Test Drive: The Sony DPS-R7 Digital Reverberator


by Jerry Vigil

After looking at Sony's PCM-2700 DAT machine last month, we were told about Sony's new DPS-R7 Digital Reverberator. "Sony makes reverb units?" Without further delay, the unit was delivered and the Test Drive began.

Installation of this single rack space unit was a snap with the option to use the balanced XLR inputs and outputs on the rear panel or the unbalanced quarter-inch jacks. A glance at the front panel offered a simple, easy to use layout that was very welcome. The large, 40-character by 2-line, backlit, LCD display was another welcome feature - the more information on the screen, the better! To the left, next to the power switch, are the input level controls for channels 1 and 2 of this stereo processor. Next to these controls is a knob labeled "DRY," and next to it, another labeled, "EFFECT." Great! No manual needed so far! Over to the right of the display are six buttons: LOAD, EDIT, BYPASS, HELP, SAVE, and ENTER -- self-explanatory enough, and, needless to say, the HELP button was quite interesting, having not seen one of these on a reverb or effects box. Finally, one last control, a data wheel to the far right of the front panel.

Give me some juice! The POWER button was pressed. The display lit up with extra large characters declaring, "DPS-R7." After a couple of seconds, the display read, "Good Afternoon" complete with a smiley-face character to the left of the screen! No kidding! The little guy's ears wiggled, and his mouth moved as the display unfurled copyright information and the software version number! After this little display of "user friendliness," the screen switched to one of the internal preset programs. (By the way, the unit was turned on again on Christmas Day, and, instead of being greeted with a "good morning" or "good afternoon," the greeting was, "Merry Christmas." Believe it...or not!)

A large "P" to the left of the screen indicated we were on one of the one hundred Preset programs in the unit. (When a user program is selected, a large "U" displays to designate a user memory.) This seemed like a good enough time to press the HELP button. The display scrolled the message, "Turn the dial to select and load the memory number." (Still no need for the manual!) As the one hundred preset programs were each checked out with a microphone for input, we came across reverb effects that this user has not heard from any other effects box before. Not only were there a number of very interesting effects, but they were extremely clean.

Beyond the one hundred preset programs is room for 256 User programs. Fifty of these slots were already occupied by additional programs we assume were provided by the factory. Again, many of these fifty programs offered effects not encountered before in other effects boxes. This is not to say that other effects boxes cannot create the same effects. Rather, it is the factory programming of the presets that is most unique.

So, what is the DPS-R7? Is it a reverb unit or an effects box? Well, you don't get 2-octave pitch shifting, sampling, distortion, and extensive delay programs; so one might classify the DPS-R7 as a very elaborate reverb unit.