BACKGROUND: TC Electronic has long been a leader in delay and time-based effects. When they make stomp boxes, people pay attention. A couple years ago TC came out with a series of pedals called Toneprint: small, compact pedals that packed a punch with a “Toneprint” section allowing the user to recall a downloaded setting. Although many of the pedals from the Toneprint series were well received the Flashback delay was a standout pedal. The Flashback delay was such a success that TC decided to make it bigger, badder, and more capable.
- Powered by 9V
- 16 Delay Types
- Tap Tempo
- 4 Toneprint Banks
GUITARS: Gibson Sig Tweedy SG, MIJ Fender ’62 Telecaster Reissue
AMPS: Carol Ann OD-2r, Mesa Boogie Lonestar Special
FIRST IMPRESSION: It’s massive! Seriously, it was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. I guess I was thinking it would be about the size of the Strymon Timeline. Boy, was I wrong. It’s the size of a Line 6 DL-4. I had to spend a little time rethinking my pedal board after I got this pedal.
The other thing I noticed right is that it looked really simple. Sometimes I look at the Timefactor or Timeline and I get the feeling this pedal could beat me at chess. Not so with the X4. It didn’t look intimidating at all. There aren’t a whole lot of knobs and everything was very clearly labeled. I didn’t feel like I was going to have to even open up the user’s manual just to start having fun with this pedal.
Good thing to because the next thing I noticed was that it didn’t come with a user’s manual. That’s actually not too shocking given the advent of the internet. We will probably see user manuals go the way of the Yellow Pages before too long, but it still caught me off guard.
PROS: I found this pedal to be really easy to use. I only looked up the manual once and I can’t even remember what it was for. It should be noted that I’m not using any of the Toneprints and I’m not using the looper (I have used it once and it seemed pretty intuitive); I can imagine that when you start to attach a USB cable to this pedal it would be nice to reference the manual, but for normal good old delay use, the pedal is really easy to use.
In TC Electronic form, this pedal sounds great. TC has always shined when it comes to delay and this pedal is no exception.The different delay types either sound really good or really close to what it’s trying to model. And with 16 different delay types, I was bound to find a couple I liked.
I love that this pedal is powered by 9 volts AC. It just more convenient. I didn’t have to rack my brain figuring out how I was going to power this pedal and (more importantly) I didn’t have to buy a new power supply.
CONS: It does take of a lot of space on my board. It probably wouldn’t have bothered me if I hadn’t convinced myself it was smaller. Still, I did have to undergo a pretty extensive redesign of my board once I started using it.
I really wish there was an out for an external tap tempo. Given that it’s MIDI capable (another really cool thing for a pedal like this) it might be possible, but I can’t just buy a Loopmaster tap tempo pedal and plug it in. As it is now, I feel like I have to have the pedal right at the front of my board for comfortable access to the on board tap tempo.
It would be nice if I could set the tempo by beats per minute (bpm) but that may be asking for more than what the pedal was intended to be.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The TC Electronic Flashback X4 is the perfect delay pedal for someone who is purchasing there first delay or someone who looking to upgrade from a single delay pedal such as a Boss DD-7 or an MXR Carbon Copy. The sounds are killer, it’s easy to use and you probably won’t have to buy an elaborate power supply to use it. If bigger boys like the Strymon Timeline and the Eventide Timefactor seem like too much to handle then the Flashback X4 is the pedal to look at.