Strymon Timeline delay pedal review

Strymon Timeline top
Strymon Timeline top
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The Strymon Timeline is the flagship delay made by the boutique pedal manufacturer. Strymon is a California-based company founded in 2008. All the company’s products are made in the US. The build and tones of their products are very high quality and the price tag is quite high too. When I was looking for a delay for my rig I did the usual round-up of pedal reviews and videos. I thought the results the Timeline produced made the big outlay worth it. I haven’t been disappointed. If you’re looking for a different effect than Delay, the Mimiq Mini Doubler review may satisfy you.

Solid and light construction

The true-bypass unit has a gunmetal gray anodized aluminum chassis. It’s very sturdy and surprisingly light. The three footswitches control preset selection, effect bypass, looper control and tap tempo. The switches have a tough metal construction and there’s LEDs linked to each one, making the pedal stage-friendly. The knobs on the top of the unit are made of hard plastic. For the price, it would have been nice to either have tougher material for the knobs or to have them recessed and out of harm’s way. The value and delay type knobs move quite freely allowing quick changes, but the tone-shaping knobs are stickier. This is a good design choice as naturally you don’t want your tone ruined by a chance brush of your foot. The six-digit LED display shows preset info, BPM/time readout and enables extended parameter control.

The unit is 6.75″ wide and 5.1″ deep, so it takes up a decent amount of pedalboard real estate. With the large number of delays and parameters included in the unit, it would not have been possible to make it much smaller. The bottom of the unit has four pads which prevent it from moving around once set on the ground. Included in the box is a single A4 back-and-front guide to using the Strymon Timeline. It’s straight-forward and makes the design and uses of each function clear. A more extensive manual is available online on the Strymon website.

The Strymon Timeline.
The Strymon Timeline.

Studio quality delay sounds

I initially got turned on to the Strymon Timeline as an Australian band Built on Secrets stated that most of the delay sounds on their debut record The Disconnect were done using the pedal. If you aren’t familiar with the album, you can take my word that the lead sounds on that album are amazing. Strymon describe the Timeline delays as “studio quality” and they aren’t joking. The delays sound beautiful and every one is usable. In general it’s hard to make the Timeline sound bad. Even an average guitarist can make the pedal sing.

There are seven tone-shaping knobs on the top panel: Time, Repeats, Mix, Filter, Grit, Mod Speed and Mod Depth. Additional delay parameters can be altered within the Timeline’s menu. You’d have to love tweaking to bother with the menu parameters though as the top panel presets already allow a huge amount of customisation. 200 presets can be stored in the unit, which are nameable and can be saved and recalled at will. The unit has stereo input and output and MIDI input and output. The MIDI implementation allows extended control for more complex rigs. There is an expression pedal input with a selectable control over knob or combination of knobs, saveable per preset. The Timeline has a 30-second stereo Looper, which can be run pre or post-delay. It’s a useful function but most people with the need for looping would probably be better off getting a dedicated unit. Getting a dedicated looper would also likely be much cheaper.

The Strymon Timeline delay types.
The Strymon Timeline delay types.

12 delay machines on offer

There are 12 delay machines: Digital, Dual, Pattern, Reverse, Ice, Duck, Swell, Trem, Filter, Lo-fi, dTape, dBucket. ‘Digital’ is a classic crystal-clear delay. A wide range of delay tones are possible by tweaking the Filter, Grit and Modulation controls. ‘Dual’ allows two independent delay lines which can be run in series or parallel. The second delay tracks the first at selectable time ratios. ‘Pattern’ is a delay with selectable repeat patterns that provide a wide range of sounds. ‘Reverse’ is an improvement on the classic reverse delay. The input signal triggers the delay so the reverse signal is always predictable and repeatable. ‘Ice’ slices up the input signal and plays back the pieces at selectable intervals. The playback interval can be varied from -1 octave to +2 octaves. ‘Duck’ is a dynamic delay that reacts to your playing with adjustable sensitivity and release time. As the sensitivity is increased, the ducking effect becomes more pronounced. ‘Swell’ is a variable attack time delay that can swell into notes or chords. This can create atmosphere and ambience in a subtle manner. ‘Trem’ is a delay with synchronized tremolo affecting the repeats. Selectable LFOs are provided for the tremolo. ‘Filter’ runs a synchronized sweeping filter affecting the repeats. The filter can be placed pre or post-delay. ‘Lo-fi’ allows creative destruction of the delay signal. It can be used to add filtering, vinyl noise, low bit rate distortion, sample rate aliasing, etc. ‘dTape’ is a re-creation of a sliding head tape delay system. ‘dBucket’ is a re-creation of classic analog bucket brigade delay systems.

