Among the nearly infinite variety of effects that guitarists have used over the past decades, the delay is definitely one of the most popular and widely used across genres.
It can be used for several purposes, and there are also various kinds of delays, such as analog delay, tape delay, digital delay, echo, and many more. If you are also a singer or play other instruments apart from guitar, you should also try using delay on those as well!
This MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe pedal review will get you up to speed on one of the most interesting analog delays that you can easily buy today. MXR has been a well-spoken brand for many years, and the Carbon Copy is one of their most successful pedals. This version takes the same pedal that caught the attention of thousands of guitarists and improves upon it by adding features that any player will appreciate having.
Apart from analyzing this pedal and exploring how you can make the most out of it, we will also take a look at other delay pedals that might resonate a bit more with you. Sometimes it isn’t a matter of sounding better or worse, it simply depends on what can capture the sound in your head most efficiently.
Bottom Line Up Front
In my personal experience, the MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe is an amazing delay pedal that can easily find its way into any pedalboard. Aside from being well built and not taking up an enormous amount of space, its intuitive controls let you dial in great tones effortlessly.
If you are already a fan of the original MXR Carbon Copy, but you feel like you would like to have a larger degree of control over your tone, then you should try the Deluxe version out as soon as possible. In my opinion, out of all the new features, my favorites and most valuable are the Tap Tempo switch, Subdivision control and dedicated knobs that control the Rate and Depth of the modulation.
If you still think that it might be lacking a couple of features, you should check out the extra functions you can access by connecting an MXR Tap Switch to the EXP Input of the pedal!
What Is a Delay Pedal?
Put simply, a delay pedal records what you are playing, and plays it back to you. You can generally control how loud each repetition is, how long it takes for the sound to play back, and how many repetitions you hear. Other pedals allow you to control more parameters, and they might include a modulation section, just like the MXR Carbon Copy and its Deluxe version.
The first delay units were “tape delays”, because the sound was literally recorded on a piece of tape inside the unit. Later, other types appeared, such as the tube delay (for example, the Binson Echorec), analog delays (like the Electro Harmonix Memory Man) and the digital delay.
Each type of delay has its characteristic properties: tape delay gives you a little saturation on the repeats, analog delay makes your repeats get increasingly darker, digital delay yields an exact reproduction of the sound you’ve played without deteriorating, among other things.
There isn’t a type of delay which sounds better than all the others, it is up to you to figure out what kind sounds best to you, and which one suits your music better.
MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe Main Features
In my opinion, the MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe is a pedal that has plenty of strong selling points. It is no wonder so many people use it, as well as the original version. Let’s take a look at some of the most appealing characteristics of this effect.
Naturally, people buy this pedal for its sound. If you are a fan of analog delays like the EHX Memory Man, Way Huge Aqua Puss, or the BOSS DM2-W, I’m certain that you will appreciate the tones you can get out of the Carbon Copy Deluxe.
The best part about this model is that you can get a much wider variety of sounds since you can control the rate and depth of the modulation (which was at a fixed configuration in the original CC and could only be toggled on or off), you can use the Bright circuit to change the EQ curve of the repeats.
This pedal has quite a few features that you can’t see at first glance. You see the bypass switch, tap tempo, and the controls for tap subdivision, bright circuit, and modulation, but there are a few extra things you can do if you have the MXR Tap Tempo Switch (available for around $40).
If you connect it to the expression pedal input, you can use it for several purposes, like controlling the tap subdivision or toggling the bright circuit on and off. My favorite by far is being able to toggle between two different settings on the pedal since it does not have the option of saving presets.
My usual way of taking advantage of this feature is setting the pedal’s knobs to give me a slapback delay, which I love using as a way to make my guitar stand out more without cranking the volume, and then using the tap tempo switch to switch to a long delay, something I would probably use in a solo section.
If you are familiar with MXR products, then this isn’t going to be new to you. Their pedals are rugged and made to last you a very long time. Aside from that, the Carbon Copy Deluxe has a beautiful dark green sparkle finish, just like its predecessor.
Every connection feels sturdy, the knobs and buttons seem durable, and it has never let me down after taking a beating at dozens of rehearsals and gigs, in and out of my pedalboards. I would highly recommend this pedal to anyone without hesitating.
Internal Dip Switches
Among all of its thoughtful features, the Carbon Copy Deluxe is sporting a few hidden tricks under the hood. If you remove the backplate, you will find a dip switch that allows you to optimize the pedal to work with guitar signals or line level input signals, and another one that removes the input signal entirely, giving you 100% wet return. This is very appealing to those who want to use this pedal for recording and also for parallel signal mixing.
You can also access these dip switches through the battery compartment, thus avoiding having to remove the backplate completely. You might need something like a bent paper clip to access them, but it certainly beats unscrewing the backplate. Also, these dip switches are hidden by a protective film, so make sure you remove that in order to operate them.
True Bypass Switching
If you check the specifications of the Carbon Copy Deluxe, you will see that it features “true hardwire” bypass. This is the name that Dunlop generally uses for true bypass in their pedals.
