Deco Tape Saturation & Doubletracker pedal – In Depth Demo


Tape Saturation The tape saturation effect is characterized by the addition of odd order harmonics that create a nice fattening up of the signal and some dynamic compression which helps to tame the peaks and then additionally dynamic band limiting which is very effective in creating a sense of dynamics in the frequency response where high sharp transients are not only limited through compression but are also band limited through the interaction of the pre-emphasis and de-emphasis equalization in the tape process. At low levels of saturation the effect is very transparent and something that’s really felt a bit more than heard. Here’s the bypass tone. Now with tape saturation at minimum. So something that’s barely audible as in effect but you do feel it and sense it when you’re playing it a bit more. As you increase the saturation the tape system gets driven harder and will produce more odd order harmonics. Compare that with Bypass. You can hear the start of the increased harmonics in the low end and the fattening of it, and just a little bit of Saturation effect on the top end. As we increase Saturation further we push the system harder and start creating more distortion products and get more of the compression effect. That’s probably about the limits that you would be pushing a deck in a recording environment where you’d be really slamming the VU meters and wouldn’t really be looking for the tape system to give you distortion beyond that. But we thought it’d be nice to extend the range to allow that the same principals of the effect to go into further levels of saturation. So if we turn the saturation up further… at maximum we get a decent amount of gain here certainly for a tape style system. One of the nice aspects of the tape system is the dynamics of it where at low levels the system essentially is wide bandwidth a clean reproduction and it’ll respond very nicely to dynamics where the harder inputs and attacks will benefit from the compression and the dynamic band limiting but the low level inputs will be clean and that allows it to be very responsive to your volume control and very transparent. So we’ll select a fairly high level of saturation here. Turning my guitar volume back. I just switch right over to my bridge pickup So it lends itself to setting at a certain distortion level and letting your guitar volume really set the amount of drive through the system without sacrificing your tone when your volume’s rolled back. As an always on effect it’s nice to have at a level where you don’t really hear any saturation. But it’s fattening up your sound in a way that lends itself to kind of sweeten everything that’s before it. Alright now let’s check out the saturation with a Strat that has a lot lower output than the humbuckers on that Les Paul copy. Here’s our dry tone Again with saturation engaged at minimum it’s going to be a very subtle effect So that you could hear around 10 o’clock or so on the knob it’s warming up the sound a bit here and getting some of the benefits of the saturation. Toughly fattening it up there and warming it up nicely. So at saturation maximum it’s adding harmonics and dynamic compression but doesn’t really take the characteristic tone away from the instrument that remains, it’s just enhanced by the saturation process. And turning my volume back… keeps the tone intact and makes it nice and clean you know very suitable for dynamic style. In fact, actually just picking very lightly… you’ll still retain the clean base tone of your signal. That’s barely touching the strings. Doubletracker Doubletracking effects are achieved in the studio by running two tape decks simultaneously that are offset from each other in time and the amount of offset in time will determine the type of effect ranging from through zero flanging at very short delay times to tape chorus effects and doubling effects that have slightly longer offset times. Past that there are slapback echoes and longer tape delays as the offset between the two decks is increased. The parameters that the engineers manipulated to create variations on these effects were the relative mix level of the two decks, the offset in time between the two decks, the way that the two decks were summed whether one of the decks had a phase inversion or whether they were summed in phase or a variation of those, and then also they could manipulate one of the decks’ flanges to create a sense of motion beyond just the static offset of the deck and that was how you would get some interesting through-zero flange sounds and nice chorus type of sounds as well. Deco gives you the ability to manipulate these same parameters as well with the Lag Time knob which controls the relative offset between the two decks. The Blend knob which controls the relative mix between the two decks. The Blend Type switch which will determine the way the decks are summed. They’re either in phase and Sum mode, lag deck is inverted relative to the reference deck in Invert mode and in Bounce mode we borrow the lag deck from the other channel to add an extra repeat and then the Wobble knob adds some random variation to the speed of the lag deck similar to manipulating the flange with your hand as the decks are turning. So let’s check out some of the sounds here. Starting with the Blend knob in the middle which is equal amounts of reference deck and lag deck. We’ll turn the Wobble back, we’ll go to Sum mode and we’ll start with the minimum lag time where now the lag deck is actually slightly