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Boss RSD10 Sampling Delay

Article from Electronics & Music Maker, March 1986

Paul White again, with details of a pitch-following sampling delay for only £200. His conclusion? Buy it!

Want the low-down on one of the cheapest pitch-tracking samplers currently available? Read on. The Boss RSD10 is the same physical size as the other Micro Rack modules (studio outboard units all), and derives its juice from an external power supply.

It's based round a digital delay with a 7kHz frequency response, and a delay time that can be anywhere between two milliseconds and two seconds. There are no modulation facilities, but there is a Feedback option for lovers of repeat echoes. Sound quality is higher than any semi-pro analogue delay, even if the limited bandwidth does lead to a certain lack of brightness.

The sampler section operates unconventionally, in that it actually tracks the pitch of the controlling keyboard's audio output, changing the pitch of the stored sound by speeding it up and slowing it down. Maximum sample length at the middle of the pitch range is two seconds and, though the manual claims the machine tracks over two octaves, it worked OK over a range of more like four.

You may have to switch octaves on your synth until you find the sampler's operating range, after which you connect the keyboard gate output to the sampler's trigger input, and that's that. The RSD10 requires a clean waveform to work on, so it's best to set up your synth to give a square wave output, with a fast attack and a couple of seconds of release time. Set the low-pass filter to the highest cutoff frequency, and apply no resonance.

There are two ways of loading a sound into the Boss. In Mode A, a signal at the input starts the recording process, after which both the sampling duration and the replay pitch depend on the last note played on the keyboard; it makes sense, therefore, to select a note on the keyboard that corresponds to the pitch of the sound you're about to sample. Mode B works in much the same way, except that the sampling process is initiated by pressing a key on the synth.

Any sampled data is lost when the RSD10 is switched off, but you can record your sounds onto tape and resample them later. Using a stereo recorder, you can also record the keyboard pitch at which the note was sampled and use this to re-record the sound at the correct pitch.

Once you've got a sample you're happy with, pressing a key on the synth causes it to replay all the way through unless you hit another key before the sound ends, in which case it starts again from the beginning. If the sound is too long, you can use the Trim control to shorten it; this fades the sound rapidly rather than just cutting it off, so there's no click at the end. There's no facility for trimming the beginning of a sample, though.

Should you want to layer a sound on top of another, you simply advance the Feedback control, though this adjustment requires a bit of experimentation.

One advantage of the pitch-tracking system is that it works on synths that don't conform to the 1V/octave standard, like old Yamaha and Korg synths with linear oscillators (though if yours is a Korg or an old Moog, you'll need a trigger converter before you can use it), or a modern polysynth, providing it has a gate or trigger output and that you play it monophonically. And any portamento or pitchbend you apply to the controlling synth translates accurately to the sampled sound.

Quality-wise, the RSD10 is no Synclavier, but quite serviceable nonetheless. Samples replayed more than a few semitones below their original pitch do show signs of quantisation and aliasing - though for some people, that's all part of the charm of sampling.

Finally, with the Boss operating as a delay, the delay time can still be controlled by the synth pitch, so you can create quasi-flanging effects from the keyboard, or even use the synth's LFO as a modulation oscillator for 'proper' chorus and flanging.

The Boss' limited bandwidth prevents it being worthwhile purely as a DDL. But its sampler section is competent enough in terms of range, quality, accuracy and flexibility to lift the machine well above 'interesting toy' status.

Price RRP £200 including VAT

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Also featuring gear in this article

Previous Article in this issue

Sequential Prophet VS Polysynth

Next article in this issue

Yamaha SPX90 Multi-Effect Processor

Publisher: Electronics & Music Maker - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

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Electronics & Music Maker - Mar 1986

Scanned by: Stewart Lawler

Review by Paul White

Previous article in this issue:

> Sequential Prophet VS Polysy...

Next article in this issue:

> Yamaha SPX90 Multi-Effect Pr...

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