Eventide's first foray into Eurorack brings high definition delay to the modular realm.
DIY jobs like these have only stoked anticipation. There has been considerable clamour for Eurorack versions of other Eventide pedals, especially the TimeFactor delay and PitchFactor harmoniser. Eventide eventually responded last year with the Euro DDL, a hybrid digital-analogue delay. The sales pitch promised a combination of ultra high definition digital processing sandwiched between stages of analogue circuitry. With a maximum sample rate of 192 kHz, crystal clear delays were all but assured, and if things were to get too crisp, an analogue low-pass filter and feedback line are on hand to roughen up the clean lines.
Despite the anticipation, the overall reaction was mixed. Perhaps the market was envisioning a product that offered a slew of Eventide algorithms, something more in line with their stompbox offerings? But having had it in my rack for a few weeks, it's clear that what the Euro DDL does well, it does extremely well. There are no shortage of delay modules in Eurorack, but the Eventide is surely in the upper ranks when it comes to pure sound quality.
What did surprise me was that it offers much more than gleaming sound. In all honesty, my initial interactions with the module weren't entirely positive. One aspect was the price. In Europe you're paying upwards of €450 for it (to be fair, I've seen American sellers list them for much less). This is by no means out of the ordinary for a delay module, but it's more expensive than the Make Noise Echophon and the 4ms DLD, both of which have a stronger wow-factor than the Euro DDL. It also costs more than TipTop's mighty Z-DSP NS, which offers not just great delays but banks upon banks of other effects algorithms. Second, for an effects module placing sound quality front and centre, it's a bit of a surprise that it's mono. Of course you can create stereo width in other ways, but part of the appeal of an effects module in Eurorack is breaking the mono stranglehold. Thirdly, at 200mA +12v/100mA -12v, the power draw isn't to be sniffed at. I was also turned off by the implementation of the delay time knob. Where most delay modules give you instant control over time, the Euro DDL forces you to scroll by seconds or milliseconds with each notch of the potentiometer pushing the value up and down by a single digit.
Slowly but surely, however, the Euro DDL transcended these negatives. This isn't to say the above points aren't valid. But the musicality of the thing becomes undeniable over time. Thanks to the ridiculously high sample rate, you can chop it all the way down to 16 kHz, which gets you a whole 160 seconds of delay. While such a long wait might not get a lot of use, it's worth noting that the down-sampling gives things a pleasingly soft, degraded smudge.
Running it at 96kHz is a happy medium, offering delay times long enough to build steadily evolving ambient patches. It's a simple pleasure, but playing call and response with yourself as each phrase loops back around is both musically stimulating and soothingly meditative. Using this method, I had great results routing the Euro DDL's feedback path into the Z-DSP's Halls Of Valhalla reverb via the Send/Return jacks, then balancing the feedback of both modules to swell in the gaps of each looping phrase.
This looper style approach is greatly enhanced by the Euro DDL's reverse and infinite delay settings, which can be switched on and off by trigger inputs. If you're into blissful ambience, varying between reversed and normal delays makes for instant psychedelia. Occasionally triggering the infinity switch, meanwhile, locks sounds temporarily in place—triggering both inputs in a single patch greatly intensifies the Euro DDL's dreamlike qualities.
Short delay times are another strong suit. This is where the workflow of the delay time control that irked me at the outset comes into its own. The Euro DDL can go as low as 0.11 milliseconds, and it's adjustable by the decimal point. This fine control is a god send for controlling flange, chorus and comb filter style effects, where even a millisecond will change the pitch. There's also a built-in control for setting modulation depth, so you can dial in specific settings for flange and chorus without wasting an attenuator. The same goes for Karplus-Strong synthesis (it's an arcane name for making quasi-bowed string sounds using short bursts of noise to "excite" a delay with very short delay times and high feedback settings). Where some delay modules struggle to accurately dial in the tight settings required for Karplus-Strong, the Euro DDL is tailor-made for the task.
I came to the view that the Euro DDL is almost like a studio rackmount effect trapped in modular form. You set the settings, maybe modulate it a bit, but mostly you let the superb sound do its thing. It's not exactly quirky, either, keeping things taut and professional. I've found other delay modules to be more hands on and prone to making abstract sounds, especially the DLD and Echophon. But that doesn't take anything away from the Euro DDL: what I just described is many people's idea of a dream delay module. Here's hoping that Eventide are able to continue developing their approach to the modular field. Given the pedigree and resources behind them, they could make something great if they transfer their sonic expertise to the fickle demands of the Eurorack user.
Ease of use: 4.0