ahead of the reference deck in time. So there you hear what’s essentially a comb filter created by the offset in time of the two decks. As I increase the lag time you will hear the lag deck will slow down to become synchronized with the reference deck at the zero mark on the knob. So now the two decks are essentially in phase so that there should be very minimal effect on your tone. As we continue turning the lag deck further we’ll hear more of the combing as the two decks become further apart. Continuing further we get to distances that will create the doubling and then slapback sounds. So there you can just hear a slight separation between the two decks. So now we’re getting into slapback levels of offset. A little further delay At maximum there is a 500 millisecond delay. Which is further then you would get in traditional double tracking effects but we thought it would nice to extend the range of that knob. So that’s the range of the Lag Time and the sounds you get with the Blend knob set in the middle for equal amounts of reference and lag deck. If we turn the Blend knob all the way clockwise then we’ll just be hearing the lag deck so we won’t hear any of the reference signal. And if we move the Lag Time to minimum now we are listening to just the lag deck. We would be able to add in some Wobble to get a pitched kind of vibrato effect in a randomized way. That can be reduced to be very subtle so now you just have very slight variations. We’ll see what happens as we bring the Blend back to 50/50 it will work with the lag deck in order to now create flanging sounds with a little bit of Wobble as the engineer would manipulate the flange of the reel. Going to put a little saturation on there to add harmonic content to show the flange a little more clearly here. For the most intense flanging effects you’ll want to set the Blend right at 50/50 so the two decks can cancel and complement each other fully. There’s a pretty big difference you get by just adjusting the Blend slightly to favor the reference deck where now the cancellations and reinforcements from the two decks won’t be absolute because the decks aren’t equally summed. So if you want a more of a mellow flange effect you can still get that by just adjusting the Blend. If we switch the Blend Type to Invert then we’ll have a negative through-zero flanger which is a very different sounding effect as the frequencies that are canceled and summed are now swapped. So there you hear complete cancellations when the two decks are aligned and summed with the lag deck inverted in phase. So if again we can make use of the Blend knob to mellow that out if you want the tonality of a through-zero effect without complete cancellation. One way we can do that is to reduce the Blend a little bit. Another way we can do that if we want the intensity of the effect but without full cancellation you go back to setting the Blend at 50/50 and increase the Lag Time beyond zero so now the lag deck will approach zero but won’t actually cross through zero and we can then have the full intensity of the flanging effect but we won’t actually cross zero. If we increase the Wobble further we’ll get excursions that are a little wilder. Increase the Lag Time further and use the Wobble knob we’ll get some nice tape chorus type of effects. Again using a Blend knob we can vary the intensity of the effect make it very subtle there Now the Bounce mode uses the lag deck from the right channel which is always active and sums that back into the left channel so that creates a second repeat or a second lagged signal that in stereo will give you a nice stereo effect and in mono will still create a fatter sound and in longer delays will give you a second repeat. We’ll explore that in a little bit. Here in Bounce mode we’ll hear what kind of stereo chorus spread we get. Compare that with Invert. It’s a very nice stereo field there. Increase the Lag a little further. That creates a very wide stereo chorus at that point as we increase the Lag Time. Now we’re getting a doubling chorus. And reduce the Blend to mellow that out a little bit. Going further into slapback delays we can take advantage of something that happens in physical slapback if a wave is reflecting off a back wall is the wave actually gets inverted as it bounces back and that’s something we can create with the invert mode, to have the echo come back out of phase from the dry signal. Comparing that to Sum is a very subtle difference. But it is something that does give you kind of a sense of a little extra depth I think when you’re in Invert mode for the slap sounds. And in Bounce mode we’ll get that second repeat. If we go back to Invert mode and reduce the Blend now we will have control over the repeat level. It’s very subtle there. It’s hard to tell it’s on. Until you turn it off. It just gives it a little extra depth and dimension there. And you can turn the Wobble down for just a straight slap without any motion on it. Increasing the Lag Time further we can get delays that will be suitable for a little bit of a lead fattening or just a little rhythm enhancement. We will go to Bounce mode again and get the extra repeat and fatten it up a bit. Increase the Wobble for a little more modulation depth. Go to maximum delay time. Even reduce the Blend more to reduce the lag deck and just have a little bit of faint call back on the lead line. Let’s increase the Saturation effect to it’s maximum to get kind of a lead tone going on right here. Deco overview / Tape Flange & Chorus examples / strymon.net/deco / subscribe

