ProGuitarShop

Pedal Review: DMB Lunar Echo

September 20, 2012

Written by Ian Garrett

The Review:                      DMB Lunar Echo

The Point:                    An all analog, bucket brigade delay pedal

The Damage:              $299

See the Lunar Echo here at Pro Guitar Shop

Delay aficionados are a quirky bunch.  There is no “perfect” delay, so it’s not uncommon to see multiple delays on a pedal board. The more the merrier. In fact, the idea of an all-delay pedal board is not a foreign concept to some players.  And while digital delays far outnumber analog delays these days, there still exists the need for that “warm” analog bucket brigade type of delay. The DMB Lunar Echo is one such beast that adds a few twists to a familiar formula.

The Lunar Echo crams a lot of conventional and unconventional features into a relatively small package. It features an effects loop input (a/b/y cable needed), an expression pedal input, a foot-switchable toggle for on/off, and a foot-switchable “take off” control for on-demand oscillation. It has a healthy 500ms of delay time, a bit less in the Wrecked mode. 

The controls are simple: level, tails (number of repeats), and echo (delay time). On the left side are two controls for the modulation’s speed and depth.  Finally, there are two small toggle switches for “Hi-Fi” or “Lo-Fi,” and another toggle switch that decides whether you choose Tape, Wrecked, or the middle position Normal mode that turns off the modulation in the signal. It also sports a cool, almost Mountain Dew color you don’t see very often. 

Choose Your Poison:  Hi-Fi or Lo-Fi, Tape or Wrecked?

The Lunar Echo has a few extra features worth taking a closer look at.  The Hi-Fi mode has a cleaner but quieter feeling to it, and I found it works well with added gain and/or fuzz.  It sounded a bit subdued to me. The Lo-Fi mode rolls off more of the highs and has a warmer, stronger, and fuller tone.  The delays are more prominent and last longer. I found myself using this setting most of the time. 

The Tape, Wrecked, and Normal modes have a few differences in how they react to the modulation. The Normal mode takes the modulation out of the signal, whereas the Tape mode dials in subtle- to somewhat not-so-subtle modulation, but never over the top. If you crank the depth all the way and set the speed at noon or more, the notes bend up. The speed decides how long that bend will last while the depth controls how deep it will go. If you crank the speed all the way, you get a nice vibrato-like tone, which fades somewhat when the depth is turned down.

The Wrecked mode takes the modulation a step further, and then some. Start with the depth turned down all the way and speed all the way up. It’s like the vibrato sound in the Tape mode, only deeper. Now turn the depth up some and the bends in pitch became overly pronounced and wild. Go past noon and you’ll get this weird, almost percussive sound beating in time to the speed setting.  Watch out! It sounds unpredictable, like a tape machine ready to explode. A fun effect, but I’m not sure how often I’d really use this mode, or this type of modulation. The Tape mode set on Lo-Fi was my favorite combination.

Oscillation, Thy Name is Wow

The final aspect of this pedal is the oscillation. With the echo knob set at noon or a bit less, and the tails set at three o’clock, you can make this pedal oscillate with a simple strum of a chord. And with the Tails set just a bit less, digging harder in to your playing causes it to oscillate as well.  Finally, there is the Take Off switch.  Depress this, and wild and loud oscillation will ensue. When you let go of the Take Off control, the oscillation may still continue, forcing you to quickly dial back the Echo or Tails controls.  It’s pretty unique among delay pedals to oscillate via two different controls, possibly at the same time. By using just the Take Off switch, you eliminate the need to bend down and twiddle knobs while playing.

Lunar Echo vs. a Classic

When it comes to analog delays with modulation, the “gold standard” for a long time has been the Electro Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man (DMM).  The comparisons are fairly obvious: close in price, similar delay time, and both have chorus/vibrato modulation. How do they differ? The Lunar Echo is easier to power (9v versus 24v), the aforementioned effects loop and expression pedal input, and a separate foot-switchable oscillation mode.  The Lunar Echo has separate speed and depth controls, while the DMM has a chorus/vibrato switch that gives you only a set speed for either chorus or vibrato that you can’t control. However, I do love the vibrato modulation on the DMM. 

