Earthquaker Devices Avalanche Run Review (Hands On & Setting Options)

The Avalanche Run stereo delay with reverb from Earthquaker Devices has been my go-to delay unit for the past two years.

It is the first digital delay I’ve ever owned, but feels like analog unit, and it has had a massive impact on how I look at delays.

There are practically limitless applications for this pedal and exploring all that it is capable of doing in one article could extend into a thesis.

So, in this article I’ll be looking at the core functionality of the pedal as well as my own personal applications for it.

From swelling reverbs, to self-oscillating delay across stereo speakers, the avalanche run is an expansive delay unit that will take you into the clouds. Let’s go for a climb.

Design

Earthquaker Devices Avalanche Run Review

At its core, the Avalanche Run is a stereo, digital delay with reverb.

Without knowing anything about its inner workings, the Avalanche Run can be used and understood like any other delay or reverb pedal.

However, this pedal has some revolutionary technology from the folks at EQD that makes it more versatile than even most digital delays. It is the first pedal from EQD to be built on their high powered DSP platform, which allows for a lot of power and flexibility, including tap tempo and multiple expression parameters.

This requires a very specific kind of power supply. The included 9V center-negative a-amp DC power supply is a must have. One of my few complaints is that this limits how far I can place my pedal board from an outlet since my board doesn’t have outlets on it, but that could just be a personal issue. The pedal is worth it none the less.

The left side of the pedal has an input for an expression pedal, which allows you to truly unlock the pedal’s potential using the EXP knob (more on that later).

Controls

The top four knobs of the Avalanche Run control the Delay parameters and include controls for Time, Repeats, Tone, and Mix. The Time control allows for up to two seconds of delay, while the Repeat knob ranges from zero to nearly infinite repeats of your signal.

This alone allows for a great deal of expansive delay sounds. The Tone knob lets your delay trails sound like either a tape delay (warmer/lo-fi) when turned to the left, or a bucket brigade style repeat (crisp/hi-fi) when turned to the right.

The Mix knob works like a normal mix from 7-noon, a delay boost from noon-3, and finally cuts out the dry signal from 3 o’clock onwards. The Ration control below that controls the frequency of repeats in relation to the temp.

The Middle two controls on the bottom row control the Reverb sounds. This includes knobs for Decay and Mix, which function as you would expect when the switch at the bottom is set to Normal. When set to Swell, the Mix knob starts to function as a control for the swell time. I have sound below that utilizes this function.

The EXP knob determines which aspect of the pedal is affected by your expression pedal. This lets you control the frequency of the delay, number of repeats, the mix of the delay and much more.

The Activate Switch turns the pedal on and can be used to engage either True or Buffered Bypass modes. The Tap Tempo is my favorite control, as it allows me to dial in the delay time on the fly while performing on stage, and it also self-oscillates when held down. This allows for some seriously chaotic delay that really lets the effect live up to its name.

For more info on how to use the Avalanche Run, check out this video.

Sounds

This pedal can do anything from your traditional slap-back delay to other worldly, cosmic infinity glory tones. The Reverb has a slight modulation to it that reminds me of the Dispatch Master from EQD, so if that is a favorite of yours you’ll be happy with this Reverb tone.

It creates much needed depth to the Reverb that adds to the overall character of this pedal. The delay, while being digital, has the feel of an analog delay due to the tone control. These concepts are often in the forefront of my mind when using this pedal. Here are some specific settings I use to with the Avalanche Run:

Background Soundscape

background soundscape setting on the Avalanche Run

Utilizing the Avalanche Run’s long delay time and unique reverb tone can set the stage for Soundscape creation. I used a setting very similar to this when recording my band, Lumet’s song “Reflect”.

By keeping the Tone control turned down, and the mix up, with the Delay set to the Reverse setting, along with ample reverb, I was able to get a fully wet, Reverse Delay effect that worked as a backdrop for an acoustic lead.

With careful note choice I was able to create a real eerie effect, which was amplified when I changed the Time knob on the fly, effectively shifting the delay frequency. This is another example of the Avalanche Run working like a great analog delay.

This could also be achieved by using an expression pedal, but I did it manually using the Time knob. Hold down the Tap temp pedal and watch as your soundscape starts to roll into chaos.

Pedal Steel Swell

pedal steel swell setting on the Avalanche Run

A setting that I like to do for country stuff is to turn the delay mix all the way down and to just utilize the reverb section of the pedal. First set the Reverb controls under the Normal setting how you would like it, then switch the pedal over to the Swell setting.

In this mode the Mix control affects the onset of the swell. With the Mix set at about 2 o’clock, the Avalanche Run effectively turns my guitar into a pedal steel. Simply pluck or strum the chords you want to play, maybe with some unison bends for added flare and you’re sounding like a country must-have.

For a little added dimension, I’ll set the delay section for a slap-back effect and it creates a convincing doubling effect.

Dotted Eighth Palm Mute

dotted eighth palm mute on the Avalanche Run

One of my favorite ways to use delay is to create a dotted eight delay and then play palm muted arpeggios. This creates a sort of synth arpeggio effect and creates chords out of them, as the delays notes overlay the new dry notes.

I like to keep some clarity in the signal when doing this kind of effect, so I turn the Reverb off entirely. I keep the Tone rolled off, so that the original tone can be heard, but boost the delay mix. I also set the Ration to 2/3 to give the delay a good off-beat skip to it.

I then palm mute using my right hands and play one note at a time through a line or an arpeggio. I like to add a little modulation or wah-wah pedal to this to give it some extra texture.

Pros

  • Extremely versatile
  • Reverb/Delay combo
  • Useful tone control
  • Tap Tempo
  • Expression pedal

Cons

  • Requires specific power source
  • Can be confusing to access special features

Hidden Under the Snow

The Avalanche Run from Earthquaker Devices is an extremely versatile and powerful delay/reverb unit. I’ve barely even scratched the surface with this pedal, as there is much to be discovered within its controls. That being said, EQD doesn’t keep any of its potential a secret.

I highly recommend cracking open the user manual, as it is very simply written and it shows you how to engage Tails, different Bypass modes, and unique tones that they have been able to discover for themselves.

I would recommend this pedal to anyone that is interested in creating shoe-gazer style music, as well as anyone who wants an all-in-one pedal. With this you could get rid of an extra reverb or delay unit on your board.

If you’re a fan of knob turning, then this is a highly gratifying pedal for those who are willing to put the time into it. There are simpler delays out on the market, but fortunately this pedal can be figured out in basic ways without a manual.

What starts off as a normal hike or climb may leave you stumbling into avalanche territory.

EarthQuaker Devices Avalanche Run V2 Stereo Reverb & Delay with Tap Tempo Guitar Effects Pedal
  • New custom-built enclosure, Flexi-Switch silent relay based switching for traditional latching or momentary operation, and updated reverb algorithm for improved stereo imaging
  • A dreamy sonic discovery device with up to 2 seconds of delay time and a lush reverb.

Further Reading:

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Davis Wilton Bader is a professional guitarist/writer based out of St. Louis, MO. He plays in the bands Lumet and The Outskirts.