98 thoughts on “Deco Tape Saturation & Doubletracker pedal – In Depth Demo

  1. Pete Celi is the Walter White of sound designing, I'm addicted to Strymon's products and watching this demo makes me wanna say : "TIGHT TIGHT TIGHT!!!"

  2. Nice In Depth look! Too bad almost all of the saturation was demoed on the neck pickup. I barely use mine, so i would have loved to hear it in the Bridge position. Lovely pedal.

  3. I have one, and it's possibly the greatest pedal ever built. Every sound ya need is right there inside that beautiful box! Two thumbs up Strymon!

  4. This pedal obviously impresses me, but for what its worth, one of the things that impresses me the most is how such a big time name as you guys are, y'all are out interacting with fans like y'all do here. Companies don't enough emphasis on connecting with their fans or customers, even at such a low level as social media, if youtube counts as that haha. anyway, its cool to see you guys interact with fans, will defiantly be trying to get the Deco

  5. I really, really like the pedal.  I love the Agile guitar too!  What model is it and what pickups are you using…they do not look stock? Thanks!

  6. Super demo! LOVE this pedal. Anyone know when it will be released? What an awesome addition to my board this would be…

  7. It is always enlightning to watch Pete Celi demos of Strymon pedals. I do hope to continue to watch him doing this.

  8. Hey Strymon guys! First of all, i'm a huge fan of your wonder and pristine-sounding machines. 
    I'm very interested in the stereo doubling (overdub effect) capabilities os this pedal. My idea is to use both a small touch of the Tape Saturation side for my overall sound AND (most importantly) the Doubletracker side to emulate a double tracked guitar in stereo, without modulation. Is that possible? I mean, having the non-delayed signal only in one side and the delayed signal on the other? Can I control the volume balance between the two sides?
    I couldn't find a demo sound doing this… but I'm nearly sure it's possible! I just need straight confirmation!

  9. This is very impressive. It sounds "right" and the explanation is spot on. Impressive technology and really good ears behind it!

  10. BTW the short slapback sounds are the best I've heard since the original old school recordings. Between the tape sat and phase invert I think you nailed it!

  11. I bought my Deco yesterday and I truly think it's the greatest pedal I've ever heard/used … It's possibilities are seemingly endless and unlike so so many pedals that have many different sounds every single sound I've dialed in is not only incredibly usable but extremely inspiring, I'm using this live tomorrow for the first time, I cannot wait….. Honestly Strymon, I'm in awe …!

  12. Strymen!! You're the best…ive got the deco…on synths its wonderful,its gives really another dimension ,something like…mmm… i try to translate from french: its like a" blanket of mist" on some synths textures…You understand what i mean? …So you can run a buy it for your synths too!

  13. Playing my Rhodes thru the Deco into an old Fender amp sounds AWESOME!!! I can turn up its clean boost and "pummel" my amp, add flanging, etc. Like many cool guitar pedals (wah, smallstone), it works great on keyboards too!!!
    Just go buy it … you'll be glad you did!!!

  14. Very, very nice demo. Like Heisenberg switched from comprehensive blue meth manufacture to comprehensive effects modelling, wow.  I've been looking for a true aperiodic flange/chorus, and it sounds like you've nailed the whole tape effect gamut to boot.  Can you say a bit more about the wobble?  Is it a kind of modelled width+volatility? 

  15. The Deco is both "creamy" AND "dreamy"!! The left side is the "creamy" side, where you can get creamy tone that's great for smoothing single coils guitars, Clavinets (it sounds GREAT on my Clav) while you pummel your tube amp with the drive knob. The right side is the "dreamy' side, where you can dial in killer chorus, flange, delay and other trippy effects. We tried it on a baritone acoustic guitar the other night, plugged in between the guitar's quacky piezo pickup and an old Fender amp. It smoothed out the barking, and replaced it with a new creamy tone. And then the classic trippy world of the 1960's came alive, when we activated the dreamy flanger! JUST GO GET ONE, YOU'LL BE GLAD YOU DID!! Remember: its both creamy & dreamy!!!

  16. Perfect tutorial. I'm so used to pedals that require aggressive knob movement to get a different sound. I own all the Strymon pedals and after seeing this video this might become my fav. Please do this exact video format on all your pedals. Bravo!!

  17. I love the subtlety of the Deco and how well it works with my other Strymon pedals; Mobius, Timeline, and Big Sky.  I am very pleased with this arsenal of tone.   

    I also want to thank Pete for this thorough demonstration.  It sold me.

  18. Top Demo ! I have the El Capistan in my Studio, is simply one of my best Tape-Delays !
    Use it for any Source, Killer on Vocals too. Strymon make a great Job & the Deco & Flint on my List soon …

  19. Hi Strymon! In you blog you wrote that Buffered Bypass can be connected using the right out.. Hence, is needed to select True or Bypass using the double-switching restart of the unit o you can simply connect the right out to have the buffer mode?

