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Digitech Sampler & Programmable Distortion

Samplercheck, Effectscheck

Article from International Musician & Recording World, December 1985

Dave Burrluck on two new arrivals from Utah

For the two-footed sampler

That old song "What made Salt Lake City famous has made a DOD fan out of me", seems highly appropriate as a theme for this new DOD Digitech range of effects. The range consists of three units: digital delay, delay/sampler and distortion. The delay, digital of course is not reviewed here as it's the same as the sampler only with a maximum delay time of one second and no sampling facility. The good news is that it sells for a paltry £199.95. The idea of the Digitech range is to put in a pedal format the kind of quality that would normally be found in a rack mount effect, all at a reasonable price and thereby appealing to the musician/home recordist alike. If there's a hole in the market make it bigger then overfill it!

Digital Sampler

Certainly the trend has begun — digital sampling for the home recordist. Every effects manufacturer must have one, but DOD have got in quickly to set the pace and lay down what will become an industry standard. The PDS 2000 is a smart looking affair about twice the size of a typical pedal housed in a smart blue metal case. As it's twice the size of a normal pedal we have two foot/hand switches both of the excellent DOD touch sensitive flap type. At the top of the unit are five rotary controls, two three way slide switches and a couple of red LED indicators. The unit can run on mains power via a mini-jack adaptor or of course on batteries, a single PP3 9 volt type situated under a flap on the face of the unit.

Right, descriptions over, what can it do? Firstly of course it is a digital delay with delay times from 31 ms up to 2 seconds. That isn't a misprint, up to TWO seconds. The time is split into three modes selected by one of the slide switches 31-125ms, 125-500ms and 500ms to 2 seconds. The delay time can be adjusted in the usual manner via a rotary knob. So with the mode switch set to 'normal' we have an excellent delay unit with 'Regen' (feedback), 'mix' (dry and effect), input and output controls. There is a single standard jack input and sadly only a single output.

So the delay is straightforward, touch the right hand switch and we're on. Now the left hand switch in this normal mode has a handy role, that of 'Infinite repeat'. Play a riff, touch the left hand switch and it will be repeated indefinitely or until you touch the switch again. This is great, especially useful for impressing friends at parties when you play a twelve-bar and solo over the top of the chords, stopping only to set each chord change.

Enough of repeating myself, let's sample something a little new. The mode switch selects either 'normal', 'trigger', or 'sample'. Pretty straightforward I should say. When you select the sample mode both LEDs light up, the Infinite Repeat indicator now functioning as a sample time indicator. Turn the 'Regen' control to 1, at the same time flush the toilet, hit the left-hand switch, set the mode to 'trigger', hit the left hand switch again and 'Hey Presto' we've sampled the bog! The delay time controls the sample time in this mode so it's trial and error to make sure you have enough for your sample.

This unit also has another function up its metal case — that of sound on sound sampling. By setting the 'Regen' control to 10, samples can be built up by keeping the unit in the sample mode. So now you can overlay the toilet flushing with car starts, kiddies screaming and not forgetting a good old orchestra stab for good measure. As with recording the first sample will get quieter the more samples you add. When you're happy with your multiple sample, set to 'trigger' mode and you can impress even more people at parties! Once you've sampled a sound, you can of course change the pitch of the sample by altering the delay time control strangely only up in pitch and not down — which is a bit of a shame especially for drum sounds.

So what we have here is a very versatile, high quality, digital delay and a slightly less versatile, but equally high quality 2 second sampler. While the unit scores on quality (a frequency response of 40Hz — 7kHz is quoted for the delay of 1 second, it's probably lower for 2 seconds) and sampling, the lack of pitch drop on post sampling is a drag and it seems that the trigger input for the samples and delays is limited to a 5-volt pulse. This will mean that you'll run into problems triggering off tape and also from direct outputs from drum machines etc which limits the pedal's use. Another problem is the high power consumption on the battery of 40ma which means it'll eat up a standard battery in a few hours. The mini jack mains adaptor input is also a bit of a drag, as I bet most people have a Japanese 'barrel' type connector. However a part from recommending that the unit is properly mains powered which would mean it would probably be larger in size, I suggest you buy an adaptor as well. (Come on DOD at this price, couldn't you include one for free?).