Basically, what this means is that when your pedal is not engaged, the signal passes through it while remaining completely intact, instead of being colored or slightly affected just by passing through the pedal.
This is appealing to many players who have complex pedalboards with a lot of cables and different pedals. If you have several stompboxes, maybe you should try to play for a few minutes, then connect the guitar directly to the amplifier, and try to understand whether the sound is significantly different, or if it remains mostly the same. This will give you a good idea of the effect that your pedals are having on your sound, even when they are switched off.
Complete Specifications of the MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe
You can find the full list of the specifications of the MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe below.
- Input Impedance: 1MΩ
- Output Impedance: 1 kΩ
- Maximum Output Level: +8dBV
- Noise Floor: -96dBV
- Delay Time: 40ms to 1200ms
- Noise Reduction: 2:1 ratio
- Modulation Speed: 0.1Hz to 10Hz
- Tap Divisions: Dotted 8th, 8th, Triplet, 16th
- Bright: 1.5 kHz, +4.5 dB 200 Hz, -3 dB
- Bypass: True Hardwire (true bypass)
- Current Draw: 22mA to 44mA (depending on which LEDs are on)
- Power Supply: 9V DC
Pros and Cons of the MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe
MXR products have never let me down when it comes to build quality. The gear I have had from them has always lasted me for a very long time without giving me any reasons to worry about whether they would put me in a tricky situation during a live performance or a session.
The Carbon Copy Deluxe is no exception, featuring an all metal construction, sturdy connections, durable switches, and a small screen that is bright enough for you to see it under any lighting conditions. I have had it for a few years, and I expect it to last for many more to come.
More sounds than the original version
I have owned and played the original version of the MXR Carbon Copy for a long time, and it has always been one of my favorite delay pedals. It was not very expensive, and although it was small and light, it always delivered a rich analog delay tone that was even complimented multiple times at sessions or gigs.
The Deluxe version brings even more possibilities to the table. For instance, I had never used the Bright version of the Carbon Copy, and since the Deluxe features this circuit, I have found myself using it several times. I particularly like it when I’m going for a slapback delay kind of sound. The fact that you can control the Rate and Depth of your modulation also helps you find tones that weren’t readily available in the original Carbon Copy, since you could only switch modulation on or off.
Additional features with the MXR Tap Tempo Switch
By acquiring the MXR Tap Tempo switch, which costs around $40, you can unlock a variety of features on the Carbon Copy Deluxe that make it an even more impressive tool than it already is on its own. Here are a few examples of what you can do with these two pieces of gear:
- Setting Tempo: although this might seem a bit redundant, since the pedal itself has a tap switch, you can still place the external tap in a different place on your pedalboard which might make it more easily accessible to you.
- Toggling between two setting configurations: when you connect the external tap tempo switch, you can use it to set the delay time of the effect, and use the tap switch on the pedal to change between two configurations. I love using this to toggle between a very short slapback-style delay and a longer delay with more repeats. You can also reverse the roles and use the external switch to change settings instead.
- Controlling the Bright button: you can also use the external switch to toggle between the original Carbon Copy delay and the Bright circuit. This works very well when you want your repeats to cut through the mix more efficiently.
- Controlling the tap tempo subdivision: the external switch can also change your tap subdivision. This is a nice feature for when you want to quickly change to something like a dotted 8th delay, made famous by players such as The Edge in many of his U2 riffs.
Nowadays, people often turn to pedals such as the Strymon Timeline or the Walrus D1 Delay because you can access dozens of different presets quickly and easily by using MIDI.
If this is a must-have feature for you, then the MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe might not be the pedal for you. In my case, since most of the time I just feel the need to have a short slapback delay and a longer one with just a couple of repeats, using the external tap switch from MXR, I can jump between two presets. However, if I really needed more, then I’d have to get either one more delay pedal, or replace this one with a different model with enough capacity for more presets.
While I would not say that this is a huge pedal (certainly not like those classic editions of the Big Muff or the Memory Man), it still has a size that would maybe make some guitarists think twice before incorporating it into their pedalboards.
In any case, I strongly believe that the trade-off is a great one. Yes, the pedal is slightly bigger than its older version, but you get so much more that it is ultimately worth it. Tap tempo, subdivisions, bright switch, and extra functions with the external MXR Tap Tempo switch, among other features turn this pedal into an amazing tool for the studio and for the stage.
Other Delay Pedals to Check Out as Alternatives to the MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe
Logically, the original version of the MXR Carbon Copy could be an alternative to the Deluxe model, but I would only offer it as a suggestion if the person in question wanted to save a bit of money on the purchase, or if they want to get the smallest delay pedal they possibly can (and even then, there are smaller options).
The Deluxe version features many improvements such as the possibility of getting a shorter and a longer delay time (twice as long!), advanced options made possible by using the external MXR tap switch, tap tempo, and subdivisions, among other improvements.
You can generally find the original version of the MXR Carbon Copy for about $150.
