This echo machine is fairly common here in Japan. It shows up on auction sites regularly, and judging by the amount I see on the market, I suspect many of them were manufactured. The EM-4 is clearly an improvement over the other Elk tape delay I own, the Echo Machine; it features a variable speed motor (the Echo Machine does also, but has a 5-position speed knob instead of a continuous speed control), decent tone controls, a standby switch to disengage the pinch roller, and it’s also much smaller than the Echo Machine. In fact, it’s probably the smallest tape delay I’ve seen using the Sony RE cartridge tape transport, apart maybe from another Elk delay, the Elk EM-5, which is slightly smaller but lacks many features of the EM-4.
The biggest limitation of the EM-4 is the number of playback heads; most tape delays have three or four heads (with the exception of 8-track and Apollon cassette delays), but the EM-4 only has two. Thus, the unit is limited in the number of available delay colors. Nevertheless, it sounds pretty good, has good controls over delay tone, and its small size is a big plus.
Technical Info / Service Notes
I was able to use my EM-4 as soon as I unpacked it, and it gave me crisp, steady delays from the start, but unfortunately mine suffers from a bad case of hum, perhaps induced by failing filter capacitors. I tend to think that it’s just my EM-4, and not a design issue, because the problem is so obvious Elk wouldn’t have been able to sell as many as they did if they were all like this…
I haven’t gotten around to fixing the hum yet, but when I do I’ll update this page with my findings.
|Manufacturer||Elk Inc. (Tokyo, Japan)|
|Transport type||Sony RE tape cartridge|
|Head selection||5-position rotary mode switch|
|Inputs||5 (2 x line input, 3 x microphone)
|Wet output only||Yes (Switch at back of unit to disable dry sound)
|Pinch roller||Disengages with 'standby' switch
|Tone control||Individual bass and treble knobs
|Remote Control||Echo on/off footswitch jack|
|Related models||Elk Echo Machine, Roland Space Echo RE-100|