Test Drive: The Ensoniq DP/4 Parallel Effects Processor

by Jerry Vigil

Out of the box, the DP/4 Parallel Effects Processor has 400 factory presets. However, 88 of them "have been hidden to avoid confusion for the first-time user." That quote is taken right from the manual!


We've Test Driven a lot of effects boxes over the years, but this is the first one that goes so far as to conceal some of its power until the user is comfortable enough with the unit to access it. But don't let this scare you away from the DP/4. These "hidden" presets are tucked away to give the user time to comprehend the fact that the DP/4 is not like your typical effects box. You're given a chance to grasp the fact that the DP/4 is four mono-in/stereo-out effects units in one, and that these four units can be connected to each other in virtually any configuration you desire. You come to understand that you have the option of using one, two, three, or four different signals as input, and you take in the idea of using four outputs instead of one or two. Once these things are clear, the other 88 presets are less intimidating. But to understand these facets, some serious time with the manual and the machine is in order. Still, if you're the type that likes to plug in right away and begin accessing presets, the DP/4 is friendly enough to use right out of the box with little reference to the manual.

Before getting inside the DP/4, a brief tour around the box shows eight knobs on the left of the front panel. The bottom four are the output levels for each of the four output channels. The four knobs above these are the input level controls for each of the four input channels. Above these knobs are LEDs to indicate signal levels going into each channel as well as red peak LEDs which light when inputs near the overload level. The displays consist of one 2-digit LED display and at 32-character LCD display. To the right of the displays is the Data Entry Knob used for selecting presets and adjusting parameter values.

Other front panel controls include buttons labeled Write/Copy, Cancel/Undo, Select, Edit/Compare, System/MIDI, and Config. Two left/right arrow buttons are used for naming presets, scrolling through presets, and selecting parameters for adjustment. The four buttons labeled, A,B,C, and D access the four effects units in the DP/4. The back panel contains MIDI IN/THRU/OUT jacks, the AC power plug, a jack for a foot switch and another for a control voltage foot pedal, and finally, the four input jacks and four output jacks. (A second input jack for channel 1 is placed on the front panel for convenience.)

Now, here's where the fun begins. Sit down and pay attention.

There are forty-six effects algorithms in the DP/4. They are: Small Room Rev, Large Room Rev, Hall Reverb, Small Plate, Large Plate, Reverse Reverb, Reverse Reverb 2, Gated Reverb, Non Lin Reverb, Non Lin Reverb 2, Non Lin Reverb 3, MultiTap Delay, Dual Delay, Tempo Delay, EQ-DDL-with LFO, VCF-Distortion, Guitar Amps 1, 2, and 3; Speaker Cabinet, Tunable Speaker, Rotating Speaker, EQ-Chorus-DDL, EQ-Vibrato-DDL, EQ-Panner-DDL, EQ-Flanger-DDL, EQ-Tremolo-DDL, Phaser-DDL, 8-Voice Chorus, Flanger, Pitch Shifter, Pitch Shift-DDL, Fast Pitch Shift, EQ-Compressor, Expander, Keyed Ex-pander, Inverse Expander, De-Esser, Ducker/Gate, Rumble Filter, Parametric EQ, VandrPolFilter, and Sine/Noise Generator.

These algorithms account for 43 of the 46. (We'll get to the others in a moment.) Each of these algorithms occupies only one of the four effects units in the DP/4. They are referred to as "1 Unit" algorithms. Variations on these algorithms are stored in 100 of the 400 presets and are called "1 Unit Presets."