The TimeFactor delivers high-quality Eventide delay effects in a stompbox format.
It's almost ironic that the TimeFactor ($399) is part of Eventide's Stompbox series, given what the term stompbox conjures versus the wealth of features, I/O options, and deep sounds resident in this versatile delay unit. The TimeFactor is really more of a full-fledged, professionally built processor that happens to come in a small form factor. Still, it's true that you can operate it with your foot, making it a great hands-free performance processor.
The TimeFactor offers nine stereo and dual-mono delay effects, as well as one looper, configured as two independent delays, with up to 3,000 ms of delay time for each. The looper has a 48-second maximum and includes varispeed and overdubbing functions.
Bank on It
Unlike most stompboxes, the TimeFactor allows you to store settings and recall them either through MIDI or with onboard Bank/Preset footswitches. The unit can be externally controlled in other ways, too. You can plug in an auxiliary footswitch and an expression pedal (not included), giving you foot-controlled access to many front-panel parameters. A USB port is built in for upgrades from the Internet.
The TimeFactor is equipped with 10 banks, each with 2 presets, for a total of 20 onboard patches at a time, which should be plenty for live use. The rightmost footswitch increments through the banks, and the bottom left and middle switches toggle between the two presets in the currently active bank. This works well enough except that you can't step downward through banks, only up. This limitation is mitigated because the unit lets you turn some banks off during performance, minimizing the wraparound time. You can also assign an aux footswitch for the decrement function, giving you 2-way travel.
The only major criticism I have of the interface is the “billboard” display, which consists of large dots. The array of dots has the effect of making the characters less crisp and rather amorphous, at least when compared with a line-segment display of a similar size. It's difficult to read sometimes, and it's wearisome when you plan to spend a long session programming.
On the rear panel, four unbalanced ¼-inch audio jacks accommodate instrument- and line-level signals. That means the TimeFactor can be used in the studio as well as in a live situation. Two ¼-inch jacks allow for insertion of the aforementioned expression pedal and an aux switch, and around the side are two MIDI jacks (In, Out/Thru). The unit is powered with a DC-output wall wart.
When operated independently, Input 1 feeds Delay A, and Input 2 feeds Delay B. The delays can also be fed by one input, in which case Delay A and Delay B receive the same input signal. You can't use two effects simultaneously, but for most of the effects algorithms, you can run the unit in one of three modes: Stereo I/O, Mono In/Stereo Out, or dual Mono In/Mono Out. The TimeFactor automatically senses your cable configuration and routes the twin delays accordingly.
As you'd expect with Eventide, the sounds of the TimeFactor are impressive. Even something as basic as a multitap delay (see Web Clip 1) yields a complex richness that surprises and delights. In Band Delay mode (which employs a low-, band-, or highpass filter), I stretched the limits of the parameters, finding smoothness all the way to the edges and uncovering no seams (see Web Clip 2). For those outer-space effects, a bit of fun can be had in Reverse Delay mode (see Web Clip 3), which provides unexpected (and sometimes inspiring) results and shows off the unit's power and versatility. I found myself coming back to the staple Digital-, Modulation-, and Vintage-Delay effects with renewed respect; the TimeFactor's rendition of them offered both freshness and clarity.
There are many features in the TimeFactor that you can find only on higher-end studio processors (including its versatile bypass modes and Killdry function, which turns the mix control into an “all wet” output-level knob). That Eventide has ported these down into stompbox format is commendable. I found myself regularly pulling the TimeFactor out of my gig bag and using it in my studio. (Because of its independent dual-mono flexibility, and handling of line-level signals, it works well in a channel strip when tracking.)
The ultimate icing, though, is its rich, deep, and nuanced sound. Except when it isn't, and then it's delightfully experimental and wacky. If you're into Brian May, Brian Eno, or the Edge, or otherwise treat the delay and modulated-delay effects in your signal chain as serious business, the TimeFactor clearly offers something special.
Value (1 through 5): 4