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While tiny in size, this delay packs a couple of surprising features

By Phil O'Keefe


violetta.jpg

Red Witch pedals hail from New Zealand, and are highly regarded by many players and the boutique effects world in general, so when I was asked by Red Witch CEO and Designer Ben Fulton if I'd like to check out their all new Violetta delay pedal, I readily agreed. Little did I realize at the time some of the surprises this diminutive pedal had in store for me. The Violetta is a very small analog-voiced digital delay pedal with some interesting features besides its space-saving size. How do the sound and other features measure up? Let's find out…  

 

What You Need To Know

  • The Violetta is similar in size and configuration to the Red Witch "Seven Sisters" line of pedals and even shares a similar name to the Violet delay pedal from that line, but is actually the first pedal in a new line, which Red Witch have dubbed the "Original Chrome Series."
  • As you might expect from the series name, the Violetta features a brilliant, shiny chrome finish, with violet (what else?) lettering and graphics.
  • To call this pedal "small" is an understatement. It measures approximately 3.25" long x 1.75" wide x 2.25" high, including the switch.

IMG\_2298.JPG

 

  • Violetta has the input and output jacks top-mounted, which further decreases its pedalboard footprint.
  • One very interesting aspect of the Violetta is the ability to use it without a power supply connected. Most "mini pedals" in this size range require an external adapter for power; they lack sufficient room inside their small cases for a 9V battery to be used. Instead of a standard 9V battery, Red Witch fitted the Violetta with a small internal Lithium Ion battery. This is charged by connecting a power adapter to the "Boss-style" 2.1mm 9VDC power jack on the left side of the Violetta.
  •  The battery needs to be charged for a good 12 hours before first use. After that initial charge, recharging takes considerably less time - about four hours or so. Battery life is pretty good too, but it will depend on how long you play the pedal each day. I used the pedal daily for around two hours and was able to go for about two weeks before needing to recharge it. The most important thing to remember is to disconnect the input cable from the Violetta whenever you're not playing through it, as this disconnects the internal battery and "turns off" the pedal, thus conserving power.
  • The Violetta has a dedicated Charge indicator LED located at the top of the pedal that shows you the status of the battery charge - it illuminates red when charging, and green when charging is completed. Red Witch says the internal Lithium Ion battery should last for at least two years. The Charge indicator LED will flash when the battery needs replacement. Replacement batteries are available from Red Witch or their dealers for "under $12." The battery plugs directly into a socket on the PCB, so replacement is simple, and no tools other than a screwdriver (to remove the pedal's bottom plate) are required.

Violetta main.JPG

 

  • Like any standard pedal, you can leave the Violetta permanently connected to the power supply on your board if you want to, and even use it while it's connected to a power supply and charging. Leaving it connected to the supply even after it is fully charged is also not a problem. Any standard 9VDC 2.1mm center-negative "Boss style" power adapter should work fine with the Violetta. A power adapter is not included.
  • Switching is true bypass, and a second LED in the middle of the pedal glows red when the pedal is engaged.

IMG\_2300.jpg


The Violetta has four control knobs. Let's take a look at each individually:

  • The Delay knob sets the delay time, or the space between echoes. The available delay time runs all the way up to a full 1,000ms, which is pretty surprising for such a tiny pedal.
  • The Mix knob controls the blend of wet and dry sound.
  • The Repeat knob sets how many echo repeats you get - from a single echo to infinite repeats and self-oscillation, which is fairly easy to control, and which starts to kick in at about 2 o'clock on the Repeat knob.
  • The Mod knob is where you can bring a little modulation into play. This detunes the echoes a bit and gives them a tape echo style warble. At higher settings the pitch shift is rather pronounced, while lower settings give more subtle undulations.

IMG\_2294.JPG

 

  • There is no modulation speed control. Rather, the modulation rate is tied to the delay time, with shorter delay setting resulting in faster modulation sweeps, and long delay times giving you slower modulation cycles that are more pronounced, especially when used with higher settings on the Modulation knob.

 

IMG\_2304.jpg

 

  • There is even an expression pedal jack on the Violetta, which was a real surprise to me given the pedal's tiny size. The size of the enclosure necessitated the use of an 1/8" jack for the expression pedal connection instead of the much more commonly found 1/4" jack, but adapters are readily available and work just fine, and Red Witch is kind enough to include one with the Violetta. When used, the expression pedal functions as a remote repeat knob, allowing you to adjust the number of echo repeats with your foot.

 

Limitations

  • The lack of a Speed control for the modulation somewhat limits the ability of the player to control it as effectively, but having modulation at all on a pedal of this size is extremely unusual, so I can't fault them too much for this omission.
  • The chrome finish looks incredible, but I suspect it will be easy to scratch it if you're not careful.

 

Conclusion

This is the spot where I make the expected "good things come in small packages" comment, but in the case of the Red Witch Violetta, it's not just a cliche. This is a very capable and great sounding delay that happens to be shoehorned into a incredibly tiny yet classy looking chrome pedal. While it is a digital pedal, you'd be hard pressed to tell from the sound; it's voiced like an analog delay or tape echo, and each repeat gets a bit darker and more degraded as they fade away in a very convincing fashion. There's nothing cold or sterile sounding here!

One of the coolest things about Violetta is that it doesn't tie you down to a power outlet. While many musicians usually have access to a power outlet when they perform, it's nice having one less power cable running across the stage to your pedalboard. Buskers and musicians on the go who don't always have access to a power outlet are really going to love this pedal due to the freedom it offers them, but don't discount it if you don't see yourself needing the onboard rechargeable battery feature - as a delay, it has the kind of pro-level sound quality that you'd expect from Red Witch, and the small size means it's easy to fit on to almost any pedalboard. The top mounted jacks help here as well. Plus, finding modulation on a delay of this size is pretty much unheard of; not to mention an expression pedal jack. All in all, this is a really sweet little delay with a lot going for it, and the unexpectedly low price for an imported, boutique pedal with this kind of innovative feature set just seals the deal. Nice job Red Witch!

Resources

Red Witch Effects Violetta Delay ($159.99 MSRP, $119.99 "street")

Red Witch Effects Violetta Delay web page

Red Witch Violetta Delay demo videos:





 

Phil\_OKeefe HC Bio Image.jpgPhil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines. 

 

2 comments
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