Double the distortion

Programmable Distortion

Right, first things first! This is not a PROGRAMMABLE pedal. It's definitely a spin-off of the computer tech that everything is now called programmable. Is the Juno 6 programmable? Is a Sessionette combo programmable? No. Well not the way I understand it. Up to now programmable has meant the ability to adjust certain parameters and store them into a memory thereby creating a number of different 'programmes'. This distortion pedal has two 'channels' A and B. The A channel has facility to alter parameters via a parametric and some internal dip switches, there is no memory. If the knobs on the front are changed then the sound changes. Only the internal dip switches can be "programmed" (on or off) and I think it's a bloody cheek to call it programmable. However, variable it is!

Okay I've got off my soap box now, so let's have a look at this variable distortion. Physically it's pretty similar to the Sampler with two flap switches, the right hand selecting effect on or off and the left one selecting either A or B distortion. We have a row of seven knobs: a level and gain for the A and B distortions and a frequency, octave (band-width) and cut/boost for the B distortion. (It should be noted that this is a pre-production model, in future both A and B channels will have a parametric). As with the Sampler we have the front mounted battery compartment and mains adaptor input, this time however we have a dry out as well as an effect out — full marks!

So the B distortion is straightforward, a very presentable distortion in the American Heavy Metal mode with just level and gain (amount of distortion) to play around with. The A distortion however is extremely variable. Firstly the parametric offers a frequency range of 100Hz-3700Hz, and bandwidth of 1.6-0.1 octaves plus a cut and boost of quite a lot. (Sorry to be so untechnical but no specification was given with this pedal and the cut/boost has no numerical markings). The parametric works very well indeed offering a great amount of tonal change to the distortion especially when used with the gain and level controls. Absolutely ideal for the discriminating musician both in live and studio situations. Some, or rather most, would be more than happy with these facilities but DOD haven't stopped there. By unscrewing the back plate we gain access to 7 small dip switches which affect the overall tone of the A distortion only. The first two switches create delay time — both off (down) we have a 40msec delay, switch 1 on and we have a 20msec time and both on we have a 10 msec delay. Now these small delay times simply thicken up the distortion tone to varying degrees and quite a difference they make too, the 40msec setting gives a really crazy edge to the distortion — to be used! The third switch doesn't do a thing, not surprising as it isn't connected so I'm informed. Switches 4 and 5 operate a high cut/boost facility achieved by altering one of the trim pots. No-one seemed too sure which of the many trim pots did what and as I felt the high end to be fine I left well alone. Switch 6 is a low boost on/off which makes quite a difference — a bit like the effect of a sub-oscillator really — adding or cutting a fixed amount of low end from the tone. The seventh switch is merely a delay time on or off.

Quite fiddly all this but it's worth the fiddle, as with careful settings of the dip switches, many basic tones can be achieved before you even use the parametric. Certainly I couldn't imagine a distortion sound that I couldn't achieve and that was without adjusting the high end internal switches. Clearly, despite the rather misleading name, this unit and more especially the proper production dual parametric job, will take distortion into the 'serious' category. No more stamping on a little silver box and hoping for the best, this unit puts in a box what has previously only been found in a rack mount ANO gives you plenty of change to buy some surgical ear plugs and see a private ear specialist... Pardon?

FOR: Quality, Versatility and Price (especially the Distortion)
AGAINST: Terminology, Potential triggering facilities on Sampler


Also featuring gear in this article

(12T Oct 85)

Browse category: Guitar FX > Dod

Previous Article in this issue

ddrum Digital Drums

Publisher: International Musician & Recording World - Cover Publications Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

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International Musician - Dec 1985

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman

Review by Dave Burrluck

Previous article in this issue:

> ddrum Digital Drums

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> Vox White Shadow Six String ...

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