Catalinbread Montavillian Echo
Spoiled by the various tube driven echo units we have around the shop, we wanted the Montavillian Echo to sound and feel just as BIG! So we went all out on the audio path on this thing... We took painstaking efforts to make the dry signal sound and feel better when on than with the pedal bypassed. We decided that the corksniffer OPA2134 Burr Brown opamp was the best sounding option to achieve this.
The Montavillian Echo utilizes the PT2399 chip, one of the more common delay chips used in modern delays, however, rather than slavishly following the datasheet, we threw it out and ventured out on our own, using our ears to guide us, and what we achieved is a fantastic sounding delay, with a slew of sounds in a small, easy to use footprint. The Montavillian Echo is a "companderless" echo... This is a critically important part of the Montavillian Echo's character. So many companded echos have unattractive repeats, they sorta bubble, chirp, and become messy as the repeats get quieter… The effect ruins the illusion of SPACE and ambience. The Montavillian has no compounding, therefore the echos trail off almost forever over the horizon, disappearing into the ether rather than crash landing back to earth. The resulting echos function to provide a sonic soup, a bed of ambience to play over. The illusion of space and size that the Montavillian provides, makes it one of the few stompboxes I have that comes close to my big old tube echos.
Headroom and stacking abilities, often short comings of echos. We've run the Montavillian into all of our amps clean and cranked (Hiwatt, AC30, 5E3, Super Reverb, Blues Jr. etc.) we've also stacked it before our dirt pedals. We've even slammed it with numerous fuzzes and overdrives. The Montavillian handles it all with no effort. Should you need even more headroom the Montavillian can be run at 18V.
Don't be fooled by the simple 4 knob arrangement. Each knob has a great amount of range, making this seemingly simple delay very versatile.
The "TIME" knob allows for a wide range of delay times, ranging from around 60ms all the way up to over 600ms max time.
The "CUT" knob is a really neato control that I haven't seen before on an echo. It's function is to sweep from about 400Hz to about 1500Hz, lowpass filter... When the knee sweeps to the high side it gives a nice little bump in the mids right before the subtle fall off. Tuning this knob allows you to sweep from old school BBD dark filtering to a clear repeat. It gives you the power to adjust your echoes so that they sit in the mix perfectly against your dry signal. This control also functions to EQ the tonality of self-oscillations.
The "MIX" knob is traditional in the way it mixes into your dry path the amount of echo. What is not traditional the amount of boost it permits you to add... So many echo pedals out there you can hardly tune the repeat to unity with the gain. This is not at all the case with the Montavillian Echo! You can make your repeats much louder than the dry signal. This comes in really handy for short repeats for a dramatic doubling effect as well as self oscillation freakouts.
The "REPEATS" knob feeds signal from the output of the delay line to the input. This control allows for a single repeat all the way to self oscillation.
When playing the Montavillian you’ll notice that with the cut level down the repeats will self-oscillate fairly quickly (a little over noon). The Montavillian does this to allow the echo to still self-oscillate even with the cut all the way up, which has a higher threshold in order to do so. You will also notice that this threshold will shift whether you are running the Montavillian at 9v or 18v. At 18v you will have added headroom, which also means a higher threshold before self-oscillation. This change in power will also slightly effect the mix function of the Montavillian. While at 9v, the unity for the mix is around noon, but will be higher when running at 18v.
Our goal with the Montavillian wasn't simply to make another echo pedal. We have access to countless echo units, and with many of these units we noticed short comings in various forms, whether it was inability for the echoes to reach unity, or finding certain pedals to be too crystalline or dark, various noise issues, inabilities to self-oscillate, and murky sounding dry signals and drifting repeats. We tried very hard to eliminate all these various problems and make a simple, solid delay pedal you'll love to play for years to come. Enjoy!
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