Pros: Fantastic all-analog sound quality, extremely easy to use and a wide range of delay sounds possible.
Cons: Missing many features present on digital pedals, and the modulation effect can only be adjusted internally.
Overall: Straightforward, no-nonsense delay and superb sound.
In the pursuit of tone, analog is the sought-after sound that many digital pedals do their utmost to emulate. The MXR M169 Carbon Copy Delay is all analog, a straightforward delay stompbox firmly pitched at guitarists looking for the very best in sound without the multitude of bells and whistles you’ll find on many digital delays. Promising everything from crisp, slap echoes to grand, Dave Gilmour-style soundscapes, the Carbon Copy aims to offer unparalleled quality and nudges the price up accordingly, but is it worth it?
The Carbon Copy doesn’t take much getting used to. There’s a footswitch to activate or deactivate the effect, three knobs – “Regen” (crank to get more repetitions), “Mix” (to adjust the wet to dry signal ratio) and “Delay” (to set the delay time) – and a button for activating or deactivating the modulation effect. Delay time ranges from 20 to 600 ms, with a nice slapback sound at lower setting and more unique, wide-reaching delays at higher settings. It’s very easy to pick up, but the combinations of controls still allow for a wide range of delay sounds, whether you want to keep it simple or really push the boundaries with some ethereal soundscapes.
The “Mod” button does basically nothing from the factory, so you have to open up the unit to adjust the two screwdriver-operated pots inside for width and speed of the effect. You can set it however you like and pretty much leave it, but it’s obviously a little annoying that you only get the controls on the inside, especially with such crappy factory settings.
The sound quality really is excellent, though, genuinely providing a carbon copy of your tone, with no amp noise to speak of and true bypass. The sound quality comes down to the all-analog bucket brigade technology, and it is a justified selling-point for the pedal.
The big criticism is that the bare-bones nature of the pedal means that you don’t get the same variety of sounds you can with other pedals – the lack of a reverse mode, the fact you can’t tap out a tempo and the absence of simple looping, for example. If these aren’t a big deal to you, then the MXR M169 Carbon Copy does a great job, but if you want all the bells-and-whistles provided by digital delays, it comes off as a little lacking.