Roland DEP5 Multi Effects
It's revolution time again (senor) for the home studio. The DEP-5 is a rack-mount sized stereo unit that is capable of four different effects: reverb, delay, chorus, and parametric EQ, all of which are of high quality, and are widely adjustable. What makes it really special is that it can do most of those things simultaneously.
The DEP-S has 99 program memories, 29 of which are taken up by excellent presets; these may be written over, but can be recalled at any time, should you wish. The other 70 spaces come ready programmed with useful factory settings.
At first sight, the DEP-5 looks a complicated bastard: nine knobs, two incrementors, six pushbuttons, an LED that illustrates more than 15 different functions and adjustable parameters. And then there's all the MIDI channel switching...
Don't be deterred; if you stick with the presets, the DEP is almost as easy to use as a Midiverb.
It works, basically, like this. The DEP-5 has three main effects functions: reverb, chorus (or modulation), and EQ. These can operate singly, in pairs, or simultaneously, and in series or parallel. Each of the functions has widely variable parameters.
The reverb is subdivided into three modes, which are only available one at a time - either straight reverb, non-linear (gated) reverb, or delay (up to two seconds), which means that you can't add reverb to delays. There are 22 types of reverb on offer, with further adjustment via the Pre-Delay (up to 500mS), Reverb Time (up to 99s), and High Frequency Damp controls. Both the reverbed and delayed sounds are of very high quality, with a perfectly adequate top-end frequency response of 12kHz.
Initially, I wasn't convinced of the necessity of having built-in EQ. I was wrong. On percussion sounds particularly, the accuracy and attack of the parametric can successfully bring out the edge in even the woolliest snare.
The basic reverbs (Concert Hall, Plate, Cathedral, Space, etc) are pure and smooth; the non-linear reverbs are hard and breathy (good for percussion), and offer panning. The chorus and delay settings are bright and squeaky clean (which doesn't suit the flange programmes). But it's when you begin combining the reverb and chorus that the DEP-5 comes into its own: even the slightest touch of modulation turns good reverbs into aural glory. The special effects programs (Flanged Infinite, for example) do The Business - a soundtrack in their own right.
It does a lot of things very well. We spent a happy weekend together, and I was still discovering sublime new noise treatments on Monday morning. I didn't want to say goodbye...
At £675, the Roland is obviously mainly a competitor for the SPX90, though both machines have their own unique capabilities, Personally I'd prefer the more expensive Roland. It's the most seductive effects unit I've ever used.
Review by Jon Lewin
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