January 30, 2023

Current pedal obsession: Mid-Fi Clari(not).

The silly putty of delays.

Interestingly Doug Tuttle, the mastermind at Mid-Fi Electronics, doesn’t call the clean version of the Clari(not) a defunct tape delay. His description is “an envelope controlled vibrato/chorus/wow-and-flutter simulator”. (I’m guessing that’s a holdover from the delays before the Feedback knob was added that gave the clean, five-knob version of Clari(not) full delay features.) While the delay can do “boringly normal”, the dynamics-based modulation uniquely warps that echo into something near indescribable. And deciduously gorgeous.

What the hell is this thing doing?

The delay is a lo-fi, 30-600ms echo based on the beautifully-noisy PT2399 digital chip. The twist is that the clock speed is not modulated by an LFO or random voltage, but by an envelope follower, giving you the ability to bend the delay speed and pitch up or down with playing dynamics. It’s like an automatic version of the Boss Space Echo Twist mode, but a whole lot more destructive.


The Delay, Feedback and Blend (Mix) knobs are all standard. The Depth and Tracking knob make up the dynamics-based modulation section. The Depth knob controls how much the pitch bends. The Tracking knob controls the sensitivity of the envelope trigger. Note that the trigger doesn’t seem to fire until the volume level drops below the threshold, so the higher the Tracking knob: the longer it takes for the pitch to be affected. This is most obvious on the Space Echo Twist recipe below where you get a few normal repeats in before the pitch shifts. But if you’re looking for a more tame sound, the modulation on the Tape Echo recipe can a sound like random wow and flutter.

The Delay, Depth and Tracking knobs are highly interactive. The longer the delay, the greater the effect of both the Depth and Tracking knobs, but the Depth and Tracking knobs can also have effect on shortening the delay length. Much to be played with here—and then when you think you understand it—serendipity happens. I really love when the envelope is set to sag the pitch as below.


In addition to the Delay, Depth and Tracking knobs interacting, your input volume and axe sustain also play a role as to when the signal drops below the trigger threshold. The recipes below are starting points. Tweak to your heart’s content.

Effect Delay Feedback Blend Depth Tracking
Tape Echo 12n 12n 12n 1p 1p
Dirty Casette 9a 7a 5p 12n 1p
Space Echo Twist 5p 3p 11a 12n 4p
Envelope Chorus 8a 7a 10a 2p 5p
Envelope Vibrato 7a 7a 5p 5p 3p
Ring Mod Madness 9a 3p 5p 5p 5p

One thing to note is that when using Clari(not) fully wet (as with the Envelope Vibrato and Ring Mod Madness effects above) there’s a lag of at least 30ms that can throw your playing off until you’re used to it.

My take.

Clari(not) could work as your main delay—if you like the brightness, noise, grittiness, artifacts and lo-fi nature. The longer the delay, the higher the feedback and the higher the mix: the noisier it’ll be. The delay is very present so it can be dialed way back to help control the noise. I’d also recommend a foggy ambient reverb like the ZCat Big to help mask some of the noise. I hacked my Clari(not) to add a simple low-pass filter to bring the noise down a bit and warm the signal.

But maybe we need to think of this pedal as the Clari(not a delay). The insane things you can do by warping the pitch an octave through envelope modulation is the more amazing (and possibly more useful) effect. It can be pitch-wavering or spacey or Mariana-Trench watery. But I give you fair warning: once you’ve gone down pitch-warping rabbit hole, every other delay out there is going to sound really boring.

I’m doing this review because I really love this neglected gem. If you buy the pedal based on this review, buying me a coffee below is a nice way to say thinks.

Why buy me a coffee? No third-party ads, no affiliate links, no tracking cookies. Just honest content. Thanks.

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