HOTONE Skyline Tape Eko White Paper
“Plug it in, open the wooden lid, press the ON button, the tape starts rolling, play a note, wait for to amplify, and the echo appears.” Ever since Ray Butts showed the world his Echosonic in the 1950s, the tape echo sound has been one of the most highly sought after guitar effects. Sadly, motorized effects are all but extinct in this day in age, and a guitarist looking for an original tape delay unit would be hard pressed to lay his hands on one.
But Hotone would not let history be forgotten so easily. After a long and difficult process, our team of designers successfully shoehorned the sound a large cap magnetic tape echo machine into the compact Skyline Pro Tape Eko pedal. The Tape Eko is a modern testament to legendary tape echo units, full of respect matched with innovation, and embodies Hotone’s fierce pursuit of a higher tonal standard.
(1) About Magnetic Tape Echo
Tape echo was one of the first guitar effects ever invented. In the early days, country and rockabilly players were looking to get what we now call slapback on their lead guitars. It could be achieved in the studio by putting the guitar signal through a tape recorder, and soon studios began having dedicated tape echo machines. As the signal goes into the machine, the record head writes it to the tape. It is then replayed by the playback head. Because of the distance between the record head and playback head, there is a short lapse in time between the two sounds. As the playback sound re-enters the record head, and is then re-written into the playback head again and again, the echo effect is produced. The delay time itself depends on two factors: the tape speed and head distance.
（2）Digital and Analog
The Hotone Engineers were faced with a monumental task when asked to get that tape echo goodness in to a Skyline sized pedal. Through the development of precision digital circuitry, we were able capture that natural sounding effect in all its warmth and uniqueness. The Tape Eko was born. But we didn’t stop there; we added a mini toggle switch to select between three original-design echo modes. Each mode is based on a distinct algorithm, and what results is Tape Eko for all styles and situations.
Mode 1 gives you all the advantages of a digital delay. Compared with other tape echo effects, this mode produces a brighter, cleaner tone with less noise, all without sacrificing warmth or dynamics. Mode 1 echo tones harken back to the “antique” analog delays; they are perfect for musicians who need both glow and clarity in their delay feedback.
Mode 2 differs from Mode 1 in terms of dynamics. These tones are much more true to the traditional magnetic tape echo machine response. If you hit your guitar hard enough in this mode, you will hear a slight natural overdrive in the delay. This mode faithfully reproduces the tape echo machine attitude. If you play really hard using a magnetic tape machine, the echo recorded on the tape turns out fuller (due to a naturally occurring overdrive), and the trails come out in a syrupy cloud. Our Tape Eko does that. Tape delay purists love it.
The third mode is Reverse, which models a magnetic tape machine’s playback head operating backwards. Tonally, it shares the characteristics of Mode 1: warm and natural while maintaining clarity. Have you ever heard Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”? That’s what we’re talking about; we designed Reverse mode for rockers who love to experiment with new sounds.
Forward (top) and Reverse (bottom) wave forms
(3) True Bypass and Performance Features
Tape Eko features a True Bypass kick switch and bright LED lights that shine through the transparent top knob. That knob and the others (which glow in the dark!) are easy to see in low-light performance settings, and all of Tape Eko’s controls are designed to be highly sensitive, making your slight adjustments heard, so you can get your tone and time just right.
TIME: Controls the delay time
MIX: Controls the mix level of dry signal and echo signal
FB：Controls the echo feedback
Mode Switch: Switches between Mode I，Mode II，and Reverse Echo modes
DC IN: Plug in 9V DC adapter (center negative)