With its sturdy, tour-grade construction and studio-grade sound, the feature-laden Vox Time Machine is well worth the price of admission.
I have to admit that as a general rule I’m not a fan of “signature” effects. I guess it’s the skeptic in me, but I can’t help but think such relationships are forged simply to make a quick buck. Besides, I’ve seen the rigs of professionals where their “signature” gear was no where in sight. However, I also know that Joe Satriani isn’t going to lend his name to just any product. I’ve also seen his pedalboard and know that if he helps design a product, he’s going to use it. Such is the case with his Vox signature pedals, including the Time Machine, a highly functional yet simple-to-operate delay pedal.
The first thing I noticed when unpacking the Time Machine was just how sturdy it is. This is a pedal that is obviously designed to be stomped. While it’s bigger than the average Boss-sized pedal, it also packs quite a bit into a relatively small case (compared to, say, the “other” green delay pedal). Four Vox-styled chicken head knobs control Level, Delay Range (125ms to 1,000ms), Time, and Feedback. A mini-toggle allows you to switch between Hi-Fi and Lo-Fi modes. Finally, two footswitches control on/off, tap/tempo, and modern/vintage delay selection. If you haven’t seen the pedal, it sounds more complicated than what it really is.
I tested the Time Machine through a reissue Fender Deluxe Reverb playing a PRS Custom 24. The different delay settings work as labeled, though it’s not the most transparent delay around. From my perspective, that’s not a criticism. The tones of both the Modern and Vintage sounding were desirable, though I leaned more towards the Vintage setting, since it offers an excellent approximation of a classic tube-tape echo. Similarly, the Hi-Fi and Lo-Fi switches both have obvious effects on the tone. My favorite setting was the Vintage Lo-Fi, though it’s hard to find a bad sound. The Modern Lo-Fi offers some excellent lead delay tones that sit well in a mix. I tested the Time Machine with several overdrive and distortion pedals and found that it "plays well with others" quite nicely.
I don’t know what it is about green delay pedals, but they seem to be ground breakers. The Vox is no exception. With its sturdy, tour-grade construction and studio-grade sound, the feature-laden Vox Time Machine is well worth the price of admission. The fact that Satriani keeps two of them on his Chickenfoot pedalboard is probably an indication about how powerful and useful these delays really are.