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RE: what is the state of things with pedals these days?

That last mail got completely munged and was undreadable - sounded like a 
Hyde Park corner rant, resending edited

I second the seconding (I think I recommended it buried in a note 
somewhere so I may be seconding the seconding of myself, sorry). 

You can
 get the inestimable emulations that Strymon have of all sorts of 
deterioration capabilities. There are 12 types of delay possible, and as
 F Clef pointed out they can be pre or post on the fly. 

There is also 
the option of a pre or post utilisation of effects and you can switch it
 on the fly. 

You get a choice of stereo in and out, or of the right in/out pair being
 used as an effect send. I have used that on a creepy  microtonal lift 
that has the regeneration slowly lifting, or a pseudo doppler effect 
that make the "return to base" point of the loop (the 0 in clock maths) 
feel like the entire thing is an exercise in relativistic travel (or if 
you set it at 23 in clock maths it gives the sensation of anacrusis 
without a musical event there).

An excellent extra feature is that it has a dedicated Timeline system 
librarian program that you can run from Mac or PC that lets you 
tweak/save/load/share settings, and the sysex files for some of the 
extra effects are on the Strymon site. That's a nice feature for 
tweaking the right sound among so many - you can fork a sound experiment
 and then revert when you realise you were wrong* 

Also you can name the patches, so you can call them up by name in the 
dark. or have it called up with a midi board

Also - I want to re-mention Molten Voltage Oz pedal that is especially 
made for the Timeline - it is outstanding in its features. It controls 
the Timeline through MIDI, and while you can do that through a general 
purpose pedalboard, but this has all of the features setup as stanard in
 a robust quiet metal box, and it also has an external pedal jack that 
allows external swell separately to the pedal in on the box itself. 

The Oz pedal on a 4 metre MIDI cable means that I can have the looping 
control completely separate from cluttered pedalboard which is really 
nice, then a further 2 meters to a pedal swell.

Feature list follows for people who get irritated by long notes 
(UNSUBSCRIBE DAMMIT) but also because its a good account of the feature 
set of the Timeline as looper

• Transforms the Strymon TimeLine Delay into a full-featured, 
high-fidelity, state-of-the-art LOOPER
• Unlocks the hidden potential of the Strymon TimeLine delay by 
accessing its MIDI-only LOOPER features:
• UNDO back to initial loop
• REDO overdubs (after pressing UNDO)
• REVERSE loop direction instantly
• HALF-SPEED playback and recording with LED Speed indicator.
• Single-press, soft-touch recording and playback
      --- Press and Hold the REC/PLAY Button while recording and the 
loop   automatically plays on release
      --- This makes loop timing far easier   and more accurate than 
pressing a second button
• DRY Switch automates TimeLine's LOOPER without delay  by setting
 the  Mix  to guitar only upon Record
• LOOP LEVEL control - adjust in real-time, or set it and forget 
it (auto-adjust on Record)
• MIDI IN merges and actively filters incoming MIDI data for 
optimal TimeLine synchronization and performance
• One-cable MIDI OUT connection to the TimeLine - no mods 
• Staggered, stair-step switch design for easy-access to rear 
      • Optional side Record Jack for remote soft-touch footswitch 
• Simple,             intuitive user interface
    Now available with Optional Loop Level Jack for use with an external
 Expression Controller! Note that the Loop Level Jack replaces the Loop 
Level Knob

*you know how you get the sound just right because of some happy  
accident, and then you tweak a bit more and it's gone forever because  
you're too tired to remember what you did? Or turning it off at the end 
 of the day and having no memory whatsoever of what it was?