A message from Planet Orb
Many are the refreshments taken in The Orb's new studio in Clapham, South London. Some of them come with two sugars. Others bring a unique insight into recording technology. Our representative in this cosmic café is Kris "Thrash" Weston, a man daily engaged in the seismic tussles only outboard equipment manuals and computers can provoke. Here is the first of his regular bulletins from beyond, in which Eventide's DSP4000 harmoniser is taken round the back of the bike sheds for a damn good thrashing. Orb 1, Technology 0...
"The DSP4000 is sort of greyey-brown with red buttons on. It has a large knob. Pressing the (red) coloured buttons makes things change on the screen and randomly pressing all the buttons on the front panel creates different effects.
Sometimes, moving the large knob somehow changes the input, which in turn affects the output, although it's a bit difficult ever to re-create the same effects twice by using random pushes. Using this method on several demo tapes sent to me by Dark Cloud, the famous depressing duo from Hull, I changed the sound several times. The tape overall... hey, wait a minute, what kind of person sends their demo to a magazine for some boffin to review, anyway? As I always say, 'The road of life forks off in many directions, so if you can't find the signposts you can fork off.'
Pressing the bypass/mute button seems to have some effect. The manual is thick, white and plastic, and should only be used by persons of the first disposition. It also has some black binding rings on it, which give it the impression of being held together well. Apparently it is not wise to leave the RAM cards on the dash of your car on a sunny day, so being the only truly investigative reporter on THE MIX I decided to put this to the test. Unfortunately it wasn't sunny so it was all a bit pointless. But while I was there, I noticed that the Kenwood 1023 car amplifier really has got some great buttons on it, and several of them affect the sound quite heavily, especially the one with Volume written on it.
The DSP4000 is either really good or too complicated - one of the two. Maybe I'm trying to cater for too wide an audience, here, so I'll whittle it down a bit. Yes, the patch editor seems very nice. The screen has some superlative blue colours, and changing the contrast can produce some dazzling visual effects. Furthermore, placing a little bit of white tissue paper over the screen with the contrast turned full up definitely produces better results in the high end. Another interesting point is that on the front cover of the manual there's a picture of the front of the unit, and on the back there's a picture of the back. That's well worth four grand, isn't it? Speaking of the price, guess why it's called the 4000...
A quick description of what the DSP4000 really sounds like:
A thick delay softened with a heavy diffusion marinated in its tin.
Main course: 'Swept Plate'
Grab your delay knob and you'll know why it's called swept. Served with tender scratchings and crackling.
En tendre: 'Sizzle Reverb'
Discreet early reflections in a white wine and parsley sauce.
Dessert: 'Black Hole'
Medium-sized, smaller-than-large hall, a little piquant in the high end with a marvellous, fruity bouquet.
Describing sounds is pointless, really. Readers who are interested and who have the appropriate hardware can E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and receive a SysEx-encoded dump of several hundred classic analogue synth sounds and DSP4000 effects settings. The sounds are recorded and then translated into SysEx, so you'll have to type them in manually, but believe me they're well worth it. They are sent as text files, and you'll have to download the translation instructions as well as copying the whole lot in a program like Galaxy. But once you're there, your reward will be some of the most obscure and unique sounds available to the general public.
If you want to get a life, E-mail email@example.com."
Kris Weston, No Name Studios
Interview by Kris Weston
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