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Korg SDD1000


Article from International Musician & Recording World, April 1985

Jim Betteridge finds the Korg SDD-1000 well worth the wait

A fine multi-faceted, budget conscious delay

Looms of matt-black cable hung down in loose arcs from the back of the mixer, held in neat formation by a couple of strategically placed cable ties.

I knew every one of those connectors by name; each blob of solder slithered hotly from my own trusty iron; yet this morning a tone of hostility broke forth from every surface, and life appeared a suddenly brittle and tenuous experience.

I edged my way carefully between the assortment of keyboards, precariously leaning guitars and the stork-like form of an outstretched boom stand, to ease myself down behind the console.

"I swear to God it tasted like fruit punch," I murmured reflectively. Yet, at that point, life seemed harshly short of any providential justice: a mere confection for infantile idealists, and little consolation for a fiercely thumping head. I shifted focus and then:

'Korg SDD-1000', read the name on the new Korg digital delay line; and seconds later I had automatically defaulted to reviewerese. Long, deep, meaningful sentences with; convoluted punctuation are — okay, but there was work to be done, and even as I drove the side-cutters absentmindedly into the flesh of the mains lead's outer covering, the first sensible, semi-technical thoughts were beginning to shine forth from the murk. Thought 1: this Korg machine is not alone in its basic aspirations:

The Inevitable Comparison

It would be remiss of me not to bring to your potential consumer's attention the fact that Roland currently have two high performance DDL's on the market (SDE-1000 at £465.00 and SDE-3000 at £950.00), both of which embrace a similar design concept to that of the SDD-1000. As compared to the Korg, either Roland model will offer you a longer maximum delay time, a generally wider frequency response and a memory function. However, the Korg has the perennially redeeming feature of a kinder price tag. At £393.75 it offers a considerable saving, and is still a very powerful and effective musical tool.

Presented in a dark blue, 1U, 19" rack-mounting package, this yellow-knobbed machine would grace any pro's auxiliary FX rack. As a basic DDL it offers a continuously variable delay range from 1ms to 1024ms with a bandwidth of 30Hz to 10Hz, which doubles to 2048ms if you don't mind the standard halving of the frequency response figure to 5kHz. 10kHz is very acceptable for live and demo work, whilst 5kHz is really restricted to certain instruments and less sonically demanding effects.

On The Level

All inputs, outputs and control connections are unbalanced on standard 1/4" mono jack sockets. A three-way switch by the input socket allows for the connection of a standard -10dB home-recording line level, a -30dB signal such as an electric guitar or thirdly a -50dB microphone signal. In conjunction with the input level control, and a four-segment LED bargraph, that assortment should cover every eventuality — outside of a professional studio.

A simple delay setting will give you a single repeat Xms after the original or 'direct' signal. If the delay time (as in Xms) is very short, eg a few ms, we're talking ADT (automatic double tracking), whilst with a couple of seconds chalked up, we're talking repeats, we're talking repeats.

Although this is a mono device, the rear panel contains no less than three output sockets: 'Direct', 'Mix+' and 'Mix-'. The first one is the untreated sound direct from the input; the other two provide identical mixes of the direct signal and the delay/effected signal, but they are out of phase (antiphase) with each other so as to give a wider, richer stereo-like effect to certain settings. The use of these is not advised for mono recording or systems, as the two signals, when combined, will cancel each other out.

A feedback control allows varying degrees of the effected output to be fed back to the SDD's input, thereby creating a diminishing repeat echo, echo, echo. As part of this 'Regeneration' section, there is a 'Hi-Cut' control, which takes the top out of the feedback signal to give a less biting effect — most of the time you'll probably want it set at minimum: IM readers have teeth.

Turn and Phase the Strange Flanges

The modulation section consists of an intensity control and a frequency control which determine the amplitude and frequency of the modulating sine wave to create some excellent phasing and flanging effects. If you've been disillusioned by boxes which make a lot of whirling, tunnelling noises but seem to leave the actual signal alone, the SDD-1000 should restore your faith; it really gets a good handle on the sound.

The only other knobs left unmentioned are those two constituting the 'Output' section. Marked 'Direct' and 'Mix', they balance the mix of those two sources arriving at the Mix outputs on the rear panel.

Digital Sampling

The DDL works by 'writing' an audio signal into RAM, and then reading it out again a given number of milliseconds later. But, once it's in there, there are other interesting things you can do with it. For instance, using the 'sequencer' facility, you can play a short riff into memory, and have it repeated, in musical time. The timing is down to a little nifty pedal stomping, on your part, to determine the beginning and end of each recording or 'sample'. A little practise makes it fairly easy. This is very useful for live work, but it's a shame that you can't actually build up a 'multitrack' sample, piece by piece, as you can with the Roland counterparts — still, remember the price.

Alternatively, using the 'Sampling' facility, you can trigger a sample via an external footswitch, or indeed anything that will momentarily short the trigger jack socket to ground. A very useful application of this is that you can spend some time getting at least one good acoustic snare sound locked in memory, and then, by altering the time control, change its pitch to beef it up, or whatever suits your needs.

The machine acts rather like a gate, opening to let the signal in as soon as it senses it and then closes on cessation of signal. There is a slight limitation in the opening speed, in that fast transients, such as an electronic snare, can get slightly truncated. In practise, however, I got some great sounds from a real snare, and the benefit of having a constant live snare sound, without driving the neighbours insane, is significant. It's worth noting that even if you haven't got a proper pedal, you can trigger these function by plugging a simple mono jack lead into the trigger socket, and shorting the tip and sleeve together (with a paper clip or something) each time you want a pulse: primitive, but it works. The delay time can also be governed from an external trigger source for synchronisation.

The final feature is 'Hold' which simply continues to repeat the memory contents at a constant volume until you stop it. The wonder of digital is, of course, that the sound quality suffers no degeneration irrespective of how long you leave it repeating. Whenever you change the time setting to speed up or slow down a phrase on playback of memory contents, the pitch will also either rise or fall respectively, and so it isn't possible to record something and then subsequently adjust its playback tempo, without also inadvertently altering its key.

The SDD-1000 is a well thought out unit, and a great asset to any stage rack or home studio. It's facilities aren't quite up to those of the Roland DDL's but then it is commensurately cheaper. I wouldn't be surprised if a MIDI compatible, memory version hit the market sometime soon, but that's purely conjecture. So, at the risk of repeating myself: You pays your money...

KORG SDD-1000 — RRP: £339.75

Also featuring gear in this article

Previous Article in this issue

The Producers

Next article in this issue

A&HB CMC 24 Mixer

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

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International Musician - Apr 1985

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman

Recording World

Gear in this article:

Studio/Rack FX > Korg > SDD-1000

Gear Tags:


Review by Jim Betteridge

Previous article in this issue:

> The Producers

Next article in this issue:

> A&HB CMC 24 Mixer

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