run a Fender Stratocaster equiped with Fender HOT Noiseless pickups into a Carvin MTS 3200 2x12 100 watt combo. I have also used it with a Epiphone Les Paul Ultra II, a DigiTech Whammy IV and a Dunlop Crybaby. It sounds fantastic every time. There are 10 delay modes: Analogue, Tape, LoFi, Dynamic, Modulated, Ping Pong, Slapback, Reverse, Toneprint and 2290 modeled after the famous TC Electronics 2290 Digital Delay unit. These are available in mono or stereo.
I really like dynamic delay that dynamically adjusts the volume of the repeats to insure that your signal doesn't become muddy. Every delay mode sounds excellent, especially the 2290 that creates crystal clear repeats. The Flashback allows me to get anything from Tool to Pink Floyd to surf rock and everything in between. The only real criticism I can give is that sometimes you will hear a very subtle sound when engaging the pedal (I know I'm nitpicking!) which is fairly common for pedals, especially ones with true bypass.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall I really love this pedal as it satisfies all my needs. I can get great Gilmour or Neil Young sounds when I use my Stratocaster and spacy Tool sounds when I use a Les Paul with full gain. I took a look at many delay units including the Boss DD-3, DD-7, Hardwire DL-8, Line 6 DL4, Electro Harmonix Memory Man, TC Electronic Nova Delay, Repeater and the Eventide Timefactor. In the end I opted for this one because of its price, ease of use and transparent sound. It's fantastic for its price range, I would gladly pay another 180$ CAN if it were stolen. Overall verdict: If you want a fancy advanced delay unit with all the bells and whistles or you absolutely want tap tempo, skip it. If you want a small ultra-simple delay unit with a great amount of features or if you are tone ardent and want a transparent pedal, get it or at least check it out!
Reliability & Durability — 8
The pedal is housed in a beautiful sparkly blue rock Solid Metal casing. All the knobs, mini switches, jacks and bypass switch feel very sturdy and smooth. The bypass switch could be a little more robust but I highly doubt it would break without a serious fight. A serious down side is the battery life seeing as batteries tend to only last 3 to 5 hours. I would highly recommend a power adapter if you are going to gig with this pedal. I use mine with a Visual Sound 1 Spot and it works pretty well. In the end, if you avoid the batteries it's definitely gig worthy even without a backup.
Ease of Use — 9
The TC Electronics Flashback delay pedal is extremely easy to use and offers a wide variety of great sounding delays. If you can handle the short battery life and the lack of tap tempo you may find the Flashback to be a fantastic delay pedal. There are four main knobs: The Delay knob which adjusts the delay time, the Feedback knob which adjusts the amount of repeats, the FX Level knob which adjusts the volume of the repeats and a mode selection knob. You also have a subdivision selector mini switch that allows you to choose from 1/4th note, 1/8th note or a really cool sounding 1/4th + 1/8th note delay. It's also important to note that there is no tap tempo function on the pedal. Instead the Flashback features a mode called Audio Tap that allows you set the delay tempo with your guitar. To use Audio Tap you must simply press and hold the bypass button for 2 seconds, strum the tempo on your guitar, then release the bypass button. A lot of people prefer the use of tap tempo or external tap tempo, but I find it easier to set the delay time with my hands instead of my feet so it was definitely a plus for me.
The pedal also has a built in looper that has 40 seconds of looping time and unlimited overdubs. The bypass button allows you to start and stop recording. Pressing it twice quickly will delete the loop. However, the FX Level knob controls the volume of both the loops and the guitar which is ridiculous to say the least. It's very hard to record a riff and solo over it without having difficulty to hear yourself. It almost forces you to dial back your guitar or equipment when recording rhythm sections. The Flashback also has a mode called Toneprint that allows you to download pre-made settings directly into the pedal via mini USB (cable is included). These pre-sets are either made by TC Electronics or various artists and can be easily downloaded from the TC Electronics website.
Finally, something worth noting is the battery compartment. The rear portion on the pedal is accessible by untwisting a giant flathead screw with a guitar Pick or coin. This gives you easy access to the battery compartment and two tiny switches. The first switch is to go from true bypass to buffered bypass and the other is a Kill Dry switch if you wish to use it in a parallel effects loop.