Zorx Electronics
16 Seconds Delay - Maneco Labs

16 Seconds Delay - Maneco Labs

by Ellison Wolf

I have a friend who does prepared guitar and swears by an 80s Electro Harmonix 16 Second Delay that he bought new almost forty years ago. It’s seen its fair share of abuse and even though it’s had its switches and jacks replaced a few times and sliders taken apart and Deoxited, it doesn’t always work quite right and is inconsistent. Still, he says that when it does work correctly there’s nothing better, and that its “personality” is part of its charm. I’m not one to argue, and to each their own, but as for a guitar pedal, I never felt that a delay with that type of layout would benefit my style—problems or not. When it comes to Eurorack, however, it’s a different story, and Maneco Labs Sixteen Seconds Delay Vintage (SSDV) module has helped me understand what made my friend suffer through his EHX pedal’s bouts of inconsistencies. There’s no fickle performance here, and a delay/looper with sliders is a fun thing to tangle with.
With a layout and overall aesthetic inspired by EHX’s original pedal, Maneco’s Eurorack adapted version of their own pedal version of the original, is almost identical, though the SSDV doesn’t sport the footswitches or Vent section and ups the delay time to thirty-two seconds, making the name of the module a beautiful lie (the horror!); however, it retains the core sections with corresponding parameters adjusted via light up LED sliders: Delay (Fine, Course), Sweep (Speed, Depth) and Mix (FBack, Depth) with CV inputs for CV In (which controls the sample rate), Trig (for synching the delay line), Reverse, Slow, and Infinite. Manual toggles at the top of the module for some of these parameters (Slow-Fast, Infinite, Fwd-Rev) with light up indication are also on hand, and for interfacing there’s Input, Effect Output, and a Mix Out.
As the name suggests, this is a digital delay, though the digital-ness is only in regards to AD/DA conversion and memory, and happens vintage-style in eight bits, just like the original. Also in keeping with the original, everything else is all-analog, including the signal path, and the sound it produces is wonderfully primitive. This is an interesting module for a delay, and I’m not sure there’s anything else out there like it. It certainly takes up more real estate—20 HP—than your average delay, but it screams for a hands-on approach, what with those well spaced out light- up sliders it reminds me of the ARP 2600. Once you get behind an intuitive and pleasing interface that’s designed to be experimented with, like the 2600—or this delay—to be a canvas on which you create, you understand the allure. And, having had in my possession a KARP 2600 FS for the past month, the SSDV paired wonderfully with it, both in terms of sound/features, and the playing field.
And speaking of playing, I’m not one to normally “play” a delay. I usually patch it up, tweak it until I find the sound I like, and move on, but with the SSDV I spent a lot of time sliding, tweaking, and toggling, seeing what it’s capable of, where it can go. When I first started testing this out, having had no hands-on prior experience with the original version, I just did the ol’ patch and tweak and couldn’t really make heads or tails with what was going on—there was too much happening too decipher—so I decided to try it with a clean slate; no CV patched in, and all of the sliders in their down position except for the Blend, which was at max, and just a little amount on the Feedback control, so that I could hear distinctly what was happening, what SSDV was doing to the sound. This helped, and with a little bit of movement on the Coarse tuning, SSDV sounded great, adding a slightly distorted, squared and grainy delay. Moving the Coarse control and the thing went haywire for a moment, adjusting its tempo/pitch before settling in a bit. Switching the speed with the Slow-Fast toggle changed the overall sound and feel quite a bit, and this is CVable, so that’s nice. I boosted the Feedback to near max and and indeed, SSDT did start feeding back, more and more as time went on until the original sound going through had a distorted feedback tail, growling and following the simple three note sequence I was feeding it and adding a pleasing, nasty ambience to the overall sound. To CV control the delay time, I patched a square wave LFO into the Trig in, as it syncs to tempo with an LFO, or clock or whatever, but if you wanted to recreate the haywire chaos you’d be good to patch in a stepped random LFO or a stepped sample and hold for that, which worked quite well when I did that with ALM’s Pamela’s New Workout. There’s an internal triangle LFO for modulating the delay time and pitch, which is where the Sweep section and its Speed and Depth controls come in. With the patched-in stepped LFO and CVing the Slow-Fast, it was a whirlwind of grainy looping delays. Adjusting the Fine control added to this as I was adding more change, and while I couldn’t control what was happening—it’s not the type of looping delay that you can build up a song around or anything—it was fruitful to give in into the magic of SSDV, to let it do its thing. One thing I found interesting is that with CV patched into the CV In and the Feedback control all the way down (at zero?) and the Blend control at max, SSDV behaved as a sample and hold, though once I started adding some feedback that wonderfully distorted mess started filtering in. Another thing I found interesting is that the Effect Out and the Mix out have a different sound when the Blend was at max position, with the Effect Out having less overall volume and a slightly more veiled sound. I would have thought that max Blend would be 100% effect—which I think it was—and the same as the Effect Out, but it wasn’t the same. Either way, I’m happy for this as it gives more options for outputs.
This is a bizarre delay, unlike any I’ve come across in modular form. It’s more playable than most delays out there, yet mostly unpredictable, and dirty sounding; three of my most favorite attributes when it comes to my modular. I highly enjoy the Sixteen Second Delay Vintage, though I do wish there was a way to bypass the effect, either with an actual bypass switch, or even being able to CV the Feedback or Mix amount (thereby bypassing the effect), even though it’s easy enough to manually pull the Mix slider all the way down to do just that. Other than that minor detail, Maneco’s SSDV is a really fun delay/looper and I love the form factor for Eurorack. There’s plenty of tweaking to be had, whether by CV or by hand, and it’s easy to do so with the latter as the light up green LED sliders are an easy visual to spot. If you’re tempted by a more hands-on approach for a delay/looper and you can let yourself yield a little control from time to time, I would definitely seek this out.

20 HP +12v 95mA -12v 10mA
Price: $395