JHS Digitec Delay
We release a sample
The Digitec echo has the somewhat restrictive tag "digital echo unit" appended to its title on the descriptive sheet that comes with it (but no manual with our review sample). Restrictive, because it can cope with more than mere echoes. But we're not to be too bothered by titles and tags: what you really need to know is that here is a conventional, 1024mS maximum delay, 16k bandwidth, digital delay, all for around £275 – a reasonable price at the moment.
The next step up from this kind of machine is one with programmability – the ability to store and recall particular settings and thus turn a digital delay into what you might call a preset effects device. The 1024 here, however, is pretty much a real-time machine: you alter the controls to give the sound you want now, just like you would with the usual run of stage effects boxes.
So you could use this unit on top of your instrument amp, say, for live use – though you would generally speaking be limited to a single effect, unless you have the time and patience to set up another sound on stage. More likely is that you'll want to use the 1024 for home recording, and/or sound experimentation, though its handiness for singular sound enhancement is undoubted.
But it is a useful box to have around when you're in a playing-about frame of mind, not least because of its tiny memory function – a Hold system which will repeat the last 1024mS worth of sound you put in, activated by a front-panel button or, more practically, a footswitch. Rather strangely, a footswitch is not supplied. You're bound to want one for any one-person use of the Hold function, or for the Bypass circuit which automatically gives an untreated, dry sound. Tut tut.
Although the Hold memory is thus minute, you can nonetheless muck around with it to get some interesting results. It only works on the longest delay setting (from 256mS to 1024mS) and will, for example, give you anything from a repeated note (there's no room for anything more complicated) to a repeated sound picked up from a microphone.
I actually had quite a lark with percussive sounds by banging out a rhythm on the microphone (a bash on the head for a boomy "bass", and a tap on the mic casing for a bit of "crack" – but only for 1024mS). Playing around with a repeated snatch generated in this way can underline any noise that finds its way to the Hold store, but is certainly an interesting if limited way of fooling with digitally stored sounds. You can forget any means of syncing or triggering, obviously, but it can be a good way of stumbling across odd basic sounds and patterns when you modify the tempo/pitch of the sounds and chuck in a bit of LFO modulation to give some apparent "pitching" to a percussion pattern.
But this isn't going to be the machine's everyday use, of course. Standard fare can be had from its echo and modulated effects – straight echo effects can be achieved, from the merest hint of thickening at 1mS to distinct and separate repeats at the 1024mS end, fading repeats being introduced by the plus-or-minus Feedback control. In fact, most of the settings benefit from a touch of Feedback – literally feeding the signal back on itself for more treatment – to give more perceived depth and resonance to the delay effects.
When you use the Modulation effects you'll start getting into the realms of such popular effects as flanging and chorus, which should please the talentless and effect-crazy amongst us. But it's easy to get useless cacophony if you overdo this section. Go easy, and practice a lot. A manual would probably help here. Other than that, few complaints.
Two jack sockets at different sensitivities suitable for a microphone or a direct instrument. The Headroom LED bar-graph lets you keep an eye on (green) input level, with a red LED at the top for peak; the knob next door allows you to set the precise level for whatever you're putting in.
A plus-or-minus knob lets you feed the signal around on itself for fattening the sound at short delay times or to add fading repeats on longer times. A switch will cut high frequency sounds (over 10kHz) for neater use of Feedback, or where you simply need to get rid of toppy stuff.
An LFO for introducing chorus, flanging, phasing, ADT and similar effects: a Rate knob controls speed, and the Depth knob controls, well, depth really. Just like the controls on your effects boxes of the same ilk.
A six-step knob selects a central delay time – 2mS, 8mS, 32mS, 128mS and 512mS – while the Factor knob chooses x0.5 to x2. So the 8mS selection with a x2 factor, for example, would give 16mS, the 512mS with x0.5 would give 256mS, and so on. Thus you are able to combine flexibility across the delay time range with a relatively quick preset system.
The knobs for the relative levels of the delayed sound only and the direct signal are here, with helpful minus settings on the delay-only in case you want to keep the effect really low in the mixed output. There's an output jack here too, giving the mixed direct and delayed sound as set up on these knobs.
Review by Tony Bacon
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