042 | Strymon TimeLine: A Closer Look at this Multidimensional Delay Pedal | Transcript

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Scott Schwertly:
Hello and welcome to episode 42 of the Sonic Renegades podcast where we're exploring the Renegade pedals that have changed the music landscape. Up for today's discussion, we've got a great one. This is the Strymon TimeLine. If you love dreamy delays, then you're going to love this discussion. We can't wait to unpack it on the other side.

Hey everybody. Scott Schwertly and Eric Wilson of Siren Pedals with you today. Hope you're having a great one. Today we've got a fun pedal. I'm actually shocked that it's taken this long, 42 episodes to get here, but today we're going to be actually talking about a Strymon pedal. Specifically, we're going to be talking about the TimeLine. This thing's a beauty. It's worth every single penny.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. That's true. I've had two of them now. I had one and then I decided to try something different. Within a couple months I went straight back to the TimeLine just because of the way that I work and the way that I play. I really enjoy the way that the whole pedal's laid out. You can have your presets and all the sounds on there just really great. You can't really tell a difference from the digital emulation to the real thing. That's just what Strymon does is they do DSP stuff really well.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. They're fantastic at it. I know when I was considering getting something like a TimeLine versus a BOSS, DD-500, one of the things I really loved about the TimeLine is just how smooth everything is and just their whole way to just round out the edges a little bit. Again, that's just testament to the quality of stuff that they're putting out with their DSP technology and all that. Strymon is solid and a pedal like this is going to cost you about 449 brand new, street price. Again, I really feel like it's worth every single penny. You get so much out of it. They put so much thought and planning into this thing that at the end of the day it's just a fantastic device.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I like how you said Strymon kind of rounded out the edges because I feel like that's what they've done as a company so far. None of the stuff they're doing in my opinion is really original. It seems to just be a refinement of a bunch of things that somebody else has done. It's like the Apple of guitar pedals in a way where it's just they're taking everything that everybody else has done and bringing it into one really well put together package and just done really well. I know I like that kind of excellence going into a product and just the support that they've provided with the preset librarian and then later Nixie and how it works together with the Mobius and BigSky it's just a really great pedal.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. That's a great way to define it. It really is. I do as well, being a person who is definitely embedded in the Apple ecosystem, when I bought my first Strymon pedals, I've got two of them right now. I've got the BigSky and the TimeLine. The first thing I thought about was like, "Yes. Strymon is the Apple of the guitar pedal world." Maybe even BOSS is maybe the Microsoft, I don't know. It's sort of like everybody knows it, everybody has it. It's mainstream, it's safe, it's reliable kind of I guess what people would think of when you think about Microsoft hits the masses, and Strymon being kind of the Apple of that. You definitely get quality. You definitely just get ingenuity, innovation, all that I think are synonymous with the Strymon brand and branding altogether.

For those of you not familiar with Strymon, not to go too much into the detail of your Strymon's history. Specifically, the TimeLine actually came out in 2011. This thing's been around a long time. Again, if you're not familiar with Strymon, they're basically a brand extension of damage control engineering based out of Westlake Village, California. The team there has done a lot of great things, and we can definitely get into more detail about that at a later date. All of these products are coming out from California, I guess, which parallels with Apple.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. The team there has just done a great job building a brand that really serves artists really well. I went to go look up how many people use this thing. There are tons. Before I looked it up, I knew there was a lot, but when you actually look at the list and start going down the list, I was finding artists like Ben Howard, Eric Clapton, Justin Vernon, bands like Hammock, the list goes on.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. It's impressive. I saw names like Ed O'Brien from Radiohead, Eric Johnson, Wes Borland, Jonny Buckland from Coldplay, even John Mayer and Chris Shiflett. There's just so many folks that if they don't have it as a mainstay on their board, they've at least tried it and it's been documented somewhere or somebody took a picture of their board. It's been in the hands of so many great musicians.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. That's the thing with this pedal is it's made for musicians. It's made for people who don't want to sit there and have to just tweak things for days on end, which you can if you get into the menus and things, but it's one of those pedals where no matter what setting you put it on, if you just set it the way you think you might like it with the knobs, it's going to sound great just right out of the box. It's a really great pedal that just serves the artist well.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. On that note, I think that's one of the things that people really do praise this pedal for is that when you think about the 200 presets that come with it, a lot of people give praise to Strymon where it's like they really sat down and thought through these presets, where again if you compare it to let's say the BOSS line of, of, again, in this case the BOSS DD-500 being the competitor of this, people criticized BOSS for not spending as much time on their presets. You have to spend more time tweaking and dialing things in to get exactly what you want, where the Strymon you can plug and play. You can rely on what's already there without you having to necessarily go through all that legwork of dialing it in and spending hours in front of the pedal trying to get that perfect tone. They did a lot of that hard work for you.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I know for me, I've found creating and obviously I've owned it for over five years now, but when I sit down to try and find a new sound or something, it doesn't take me long. Even if I go to one of the settings like the ice setting or swell or drum and I'm just looking for something different, I can find something pretty quickly. It doesn't take forever. Actually one of the coolest settings I've found just when I'm looking for outside the box is actually their lo-fi setting is really cool. It's kind of different than most lo-fi delays that I've used. I've really enjoyed using it just whenever I feel stuck in a rut.

