Strymon sound designer Pete Celi described the Volante as an El Capistan on steroids. He’s spot on, as the Volante offers a ridiculously wide scope of delay and echo possibilities at the renowned level of Strymon studio quality.
The aim was to create a pedal that houses all three original methods of delay – tape, drum and a reel-to-reel machines. It certainly meets the criteria, and some.
At first, the Volante might look daunting. There’s an overflowing number of parameters for a vintage effect, but each dial provides an extremely specific alteration to the sound you can clearly hear develop as you experiment with the pedal.
The Volante has three fundamental types of sound: drum, tape, and studio. Tape is a precise recreation of the classic analogue tape repeats. Drum is based on the spinning plate magnetic delay that utilises a wire to record. While Studio is based on the cleaner reel-to-reel studio units.
Playback and Feedback
One of the most striking and unusual features of the Volante is the Playback/Feedback selection. There are four heads that determine the entry point of the delay. You can select any combination to dramatically change the rhythmic pattern. The lower set of buttons control the feedback. You can get a dirtier, blended sound with these active.
For example, selecting all four top buttons gives you a consistent delay effect as soon as you pick a string. Using the middle two creates a vintage sound emphasising the reverb. Or let the original note ring out before the delay enters, with just the last head on.
Hold the buttons down to select a lower level, similar to a bleed-in, or set each head to a different time to create a ping pong effect – there really are endless possibilities.
At your disposal are parameters such as Wear, which emulates the wear and tear on a real tape machine. Low Cut filters either the high or low frequencies, Mechanics is essentially the modulation and the Recording Level is the blend with the dry signal. It also uses a built-in spring reverb, with its strength controlled by the Spring dial.
The Repeats dial allows for infinite delay and feeds back beautifully with high Wear or Echo settings. The Spacing knob switches up the ratio of repeats – Silver and Golden allow repeats to merge together as time goes on, while Even and Triplet produce more straightforward timings.
What makes the Volante brilliant is how the effect changes like the real tapes or spinning drums as you alter settings in real time. You can achieve off-kilter warbling and drastic pitch changes. Great for putting your own stamp on things in a recording environment.
As with most Strymon pedals, the Volante has built-in tap tempo to select on the fly, as well as one preset slot and stereo output so you can use the versatile effect to its maximum capacity.
Expression pedal connectivity makes the Volante as good live as in the studio. While MIDI and USB compatibility means you can control the pedal on your PC if you’re after a clearer overview.