Test Drive: Sony DPS-V77 Multi-Effect Processor

The Sony DPS-V77 does not let you create a program from scratch. To create your own effect, you must select a preset with the basic algorithms you want to use and modify it. In a sense, this keeps operation of the unit simple. And once you're inside a program, it's very easy to change everything about it, including its "structure,"--how the effects blocks are connected to the I/O and each other. Pressing the Structure Function button in the Edit mode brings up a nice graphic display of the current structure. You can change the structure to put the effects blocks in series with each other so block A feeds block B or vice versa; you can put the two blocks in parallel with each other which lets you apply effects from each block without one block's output being the other block's input; you can set the structure to Dual mode which is the dual mono mode mentioned earlier enabling independent operation of each channel; and you can set the structure to Morph mode if you want to be able to morph the effect with another. All changes made to any program are in real time, and you can hear the effects immediately. This is a big plus, especially when you're not sure what the heck you're doing in the Edit mode!

The V77 comes with a bunch of nice little extras. You can use both analog and digital I/O at the same time! (The V77 accepts only 44.1 and 48kHz digital signals.) Use the V77 as a A/D converter by turning all effects off, sending audio in via the analog inputs and getting the digital signal at the digital out. Copy, Move, Delete and Exchange functions make organizing user memory very easy. When saving programs, you get the option to add a large graphic to the left of the name. Most of the graphics are of musical instruments, but there are some of people on mikes as well as a couple of microphones. You can also select a single digit number, a letter, or a punctuation mark as the graphic, although, for some reason, the letters wouldn't go past Q. Nevertheless, this little feature makes it easy to categorize effects. A system clock apparently stores the current date/time with each "saved" effect, though I couldn't figure out how to display an effect's "creation date." A real nice feature every effects box should include is the V77's noise gate on the input. This is not part of the effects blocks but an independent noise gate on the entire system with Attack, Release, and Threshold parameters. And there's an option to display either the program name or the active parameter values in large characters.

Once again, Sony has come up with an excellent product. List price on the unit is $1,775 and it's worth every penny of your boss's money. The use of graphics displays instead of hard to read character displays has to be one of the best improvements in effects boxes in the past few years. It makes reading and understanding the information so much easier, and the V77 takes full advantage of this technology.

The quality of the effects is due in part to the fact that the design does not try to cram several effects into a single algorithm. When multi-effects became the craze, the game was, "how many effects at once?" Almost all of the algorithms of the V77 contain one single effect. There are five out of the sixty-one algorithms that use two effects. So, the processing power of the V77 is used to provide quality effects rather than quantity. But the V77 is still a multi-effects box. Remember that a program can have two effects blocks working simultaneously. That's two simultaneous effects, or up to four if you use two of the dual-effect algorithms. And a program that has two effects blocks also has two EQ blocks. So, the V77 can provide up to six simultaneous effects if you count the EQ blocks, seven if you include the noise gate on the input.

Reported specs on the V77 include 1-bit/64-times oversampling with 24-bit resolution on the A/D converter and 20-bit resolution on the D/A converter. Sampling frequency is 48kHz on the analog input and 44.1 or 48kHz on the digital in. Frequency response is 10-22kHz, S/N is greater than 97dB, and distortion is less than 0.003%.

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