At Winter NAMM this year, one of the things that really caught my eye was a brand new effect pedal from Boss, called the Tera Echo TE-2. Aside from being the 100th pedal that Boss has created, it was also one of 3 new designs Boss made to alter the effects based on how dynamically you’re playing. Billed as neither a reverb or delay pedal, it sounded perfect for the trippy sort of music I like to make.
It’s no surprise I’m a huge delay fan, I use it readily in pretty much all of my songs. But what might surprise some people is that this is the first dedicated hardware delay unit I’ve ever owned. Heck, it’s the first single use guitar pedal I’ve ever bought, and I’ve been playing over 23 years (my past pedals were all multi-effect units like the Pod). So I was pretty excited a couple days ago when I learned they were finally arriving in stores, and I went to get one ASAP.
Physically it’s incredibly sturdy, like any Boss pedal it feels like it could be dropped a few times without really damaging it. The colors look better in person than the online pictures I had seen before buying it, sort of a pearl white with metallic teal letters. The top 4 knobs and the backplate below them are gold, which looks better with the other colors than you might think. Heavy duty rubber is on the top of the foot switch, and on the bottom of the entire unit to make sure it stays in place.
Controls and IO are simple, aside from the foot switch and the 4 knobs, there’s a small indicator LED, and you have stereo ins and outs for 1/4″ jacks. The IO is not balanced (the indicator light blinks and no sound is passed if you try using a balanced cable), but at least there’s a stereo input unlike a lot of guitar pedals.
The 4 controls you have to adjust are:
Level – Functions as both a wet dry knob and volume boost, at 12 o’clock the wet to dry split is 50/50 like you’d expect. Past halfway though, the overall volume increases with the wet mix increasing. Can take some finessing to get a clean signal to the rest of your device chain depending on how much of the effect you want.
Tone – Controls the brightness of the effected signal. Turn it way up and you get just a sparkling shimmer that fades away into the distance. Turn it down to the minimum setting and you get a deep cavernous tone that still presents a lot of spaciousness.
Feedback – Basically gives you control over how long the effect tail is. At shorter feedback settings, you can hear the individual delays cascading around each other. With longer feedback, you can create whole new atmospheres and sustained textures.
S-Time – I think this means spread time. With really low settings, the effect sounds more like a reverb, with high settings you get more and more time between delays and repeats. There’s no way to dial in precise tempos, nor is there a tap tempo function. This is one of my few complaints about it.
So, how does it sound in use? At first I went right for the most over the top effects I could, almost no dry signal just all sorts of delayed weirdness. It was fun for a bit, but quickly I started noticing how ‘samey’ the tone was, almost a sort of dull wooden sound. Also, with really short Feedback settings, you get this weird filtered modulation happening with each note. It wasn’t bad sounding, but it is so distinct that it started making me think this pedal was a one trick pony
After a bit of a break however, I decided to see how it sounded when used a little more subtly. Here’s where my perceptions about things totally changed too! When used to accent and compliment my guitar’s real tone, all sorts of new sounds seemed to come from the TE-2. The dynamic changes are subtle at times, but there’s definitely a change in how everything responds depending on how hard you play.
What really surprised me though was how well it worked when I ran an already heavily effected or delayed signal into it. I figured it would wash everything out and just turn it all into mush, but the previous effects could still be heard and the new delays interacted with them in interesting ways.
It’s not a magic pedal mind you, there’s still a similarity to the types of effects it produces. But when you factor in the different input signals you can feed it, I think there’s still a lot of variety you can get out of the effects. Being able to morph from short reverbs to long delay washes is pretty cool sounding, and the feedback goes up high enough that it can get out of control if you’re not careful.
Another neat trick is that you can step and pedal switch and hold it down to freeze the current effect trails into a repeating loop. So you could, for instance, strum a chord and let the delays build, then press and hold the toe switch down to freeze those echoes while you play over them. The echoes are typically a little on the quiet side, but it does give you plenty of room to play over without everything fighting for space too.
Overall I’m really happy with the Tera Echo though. It’s by no means the perfect or most flexible delay pedal out there, it does one thing and one thing very well. There’s a lot of room for fine-tuning exactly the type of ambience you want to create though, so I think it will still get a lot of use here. Definitely not the kind of thing I’d want to use in every song though.
Here’s a quick video I made of it processing a song I’m working on in my Elektron Octatrack.
Mainly just tweaking the parameters in real-time to give you a feel for the range of sounds it can make. There’s already a few videos on YouTube showing people using it on guitar, so I thought I would do something a little different. If you have any questions, post them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them asap. Thanks!