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Traveling with Electronics : First Look Review : TimeLine : Ritual


First Look Review.....just the facts








Amazing Sonic Detail


Nine out of the twelve modes restrict access to the delay range below 60ms 

The Machines:

dTape - This is a stunning recreation of a single head tape delay, with 4 knobs re-creating  tape age - bias - tape crinkle - wow & flutter (all of the things that one fought desperately to avoid with an actual tape delay, you have to see the humor in that), 30ms to 1250ms or 60ms to 2500ms (switchable in real time)

dBucket - This is a stunning recreation of an analog bucket brigade delay with 2 knobs re-creating darkness - bucket loss & 2 knobs for modulation 40ms to 400ms or 80ms to 800ms

Lo-Fi - The only full range (2ms to 2500ms) sound shaping option in the unit & extremely useful

Filter - Very cool filtering delay (pre/post + selectable LFO shapes + selectable LFO rates = a huge range of rhythmic options), but unfortunately can't be used as a "real time" filter because 60ms is the shortest delay time (I wish that the Grit knob controlled LFO speed)

Trem - Very cool tremolo delay (selectable LFO shapes + selectable LFO rates = a huge range of rhythmic options), but unfortunately can't be used as a "real time" tremolo because 60ms is the shortest delay time (I wish that the Grit knob controlled LFO speed)

Reverse - Very cool reverse delay (input signal triggers the delay), but unfortunately one can't access the "ring mod like" vocabulary of the reverse delay because 60ms is the shortest delay

Ice - Takes slices (short-med-long), of the input signal and plays it back pitch shifted (a range of selectable intervals), sounds gorgeous, accepts polyphonic information, tracking is great (smear parameter softens attacks = reverb/ambient)

1- Can't be used as a "real time" pitch shifter because again 60ms is the shortest delay time (the work around is : set mix knob to full wet, pick your tempo and play the part 1/4 note ahead - certainly not the most elegant solution, but it works) 

2- Being the only delay mode with pitch shifting, I ask you, who wouldn't like the Grit knob (assignable to an expression pedal), to control interval selection in Ice mode? (instant whammy)

Swell - Volume pedal like swells - very interesting effect especially for more textural playing

Duck - Dynamic ducking delay - really great for rhythm playing and quite addictive (think, call and response)

Pattern - 16 different patterns - great for rhythm and for rich ambient reverb washes (smear parameter softens attacks) 

Dual - Two delays (in series or parallel), killer for rhythm and for ambient as well (smear parameter softens attacks)

Digital - Ultra clean and sparkly (smear parameter softens attacks - filter knob warms it up)

30 Second Looper - Really Nice Looper - can operate pre or post delays and be switched in real time - delay presets can be changed mid loop during recording & over dub - more control options via midi (reverse, 1/2 speed = 60 seconds, undo, redo, loop volume). The only thing that would be really useful here is if the display could give a visual indication of the first recording's progress (30 second count-down or moving bars across the display window)

Knobs are always active and 7 are assignable to an expression pedal (we're talking ultra personal sound shaping here).

In a preset you can move any of these 7 knobs and the LED will turn green when you duplicate the saved position (except time knob). This is a very easy way to understand how the knobs interact within any of the excellent presets.

Time = delay time - up to 2.5 seconds (I wish it was up to 5 seconds)

Repeats = sets number of repeats (can go into infinite repeat)

Mix = wet dry mix

Filter = filters the repeats (from full frequency to analog to tape - very musical filter)

Grit = adds distortion to repeats (I wish it controlled LFO speed in Filter & Trem & pitch in Ice)

Speed = modulation rate of repeats

Depth = modulation depth of repeats

Bank/preset change can be done via midi, by turning the value encoder knob or by pressing A+B (down) or B+Tap (up)

Parameter menu/control for each mode (plus global menu/control), accessible from the value encoder knob or via midi 

When presets are changed the tails of the current delay fade out as the new delay engages (very nice touch)

High pass filter in 9 of the modes helps dial in the low frequency content of the delays

Infinite repeat in every preset, by holding down foot switch A or B

Stereo in & out (switchable feedback loop in mono)

Small - standard AC adaptor (9volt - 300ma)

200 user presets (100 banks of A & B)

Very Solid Build

TAP Tempo


The TimeLine has raised the delay/looper bar so high, that I look forward to years of creating sonic mayhem with this pedal in my rig - I Love It!


