Friday, July 1, 2022

Keeley HALO Andy Timmons Dual Delay Review

It's been a long time coming, but the Keeley Electronics Halo aka Andy Timmons Dual Delay pedal is finally here and I couldn't resist ordering it as soon as it came out. And I can't stop playing it! Not surprisingly it's a gorgeous sounding delay that is both versatile and easy to use. 

Andy Timmons sound has more to do with his phrasing and attack than anything else and like most of us his tone has evolved over time. If you're trying to replicate the sounds in the Mesa Boogie video from 2009 you might be disappointed to learn that this isn't exactly that. This is a very versatile yet easy to use, small form factor delay pedal that has the delay sound that Andy has been dialing in for the last few years.

In an interview with Doug Doppler Andy talked about moving from the Echoplex to the Deluxe Memory Man to the Strymon Timeline. They all sound great but the Echoplex and DMM would break down easily  and while the Strymon is a fantastic do it all delay he only used a few sounds out of it and felt like if he could have those sounds in a small pedal then that would be the one. Then he heard the Keeley ECCOS, a small highly tweakable programable delay pedal that sounded as good as the Timeline. So after spending a few days with Robert and his team the idea of the Halo was born. 

This is not a Do It ALL delay. It doesn't do ping pong delays, and you can't have two different times on two different amps like in the old Mesa Boogie video. It's also not Midi capable. So if you need those things this may not be the delay pedal for you. So what can you do with it? 

First off I want to take about the quality of the sound. I tend to use 4 different delay sounds, and a lot of programable digital delays can end up sounding anemic to my ears. My favorite delay for a while now has been the Way Huge Echo Puss, but I can't program that to have all 4 sounds readily at my disposal. But the Halo can do both and more. The delay sounds are full and warm, you can add tape style saturation, bucket brigade grit and modulation to the repeats. Beautiful ambient soundscapes are as readily available as simple slapback sounds. 

The 5 knobs on the top of the pedal all double in function giving you access to 9 different parameters with the main functions being the ones you'll use the most. The alternate functions are things most people will program and leave alone like the high pass filter and saturation. There is also tap tempo and a "hold" available via the foot switches. There are stereo in and out jacks and jacks to plug in an expression pedal and remote switches and there are 4 banks each with two presets for a total of 8 programable presets. That's a lot of options for a pedal that is smaller than the Echo Puss! 

With all of these options you might wonder how easy it is to use. It's very simple. I sat down a couple of days after I got the Halo with my main sound on my EchoPuss to see how close I could get. It took me about 20 minutes of going back and forth. There is a slight difference in the way the two pedals saturate but otherwise they sounded identical. One of the cool features is that when you turn a knob a blue light lets you know that you've changed something. If you turn that knob back to its original spot the light turns off! Now you'll know exactly where you had that knob to begin with. Brilliant!!

Paired with the AT+ Drive the first setting is instant Timmons tone! Now I understand all the reverb type sounds I was hearing on Andy's livestreams. It's part of the first setting, the way that the delays sit just behind what you're playing and also build a bit of a pad around the notes reminds me of reverb. If you use an expression pedal this might be all you ever need. You can set up the expression pedal to connect to any of the parameters but if you just plug it in it will control the overall level of the repeats so when you roll it back the first setting adds just enough ambiance to your sound to add a little something but then when you add it back it's a perfect trail of notes for long meandering solos. Running in stereo it does add an interesting bouncing back and forth with this setting but it's not exactly ping pong. I absolutely love the hold button that lets you hold those sounds and let them build up. It's ideal for when you need to fill space in a song with something interesting. 

I find most delay pedals can either do nice ambient behind the note sounds or dotted 8th type delays. The ones that can do both well are larger and expensive. The Halo can easily do both of these and with a sound quality that rivals the best in the business. Gilmour-ish type soaring lead delays? Check. EVH Cathedral type delay? Check. U2 dotted eighth delays? Check! Old school slap back? Easy. Tape Saturation? Done!

As I stated before, there are things this pedal doesn't do (like midi) but if you don't need those functions this delay pedal is certainly worth checking out. I can't think of another delay pedal that has this quality of sound, and has this many features in this small of a package. 

I'm working on a track that will highlight some of the sounds of the Halo that should be available soon. Also yes I purchased this with my own money I did not receive compensation in any way for this review and my thoughts and comments are completely my own. 

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