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Korg's sampling digital delay

It was only last August that Korg's SDD-1000 Digital Delay appeared on the market. Although being similarly priced to many other 'one-second' digital delays, the 1000 had a few features unique to its price bracket of around £300-400; namely a four-position switch labelled 'Sequencer', 'Sampling', 'Trig Overdub' and 'Off'. Thanks to this switch, the SDD-1000 became one of the most popular mid/low priced DDLs, invariably in short supply due to its unexpectedly large success.

Korg have now developed the original SDD-1000 design into a full blooded(?) DDL/Sampler, with an upgraded spec and delay time of over a second at full bandwidth, or over four seconds at reduced bandwidth.

The SDD-2000 doesn't look too dissimilar to either the SDD-1000 or 3000 — dark blue facia, 1U 19" rackmounting etc. All the pushbuttons are of the smarter SDD-3000 design — flat squares with a red LED in their center; and as the 2000 is a complicated-ish beast, the front panel is littered with these.

Although the 2000 may not look too different from its predecessors, it is in fact quite a lot more sophisticated — as a digital delay, all its front panel controls can be stored in any of its 64 memory location, which can be switched either from the front panel controls, or via MIDI.


Incremental control is the order of the day here — all (or most) parameters are incremented or decremented from the one knob on the 2000's front panel. This is a very good means of data entry as it enables you to recall memory settings, with the display being able to indicate the values of each parameter. An example of how useful this facility could be is if you had a program set for flanging and you wanted to edit it — say, slow down its modulation rate — all that you have to do on the SDD-2000 is select the desired parameter (in this case it would be 'FREQ'), and then turn the Incrementer Control by the desired amount to reduce the modulation frequency. On a conventionally programmable DDL, as soon as you turn the controls, they usually jump to their present setting, rather than increasing or decreasing the programmed setting.

The SDD-2000 operates in either x1 or x4 delay time modes. To obtain optimum sound quality, you would use the x1 mode which reproduces the delayed or sampled signal over a full audio bandwidth (30Hz-18kHz). Occasionally, I have come across products that may quote such a high spec, whilst in practise having inferior sound quality. Not so with the SDD-2000 however, as it does sound superb in the x1 mode, being able to reproduce the full audio spectrum without any audible degradation in quality. In this mode, delay times of up to 1092mS can be had — for longer delays or samples, the x4 mode will hold up to 4368mS of sound, although reduced to having a not unusable bandwidth from 30Hz-4.4kHz.


Digital Delays have, more or less, all the hardware for sampling within them. Consequently, it simply becomes a job for 'Software-Man' to metamorphosise the DDL into becoming a sampler. The SDD-1000 went cautiously along such lines, and now the SDD-2000 goes quite a bit further into sampler-land, by offering facilities such as being able to play the samples from a MIDI source, editing the sample (chopping off its tail end...), scaling over user-definable octaves on a MIDI keyboard, etc.

There are in fact two sampling modes in the SDD-2000. They are labelled 'SEQUENCER', and 'SAMPLER'. If a sample is played in the sequencer mode, it will loop in time with a clock pulse sent to the trigger input or even to the clock signal sent along the MIDI bus. If the sample is played in the 'SAMPLE' mode, then it will simply be triggered by either a signal sent to the trigger input or by the key on/off, pitch, velocity, etc. information sent along the MIDI bus from a MIDI instrument.

To enter the sampling modes, you must press either of the buttons marked 'SEQ' or 'SAMPLING'. Then you select whether you want to sample in the x1 or x4 modes. The SDD-2000 will then automatically start the recording of the sample when an audio signal is 'heard' which has enough gain to illuminate the +3dB LED. The recording then ends when the current delay time setting has come to its end, or when the REC switch (or footswitch connected to the REC Jack) is depressed.

After a few seconds of automatic calibration of the sample, it is ready to be played; either by footswitch triggering of the sample, or via the MIDI bus.

