Test Drive: The Sony DPS-M7 Digital Sonic Modulator

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The PRE-EFFECT 1 and PRE-EFFECT 2 blocks each offer five algorithms to choose from. They are Stereo Equalizer, Stereo Exciter + Stereo EQ, Dynamic Exciter, Gate, and Compressor. The most elaborate EQ algorithm is the Stereo Equalizer which is a 2-channel, 3-band parametric equalizer (bass, treble, and peaking). Together with the exciter algorithms, the M7 provides enough equalization to handle most EQ tasks on the input signal. The Gate algorithm is a 2-channel gate ideal for eliminating noise when there is no signal at the input. The Compressor algorithm provides a healthy 2-channel compressor complete with parameters for Trigger Select, Attack Time, Release Time, Threshold Level, Ratio, Gain Makeup (up to +24dB), and Pre-delay Time. As with any of the effects blocks, the PRE-EFFECT blocks can be bypassed or used simultaneously to process the signal before it goes to the main effect block, the MODULATION BLOCK.

The MODULATION BLOCK offers twenty algorithms to choose from. They are: Stereo Chorus, Deca Chorus, Multi Chorus, Band Chorus, Stereo Pitch Shifter, Band Pitch Shifter, Pitch Shift Modulation, Stereo Ensemble, Multi Phaser, Stereo Flanger, Multi Flanger, Modulation Delay, Spiral Modulation, Stereo Panner, Haas Panner, Doppler, Vibrato + Tremolo, Ring Modulator, and Rotary Speaker. These are the "main" effects offered by the M7. And though you don't see any delay programs listed above, most algorithms provide a delay section with delays up to one second. So, in effect, there are delay programs in the M7. Most of the algorithms also employ an LFO section as well as a set of parameters for controlling the output of the MODULATION BLOCK.

More on the MODULATION BLOCK in a moment, but let's first finish the signal flow. From the MODULATION BLOCK, the signal is passed to the POST-EFFECT BLOCK which has the same algorithms as the PRE-EFFECT blocks with the exception of the Compressor algorithm. This block is handy for EQ-ing the signal AFTER effects have been applied to add a little more presence or high end. Finally, from the POST-EFFECT block, the signal is sent to the OUTPUT BLOCK where levels, phase, and panning can be adjusted.

Getting back to the MODULATION BLOCK, if space allowed, we would look at each of the twenty algorithms in detail, but when you consider how much control is put in the user's hands, there is simply too much to cover. For example, the first algorithm, Stereo Chorus, has 77 adjustable parameters. The second, Deca Chorus, has 112 parameters. Multi Chorus cranks the number of parameters up to 162. A large number of these parameters access the many LFOs that make up the algorithm, and you can adjust more on an LFO than just the frequency. Some of the pitch shifting and flanging/phasing algorithms are also as elaborate, providing over a hundred adjustable parameters.

What does all this extensive design mean? Basically, it means that the DPS-M7 is one serious machine. If you're looking for an effects box that is simple to use, but offers no limits for the serious programmer, take a look at the M7.

Easily access its 100 preset programs and immediately use its high quality effects on your next promo, or wait till the last salesperson leaves the building, grab a cup of coffee, and spend the next three hours examining ONE algorithm. The point is, the M7 does not try to achieve "user friendliness" by limiting the user to the amount of control he or she has over each algorithm. So, if you want a stereo flanger, just dial up Stereo Flanger and go to town. On the other hand, if you want to see just how many different ways you can make the Stereo Flanger sound, press EDIT and check out the 101 parameters on this algorithm. Select different wave forms for the LFOs in each channel. Invert the phase of LFO 1. Invert the phase of the feedback. Or better yet, dial up Multi Flanger, where each channel has two flanger circuits that can be connected in parallel or series. You get 165 parameters to play with and flange effects you won't find on most other effects boxes. Editing programs is very simple, and the online "Help" function is always available if you don't know what to do. The only difficulty one might find in editing a program is understanding what some of the parameters do. When you have over a hundred parameters for a single effect, you can expect to find some strangers in the group! The more knowledgeable you are about digital signal processing, the more you'll love the M7.

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