Crazy Tube Circuits’ TI:ME is a digital delay based on the original late 70s MXR 113 rack unit, which was famously used by the likes of David Gilmour. Its makers say TI:ME’s retro-style digital delay has warm characteristics similar to a tape echo, with repeats reminiscent of worn tape echoes. It’s certainly a desirable tone – have the heads behind it managed to package it in a stompbox format?
Crazy Tube Circuits TI:ME
Crazy Tube Circuits kindly sent me out a unit to try, and I have spent a lot of time getting to know this retro flavoured digital delay and its characteristics. It’s based on the late 1970s blue and black rack effect unit as used by the likes of David Gilmour between 1977- 1986, who used an MXR 113 Digital Delay in his live rig with Pink Floyd for almost a decade. Crazy Tube Circuits has based their new TI:ME closely on this original unit. But it isn’t a true facsimile, and has a better noise floor and is far easier to use than I suspect the originals ever were.
The pedal itself feels well made and is presented in a hand-finished copper lacquered finish, which looks great and is very neatly applied. The layout is easy to read and the controls are all self-explanatory. We have Mix, Feed and M/Sec knobs across the top row, followed by controls for Tone, Mod and a three-way rhythmic subdivision switch in the centre. With quarter, dotted eighths and triplets on offer, TI:ME covers (almost) all bases.
TI:ME has two footswitches, a Bypass and dedicated Tap footswitch. Each has a bright white LED to indicate the current effect status; on the latter switch it shows the speed/time of your tap. Your last two taps are stored, with tempos between 130ms and one full second available. Plus, you can hold down the Tap footswitch to achieve make the delay self-oscillate and feedback momentarily, which is a nice feature and fun to play with.
Honestly, you really don’t need the manual to use the effect. The only reason I can think of referencing the one-sheet instructions is that you may miss the fact that the TI:ME pedal has an internal control for switching on and off the delay trails. True-bypass (relay) or a buffered bypass with trails are your two choices on offer.
All you need is an external 9-12 Volt DC power supply with a centre-negative tip and a few cables and off you go!
The Sound on the ’70s
Now comes the important bit: how does it sound? This delay effect is very close to a tape-style delay and that the warmth of the repeats is very organic, which makes the TI:ME very musical. It sits really nicely in a mix. The 100% analogue signal path does not colour the tone of the guitar. The delay has separate analogue and digital signal processing, and so you get a purely analogue signal path with a high-quality OpAmp.
Crazy Tube Circuits has also used carefully tuned filtering with the two internal digital recording devices to keep your delayed wet signal from sounding crisp and cold. I often use the original Hungry Robots’ Moby Dick, which is based on tape-emulation, and I find that delay very musical. The Crazy Tube Circuits TI:ME has very similar characteristics, just with its own voice. The ‘digital’ element of this effect is absolutely nothing like, say, a BOSS DD series or similar delay effect.
You can easily set the tone of your delay by tweaking the Tone control to knock off some high-end frequencies, then adjust the Mod to add more or less modulation to the delay trails. It’s subtle yet very effective and great fun to muck about with.
I found the Tap footswitch was very responsive. I tended to use this, rather than adjust the M/Sec control, as the pedal picks up the desired timing well, and I tend to play standing up with my guitar on a strap. The less bending down I have to do the better. But, you can, of course, tweak the time using the MSec knob if you need to.
For this review, I mainly used my Bad Cat Black Cat 30R combo and went straight into the front, though I also tried the pedal through my Friedman Pink Taco via the effects loop. I found that it sat well in either configuration, so I can only imagine that it should work well in most amp setups. It’s a pity they don’t do a stereo version, as it would possibly shine even more in a dual amp setup, but to be honest, I only ever tend to gig with one amp anyway.
I threw some overdrive and wah into the mix, and the TI:ME rewarded me with warm undulations of repeats again and again. I’d happily add this to my pedalboard setup and think it would hold up well against many larger, more established brands.
Is this a delay for you?
Well, we all have different tastes. Personally, I can see this particular effect appealing to anyone who wants something with a warm characteristic, with its subtle modulations and easily figure out the set of controls. Ultimately I found the TI:ME very musical. However, if you are into MIDI control, stereo delays and/or want to have control over every aspect of an effect, then you may prefer something far more programmable with the ability to deep dive into the minutiae of the settings.
For me, personally, the Crazy Tube Circuits TI: ME is pretty much the perfect delay pedal for retro-style echoes, as it has a warm voice, and it sat well in a mix. I used single-coils, P90s or humbuckers, and they all shone through this delay.
I own many pedals, and many of them are delays, so I know what I like. They have to be easy to use, bulletproof and able to work well with other effects pedals. And most importantly, they have to be musical and pleasing to the ear. Based on those criteria, for me personally, the Crazy Tube Circuits TI:ME ticks all of those boxes. I would recommend it to a friend. This, for me, is the ultimate compliment, as I only ever recommend gear that I would own and use myself.
More about Crazy Tube Circuits TI:ME
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