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DOD RDS3600 Sampling Delay

Article from Electronics & Music Maker, February 1986

A new sampling delay line from the US comes under Paul White’s scrutiny. It features an extra-long sampling time and excellent modulation effects, but are they enough?

Is it a DOD or is it a Digitech? Well, strictly speaking it's both. The company behind the RDS3600 is DOD of America, specialists in footpedal effects, but now branching into more sophisticated, rack-mounting units under the Digitech banner.

Externally, there's little distinctive about the Digitech rack gear; but then, putting something in a 1U-high, 19" rack-mount format doesn't leave much room for aesthetic flair anyway.

Internally, however, the 3600 does have some distinctive characteristics. It's capable of performing most of the commonplace digital delay functions, and if you're in any doubt about how to go about creating these, the front panel provides four pushbuttons marked Flange, Chorus, Double and Echo; pressing one of these gets you a preset delay time from which to begin work.

In fact, manipulating the DOD's delay parameters is quite a bit easier than doing the same job on a lot of other units, thanks mainly to an excellent central LED display that tells you where you are at any given time. You still have to keep pen and paper handy, though, because this unit has no programmable memory locations.

More noteworthy is the 3600's ability to generate unusually long delay times. The maximum is 7.2 seconds, which should be long enough for most people, and though this inevitably results in a reduced bandwidth (4kHz), the original signal is still perfectly recognisable after the long wait. If you want higher sound quality, you can opt for more sensible delay times of 3.6 seconds (8kHz bandwidth) and 1.8 seconds (16kHz). The only problem is that the delay time switch is located, perversely, at the back of the unit, so it's not going to be easy to reach if you put the DOD in a rack. Signal-to-noise ratio is a creditable 85dB, though, so the 3600 is quieter in operation than many low-cost delays.

But one of the DOD's major selling points is its ability to freeze whichever sound is currently living in its memory, for infinite looping or one-shot triggering. To sample a sound, you simply apply a pulse to the rear panel Sync socket to initiate the process, and once the sound has been captured, pressing Repeat Hold locks it into memory. From there on, any subsequent pulses - from a drum machine's trigger output, say - cause the stored sample to be replayed.

Coupled with this is an external modulation input, through which you can feed the output of a suitable low frequency oscillator which, in turn, will modulate the sampled sound - useful if you like experimenting with alternative modulation waveforms. Applying an external mod input in this manner disconnects the DOD's internal modulation section automatically.

Sadly, though, this is the extent of the 3600's sampling facilities. There's no means by which you can control your sample's pitch remotely from a synth keyboard, MIDI, CV or otherwise. So the facility's musical usefulness is definitely limited, unless remote triggering is your only requirement.

Speaking of triggering, there's also no means of beginning the sampling process automatically. This makes it difficult to synchronise the sound being captured with the sampling procedure, and even though a bit of practice goes a long way here, I can't help but feel a sound-activated trigger wouldn't have put much extra on the 3600's manufacturing costs.

All in all, the digital delay market is becoming increasingly hard-fought and complex - though the extra activity isn't necessarily making designers build more innovative machines. The RDS3600 is fairly typical of the current breed of sub-£500 models, and as such, offers a mix of useful functions and missed opportunities. Its flexible modulation section and long maximum delay time are both highly praiseworthy features, yet its sampling section is good only as far as it goes - and it should have gone a lot further.

Incidentally, DOD also produce an alternative, less facility-laden delay in the form of the RDS1900. This offers a 1.9 second delay time at 15kHz bandwidth, but no triggered sampling, no external modulation input, and no way of increasing the delay time. The choice is yours.

Prices RDS3600, £435; RDS1900, £250

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Casio CZ3000 Polysynth

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Roland Alpha Juno 2 Polysynth

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

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Electronics & Music Maker - Feb 1986

Scanned by: Stewart Lawler

Gear in this article:

Studio/Rack FX > Digitech > RDS3600 Sampling Delay

Gear Tags:

Digital FX

Review by Paul White

Previous article in this issue:

> Casio CZ3000 Polysynth

Next article in this issue:

> Roland Alpha Juno 2 Polysynt...

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