Intellijel already have possibly one of the most celebrated delay modules in Eurorack: the Rainmaker, a theme park of complex rhythmic comb‑filter flavoured goodness. You’ll understand, then, why, upon hearing that a new delay had been announced by the British Columbian company, I was more than a little intrigued. The Sealegs takes the concept of delay down a divergent, arguably more trad route than the Rainmaker: it can capably assume the role of a workhorse multi‑mode delay, but its flexibility and configuration makes it as creative and explorative as you could ever want a unit like this to be.
Weighing in at a comparatively compact 20HP (the 36HP Rainmaker was almost double the size), the Sealegs nonetheless offers copious CV control over a huge range of parameters and hence masses of modulation‑based madness. At the heart of the Sealegs is a stereo delay with a choice of three different models: Tape, BBD (bucket‑brigade) and Digital. There’s also an onboard drive, a lush 1970s‑inspired reverb nicknamed Fog (the sole maritime reference on the panel, I’m disappointed to report), a noise generator and a Freeze button. It’s possible to place certain things, such as the noise and reverb, at different junctures of the effect chain and also to modulate pretty much anything, so spaces both realistic and fantastical are all in the offing here.
Along the centre of the panel is a row of sliders that might easily be mistaken for an EQ on first glance. These in fact pertain to an array of parameters, each with their own CV input and attenuator. Ostensibly, three sections constitute this row: controls for the delay proper, a modulation section and a ‘character’ section. In the delay section, the time and feedback parameters do exactly what they say on the tin — albeit in different ways depending on the selected delay mode. In Tape mode, for instance, changing the delay time will result in characteristic warping and pitch‑shifting, while in Digital mode the stutter of a shifting buffer comes through. A switch underneath toggles the slider between ranges of long, medium or short delay times, with a maximum of eight seconds on the long setting and a minimum of just over three milliseconds on the short setting — well into flanger and chorus‑type territories.
Between the mode and range switches is a third switch, for stereo mode. This offers Pong, ‘T:W’ (time and width) or L/R. Pong is more or less a conventional ping‑pong delay, summing the left and right inputs to mono and sending them through the Sealegs’ two delay lines in series, while T:W and L/R send audio through the two delay lines in parallel. In Pong and T:W modes, the Width slider adds a second, offset delay on top of the fundamental delay time, up to a maximum of 33 percent. That means, for example, that if your delay time is three seconds, Width’s maximum setting will be four seconds. It’s therefore easy to quickly create complex, double‑delay rhythms, particularly when feeding the Sealegs a clock, in which instance it can sync. In L/R mode, the Time and Width sliders allow for totally independent control over the left and right delay lines’ delay times, which is simply a pleasure to explore, and with the help of even a little modulation can create some truly dizzying soundscapes (or should that be seascapes?).
Next along is the modulation section, and in many ways this is the nub of the Sealegs’ character. Beneath Rate and Depth sliders is a knob offering a multitude of behaviours including an excellent‑sounding wow & flutter effect, positive and negative envelope followers and a low‑frequency vacillator, similar to that on the Cascadia. On the right side is a smooth‑sounding dual low‑pass and high‑pass filter, which once again is a welcome addition. The fact that Intellijel have chosen to give both the low‑pass and high‑pass filters their own physical slider instead of one multi‑mode slider is a good choice, placing intuitive, hands‑on tone control at my fingertips. Next to these is the ‘Color’ slider, , which is best described as a control for ‘leaning into’ the character of each delay mode. In Tape mode, this imparts drag, degradation and dropouts. In BBD mode it adds instability, noise and other idiosyncrasies. In Digital mode it introduces downsampling and bit reduction for an old‑school sampler feel. All sound brilliant, without a weak link to be found.
A note on the noise: those familiar with the Cascadia will know its phenomenal choice of noise generation modes, which offer oodles of percussive, textural flexibility. That feature in many ways reminded me of how core a good noise generator can be on a synth, so I was eager to see what the Sealegs offered in this respect. Sure enough, the Sealegs’ own noise knob has a trick or two up its sleeve, fading between options for pre‑delay or post‑delay hiss, or a static‑type crackle. While it does feel like a comparatively blunt instrument next to the Sealegs’ other features, it can be modulated thanks to the assignable aux CV input to create swells of spacious hiss, percussive punctuation, or the subtle ebb and flow of vinyl‑esque surface noise.
The Sealegs is a reliably useful yet fabulously creative module, a more‑than‑worthy sibling for the Rainmaker. Outstanding.
It’s when all the Sealegs’ controls come together that it really earns its name. With an abundance of undulating movement at hand, it can behave itself faultlessly or it can refuse to sit still; sliding, warbling and shifting in a constant state of oceanic flux and very much rewarding playing with sliders. Intellijel have balanced those poles of control and chaos impeccably here. The Sealegs is a reliably useful yet fabulously creative module, a more‑than‑worthy sibling for the Rainmaker. Outstanding.
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