Review: McDSP EC-300 Echo Collection

A powerful delay plug-in with multiple personalities
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A powerful delay plug-in with multiple personalities
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The EC-300 is more than just another delay. It’s a modular suite that gives you all three major delay flavors—tape echo, digital delay, and analog delay. It’s easy to use, fully featured, and great sounding.

Each of the effects—Magnetic, Digital, and Analog—has its own look and control set, and are all capable of creating both delay and chorus effects. There is a strip of global controls that appears at the bottom of the GUI, which stays mostly the same no matter which delay you’ve selected. Switching between delay types is as easy as clicking one of the three Delay Type buttons. Next to it is a pull-down menu called Delay Character, whose contents differ for each delay.

The three faces of the EC-300 (left to right): Magnetic, Digital and Analog.

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The Tempo section features Host Sync/BPM and Tap tempo controls. The Groove slider lets you push the delay ahead or behind the master tempo by a variable amount. Delay Mode gives you the choice of Single (one delay), Dual (two delays), or Ping Pong operation (left and right delays feeding each other’s outputs).

Despite the differences between modules, there are many parameters that are common to all three delay types. Besides the obvious Delay Time, Feedback, and Mix controls, all three have identical Dynamics sections that let you duck or compress the delayed signal: It includes Threshold, Amount and Release knobs. The Ducking control is particularly useful, allowing you to constrain the complexity of the delay effect by reducing sounds at the output that exceed a selectable threshold.

The three delays also offer Feedback Balance and Feedback Mix controls. The former adjusts the feedback level between the left and right channels, whereas the latter lets you feed the delay output of the left and right delays into each other, which can create additional rhythmic variations.

All three models include an Offset knob that creates a stereo image from a mono signal. Well-designed meters for both stereo width and output gain/gain reduction are available on all the modules.

The Magnetic Delay, which has a green, Echo-plex-like GUI, offers an accurate tape echo emulation. It’s equipped with a Saturation effect that creates smooth-sounding distortion, and Wow and Flutter controls for adding modulation.

All three delays are accurate and powerful, but the Digital Delay is my favorite of the three. The blue-faced module gives you two different distortion types—Saturation and a Bit Crusher. Best of all, you can send the signal through one of many Synthetic Impulse Models taken from McDSP’s Futzbox plugin. Powered by convolution technology, this feature lets you apply super realistic tones from telephones, TVs, boomboxes, vehicles, and toys to the signal. The creative possibilities are endless, and it is nonstop fun to experiment with the various models.

Other goodies in the Digital delay include a modulation section that generates sine, triangle and random modulation effects, as well as a parametric EQ section that is controlled either by knobs or by dragging control points in a graphical interface.

The Analog Delay, which has a bright-red color scheme, sounds authentically “boingy” and offers the same modulation controls as the Digital delay.

Whether you’re using it for music production, sound design or post, the EC-300 is all you can ask for in a delay plug-in. It’s comprehensive, sounds great, easy to use, and creatively stimulating. McDSP has knocked this one out of the park.

Excellent sounding delays. Easy to use. Comprehensive controls. Synthetic Impulse Models on Digital Delay. Single, Dual and Ping-Pong options. Supports AAX Native, AAX DSP, AU, VST, and VST3.

Nothing significant.
Native: $149 street
HD Version: $249 street

Mike Levine is a composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist from the New York area.