Scott Schwertly:
Nice. I actually haven't played around too much with that setting, but again, I know you've had your TimeLine for about, you said six years or so. I think I've had mine for about a month. I need to explore that a little bit more now that you're recommending it. Before we get into all the pros, and there are definitely way more pros than are cons with this pedal, we should at least just spend a minute or two here real quick and just talk about some of those things that I guess you can categorize them as flaws, but not deal breakers by any means.
The first thing definitely worth mentioning is, again, if you're on the fence right now and you're thinking about getting something like the DD-500 versus the TimeLine, one thing that you will find with this pedal is there is the opportunity for less customization. Yes, it does come preset plug and play. You should be generally happy with what's already there. The BOSS DD-500, not so much, but if you're willing to invest the time and the effort you could actually really customize your tone a lot more with the DD-500, but again, it's going to be an investment of time, which a lot of people just don't have time to do that. If that's your thing, understand that with a pedal like this, you are going to get less customization.

You're going to get a smaller display as well. I know for me being an owner of both the DD-500 and the TimeLine, I do prefer the bigger display that I've got on the BOSS. Again, is it a deal breaker that the TimeLine doesn't have that? Not so much, but it is a little bit more limiting from that factor. And then, if you're really big into loops, you're going to only get 30 seconds with the TimeLine where you can get up to 120 seconds with the BOSS.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. The DD-500 definitely has some great features. Again, it's that cycle of refinement where Strymon came out with this and then BOSS was able to refine their design into what they did. It's kind of this push pull back and forth all the time. I know I found some of my favorite things about the TimeLine is number one, the tape setting. El Capistan is my favorite tape emulation delay. You can't actually call it a real tape delay, but the tape sound is beaten by none other, even within the TimeLine the bucket brigade sounds are really great. And then, you have that ice setting, the swell setting, the drum setting, and then the filter delays that all set the TimeLine apart as far as just different algorithms that you don't normally see on a pedal that are really good for coming up with new parts or digging yourself out of a creative rut or anything and that world.
And then, the other thing I like is actually with Nixie. Being able to hook this up to the computer, manage all of your presets and actually get into some of those deeper settings that normally you would have to navigate on that smaller screen, just being able to do that on your computer is really helpful and really convenient, especially if you're shuffling around songs for set lists and different things like that. I know I used Nixie a lot when I had a Mobius and a BigSky because I would just have all my songs set and then just scroll through them with the Disaster Area controller. That was something that I really enjoyed that was really helpful for me.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. Definitely those are all huge pluses in fact. Again, the pros that you get with this are way bigger than what you'd get as far as cons. I would agree, Nixie, the software that they offer I think is super easy to use. Obviously, if you're using something like Nixie, you're going to need a MIDI adapters or plugins to obviously connect to the TimeLine, but once you've got Nixie connected, like you said, it's super easy to use, really user-friendly. You can customize away and label things appropriately, which is fantastic.

Probably my biggest thing that I like about Strymon pedals as compared to let's say the BOSS pedals is just the ability to just how you can roll off the edges a little bit. I know, again, comparing the DD-500 to it, I guess it's a little bit more, I don't know ... I guess the BOSS would be probably more ... Would pokey be the right word? It's more just straight where again the Strymon TimeLine in this case tends to roll off that punch a little bit where it does sound more organic or natural. I think a lot of people will say Strymon products have that organic tone where maybe BOSS products have more of that synth tone to it, or synthetic I guess is where I'm going with that.

Eric Wilson:
It's more digital I think is what you're getting at.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah.

