Boss DD-20 Giga Delay
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Overview

The Boss DD-20 Giga Delay is like a history lesson in delay, providing eleven variations of the effect and adding a few of its own. With typical Boss durability, it is the last delay unit most players will ever need.

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Product Specs

Brand
Model
  • DD-20 Giga Delay
Finish
  • White
Year
  • 2005 - 2019
Made In
  • Taiwan

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Delay effects have evolved over time from using inordinately long cables and manipulating tape in the studio to analog bucket brigade units to tiny stompboxes that provide infinitely tweakable digital reflections. For a long time, though, musicians were stuck with having multiple delay pedals on their board, each one getting a very specific delay sound, whether it was analog, tape simulation or digital. If you had an album or a live set that called for multiple delay sounds, your board was inevitably going to have to grow with delays. The Boss DD-20 Giga Delay aims to solve that problem, providing all the delay options most players would ever want within one standalone unit.

The Boss DD-20 Giga Digital Delay features the hardy construction typically associated with Boss units in a twin pedal system with a digital display (a highly useful feature live or in a bedroom). This compact, bulletproof construction gives it an edge when compared to other delay station board monsters such as the Line 6 DL4. With smaller construction, however, comes an intimidating cluster of buttons, knobs and lights. It only takes ten minutes tooling around with one, though, to discover that the setup is intuitive and elegant. Aside from choosing the output level or toggling between memory or tap tempo to get things set, most of the time the DD-20 can be used in a set-it-and-forget-it way. Choose one of eleven modes, choose your delay time (which incredibly can run as long as 23 seconds) and you’re good to go.

If it's so simple, can you explain how the controls work without taking up the rest of this page?

Sure. It helps to think of this pedal in two halves. The left half of the pedal can act on its own as a standard delay pedal, with eleven different types of delay to choose from. The left footswitch turns the delay on/off and allows sampling, similar to the way a Boss RC-3 works. The knobs above the left side will be familiar to anyone who has ever used a delay pedal before: tone, level (volume), feedback (blend) and mode selector. If you wanted to, you could use the left side of the DD-20 as its own standalone unit.

The right half is all about accessing memory presets and setting tap tempo. The right footswitch functions either as a memory preset toggle or tap tempo. There are four memory presets you can program in by dialing in the settings and holding the red Write button. The Select button toggles between the four memory slots. The only other control on the right side is the Delay Time knob, which admittedly pairs more with the left side of the pedal. You can choose between manually dialing in the delay time with this knob, or setting it via tap tempo with the buttons under the digital display.







That seems easy enough. What are the eleven modes, though?

Let's just take a look at the rundown of their names and then dive into a few of the less self-explanatory modes. Here they are:

  • Analog
  • Tape
  • Warp
  • Twist
  • SOS (Sound On Sound)
  • Dual
  • Pan
  • Smooth
  • Modulate
  • Reverse
  • Standard

The three modes that probably need the most explaining are SOS, Warp and Twist. The Sound On Sound (SOS) mode essentially enables up to 23 seconds of looping time. Loop length is manipulated with the Delay Time knob, and loop starting/stopping is taken care of with the left footswitch. The strangest feature here is the Twist, essentially amounting to a sped-up and slowed down whirr reminiscent of a cartoon UFO taking off or landing. The Warp provides an infinite repeat for a great drone effect and a mechanical, computerized feel. While not everyone’s cup of tea, the Twist and Warp offer interesting possibilities for those interested in experimenting with sound.

The other modes here are delay pedal stalwarts that most will be familiar with. The Tape mode emulates the RE-201 Space Echo, while the Analog mode replicates the Boss DM-2. These two high-fidelity recreations might justify the cost of the pedal on their own, given the market prices for used versions of those units.

How does the Boss DD-20 compare to other comprehensive delay units, such as the Strymon Timeline or the Line 6 DL4?

The Line 6 DL4 is an interesting comparison, since it is a direct peer to the Giga Delay. The Boss DD-20 has only 11 modes, while the DL4 has 16 that are pre-programmed. The DD-20 has 23 seconds of loop time, while the DL4 only has 14 seconds. The DD-20 also has one more memory pre-set spot than than DL4, and can record tap tempos while turned off (which the DL4 cannot do). Perhaps most importantly, though, the Boss DD-20 takes up far less pedalboard space and costs slightly less. While not quite as tweakable as the DL4, the Boss DD-20 definitely is bit more pragmatic and direct.

Click here to learn more about the Line 6 DL4 and compare prices.

The Strymon Timeline is an altogether different beast, costing four times as much as the Giga Delay and caters to a different type of user. While the Boss DD-20 is great for those who have a few known delays they want to always have on hand, the Strymon Timeline is more of studio-quality unit with incredibly fine-grained adjustability, begging hours of exploration and dialing in to create new and unique delay types. While incredibly powerful and useful, the Timeline is also something some players don't need and don't want to pay for.