My point of view represents the reality of travel for the working musician post 911. Those who travel internationally, alone or in small ensembles on commercial airlines and trains, without a cartage service or a road crew. Where every inch and every ounce and every bit of functionality can make the difference between a piece of gear going on the tour or staying home. This is what I am talking about :  LESS IS MORE | Dino J.A. Deane 

1- Restriction of Access to Delay Range Between 0.05ms & 60ms in TREM, FILTER, REVERSE, ICE : 

While I understand that the TimeLine's primary function is being a Delay/Looper, the reality of travel these days requires the artist to do much more with much less. If I need an octave down pitch shifter for 3 tunes in the set and can get it out of the TimeLine then I don't need to take my Micro Pog on tour. If I need some ring modulation sounds on a couple of transitions and can get them out of a reverse delay (10ms to 40ms), then I don't need to bring my ring mod pedal on tour. There is a wealth of sonic functionality in the TimeLine that the user is not being allowed to access. This is a really big deal.

2- Grit Knob Special Function in TREM, FILTER, ICE :

Just as the grit knob takes on a specialized function in dTape & dBucket, there are 3 more modes that would benefit immensely from this as well. The Key (real-time) Parameter for both Trem & Filter is LFO speed. The Key (real-time) Parameter for Ice is pitch (interval). These Parameters if controlled by the Grit knob and assigned to the expression pedal would increase the real-time functionality of the unit Big-Time, without the need for an external midi controller. 

3- First Recording Progress in Looper Mode :

As we all know, the key to a good loop is the out point, and when one is doing more textural looping (as opposed to beat based looping), this is even more critical. If the display window could give a visual indication of the time remaining during the initial recording, it would be very useful for this type of long phrase textural looping. This could be as simple as a count down in seconds or "moving bars" across the display window.

4- Five Second Max Delay Time :

I know that this one is a real long shot but I'm just sayin (it would be nice).


I think you should check it out for yourself.....lots of great video out the manual.....make your own presets.

strymon » boutique music electronics and effects pedals 


You really should take a look at these midi controllers by Disaster Area Designs, for finer control of the TimeLine's Looper. Check out the truly clever and travel friendly DMC-3, as it does exactly what they say it will do in a simple elegant way. Nice solid build (will work with a OneSpot).


Disaster Area Designs




The Ritual by Black Arts is based on the ColorSound single knob fuzz circuit and looks (on the surface), to be a simple one trick pony. The one knob sets the output volume for the unit (thats it), while everything else (tonal bite - crunch - overtone content), is generated & controlled by the interaction of the volume and tone controls on your instrument and by your touch on the strings. The tonal range and musicality of this fuzz is so addictive that I find myself not wanting to turn it off (ever). This unit is quite deep and very responsive. I could go on and on about this pedal - "how can you get so much expression and color out of such a simple looking box?" but the best thing to do (unless you can get your hands on one to play), is check out one of the great video demos for yourself. If you are really into the fuzz and like musicality and nuance in your playing, you are going to fucking love the Black Arts Ritual!!!

The Ritual has really "tied the room together" (to quote The Dude), in terms of the front end of my rig. It has a bite that can really cut through a mix, loves harmonics and in some volume & tone combinations generates some natural octave up harmonics on its own. When you really back off on your guitars volume it has a unique cleaner tonal quality that is great for softer hammer-ons. The Ritual is followed (in the chain), by the pedal that put Black Arts Toneworks on the map and (imho), really raised the bar on what a fuzz box can be - The Pharaoh. With its Killer EQ, low gain/hi gain switching & silicon/germanium switching, as well as a tight natural low end that has made it the must have fuzz for bass players and drop-tuned doomers alike. The Pharaoh is followed by a DOD Wah/Vol pedal that acts as either another filtering option or another control point for the overall gain-structure before the chain ends with the pristine Fulltone OCD, for final tonal color, focus and boost.....when you just have to make that killing sound louder (or softer).

Then the chain hits the delay/looper duo of the Boss DD-20 (see last months blog IN TIME -, and finally the Strymon TimeLine.

So, after a month with these two new additions (several gigs & sessions plus hours of tweak time), I have come to the conclusions you have just read. I hope as always that the information I share in this blog serves you well on your musical journey through life.....until next time then.

Safe Travels.....dino