Eric Wilson:
I have one friend in particular, his biggest critique of the TimeLine and the reason why he doesn't still own one is he can't stand the digital delay on there. I understand that. I like darker delays anyway. Even if I have a digital delay, I darken it up. That's not an issue for me, but for guys who like that really cutting bright digital delay, you're probably not going to get that as much with the TimeLine. You can still get it done. It's one of those things where it's like in the context of the mix and the context of a recording or a live show, you're never going to be able to tell the difference, but it's one of those things where if it matters to you, it's probably going to bug you. It's one thing to know when you're looking at this versus a DD-500 or a Specular Tempus or something similar like that.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I don't think I've mentioned this yet, but yeah. I actually own both. I've owned the TimeLine for about a month. I've owned the DD-500 for about two weeks. Even though this episode is about the TimeLine, I actually prefer the DD-500. I know that's a really controversial thing to say, but it's because of what you just described there. I've had a DD-3 for a while and I thought the TimeLine could emulate that or mimic it, and it's just not quite there. I ended up just getting the DD-500 and it was just like, "This is what I was looking for." I just prefer that. The stuff that I play typically is more in the rock, metal genre. That BOSS's interpretation of delay is just more to my liking and flavor, but not to say that TimeLine is bad in any way. It's a fantastic pedal. It's just everybody's going to have their own subjective preference. I'm one of those folks that leans in that camp.

Eric Wilson:
That's the thing is just figuring out what works best, what pedal makes sense to your mind. There's some people where it's like they completely understand the workflow of a TimeFactor, but don't really mesh well with the TimeLine, or guys who mesh well with the DD-500 who maybe don't understand the TimeLine or a Specular Tempus. It's just finding what pedal is right for your workflow and what you enjoy playing, what you enjoy doing, the sounds that you use and things like that. Overall, now we're living in the golden age of delay pedals when you have the Specular Tempus, which is half the size of the TimeLine that can do delay and reverb, you have the DD-500, which is another big box delay, you have the TimeFactor, which is the original delay kind of thing like that. And then, you have things like the HX Stomp and things like that. As far as DSP effects and delay pedals, we're living in the golden age of it.

Scott Schwertly:
For sure. This is definitely a prime time for the world of delay. So many options and so many just different things coming out in the market. So much to choose from for sure. Let's go ahead and talk about what this pedal is all about and what's actually included with it. Really, the headlines here, you're going to basically get 12 delay types, obviously MIDI ability, looping capability, 200 presets, obviously access to Nixie the software that comes with Strymon products where you'll have the ability to connect to it. There's so much here.
What we'll do instead of just going through each one of these modes one by one, we'll just basically do an extended demo for you guys just to give you a sampling of what this pedal is all about. Specifically, one of the settings that really does stand out, probably one of the more popular modes is ice. We'll see if we can get that included as well. We're going to go and get everything connected here. Eric, what guitar are you going to go with today?

Eric Wilson:
I'm going to go ahead and use a Strat for this one. It'll be good.

Scott Schwertly:
Awesome. We're going to get everything connected and we'll just do an extended demo for you guys and just give you a quick taste of what some of these modes are all about. I don't think we're going to go through all 12 of them, but we'll definitely do a sample of a handful of them. We'll see you guys on the other side.

Eric Wilson:
All right. That was the Strymon timeline. It's a great big box delay. It has a ton of different modes on it. Really great pedal that served me well for the past few years. I think you guys will enjoy it.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. It's definitely a beauty, worth every single penny. I don't believe we talked about price earlier, but street price for one of these is about 449. You can find them on Reverb for about anywhere from 350 to 380. Compared to some of the competitors out there, it's definitely a lot more expensive. I know the entry price for a DD-500 is about 350. Obviously used can be about 300 or so. It's definitely on the upper end as far as price is concerned, but as you can probably tell from the demo and maybe other things that you've explored, it's a good one. It really is. It's a great pedal to have part of your collection. It's hard to go wrong with a Strymon product. It really is.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. Like I said, I've enjoyed having mine over the past years. It served me really great. All my Strymon products have really served me well because I have the Zuma and the Ojai. They just build really high quality stuff. If it's not your thing, I definitely recommend checking out other big box toys because they can be a great way to check out different delay types without having to buy a bunch of extra pedals. Like you were saying, Scott, the DD-500 or the GFI Specular Tempus, there's just a ton of different ones out there. Definitely get out there, check out some different [inaudible 00:20:46].

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. There are definitely a lot of options out there and it's all a journey. Just have fun with it. If you have no idea of where you want to start or how to start, but you know you really want to dive into the world of delay, then start with the TimeLine. This is a perfect fit. You hopefully won't be disappointed because it does offer so much. Awesome guys. That's what we wanted to cover today with the Strymon TimeLine. Join us next time as we switch gears. We're going to talk about a klon clone. Specifically, we're going to be talking about the JRAD Archer. This is a fantastic pedal. A lot of famous people use it and for good reason. It just sounds fabulous. It makes your tone even better. I'm excited to talk about that one in the next episode.

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