One trait of the DMM that turns me off when using it clean is the white noise that can surround each note. If you’re using dirt, it isn’t a big deal. But the Lunar Echo has very little white noise, and in the end, this this is what does it for me. You do have to spend more time dialing in the different options and combinations with the Lunar Echo, but it’s worth it.

The Lunar Echo is a special pedal. For an analog delay, it is pretty quiet.  And with the added modulation controls, it will give you a realistic tape echo that goes from subtle to wild. There are some equally good digital based echo pedals out there as well, but if you want real analog echo goodness, and not a digital emulation of it, this may be your echoooooo.

 

Rating:  4 

See the Lunar Echo here at Pro Guitar Shop

 

5 – Tremendous product; among the very best

4 – Great value overall; exceeds expectations

3 – Definite contender, but look closely at the competition too

2 – Average at best; probably better choices exist

1 – Not ready for prime time

Comments

  1. Tommy says:

    Great article. I have a multi delay pedal board and thought that it was weird. Now I read that it is a popular thing. That is good. This Lunar Echo looks like it would be a great addition to any pedal board. Nice variety of settings and delay sounds. Nice, nice, nice, nice, nice nice, niiiiiiice.

    posted on September 23, 2012 at 10:50 am
  2. Brian Kibler says:

    Can’t wait to try it… try it… try it… try it…

    posted on September 24, 2012 at 3:28 am
  3. Doug says:

    Had the pedal for about 1 week trying to find inspiration with the bucket brigade platform. To be honest with you, the Lunar has many features yet does not really go into any new direction worth price tag. “Take off” feature is similar to that of Paul Gilbert’s Ibanez flanger feature, in that you will use it sparingly if wise. This pedal’s TONALITY is on par with an MXR Carbon Copy. I recommend the awesome Wampler Faux Tape or something similar for $100 less.  To each his own. PGS has an unbeatable satisfation policy on gear.

    posted on September 25, 2012 at 2:28 am
  4. Powder Jellyfish says:

    How does it compare to the Jam Llama delay ?
    Both are more or less the same price tag…
    Thanks for your great job, PGS !

    posted on September 25, 2012 at 9:21 pm
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  6. Lia says:

    PaulJanuary 18, 2012     This is a an excellent pedal for hard rock and metal.  It’s a veiatsrle pedal since its eq features give you total control and allow you to completely sculpt your tone.  As far as distortion pedals go, its a good choice.

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    ‘serious’, but that doesn’t mean much from me. heheSam–I like you pastor. That’s awesome! hahaJoel–did he really throw his sticks at you?Sam–lolJoel–yikes!Don–haha They’d probably send me home after the conversation playing out of a POD! hehe Those older folks know what they want, and usually how to get it, too. And I mean that in the nicest way. And a very serious one. heheJoel–hehe That can be very true. We had another church renting out our building on Sunday nights for a while, and they brought in their own speakers…huge stacks of them. And I knew I had to hide them for our services, otherwise the power of suggestion would seriously be probably way too loud! Maybe the same as why I absolutely know that the JJ gold pin tubes sound better than the regular ones.  hehehe

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    Samuel–haha I’m totally with ya.  Joel–Exact same with me. I could never get what I get now out of modelers…but the functionality is quite nice.  Samuel–unfortunately…ya, those things do sound very decent. Not quite enough to my humble ears for me to buy one yet, but good enough for me to concede that they are real equipment to be reckoned with. As much as I hate saying it. heheMark Colvin–great point. Everyone I know with M13′s, don’t use the direct outs. They run them into a tube amp, just like you.And handing out ear protectors? Maybe we should think about that.  hehe

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