    Thanks!!! 😉

  20. @Emilio Martín Chica – We recommend setting the pedal to Buffered Bypass by pressing and holding down both bypass switches and turning then BLEND knob to select buffered bypass.  Once set this way, it will remain in buffered bypass for future power ups.

  21. What a great demo :). I love the fact that Strymon have great taste in sound. Making pedals and instruments is one thing, making something inspiring and beautiful is another. Great job guys!

  22. 08:57 Sorry, I've got brain fail trying to grasp this bit: I don't understand how the lag deck can be slightly ahead of the reference deck. I thought the 'reference deck' was real time guitar as it is being played, so I don't understand how the lag (delay) can be ahead of the real-time playing. Can you explain this concept of 'reference deck' and 'lag deck'? Thanks.

  23. i want that tape saturation sound but nothing els from the pedal, if anyone know of anything smaller that dose that?

  24. Excellent demo and explanations!  Thank you.  @strymon: One question: Where in the signal chain would one put this…normally OD, Flange and Chorus would be before a volume pedal, but there is a delay aspect at some settings and normally that would be after the volume pedal. Would you recommend BEFORE a volume pedal?  Thanks!

  25. Hi there.
    Just bought the BigSky and I'm blown away.
    So, now I'm looking for a pedal to replace my old Roland SRE 555 which I stupidly sold for tuppence some years ago. Do you have any suggestions? Many thanks. Keep Rocking.

  26. So want his pedal. I bet his pedalboard at home is just a big glowing orb that he manipulates with gestures and brain waves and can create any sound ever thought of.

  27. How wide is the frequency response of this pedal? I am wondering if I could also use it as an insert on a full mix in order to get some subtle saturation tones to blend with the original signal. If it can do something along the lines of 50Hz-12KHz it would be awesome for that as well.

  28. Man, Im glad I gave this a second look. This is much more than I originally thought. If you could assign an expression pedal to the Saturation, this could be a stand alone pedal for me.

  29. Curious to where you guys with this pedal are putting it on your board in relation to other time and gain effects (if you are using both saturation and doubling effects)

  30. Pete, are you thinking about creating just an overdrive/distortion pedal, that would respond to volume/pickup dynamics so one can manipulate clean-distorted using volume and pickups?

  31. Pete kind of sounds like the actor Ed Begley, Jr. haha! Also Strymon are crazy, I want all of their products!

  32. I would be interested in using high saturation with a wobble effect, but not phasing i.e. just the mono lag deck signal modulating with high saturation. Is this possible, or is the lag deck not affected by the saturation control?

    Never used a tape deck before, so I suppose my question is does the lag deck take its signal from the first tape deck or the original dry guitar signal?

  33. completely unrelated but what style of music is that at the very beginning? I quite like that slap back finger style of guitar. Any artist recommendations?

  34. could you do a demonstration of this pedal on synths? feel like it would be perfect to add movement and width to sounds

  35. I like the saturation feature, especially because it has a separate switch and it doesn't really change the volume of the signal that much. I'm sure this would be an awesome pedal for thickening keyboards, as well.

  36. What's with the hero worship going on here??Very nice pedal/sound/video , but you raving crow- knee's make me piss all over you… Enough!!

  37. Please make this pedal with midi and presets…so unique but does too many thing to use anywhere but in the studio. Could replace or supplement a few pedals.

  38. You can get it shipped to you in a chicken or pizza box. I hear they have a new product called Roof Pizza.

  39. I bought this pedal for the old school double tracking for rock a billy but didn’t know it could do all of the flanging effects until I watched this video.

  40. I know this pedal has been out for a while, but I think an in depth demo/tutorial for Studio Mode and it’s functions in a studio setting would be great.

    I’m curious to see how it compares to a tape deck, especially considering that this is much less of a hassle and has a much smaller footprint.

  41. Hi, I Just bought this unit, for me the best pedal ever, especially wide stereo mode, many thanks Strymon 🙂

  42. My fifth strymon pedal!!! Just picked one up from long and mcquaid's zero interest sale.
    My chain is now tuner. Wah. Maxon 808 , Sunset, Riverside, Deco, carbon copy, el Capistan, Flint. Hehe its soooo sweet. I love you guys. Strymon makes my ears happy

  43. Dear Pete, thanks for all you r hard work and for making music exciting and so much fun with your ppedals! Warmly, Dr. Rob

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