The Memory Man is one of the most iconic analog delay units of all time. One of the most recognizable players who is known for playing one is The Edge, from U2. The Memory Man comes in several versions, some of them smaller and with features such as tap tempo or additional modulation options, but I would recommend taking a look at the original one to get as close as possible to the tones that made this pedal so valuable in the guitar community.
Apart from the delay, this one also allows you to achieve chorus and vibrato sounds, but remember that like many pedals manufactured by Electro-Harmonix, you will have to use their proprietary power supply (24VDC100). There are workarounds, but make sure that you get good equipment to avoid damaging your pedal.
For example, I currently own a Q-Tron (envelope filter) by EHX and I acquired a center positive adapter that allows me to connect it to two 12v inputs on my power source to avoid having to carry the EHX adapter all the time.
This version of the EHX Memory Man usually goes for around $250.
BOSS has been a renowned brand in the effects pedal market for decades, and their products are always well regarded by the community. Recently, they have been reissuing several of their most iconic pedals under the Waza Craft name. These feature improvements that will make playing these pedals even more enjoyable than before.
The DM-2W Waza Craft is an analog delay housed in the famous stompbox enclosure that we’ve seen BOSS using since their first releases. This compact pedal is very sturdy and I would expect it to last for a very long time, even if you are playing it all the time in different circumstances.
Some of the most interesting features found in this pedal are its expression pedal input, having two output jacks that allow you to separate the dry and wet signals, and its premium all-analog bucket brigade (BBD) circuit, something that has been craved by guitarists for years.
You can find this pedal being sold for a price of around $175.
The Echorec by Catalinbread pays tribute to the legendary Binson Echorec tube echo, a delay unit that was used and abused by many famous bands since its release, such as Pink Floyd. While this pedal does not have many features such as tap tempo, MIDI or the possibility to save a few presets, it is extremely musical and you will easily find a place for it in your jams and songs.
This incredible tribute to the Binson Echorec is usually sold for around $240.
If delay is a big part of your overall guitar tone and you feel the need to have easy access to several different types of it, then you should invest in a pedal that makes this an easy task. There are many options available in the market nowadays that can do this, such as the Strymon Timeline, Strymon Volante, Line6 DL4, and the BOSS DD-500 Digital Delay, my suggestion as an alternative to the Carbon Copy Deluxe.
The DD-500 is BOSS’s flagship delay pedal, and it is completely packed with features that you will love. Other than its 12 distinct types of delay, you get MIDI, a looper, both true bypass and buffered bypass, and many other things that will surely grab your attention.
You can generally find this pedal being sold for a price of around $400.
Answer: Yes, the MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe delay pedal features a true analog circuit that gives you warm repeats just like you’d expect from this kind of pedal. You can also make it self-oscillate easily by cranking the repeats and messing around with the delay time knob for maximum psychedelia.
Answer: There are quite a few differences between the original MXR Carbon Copy pedal and the newer Deluxe version. Here are some of the most important ones:
• Bright switch
• Tap subdivisions (dotted 8th, 8th, triplet, 16th)
• Tap tempo switch
• Dedicated modulation controls (rate and depth)
• Top-mounted jacks
• Expression pedal input (also compatible with the MXR external tap switch, which allows you to access a big variety of features that aren’t accessible otherwise, such as recalling your favorite settings, using it to toggle between the normal and bright circuits, controlling the tap subdivisions, and more).
• Longer delay time (up to 1.2 seconds, twice as much as the original MXR Carbon Copy that only goes up to 600ms)
Answer: Yes, making the MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe self oscillate is very easy. Set the repeats (Regen knob) very high by turning the knob clockwise, increase the volume of the delay (Level knob) to a fairly high amount too, and the repeats should start feeding back into the pedal, causing it to self oscillate.
Turning the Delay time knob at this point will give all of that psychedelic effect that you are likely to have heard several times from different bands.
Answer: Unfortunately, the MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe does not allow you to save any presets right out of the box. However, if you get the MXR external tap switch, you can program it so that it recalls one of your favorite settings at the click of a button.
My favorite way to use this is to have the pedal set to a short echo, like a slapback style delay, and use the switch to quickly jump to a longer delay time and 2/3 repeats. Doing so makes my life much easier during live performances, and I don’t need two pedals to achieve this effect.
Answer: Since the MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe has been out for less time than the original Carbon Copy, you might not see it as much. In many cases it is actually a good sign. Many players have bought the original CC and it hasn’t left their pedalboards for years!
Still, there are many artists that have embraced the newer Carbon Copy Deluxe. Here are a few examples:
• Adam Jones
• Matt Pike
• Misha Mansoor
• Yvette Young
• Dallas Green
• Andy James
Answer: The MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe features true bypass switching, which means that it will not affect your tone whatsoever while it is not engaged. Many players like this kind of pedals and use them to avoid altering their base tone too much by having several pedals in their signal chain.
In any case, having a couple of buffered pedals at the beginning and at the end of your chain can also be advantageous, since it mitigates some of the high frequency loss that happens when you have lots of pedals and long cables.