Once a sample has been made, it can then be manipulated in several ways: if you are using the SDD-2000 in the x1 mode, then the sample can be played over a range of twelve notes at any point on the keyboard. You can then inform the 2000 where you want these notes to occur on the keyboard; whilst in the x4 mode, samples can be reproduced over almost three octaves. Korg call this the 'Supported Note Range'. You can also select which note from these ranges is the true pitch of the sample — you might want a bass guitar sample to be able to range both up and down in pitch, whereas you may prefer a bashed dust-bin sample to be able to be played as low in pitch as possible.


The MIDI bus can operate many features within the SDD-2000. First and foremost, it is the means by which the samples can be played on a keyboard (monophonically), and the 2000 will also receive velocity, after-touch, pitch bend and modulation wheel information (as long as the MIDI keyboard transmits such information), The second type of MIDI information that the SDD-2000 responds to is that of program change. You can change the patch memories within the DDL by changing programs on the MIDI source itself; and in this way, the DDL can be programmed with settings which complement the specific synth patches so that when you select a Clav patch, the DDL could be set to produce a hard flange; and a String setting could benefit from a repeat delay patch, etc.

The third function that can be controlled via the MIDI bus is what Korg call 'Trigger Overdub'. This is a mode whereby the delay time can be controlled by a MIDI clock (say, from a sequencer or drum machine), or a footswitch or drum machine's trigger signal. When setting the delay time from a MIDI timing clock, the user can determine after how many clock pulses the delay time setting can be derived — either 16, 8, 6, 4, or 2-beat. After the selected number of MIDI clock signals have been received, the SDD-2000 sets the delay time, and "the performance may continue..."


The SDD-2000's front panel is divided into seven boxes — the first boxes on the left are assigned to the input and output stages. The Input box simply has an Input level knob and a four stage ladder LED indicator. (The switching between line or mic level is done on the unit's rear panel.) The Output box consists of an output level knob, a Bypass switch, and a 'subbox' (?) with an LED for 'REC Cancel' indication. The switch for REC Cancel On/Off is in the next box, which is called REC SYNC. In this box are switches for the three alternative operation modes — Trig. Overdub, Sequencing, and Sampling. An LED above the Sampling switch is marked 'TRIG' and this lights when a trigger signal or pulse is detected by the Trigger Input socket at the back. Then there is the smallest of the boxes, called 'MIDI' which, when switched on, allows the unit to receive MIDI data.

The next box along is labelled 'Programmer', and contains the six figure alphanumeric display, and eight switches. These switches are for the control of the modulation frequency and intensity, the switching between the x1 and x4 modes, and a switch marked PROG/PARA which changes the operation between allowing program change, or editing of parameters. In the sequencer/sampling mode, this last switch turns on the record calibration function (which will correctly scale the pitch of the samples over their selected range on the master keyboard).

The bottom row of these switches consist of functions for effect output level, feedback level, delay time and a write switch for committing your patches to memory. To change the values of the parameters such as feedback level, or modulation intensity, you must depress the relevant switch whose present value will then be displayed in the right hand portion of the display. Then, in the next box along is the incrementor control which will then increase or decrease that value, depending on which direction it is rotated. The values will then change slowly when the knob is turned slowly, and when it is turned fast, the rate of change of the values will increase (not simply proportionally to the rate at which the knob is turned).

Control Panel Close-Up

The six digit display itself is arranged with the two green left hand digits indicating the current program number, and the four red digits on the right hand side either indicate the delay time in milliseconds, or the data relevant to the previously selected switch. (If the feedback switch is pressed, then these four digits will indicate its programmed value.) In the modes other than the basic delay mode, the display has various other 'messages'. It is possible to assign which MIDI channel it receives on: by holding down the MIDI switch and turning the incrementor control, it will change from being in the Omni mode (it always defaults to Omni when power is switched on), to being able to receive MIDI on specific MIDI channels. In this situation, the right hand digits would then read (if you are on MIDI channel one) '1ch'. When setting the delay time in the Trigger Overdub mode, the display will indicate 'Cloc' when it is ready and waiting for the clock pulses to arrive, from which it can derive its delay time.


Once you have read the instruction manual a couple of times (as is necessary with all the multifunctions of the switches), the operation of the SDD-2000 is very straightforward and easy to master. As a digital delay, it is a very high quality machine, capable of reproducing the brightest and loudest or transients without a hint of trouble, whilst even producing delays of quite acceptable quality in the x4 delay time mode.

