EarthQuaker Devices have made something of a name for themselves in recent years with outrageous yet considered pedal designs. Rising from the basement of Jamie Stillman in 2007 with the Hoof fuzz, they now boast a stable of more than 40 pedals. To EarthQuaker, pedals should be simple and user-friendly with lots of practical and musical sounds and while they push the boundaries of what is sonically possible, they ensure they have one foot firmly planted in this philosophy.
To this end, the Dispatch Master offers an elegant all-in-one solution for arguably the two most commonly used effects – reverb and delay. With most pedal manufacturers chasing infinitely adjustable parameters and memory banks, EarthQuaker have taken another direction with the Dispatch Master. It’s all about extremely usable sounds right at your fingertips, with a hi-fidelity digital delay and reverb built into the one pedal.
The control layout is simple, making it easy to dive right in. There is a Mix control to allow the user to control the amount of effect vs. original signal, while Reverb is controlled by a single pot with the amount increasing as you turn the pot clockwise. It is a lush, ambient, hall-type algorithm, and it is easy to intuitively create atmosphere on the fly, from a smaller background space to a drenched, cavernous wash and everything in between.
The delay section of the pedal features familiar controls of Time and Repeats. Delay times range from 0ms to 1500ms (1.5 seconds), while Repeats acts as a feedback control. This is an extreme amount of delay time to be had at your disposal and this range on one pot is both a blessing and a curse, making it is easy to overshoot your desired delay time or bump it out of place. A ‘Range’ control might help overcome this, but then it would be stepping away from the simplistic intentions of the pedal’s design. The delay itself sounds fantastic. As a slap, it is thick and warm. Longer times also show the strength of the algorithm. Even at higher feedback and mix settings it never sounds stuttered or crunchy. The repeats are smooth to the end and offer a crisp yet warm tonality.
Build quality is a hallmark of EarthQuaker Devices, every pedal is made by hand in their Akron, Ohio factory and housed in a solid cast case with chassis mounted pots. Their pedals also now feature Flexi-Switch Technology, a true bypass, electronic relay switching system allowing the user to simultaneously operate both latching and momentary operation. With power supplied via a standard 2.1mm, centre negative 9V DC power supply, the Dispatch Master will integrate easily with any pedal setup.
Calling upon the primary effects of yesteryear, the Dispatch Master gives players the opportunity to search for the sweet spot between delay and reverb. In many ways, the simplified user interface allows for greater fine-tuning of the balance between the two. Stripped of endless options, the user can play with subtle variations in delay time, mix and repeats along with lush reverb to manipulate the sense of space around a sound source in the way recording engineers and musicians did in years gone by.
If you don’t have the need for extreme tweakability and want to kill two birds with one stone the Dispatch Master is worth a look. It offers high quality sounds in a single pedal housing, and makes dialling in a sound on the fly relatively easy. If the flavour of the delay and reverb on offer are your cup of tea then you would be hard pressed to find a pedal boasting a more concise way of accessing these two essential effects.
Hits and Misses
Solid build quality
Ease of operation
Extreme range of delay times makes it easy to overshoot desired setting