Test Drive: The Sony DPS-R7 Digital Reverberator

Once the analog input signal is converted to a digital signal, the digital information is passed through what are called "processing blocks." The first block is the Input Block. The second is the Pre-Effect Block. The third is the Reverb Block. The fourth is the Post-Effect Block, and the final block is the Output Block. Each of the three effect blocks between the Input and Output Blocks has its own set of algorithms. The Pre-Effect Block has six algorithms which can be assigned to it. You get a Phase Shifter, a Flanger, a Stereo Equalizer, a Stereo Exciter + Stereo EQ, a Monaural Exciter + Monaural EQ, and a Gate. Each of these algorithms has their own set of parameters that can be adjusted. The algorithms containing EQ offer two, three, and four band EQ, depending upon whether or not the EQ is being used in the stereo or mono mode.

The Reverberation Block is the most extensive of the three effect blocks. This block can be divided into four "sub-blocks" defined as REVC (Reverberation Common), REVS (Reverberation Stereo), REV1 (Reverberation Unit 1), and REV2 (Reverberation Unit 2). There are ten algorithms available in these sub-blocks, and the algorithms can be classified into two types: Stereo In/Stereo Out, and Mono In/Stereo Out. The Stereo to Stereo algorithms are handled by the REVC and REVS sub-blocks. The Mono to Stereo algorithms are dealt with by the REV1 and REV2 sub-blocks as well as the REVC sub-block. Don't worry if this is getting a little confusing. The main point to get is that the algorithms use combinations of the four sub-blocks to achieve their basic effect. So, when you enter the edit mode of a particular program, you'll be exposed to parameters from one or more of these four sub-blocks.

Here are the ten algorithms available in the Reverberation Block: ("ST-ST" indicates a Stereo to Stereo algorithm, and "MONO-ST" indicates a Mono to Stereo algorithm.) Hall Reverberation (ST-ST), Room Reverberation (ST-ST), Plate Reverberation (ST-ST), Gate Reverberation (ST-ST), Early Reflection (ST-ST), Plate Reverberation (MONO-ST), Gate Reverberation (MONO-ST), Early Reflection (MONO-ST), Delay 1 (MONO-ST), and Delay 2 (MONO-ST). While the DPS-R7 does not have an extensive set of delay algorithms, the 2-tap delay utilized will provide a variety of mono and stereo delay programs with a maximum delay time a little over 1.5 seconds.

From the Reverberation Block, the signal then travels to the fourth effect block, or the Post-Effect Block. Here you have seven more algorithms to play with. They are: Phase Shifter, Flanger, Stereo Equalizer, Stereo Exciter + Stereo EQ, Monaural Exciter + Monaural EQ, Gate, and Auto Panner.

Basically, the DPS-R7 has three Effect Blocks or processors which can be used individually or in combination with each other. The result is the ability to have a program that provides one, single effect, such as gating, a delay, or a reverb effect; or you can combine effects and get several effects going at once, one or more from each effect block, depending upon which algorithms are used. For example, you could use the Flanger algorithm on the Pre-Effect Block, followed by the Hall Reverberation algorithm in the Reverberation Block, then add Stereo Exciter + Stereo EQ at the Post-Effect Block.

Using the DPS-R7 right out of the box is easy. There's no need to consult the manual just to select the programs and use them. The DRY and EFFECT level knobs do just what you'd expect them to, as does the INPUT level control. However, if you want to edit any of the programs, get a cup of coffee, grab the manual, sit down, and prepare for a little time getting to know your way around. Many abbreviations are used on the screen to indicate what algorithms are in use. If you don't know what these abbreviations stand for, you'll be lost. Also, if you don't understand the signal flow from Pre-Effect block, to Reverberation Block, to Post-Effect Block, you'll have difficulty understanding many things in the edit mode.

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