Test Drive: The A.R.T. DR-X Digital Multi-Effects Processor

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Other digital effect algorithms of the DR-X include Low Pass Filter, Flanger, and Chorus. These pretty much speak for themselves. There's also a panner with variable panning depth and rate.

The DR-X has one primary algorithm for pitch shifting. The range of pitch shifting is two octaves. Course and fine adjustment parameters are available, as well as a feedback or REGENeration parameter. A nice touch to the pitch shifter is the TYPE parameter. Here you have a choice between SMOOTH, NORMAL, and QUICK -- three secondary algorithms. This parameter lets you select three ways in which the pitch shifting is processed. Choosing SMOOTH selects a secondary algorithm with a longer delay time which results in more glitch free pitch shifting. If the delay presents a problem in your application, the NORMAL and QUICK settings have shorter delays but are apt to produce glitches more frequently.

What we've described so far are the "digital" algorithms. There are four more primary algorithms that fall into a category called "Dynamic Effects." These effects are digitally controlled, but they're processed in the analog domain. The four Dynamic Effects algorithms are: Harmonic Exciter, Equalizer, Compressor/Limiter, and Expander/Gate. The Harmonic Exciter adds a nice "bright-ness" to any audio passed through it. The Equalizer is a three band equalizer with preset center frequencies and bandwidths. Center frequencies are 100Hz, 1KHz, and 10KHz. The Compres-sor/Limiter algorithm offers a fixed peak limiter with the threshold set at +3dB, and it can be defeated. The compressor offers a SLOPE parameter to select the compression slope, a DRIVE parameter to adjust the gain to the compressor, a RELEASE parameter, and an OUTPUT gain parameter. The Expander/Gate algorithm has three effects in one algorithm. The expander and noise gate can be used separately or together. The third effect is a high "Q" sweepable low pass filter.

The DR-X comes shipped with 110 factory programmed presets and has room for 90 more. For those of you who prefer buying a processor and mainly using the presets, the 110 factory programs in the DR-X do a good job of illustrating the variety of effects of this little box. As mentioned earlier, there is an audio version of this Test Drive on this month's Cassette. We selected a few of the factory presets and stepped through them with a mike to give you an idea of what the DR-X can do.

Programming the DR-X was much simpler than first expected. To create a patch from scratch, you simply select an empty memory location then push the ADD EFFECT button. On the LCD screen, you are shown the effects or algorithms that are available for programming. If you don't want the effect displayed on the screen, you just continue to hit the ADD EFFECT button until you see the effect you want. By pressing the RECALL/ENTER button, you select the effect and place it on line so that any audio going to the DR-X is immediately sent through the new effect. Some algorithms cannot be combined with others. Once you choose a particular algorithm, the unit automatically defaults to display only those remaining algorithms that can be combined with your previous choices. Once you've selected all the effects you want in your program, you then use the two SELECT and two VALUE buttons to scroll through each of the parameters for each effect, adjusting each to suit your taste. Changes are made in real time, so you hear each change as you make it. When you have everything set as you want it, you can push STORE to record the program in memory.

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