As a matter of fact, tape echo is the first type of delay used for guitars. Delay is made by adding a copy of the guitar signal to the original after pausing for a specified amount of time, creating a sort of echo. Strymon El Capistan wants to make the sound of a tape echo accessible in a stompbox. The company claims that Strymon El Capistan is able to model all the complexities of various tape machines; and, it is equipped with various nice features and artifacts. All in all, Strymon El Capistan is indeed an excellent value for the money – it comes in a practical, portable size, and it offers excellent modulations with incredible flexibility and versatility.
Strymon El Capistan is a three-in-one tape machine: The first three-way switch enables you to select the tape machine type that you want to use, and the second three-way switch is used to select the variation for the tape machine. There are Fixed, Multi, and Single tape machines. The Fixed has a single head tape echo (well, it has three heads, but only one is selected by the second switch). The Multi has multiple playback heads and you can select one of the three head combinations (1&2, 2&3, or 1&3). The Single has a sliding record head, and the second switch is used to select the normal or double tape speed or the sound-on-sound mode for looping. The mix, delay time, and repeat knobs are complemented with knobs for adjusting the tape age to make the repeats darker. There is also the wow & flutter knob for modulation. If those are not enough, you’d certainly be thrilled that all the five knobs have secondary functions, including a spring reverb, tape crinkle, tape bias, low end contour, and boost/cut. These secondary functions are accessible by holding down the Tap and Bypass switches – not exactly quick and handy, but not too bad either. Feature-wise, Strymon El Capistan makes an excellent bang for the bucks.
|- Five tape adjustment and tone shaping knobs: Time, Mix, Tape Age, Repeats, Wow & Flutter. - Ultra low noise, high performance 24-bit 96kHz A/D and D/A converters. - 115dB typical signal to noise. - Super high performance DSP in a compact form factor. - True Bypass (electromechanical relay switching)|
So, how is the sound quality? Truth to be told, the sound is exceptional. It is very close to the real tape echo tones. There are a lot of sonic variations available. The tonal range and repeat style are very adjustable, and the spring reverb is of a very good quality. The sound-on-sound function makes a great fun, giving you up to 20 seconds of lo-fi looping. You can create a preset and store the preset on the Favorite switch – this way, you will be able to access two different sounds quickly at all times. That is a very handy feature for on-stage performances. Considering that electro-mechanical tap echo machines tend to be bulky and expensive, Strymon El Capistan makes an excellent substitute. It can emulate various types of tape echo machines. Strymon El Capistan is currently the closest thing to those soundsthat requires no hassle.
Specifications of Strymon El Capistan
• Hand-crafted dTape algorithms deliver nuanced recreations of various tape echo systems
• Three tape machines in one device: Fixed (has one fixed playback head), Multi (has multiple playback heads), Single (has a sliding record head)
• Three modes on each tape machine for extreme flexibility and versatility
• Five tape adjustment / tone-shaping knobs: Tape Age, Time, Repeats, Mix, Wow & Flutter
• “Hidden” knobs for more extensive tone tweaking: Tape Bias, Tape Crinkle, Spring Reverb, Low End Contour, +/- 3dB Boost/Cut
• Stereo output
• High-impedance mono input (with internal jumper that enables selectable TRS stereo input)
• Expression pedal input, selectable control over any parameter
• Save your favorite preset on the Favorite switch
• Footswitches: Tap Tempo and Bypass
• High performance, ultra-low noise 24-bit, 96kHz D/A and A/D converters
• Typical signal to noise: 115dB
• Analog dry path for a zero latency dry signal
• Selectable Trails Mode with Analog Buffered Bypass
• True Bypass with electromechanical relay switching
• Power supply included– 9V DC, 250mA current draw
• Strong, lightweight anodized aluminum chassis
• Crafted in the USA
Pros of Strymon El Capistan
– Superb high-performance SHARC DSP in a compact form factor
– Accurate and finely detailed emulations
– Very flexible and versatile sound character
– Easily adjustable parameters
– Equipped with looping and tap tempo functions
Price of Strymon El Capistan
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