Benson or Bust: From Humble Roots to Obsessive Innovation
Hand crafted in the heart of Portland, OR, Benson Amps has evolved from Chris Benson's modest fascination into a full fledged boutique company, steering clear of the beaten path in crafting exceptional guitar amps, effects pedals, and digital plugins. Let's be real — It's easy for anyone to see that in the age of mass production, some corners have been cut and attention to detail can sometimes seem like an afterthought. Companies like Benson are holding it down for the tried-and-true, hands on builders that care enough to make sure that every speck of their products is done right, which is why we love them so much here at Russo.
Soundscapes and Wave Shapes
Delay can be a tricky effect for players to control and feel like they're getting the most out of their equipment, and that's the best part of Benson's Delay: it stands out as a simple to use, and incredible sounding piece of gear. The design philosophy behind this pedal is evident from the get-go — to create an otherworldly experience with floaty and colorful repeats, coupled with a chaotic, musical degradation. Pushing sonic boundaries is one of Benson's strongest attributes.
The amount of ground the Benson Delay can cover is truly impressive. Offering an LFO range from 30ms to 1250ms, it's easy to achieve sounds like quick, chorus-esque modulation, vibrato, and slapback, while also enabling the creation of expansive, deep soundscapes. The pedal strikes a perfect balance, offering a spectrum of warbly musical sounds that cater to various playing styles and preferences. The Benson Delay's tap tempo accuracy is a standout feature, made possible by the Bontempo open-source technology. The pedal calibrates itself (WHAT!?), ensuring perfect delay timing, and avoiding the awkward digital jaggedness often associated with adjusting time controls on delay pedals.
The Benson Delay also allows for the ability to hold down the tap knob for boosted feedback and self-oscillation, similar to some of our favorite Caroline pieces. This feature is not only perfect for sustaining notes but is also great for crafting alien invasion sounds (Happy Halloween), especially when synchronized with the time knob, which is easily adjusted by an internal trim pot. This boost in feedback doesn't introduce any unwanted popping sounds into the signal path, highlighting Benson's attention to fidelity.
Navigating the LFO waveform and tap division menu is intuitive and simple, adding to the overall user-friendly experience. The ability to toggle between sine, square, and random waveforms, as well as tap divisions, provides even more flexibility for sonic exploration.
Diving into the capabilities of the Benson Delay, it quickly became apparent that attempting to capture its essence in a pedal review is challenging. Nonetheless, selecting favorite settings was a more manageable task.
Looming and Lingering:
- LFO Speed: Noon
- LFO Depth: 7 o'clock
- Time: 11 o'clock
- Feedback: 11 o'clock
- Mix: Noon
With these settings, the Benson Delay presents you a deep, hall-like reverb, creating an eerie, looming flutter under each note. Modulating in this setting breathes some more life into the Delay, adding a chorus-like effect that interacts uniquely with the existing delay. Tweaking the Feedback allows for adjusting the length of the delay's lingering underneath your playing, delivering a tangible change in the produced soundscape.
"What Would You Do for a Klon.....dike bar?"
- LFO Speed: 8 o'clock
- LFO Depth: 9 o'clock
- Time: Noon
- Feedback: 5 o'clock
- Mix: 1 o'clock
Running the Benson Delay through a Bowman Audio Overdrive clone pedal unveils its ability to coexist very well with other pedals in a chain. The interaction with the Klon introduces a richer soundscape with more present ambience and driven grit: think of a "wall of sound", Kevin Shields approach. Manipulating the Mix knob significantly impacts the sound, offering versatility from a wet mix for a full pedal showcase to a dry sound with a subtle pad underneath your guitar and amp.
- LFO Speed: Noon
- LFO Depth: 2 o'clock
- Time: 7 o'clock
- Feedback: 7 o'clock
- Mix: Noon
This setting transforms the Benson Delay into an almost classic chorus effect with a unique twist—allowing you to dial in the length of a delay on a chorus. The LFO speed at around 2 o'clock gives a slapped, dreamy tone, surpassing the capabilities of a regular chorus. Increasing the LFO speed brings chorusing effects reminiscent of Leslie amps' rotary speakers and has a cool impact on way more than just a guitar.
There are a ton of delay pedals, and it's hard to come by one that impresses, but Benson has something special here. By combining PT2399 and compandor chips, analog filtering, and careful gain staging, Benson has created a pedal that exceeds expectations, whether you're a sonic explorer looking for a new portal into the fourth dimension, or a traditionalist seeking a simple, good sounding delay for your board. The Benson Delay does it, does it well, and looks good doing it. Mind you, it seems to play nice with other pedals, too.