GEAR 409 • Analog vs Digital Delay Pedals, Carbon Copy vs Flashback

This is a two part video about the differences between analog and digital delay. Part one discusses the general differences between analog and digital delay effects. Part two compares popular analog & digital delay pedals: the MXR Carbon Copy vs the TC Electronic Flashback.

In terms of sound, analog delays tend to sound warm and round. The repeats loose some definition and clarity, however there is generally more body and texture to the repeats. In general, analog delay works well when there is more space in the mix and you’re not running a bunch of other effects. It’s perfect for anything from classic slapback sounds to spacey classic rock. Analog delay can round out a brighter sounding guitar and amp.

Digital repeats do not have the high-end roll-off of analog and generally sound crisper and clearer. (You also tend to get longer delay times and more features with a digital pedal.) Digital delay works well with other pedals and is also the delay of choice for acoustic guitar. The clean, clear repeats sit well in the mix because they don’t have as much body / girth as the repeats on an analog delay.

It should also be noted that there is some overlap between these sounds, with some analog units more on the clear/crisp side (like Seymour Duncan’s Vapor Trail) and some digital delays more on the warm/round side. Some digital delays can produce a convincing analog sound and let you do some things you couldn’t normally do with an analog pedal, however the simplest way to get an analog sound is with an analog delay pedal. Really I recommend owning one of each if you have the means (provided you like delay; also note, they are readily available used). In addition to being useful in different contexts, it can also be fun to run the two delay pedals together. (Maybe I’ll do that in another video one day.)

For the sound demo in part two, I compare the MXR Carbon Copy with the TC Electronic Flashback. Really, this is not meant to show you everything the pedals can do, but to give you a taste of the different sounds that are commonly used – namely a short-to-medium delay to add body. (I do play around with some weird sounds for a bit though.) The Flashback especially is a fairly versatile pedal, however I will focus on the Analog / Tape / LoFi settings, which still sound ‘digital’ in comparison with the Carbon Copy.
The playlist embedded below has both parts of the demo.

This demo was recorded with a Fender MIM Strat (w/ Texas Special pickups) and a Fender Champ II (Rivera, with Eminence Ragin’ Cajun speaker) amp miked with a Sennheiser e906 dynamic microphone.

MXR page for the Carbon Copy:

TC Electronic page for the Flashback:

You may also want to check out my demo of the Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail analog delay.