Strymon Timeline First Impressions
Like Barry Zuckercorn. It’s very good.
ANOTHER NEW EDIT: The newest firmware update addresses the issue of not being able to write patches via midi patch change message. The Timeline can now do this, which is huge. It also adds in some amazingly unexpected features like spillover between presets instead of just with on/off, patch naming, and optional global tap tempo.
NEWEST EDIT: Here’s the promised higher quality Timeline demo, finally. Also the newest:
NEW EDIT: Strymon’s first firmware update, available on their site now for free, totally fixes the bpm issue! Serious props.
EDITS: Two new videos, and new looping, midi, and mode information and nuances below each one.
MORE NEW EDITS: Ah, great. Just did a blind test between the DC and the Strymon, trying to choose the warmest as the DC. I chose what I thought to be the warmest and it was the Strymon. Then I blind-tested it with the DD20 trying to choose what I thought to be the most percussive as the DD20. Again, I chose the Strymon. lol May be keeping this thing.
Also, there have been reports of the Strymon’s modulation being thinner than the DC’s. If the knobs are in the exact same place, then yes. But the Strymon’s modulation depth seems to be more reactive with the speed knob. Try increasing the speed slightly, and it seems the modulation becomes much more like the DC’s. It’s possible that this means that the Strymon’s speed knob is calibrated to be able to get lower speeds than the DC.
Very rough playing, editing, and I’m literally filming myself touching the pedal for the first time, so I have no idea what any of the knobs or settings do. Which is painfully obvious. But…you do get to see how it sounds, how it compares to the original Timeline, the Brigadier, and the Blue Sky, and I promise that once I familiarize myself with the pedal, I’ll do much more in depth demo’s. For now:
- The sound is uncannily like the original tube Timeline. Maybe…maybe slightly less warm than the original DC, but just barely.
- The switches are quiet…I know that was a big point of contention after the NAMM demo’s.
- There is no spillover when switching presets, unfortunately.
- The tap tempo does not modulate or mute the current delayed sound.
- Of course, beautiful feature set.
- It’s even smaller than a DD20!
And a new video, of just some cursory looping with the Timeline. Mic’d up. I’ll comment more in a bit:
–Via midi, you can change very easily from patch to patch while still within the looper mode. Very cool!
–Overdub starts automatically when you finish the base loop. I can see how this would be cool to just continuously overdub, but it also means that you have to be careful when finishing a loop, because transient notes will be overdubbed automatically until you switch the overdub switch back off. And I find I get the most realistic-sounding loops when I keep playing for a bit after recording the base loop. I haven’t found anywhere in the manual where it states that you can switch that.
Another new video, mic’d up, of some of the more ambient modes:
–The different intervals are great!
–I didn’t think so, but being able to switch how long of a slice you want to pitch shift makes for some cool options.
–The vinyl scratch effect may actually be pretty useful.
–It doesn’t look like you can write patches via a midi program change like you could on the DC Timeline. This may make it difficult for me. I don’t want to scroll through a hundred banks to write patches…I’d rather push a button on the Midi Mate. Maybe the manual talks about this and I’m missing it?
I’m waiting for an email back from Strymon on the bpm readout, though. Now, I want to be clear, that some folks may like this feature, and thanks to Josh and the community here, there’s a workaround. However, it still may be the keep or not to keep point for me. I was waiting to mention this until the manual came out, but it has, and this is not mentioned, so I’m going to guess that other folks are noticing this, too.
EDIT: As Josh pointed out in the comments, you can set the bpm’s, and then go back into the subdivision parameter, and reset the subdivision. However, you have to set the subdivision to a different subdivision, and then come back to your current one. And on the Timeline, that’s a few steps. So we’ll see how fast I can get at doing that live.
It appears the bpm readout when using the time knobs is a function of the outputted delay tempo. Meaning, the time between actual delayed notes…not the tempo of what you are playing. For instance, if you tap in quarter notes at 75 bpm, and you’re on a dotted 8th setting, the readout says ’75 bpm’ and you are playing at 75 bpm, but the delay of course is coming out at a dotted 8th division of 75 bpm. That’s all well and good. However, if you then want to play at 76 bpm, and you change the knob to 76, now it changes the delayed output to 76 bpm between repeats…not as the tempo of the song. Meaning, you now have quarters at 76 bpm, even though you are on the dotted 8th setting. To get back to dotted 8th’s, you have to tap again, or go back into the subdivision setting (a few extra knob pushes and turns), switch off of your current subdivision, and then switch back.
This may not be a big deal to most people, but I like to set my delays prior to every gig or service. And the whole point of a bpm readout is that I can set them quickly to the tempo of the song, even if I am using subdivisions. I don’t want to have to tap them in, because it is far less accurate and more time-consuming. And even the workaround makes things a little bit slower. Add to this the fact that the Timeline does not round your tap to the nearest bpm, but gives you 10th’s of bpm’s, and it is going to be a headache setting tempo’s when you are on a subdivision mode. On the DD20, and I believe the Timefactor, when you set the bpm, it sets the bpm for what you are playing, and then you subdivide off of that. So for instance, you set it to 75 bpm, and then that’s the ‘universal tempo’, no matter what subdivision you choose. And you can change the bpm’s at will via the time knob, and still have your subdivisions off of the new tempo. Which is much more functional (at least to me) than having the knob coincide with the actual times between repeats.
Again, resetting the subdivision after setting the bpm by hand resets the computer, and Strymon may have done this on purpose, or there may be a setting I’m missing or forgetting. And some people might love this feature. But for me, I’m really, really hoping there is a fix for this, because that’s one of the functional things I love about the DD20…however, the Strymon sounds just fantastic and has an amazing set of features. Here’s the new video with the workaround placed upfront:
The actual sound of the delay is quite, quite good. (Did I mention that? hehe) I don’t think there will be any disappointments in that department!
More to come very, very soon.