When it is behaving as a sampler, it is still a very admirable piece of equipment — the ease with which sampling is achieved, and the degree of control over the samples is excellent (for a unit whose 'roots' lie in digital delays rather than samplers). Once a sound is sampled, you can then assign it to any location on a MIDI keyboard, and select whether you want the sample to respond to velocity information, or to be able to respond to note off information. When the sample does not respond to note off information, it will (when triggered) play for the duration of the sample rather than to cut off when the note is released from the keyboard.

On the unit's rear panel are all the sockets for input/output connections (with a switch for selecting between -35dB and -10dB input level), MIDI bus In and Thru, and sockets for Footswitch or Remote switching, for Bypassing the delay mode, Record Cancel (ending a Sample), Program Change (up only), Record On, and External Trigger. Also on the back panel is a pot for tuning the sampled sounds by ±50%.

Samplers are definitely 'in vogue' at present. Consequently, there are many of them appearing from several corners of the globe — the US ones preferring to remain attached to their keyboards (such as the Emulators, Mirage, Kurzweil, etc), and the Japanese preferring the 'spiritual independence' of the MIDI bus from which they derive their pitch and trigger information (such as the Akai, the SDD-2000 and its predecessor, the SDD-1000). The primary advantage that this modular approach provides is that the unit itself is cheaper and could be more versatile in certain situations — the SDD-2000 could be linked via the MIDI bus from Roland's guitar synth, thus making it accessable to the guitarist, or two SDD-2000s could even be linked to provide stereo sampling — an idea that could have enormous potential, and deserves some looking into.

As it stands, the SDD-2000 is a very versatile digital delay. As a sampler, it too has many useful functions and is not a bad buy at £799.00. If it were merely a digital delay, then its competition could be quite fierce — Roland and Yamaha have excellent and competitively priced DDLs, and even if it were a basic sampling DDL, the UK's own Bel sampling DDL would give it a hard time. However, having the facility for being able to play the samples touch sensitively from a MIDI source (although monophonically), in addition to providing all the standard DDL functions, makes Korg's SDD-2000 a good choice for the musician who wants 'it all'...

SDD-2000 specs

-35dBm 47kΩ +6dBm
-10dBm 500kΩ +19dBm
-35dBm 600Ω -20dBm (DIRECT)
600Ω -20dBm (EFFECT)
-10dBm 600Ω +6dBm (DIRECT)
600Ω +3dBm (EFFECT)
Frequency response 20Hz — 20KHz ±1 dB (DIRECT)
30Hz — 18kHz +1 dB, -3dB (EFFECT) (x1 mode)
30Hz — 4.5KHz +ldB, -3dB (EFFECT) (x4 mode)
Dynamic range 90dB (IHF) (EFFECT) or more
95dB (IHF) (DIRECT) or more
S/N ratio 80dB (IHF) (EFFECT)
Distortion 0.05% (DIRECT)
0.1% (EFFECT)
Delay time 0-4368ms (in 1 ms steps)
0-1092 (x1 mode: can be set in 0.1 ms steps from 1 to 10ms)
0-4368ms (x4 mode)
Feedback 63 steps 0 — 31 (positive phase) 0:0% 31:110%
0 — -31 (inverted phase) 0:0% -31:110%
Modulation Modulation waveform: Triangle wave
Modulation frequency: 0.1Hz- 10Hz
(FREQ parameter values: 0 = 0.1Hz; 31 = 10Hz)
Delay time modulation range: 2:1 (at INTENSITY 31)
Dimensions 482(W) x 44(H) x 344(D)mm
Weight 4.5kg
Power consumption 17W

Also featuring gear in this article

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Thru the Window

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Poly MIDI Means It

Electronic Soundmaker & Computer Music - Copyright: Cover Publications Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.


Electronic Soundmaker - Aug 1985

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman

Gear in this article:

Studio FX > Korg > SDD-2000 Sampling Digital Delay

Gear Tags:

Digital FX

Review by Curtis Schwartz

Previous article in this issue:

> Thru the Window

Next article in this issue:

> Poly MIDI Means It

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