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Best new effects unit 2022: Dreadbox Raindrops

As 2022 draws to a close and we look ahead to 2023, we’re bringing you our picks of the best new gear this year, from drum machines to turntables.

Appearances can be deceptive. Dreadbox’s Raindrops looks like a bog standard delay pedal at first glance, but there’s so much more to it.

We’ve been hugely impressed by Dreadbox’s effects range this year, and could happily have chosen other Dreadbox models as our favourite of 2022, but the Raindrops surprised us with its clever take on echo effects. Hidden features are the name of the game here, with lots more depth lurking behind the controls than you might expect. There are three internal algorithms: modulated delay, pitch-shifted delay and large reverb. Each one uses a different combination of delay lines and integrated circuits, allowing delay times ranging from 50 milliseconds all the way up to one second.

The controls are simple and easy to get to grips with. Delay time can be set via a main Time control or tap tempo foot switch, then the sound can be tweaked via Feedback, Mix, Mode and the multi-purpose Control knobs. What adds far more depth is the option to access shift functions for all five controls, allowing you to control everything from input gain to a low-pass filter depending on the algorithm.

The Raindrops works well on just about any instrument. It doesn’t have Eurorack-friendly patch points like most Dreadbox effects, but it’s happy with synth-level signals as well as bass and guitar, proving just as effective on drum machines and samplers too. The real strength of this unassuming pedal lies in just how many different flavours of delay it can achieve, each with its own distinctive character and colour. You can do everything from lo-fi repeats to lush and vibey analogue reverb, with the modulated delay option proving particularly good on synth sounds and the pitch-shift mode working nicely for percussion.

Just over £200 might seem like quite punchy pricing if the Raindrops really was a basic echo effect, but its versatility more than justifies the asking price.

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