What is the reason behind your desire to splurge on a delay pedal? Are you simply curious about the capabilities of the effect? Or do you want to dive into the layers of spectacular tones and explore as much in the delay realm as possible? These might be the prime questions you will have to answer, but I reckon all of us have different intentions. This article will probably be more suitable for those who have experimented with delay before and now want something that has it all. The unit we are going to discuss today is TC Electronic Flashback X4 – the pedal that can easily knock off its predecessors and even modern rivals. Its extensive features will leave nothing to wish for and will force you to be more creative than you have ever been. If you want to get your hands on a delay pedal but have not selected the specific model yet, then you should definitely read this article thoroughly. Flashback X4 will be the chosen one for the rest of your delay days. Want to know why? Then keep on reading!
As I have already mentioned, TC Electronic Flashback X4 is packed with diverse features that offer ethereal versatility. It comes in a blue sturdy enclosure, that is not compact by any means. But it offers so much that we can easily turn a blind eye on its lengthy chassis. This bad boy offers 12 delay types and 4 spots for additional custom TonePrints (available through TonePrint app or software). These free spaces can be filled with the effects from your favorite musicians, which gives you a lot to work with. But the brand did not stop there. Flashback X4 has three presets with individual footswitches, which makes their utilization a child’s play. You can record your favorite pieces and recall them whenever you want. It can loop up to 40 seconds but, unfortunately, they cannot be saved in the unit itself. The looper does also have the undo functionality, which can be really handy in many scenarios. The engines for looper and delay are completely different and deliver scrupulous performance. This pedal has a dedicated footswitch for the Tap Tempo and three different subdivisions: quarter notes, dotted eighths, quarter notes and dotted eighths. Even though Flashback X4 has a true bypass circuit, you have the option to select buffered bypass mode to prevent the loss of higher frequencies. It also has Analog-Dry-Through feature which retains the integrity of analog dry path when the effect is in use and Kill-Dry functionality which cuts off dry signal path to accommodate the unit for parallel effects loops. Let’s not forget that Flashback X4 is compatible with MIDI devices and expression pedal. It also has dual inputs and outputs for stereo operation and a USB port.
After all these abundant features, you might feel like the control section will drive you crazy and force you to drown in the manual. However, you get a pretty standard deal. You simply have to know that Flashback X4 operates in Looper and Preset modes and that the switches perform accordingly.
Let’s start with the encoders that do not change their functionality regardless of the mode. Delay Type Selector is pretty self-explanatory – you either choose on-board delay type or the custom created TonePrint; Delay Time alters the length of your delays and ranges from 20ms to 7000ms depending on the selected delay type; Feedback sets the amount of repeats, while Delay Level modifies the volume of those repeats; Subdivision toggle allows you to choose quarter notes, dotted eighths or their combination; Looper/Delay switch selects either looper or delay modes, while Looper Level modifies the playback volume.
Now, when in preset mode, the three footswitches can recall the presets (the pedal comes with factory presets that can be overwritten). But when you select the looper mode, they are used to record the loops. Pretty easy, don’t you think? Oh, and keep in mind that the functionalities of each knob can be changed with the TonePrint Editor.
It does not require much intelligence to grasp just how powerful and diverse the sound of Flashback X4 is. It would be an amazing delay pedal even if it did not have so many types available. But it does and the majority of them will simply make your jaw drop. The delay types we have here are Tape, Tube, Space, Analog, Analog w/mod, Reverse, Dynamic, 2290, 2290 w/mod, Slap, Lofi, and Ping Pong. Each of them has enough texture and character to satisfy any needs. But I have to mention 2290 w/mod, which is the legendary sound of 2290 Dynamic Digital Delay blended with the modulation, i.e. chorus. It has very interesting and unique feel that transfers you into the realm of imagination. The looper is extremely functional and its individual footswitches give you the convenience needed to master this feature. It can be used in conjunction with delay, meaning that you can layer on different flavors and play them back as much as your heart desires. Factory presets instantly expose you to the beloved Eric Johnson, U2 or anyone you choose to load. This allows you to start off with the sounds that work and build on them gradually. When utilized in stereo, Flashback X4 has outstanding ambience and depth. No matter how you choose to employ this pedal, it has countless options to choose from and if you are echo aficionado, you will definitely appreciate everything this one has to offer.
TC Electronic Flashback X4 is basically a staple to any pedalboard. Yeah, I know, it is huge and will take up a lot of the space, but trust me, it deserves every inch. If you employ delay occasionally, you definitely will not need such refined unit. But if you love the effect and want to take it to another level, it will be hard to find a better model. Spend some time with Flashback X4 and you will know what I am talking about. Good luck!
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