A number of guitarists have used my Timeline and they were all impressed with the sounds produced. One such guitarist has an interesting style which involves modulating the delay time with his foot while playing. He noted that the Timeline enabled a beautiful, smooth transition of delay times that was much better than he was used to on other pedals. The general consensus from those who played it was that if they could raise the funds required, they would love to own the unit.

The Strymon Timeline viewed from the side.
The pedal viewed from the side.

Strymon Timeline delivers the goods

Live and in the studio the Strymon Timeline delivers the goods. Plugged into an amp it easily delivers a range of tasty delay sounds. It’s produced great results each time I’ve used it in the studio. It can be a little time-consuming to set-up with all the tonal options available, but it’s worth it. I recorded a modern metal song using the Timeline to do the digital delay sounds for a lead over the chorus. It produced a full, clear and hi-fi-sounding delay tone. I used the reverse delay setting for an extended solo over the outro of a prog rock/metal song. DIing the pedal in this case produced clearly superior tones to the amp simulation software I was using in my DAW. The Timeline gave the solo a full and unique sound. The solo was only intended for a pre-production demo but it sounded so good I decided to keep it for the final release.

The back panel of the Timeline.
The back panel of the Timeline.

If you just need a decent digital delay, there are other competitors which can give you that for a much lower price tag. The basic delay sounds of the Timeline are so amazing though. I do not need half the functions the Timeline offers, but to me it was still worth the price, as the sounds I do use regularly are exactly what I want to hear. Once you pick this up you’ll never need another delay pedal. The number of options and tones available from the Timeline is staggering. If you can get past the price, and don’t mind a complex pedal design, then there’s very little else out there than can match the Timeline. If you desire a simpler set-up, Strymon also offer the Brigadier dBucket, DIG dual digital delay and El Capistan dTape echo.

International: Ebay, Thomann


Very versatile and musical. Easy to get started but has a lot in depth editing and features as well.
I love that it actuall sounds analog-ish on the analog settings, coming from such a digital pedal.
Still, hard to think of a more versatile delay pedal. Far and away the best in the digital space.
When I look at delays I only really need it to do a few simple tricks. This did those, but it also did so much more that I simply couldn’t wrap my mind around it.

  • Hand crafted, studio-class delay algorithms deliver meticulous, detailed and nuanced delay experiences
  • Twelve delay machines to choose from: Digital, Dual, Pattern, Reverse, Ice, Duck, Swell, Trem, Filter, Lo-fi, dTape™, dBucket™.
  • Seven front-panel tone shaping knobs: Time, Repeats, Mix, Filter, Grit, Mod Speed, Mod Depth
  • Additional menu-driven parameters deliver extremely flexible tone shaping options and complete tweakability
  • 200 easily accessible presets, save and recall at the press of a switch
  • Three rugged metal footswitches for preset selection, effect bypass, looper control, and Tap Tempo
  • LED display for preset info, BPM/time readout, and extended parameter control
  • Full MIDI implementation allows extended control for those with more complex rigs
  • 30-second stereo Looper, routable pre- or post-delay, with MIDI capability.
  • Stereo input and output
  • Expression pedal input with selectable control over knob or combination of knobs, saveable per preset
  • MIDI input and output
  • Switchable I/O configuration: Stereo Out or Mono with Delay Feedback Loop Insert
  • Ultra low noise, high performance 24-bit 96kHz A/D and D/A converters
  • 115dB typical signal to noise
  • Analog dry path for a zero latency dry signal that is never converted to digital
  • Premium analog front end and output section
  • Super high performance DSP in a compact form factor
  • 32-bit floating point processing
  • True Bypass (electromechanical relay switching)
  • Selectable Trails mode with high quality, transparent Analog Buffered Bypass, saveable per preset
  • +/- 3dB Boost/Cut, saveable per preset
  • Selectable Tap Subdivision, saveable per preset
  • Rugged and lightweight gunmetal gray anodized aluminum chassis
  • Dimensions: 6.75″ wide, 5.1″ deep
  • Crafted with love in the USA


Strymon
Official audio samples

Conclusion
The Strymon Timeline delivers stunning delay sounds and a huge variety of tones. It has a big price tag, but with quality at this level, you can't expect anything else. Those who can't stand fiddling with dials should look elsewhere for a simpler set-up though.
Sound quality100
Appearance98
Worth it?96
Hardware94
Features95
Reader Rating5 Votes87
Positives
Amazing delay sounds
Solid construction
Easy to dial up good delay sounds
Wide range of usable delays
Well thought-out design
Negatives
There's a lot of functions to get your head around
High price tag
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