Catalinbread Belle Epoch Delay
The Catalinbread Belle Epoch Tape Echo, has tape echo sounds so authentic you’d swear there was tape inside the pedal!
Inspired by the Maestro Echoplex, EP-3 model, perhaps the most famous tape delay ever, the Belle Epoch features everything we love about the EP-3 in a small, maintenance free pedal format.
We felt that a “tape echo” pedal was much more than just a standard digital delay with some “filtering” on the repeats. There are a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle traits of the Echoplex that needed to be implemented in order to be authentic.
The preamp, the self-oscillation character, the ability to play the pedal as an instrument unto itself, the ability to control the “record level” of the signal hitting “tape”, the wow and flutter, the way the repeats decay, the way the circuit interfaces with the amp and other pedals, because all these things were important to get right.
Belle Epoch Design
The Catalinbread Belle Epoch is designed to be run in front of your amp in the same way the Echoplex. They share almost identical input and output circuit topologies, including the passive unbuffered mixer circuit of the EP-3.
However, it is tuned to have a lower output impedance than the EP-3 to not load down the output as much while still retaining the open non-buffered output interface.
We wanted to incorporate all the attributes that made the EP-3 compelling and then some, because the Echoplex is a musical instrument unto itself and we wanted the Belle Epoch to be too!
So then, here’s what we did with the Belle Epoch:
• We used the same basic architecture for the audio path and mixer stages as the EP-3. The delay line is DSP-based, but we carefully tuned the repeats to sound and respond like the Echoplex.
• We developed an all-discrete preamp that gives the same benefits as the EP-3 but with even greater touch- sensitivity. Your direct guitar signal only sees this preamp. There are no buffer stages or op-amps anywhere in the direct signal path. Plus, the Belle Epoch preamp can be run from 9 to 18 volts as opposed to the fixed voltage biasing of the original, giving you more powering and tonal options.
• We replicated the delay time range of the Echoplex, from 80ms to 800ms, to give you an authentic Echoplex experience, going from the perfect slapback all the way to Brian May.
We paid close attention to the sweep of the Echo Sustain (repeats) control, going from a single repeat all the way to self-oscillation madness. There is a wide sweet spot for dialing in repeats that can float without building up into self-oscillation. You’ll find the sweep of this control allows you to get the echo sustain sound you’re going for quickly.
Reproducing the behavior of the EP-3’s Record Level control with the Tone/Record Level control, you can go from light and airy repeats all the way to thick and grungy repeats. This knob essentially gives you control over that all important first repeat – it can be thin and quiet, great for adding ambience without the echoes stepping on your dry signal or it can be big and gritty, louder and dirtier than your dry signal, great for rhythmic echo solos.
An internal trimpot allows you to preset the Belle Epoch’s gain and volume, from unity all the way to an incred- ible, loud, fuzzy boost. Hit your amp hard if you want for amazing saturation from the discrete preamp.
Internal switch allows you to set for true-bypass OR “trails mode”! Put it in trails mode to always take advantage of the Belle Epoch’s juicy preamp! Put it in true-bypass mode and set the gain loud for instant epic lead goodness from one pedal!
Having said that, the Belle Epoch will perform great in almost any pedal stacking situation. But for the most authentic Echoplex-like experience, we recommend that you run it before any foundation overdrive type pedals and after fuzzes, treble boosters, and the like.
For the most awesome experience, try playing it right in line before your cranked up tube amp.
The MIX control
Replicates the functionality of the Echo Volume control on the EP-3 and uses the same basic passive mixer circuit. Set at minimum to get dry only. Set at maximum to get wet only.
The Mix control uses authentic EP-3 mixing circuitry to go from totally dry to totally wet. This is the same as the “Echo Volume” control on the EP-3.
TONE / REC LEV control
sets how hard the “tape” or delay line is hit. It does not affect your dry signal and only affects the initial first repeat. Turning the knob while repeats are playing will not affect them. In practice, you’ll want to use this control in conjunction with the Mix control to set your balance
The SWAY / MOD
Control sets the amount of random tape wow and flutter effects in the echoes. At minimum, there is no wow and flutter. For the most realistic tape warble, set this control fairly low.
The ECHO SUSTAIN
controls how much delay signal is fed back to the delay line to get multiple repeats. From minimum up to around noon you’ll get a fixed number of repeats with a great decay curve. Above noon you start to get into infinite floating repeats and then into self-oscillation.
The ECHO DELAY
Controls the delay time, from about 80ms all the way up to 800ms. It was designed to be manipulated in real-time, as you are playing, to get the same sounds as an EP-3. You’ll notice, especially when the Echo Sustain is turned up a bit, that the echo sound “lags” a bit, much like how the Echoplex behaves when you move the slider back and forth.
The Echo Delay control “lags” just like the slider on the Echoplex! When you turn it the delay time takes a moment to “catch up”. When doing self-oscillation soundscapes, this gives you a totally realistic and authentic Echoplex response! It really feels like you’re moving a tape head laterally across the tape instead of merely rotating a knob!
Also worth looking at the Belle Epoch Deluxe if funds allow
80-ms-800ms of real-time adjustable delay.
Go from a single repeat to self-oscillations.
Dial in a variety of wow/flutter tape modulation.
100% wet/dry mix & record level control.
2.34″ x 4.39″ pedal
9v-18v Negative Tip DC Power
61 mA draw