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JHS Panther Cub V2 Analog Delay

Could it be their most intriguing pedal to date?

 

by Chris Loeffler

 

 

JHS made quite a name for themselves in the late 00’s with their combination of of modding pedals, cloning discontinued ones, and producing their own circuits. One of their bolder moves in the beginning was releasing the Panther and Panther Cub, analog delays with modulation and a feature set that put it near parity with the venerable Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man 1100. Players looking for true analog delay that exceeded one second of delay time pounced on the Panther Cub, and its legend was born.

 

JHS revised the circuit slightly in in 2013, calling it version 1.5 and greatly reducing the size of the pedal while making a few sonic enhancements, and again in 2018, when they replaced V1.5 with V2 to stand in line with their new, even smaller form-factor for their tap-tempo effects. The JHS Panther Cub V2 is half the size of V1 and V.15, featuring six knobs for Time, Volume, Mix, Ration, Feedback, and EQ as well as side switches for Modulation On/Off and Speed. The Panther Cub runs on standard 9V DC negative power and ships from their factory in Kansas City.

 

What You Need to Know

 

Because the Panther Cub can’t avoid comparisons to the EHX Deluxe Memory Man, here’s a brief tour for those who like to geek out on guts…

 

EHX’s extremely limited (and costly) doubling down on delay time with their Deluxe Memory Man 1100 against their own Deluxe Memory Man originally included the long-discontinuned Panasonic 3005 BBD chips. Due to limited supply of the 3005, only 300 were manufactured during its original manufacture dates of 2011-2012 and again in 2015. A couple of years ago, Electro-Harmonix reintroduced the Deluxe Memory Man 1100-TT with new production Xvive 3005 chips. The JHS Panther Cub was originally released with 3005 chips (I can’t confirm they were Panasonic or Xvive), but changed to Xvive 3205 with V2. While gearheads make much to-do about the chip used in a circuit, the low-pass filtering and companding introduced to manage an unwieldy noise-floor have as much a role in the “analog” sound as the chips themselves. 

 

We will get back to that in a few paragraphs, but let’s talk about the JHS Panther Cub V2 on its own merits first.

 

The JHS Panther Cub has the slight noise-floor I’ve come to expect from analog delays, not at all distracting the moment you start playing and certainly not egregious enough to be distracting. The delays exhibit a hint of compression in their initial attack, but not as percussive nor abrupt as many analog delays I have played. The Delay time starts at around 40ms and goes up to 1,000ms at the highest setting. 

 

I was impressed with how little change their was in tone from the shortest delay time to the longest, as most analog delays I have played tend to introduce aliasing, noise, and general signal degradation once they creep past 300ms-500ms. The Panther Cub’s delayed tone stayed consistent regardless of whether I was using a snappy slap-back at the lower end or call-and-response one second delay times. At the lowest Feedback setting the Panther Cub produced a single repeat, which expanded to eight repeats by the time the control was on noon. Anything beyond 1:00 on the Feedback knob introduced progressive oscillation that was smooth and musical, with the biggest difference being how quickly the effect ran away from itself.

 

The EQ control is an active Tilt style EQ that is more natural sounding than the typical EQ control found on most delay pedals in that adjusts both the high and low frequencies rather than being a standard high-end rolloff. With the EQ all the way up the repeats are bell-like and bright, and as the EQ is pulled back the delays produce a grittier tone with fatter lows.

 

The Volume control, another rarely seen feature on a delay, reaches unity with the input signal around 1:00 and is slightly boosted beyond that point. While not as aggressively louder as a dedicated boost pedal, I can see why many players may view the option for more volume as a great way to make lead parts jump out a bit more when the pedals is activated in front of an amp that is already cooking a bit in the preamp.

 

The Mix control has the repeats even with the direct signal by 1:00; all the way up is 100% wet signal and all the way down produces no delay. I found a cool bonus tone when running the Mix at 100% with the modulation on; the combination of warmth, compression, and warble create a fantastic music box type sound when playing arpeggios or melodies above the 10th fret.

 

Modulation is turned on via a side DIP switch, with a second DIP switch selecting between two modulation speeds, + and -. The - setting is the more subtle of the two, with about 750ms to complete a full LFO cycle, and the + mode speeds up the modulation to about 500ms per cycle with what seems to be a bit more depth/range the the modulation. Both mods produced about a 1/4 step of pitch variance from the direct signal.

 

There is an expression pedal jack that is assignable for tap slaving to other devices or can be assigned to Time, Ratio, and Modulation if you want to adjust those settings on the fly. Additionally, the pedal can be split into wet and dry signals with a TRS splitter for a stereo field of sound. While I would have loved to have had the modulation go true stereo, it was still a bigger sound when run this way into two different amps.

 

The Ratio control selects between four tap divisions, 1/4, 1/8, dotted 1/8, and triplets. This is incredibly useful for players looking to tap in delay times that aren’t perfect one-to-one ratios as they play. 

 

So is the JHS Panther Cub V2 a dead-ringer for the EHX DMM 1100-TT (original or reissue)? It is certainly close and sounds like the DMM to my ears, but not exactly. The reissued DMM 1100-TT (with the Xvive 3005 chips) is slightly darker and features a longer delay time at the highest settings. While the difference was subtle, the DMM 1100-TT I demoed against the Panther Cub V2 was darker and had more presence, whereas the Panther Cub V2 was a bit more airy. The modulation in the DMM also seemed a touch cleaner and had more headroom when hit with a hot signal, but the unmodulated repeats were slightly more articulate in the high-end with the Panther Cub.

 

A final difference that required multiple sessions to suss out was the way the effect reacted to a hot signal, like a boosted signal coil or cranked active pickup. Whereas the DMM 1100-TT has a Gain control to manage how hard the input signal hits the delay line, the Panther Cub doesn’t. One of the reasons DMMs have never found a permanent placement on my pedalboard was that fact that the input signal can distort as much as the delayed signal when hit with too hot a signal, creating breakup I didn’t want in extremely clean but dynamic situations. While EHX has certainly made strides with how the DMM handles this (especially compared to units I’ve played from the 70’s and 80’s), there’s still a line to be walked between enough signal to maintain unity and clipping both signals. The Panther Cub, in contrast, only seemed to be effected with the wet signal, meaning I could maintain my direct signal regardless of input volume and only the delays, which are already slightly smeared, were impacted. For me, that gave the Panther Cub a leg up.

 

Limitations

 

The Panther Cub V2 only has two pre-set speculation speeds and no depth control, which may be a turn-off. They are also recessed, so you’ll need a pick to change which setting you are using.

 

Conclusion

 

The JHS Panther Cub V2 has a chewy, ambient delay tone that is as sweet as it is musical. Without the modulation, it can serve as either a dreamy ambient delay that hovers above your direct signal or the rhythmic syncopatior made famous by players like The Edge. With the modulation engaged, you have two more flavors of delay that further fill in the sound. Given that it’s the same size as a MXR Phase 90, that’s a lot of heavy lifting for such a small footprint. While not the cheapest delay pedal on the market,  -HC-

 

Resources

 

JSH Panther Cub V2 Analog Delay Product Page

 

Buy the JHS Panther Cub V2 at Sweetwater (Street $299.00)

 

 

 

____________________________________________ 

 

Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 

 

 

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