A rather wonderful bag of chips is this Korg SDD3000 Digital Delay, all the way from the Keio Corp in Tokyo.
If you're thinking about serious delays these days, forgetting cheap jokes at the expense of our dedicated and hard-pressed public transport personnel, then you really are talking digital. Crisp highs and minimal signal degradation are the principal attractions — and this one's programmable.
What is more, a delay line doesn't just give the obvious tape-echo type effects that you may be familiar with. The multiple functions bedecking the 3000 allow you to stab and poke around flanging, slapback echo, chorus, doubling, all manner of delays, and a, er, mind-blowing range of things in between and beyond which (probably fortunately) remain un-named, except, in my scrawled notes.
In a similar way to a synth, perhaps, the Korg SDD3000 Digital Delay is best considered with a degree of schizophrenia: think of it if you will as a series of discrete sections; but think of it too as an interacting whole. You might even call it an effects synthesizer if the wind's in the right direction.
The thin (under 2 inches deep) rack-mount type front panel hides a deep, extended box (about 17 inches long and 14 inches deep), and on the said panel are an initially bewildering array of colourful control bits and pieces. Let's take them in order left to right, bearing in mind that the other half of our schizoid bonce is keen on the interaction of these sections.
There's an input jack far left, doubling another on the back so you can use it conveniently atop the amp or wired up in home recording mode.
You can fix the input level here, and a bar-graph LED helps you set this accurately. The Programmer section follows. Essentially there are nine programme spaces for you either to write in new sounds or recall (and edit if necessary) existing sounds. A display gives you the programme number (0 is manual, where the panel controls are live; 1-9 are programmed sounds with controls in permanent edit) and delay time (all the way from 0 to 1023 milliseconds).
Next comes the Regeneration section, where you can control the sound being fed back on to itself, as it were, both in quantity by the Feedback knob and in quality by a couple of filter switches. There's also a Hold switch to repeat a small section of the regenerated sound.
Modulation allows the basic set-up of sounds beyond mere delays by offering triangle- and square-waves, plus a random voltage and an envelope follower — these help generate chorus, flanging, echo with pitch shift, delays, and doubling. Overall control here is by two pots marked Intensity and Frequency.
Then there's a control for balancing between the effect and the dry sound, a Bypass (ie effect on/off) switch, and a mono output jack. Round the back you can get stereo outs — two types suitable for live or studio work — and a range of footpedal sockets. The supplied double footswitch, while a little stiff, allows you to search through the programmes.
Optional single footswitches would allow you to control the Hold repeat function and, rather more importantly live, the Bypass control. There's also a socket to link up a control voltage for the Modulation section.
Versatility is the key. Nine programmes give you enough room for manoeuvre — the 3000 comes with a range of pleasant factory-set programmes in the nine spaces, though I was quickly editing and writing new ones — "improving" them, of course. A healthy side effect of using the 3000 is the opening up of the mysteries of the constituent parts of all these effects — I learnt enough about the application of delay times alone to last me, oh, 1023 minutes at least.
You'll need to note programmes down (there's some space in the copious manual) as panel settings are held in the program memories without, obviously, being able visually to demonstrate themselves to the user. The programme display number grows a dot as soon as you start to edit — ie touch the controls — and you have to leave that programme and return to it to get back to the memory setting.
A single reset button could've helped here. Also I would have liked a supplied footswitch for the handy Bypass switch, and maybe even a method of dumping and saving programmes on to cassette (possible?).
What I'd really like, he said, warming to the subject, is an extended aide-memoire display with room to tell me I'd selected the sound of MY BATHROOM, or ALBERT HALL, or AIR MONTSERRAT, and so on. Till then, this'll do just fine — and you'll get 5p change out of a grand, by the way.