The echoing sound produced by those old units is definitely full of character and just sounds good!
So good in fact that several companies tried to emulate them with digital technology!
|Akai Headrush E2, almost brand new in box before I traded it!|
But there are more pedals that try to emulate the classic tape echo sound, including the Akai Headrush E2!
This pedal is not that well known, probably because it wasn't based in a classic model like the Boss RE-20 was, as the tape echo effect sounds pretty good and it can also be used as a digital delay or looper!
As a tape echo, the Akai Headrush E2 works in a completely different way compared to the Boss RE-20.
First of all, in the Akai Headrush E2 has 4 playback heads rather than 3 playback heads plus reverb featured in the Boss RE-20.
Also, the playback heads have several fixed settings available in the Boss RE-20, while in the Akai you have 2 parameters to change your playback setup, with a knob that sets the playback heads gap and another that sets the playback heads output ratio.
While both units have a knob for feedback, the Akai Headrush E2 features a HF Damp to remove the high frequencies from the delay signal rather than featuring the Bass and Treble controls present in the Boss RE-20.
But what I feel really makes the Akai Headrush E2 special is the existence of an output for each of the playback heads, which allows for some really interesting sound experiments!
And to show you why I feel this way, I post a link to a demo I did with the Akai Headrush E2 making use of the individual outputs for the playback heads:
This demo is pure Korg MS-10 processed by the Akai Headrush E2, making full use of the individual outputs.
And to spice things up a bit, the Korg Zero 8 (which is mixing the different outputs of the Akai Headrush E2) also sends those inputs to two different effect chains, with different volumes for each of them, something that would be impossible to do on the Boss RE-20...
I quite like the result, despite being fair that is also due to the effects used in the two effect chains I mentioned (one featuring the Eventide ModFactor -> H3000D/SX -> Space while the other features a Sony DPS-V77 -> Yamaha SPX990), which are definitely top notch units!
Either way, if using it as a tape echo is not enough for you, you can also use it as a digital delay or looper!
However, I have to admit I didn't find any of those options that useful...
If you don't have other choices available for those tasks, it can definitely be useful, but most likely a dedicated solution would end up being much better...
The digital delay was nice as well, but way too limited when you compare with alternatives, as there are plenty of nice digital delays available with modulation in rack for the same or less as what you'd pay for this Akai pedal.
And the truth is, the maximum delay time of this Akai pedal isn't exactly out of this world, at a less than 1.5s (most old school digital rack delays allow you to have delays of 1s of maximum delay time or more).
The looper I have to admit I ended up never using, as I have an Electrix Repeater (which is a truly amazing looper).
It might not be a bad looper, but from the manual it didn't seem to have any really interesting / unique features available.
Still, for the price these units go frequently, I think it is worth it just for the tape echo algorithm it features!
|Akai Headrush E2, a tape echo emulator, digital delay and looper!|
It wasn't really a hard decision as I really wanted a Yamaha TG-77 for a while (since I got rid of my old Yamaha SY-77, to be honest...), but that doesn't mean the Akai Headrush E2 isn't a really cool effects pedal!
I have to say I am pretty happy having just my Boss RE-20 together with the Roland SRE-555 (a RE-501 in rack form) for tape echo sounds as the Boss RE-20 allows me to process stereo signals while the Roland SRE-555 gives me that original analog sound, so I get the best of both worlds.
But to be honest, if a nice opportunity showed up, I wouldn't mind getting an Akai Headrush E2 again, that's for sure!