The Rocktron Celestial Delay is straight from the old school of delays. A solid-feeling, simple set of 3-knobs and 3-buttons control an analog delay circuit contained within a laser-etched, cast aluminum enclosure. Power is via a standard 9vDC positive ground barrel adapter or 9v battery. Given delay pedals tend to be murder on batteries, I’d recommend using a power adapter. I had no issues using the pedal with a Pedal Power 2, an old, non-isolated Fostex 5-outlet effect power supply, or the little unregulated DC adapter that came with my Zoom H4.
The control set is pretty standard. “VOLUME” regulates the output of the delay line, while dry signal is passed through the circuit at unity. “REGENERATE” controls the level of the delay output fed back into the input of the delay line, governing the number of repeats produced. Together with the “MULTIPLIER” and “DELAY LENGTH” switches, “TIME” sets the time of the delay line, approximately from about 30ms to a little over a second of delay time.
This is a true bypass effect pedal, with a solid feeling switch. The only thing that’s a little bit of a bummer with true bypass switching on a delay pedal is that when you turn the unit off, the repeats are muted instantly, instead of tapping out naturally like a studio delay or some non-true bypass pedals do. I also noticed a small click gets into the delay line when the effect is first engaged. When asked, Rocktron said this was most likely a side-effect of the true bypass nature of the pedal.
The sound quality of the Celestial Delay is excellent. It’s a little on the noisy side of things if you’re used to digital delays, but much quieter than some of the older analog delays I’ve used. It sounds like there’s some noise reduction going on in the delay line to keep hiss down, which is actually something I like the sound of in this type of effect.
One of the things I really like about the Celestial Delay (and analog delays in general) is shorter delays with low feedback come across as very clean and natural sounding, but as delay times and feedback settings increase, the repeats of the delay start sounding lower- fidelity as they get further away from the original signal. This allows the dry signal and early repeats to sound distinct from later reflections, increasing clarity of notes being played.
Another thing I’ve always loved about analog delays that doesn’t always get replicated in their digital cousins is run-away self-oscillation at high feedback settings. The Celestial Delay will do this, but it takes a long time to get going. I would have liked the feedback control to allow a little bit more signal into the delay line to get the pedal oscillating sooner, but when it does get going, it’s got a nice, crunchy quality to the sound.
Sweeping the delay time knob is very smooth, completely zipper-free. The only artificating I experienced with adjusting the delay time came from kicking the Delay Length button in and out with signal present. When going from “slow” to “fast”, there was sometimes a fairly substantial crunching noise. This isn’t a deal breaker for me as it doesn’t feel like the kind of control that would get a lot of play while signal is running through the unit, but it is something to be aware of.
In toying around with the Celestial Delay, I discovered that the dry output signal flips polarity from the input signal when the effect is engaged. This would only be an issue if you were using the Celestial Delay on a single side of a two-amplifier, stereo setup. In that case, the two amps would then be out of phase to one another. Given that the pedal is mono, and doesn’t allow for a 100% wet signal (used with short delay times to widen a stereo image), I suspect this might be a problem for only maybe three of four people out there.
When I encountered the polarity flip, I contacted GHS/Rocktron about it, and I have to say I was very impressed with the level of customer service I experienced. Emails were answered promptly and thoroughly, and the representative I was working with was great about involving the Celestial Delay’s design engineer in our conversation. I was assured the polarity flip issue would be investigated and taken care of in a future rev of the unit if feasible. In the past, when inquiring about some strings, I also received excellent personal response from GHS when interacting with them just as a customer, so I suspect this level of service isn’t solely because they knew I would be reviewing the Celestial Delay.
Bottom line, the Celestial Delay is a great bang-for-the-buck analog delay. It’s quite simple to use, sounds good, and feels solid. Streeting at about $120, it does what it says it will, and it does it quite nicely. – Ron Guensche