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

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It's hard to say exactly why the DR-X seemed easier to program than other multi-effect processors, but it did. This might have something to do with the fact that while there are many parameters available for adjustment, there aren't so many that programming gets confusing. For example, while the reverb algorithms COULD have offered several more parameters for adjustment, they only offer those that are the most important. That means less button pushing as you scroll through parameters and less reading of the manual to determine exactly what certain parameters even do. For some serious applications, the limited number of adjustable parameters might be a hindrance, but for radio production, there is more than enough control over each of the algorithms. It's a nice box for someone who doesn't want to spend a week with their nose in the manual before they start programming the unit.

The DR-X is fully MIDI controllable, from program change to control over individual parameters in any of the algorithms. The DR-X can have up to eight parameters per preset connected to a MIDI device or controller, and all eight parameters can be adjusted simultaneously. You can quite easily set up a delay/reverb/pitch program that enables you to adjust delay time with the pitch wheel of your keyboard while reverb decay is adjusted by the modulation wheel and pitch is adjusted by hitting various keys on the keyboard.

The DR-X has unbalanced stereo inputs and outputs. It is not a true stereo processor in the sense that two individual processors are working on each channel, but if you have a 50/50 wet to dry mix at the outputs, the dry portion of the mix will remain in true stereo. The effects themselves are applied to a sum of the left and right inputs. If the selected algorithm is a stereo effect, the stereo effect is then mixed with the true stereo direct signal at the output. By the way, the mix is controlled by a fader on the front panel -- fast and simple. Also, many of the effect algorithms offer their own output level parameter so you can vary the amount of each individual effect in presets with more than one algorithm in use.

The thing we found most pleasing about the DR-X was the cost, a mere $629. We should mention that there are three other new processors available from A.R.T.. They are the SGE Mach II, The MultiVerb III, and the MultiVerb LT. You've probably heard about the original SGE. This was the unit introduced last year that offered an amazing nine effects at once. The new SGE Mach II offers twelve and lists for $749. Aside from 12 simultaneous effects, the only major difference between the SGE Mach II and the DR-X is the SGE Mach II's distortion algorithm commonly used with electric guitars.

The MultiVerb III is basically the same as the DR-X minus the dynamic effects and the sampler. You only get four effects at once with the MultiVerb III, but it lists for an even lower $529. The MultiVerb LT is basically the same as the MultiVerb III, but it is designed more for the person who doesn't have time to mess with programming the unit. In fact, you can't program the unit. Instead, the LT offers 192 factory programmed presets that cover practically every conceivable combination of effects available in the MultiVerb III. The programming has been done for you. All you do is pick the effect and set a mix. The price tag on the LT is a mere $299.

These four boxes come from A.R.T. -- Applied Research and Technology. Their research and technology have certainly been "applied" to creating very good multi-effect processors at very affordable prices. If there were sacrifices made to keep the prices lower than the prices of more popular processors in the same class, we can't find them. Our hats are off to A.R.T. and their new line of digital multi-effect processors. Hmmm... I wonder what they'll come up with next month?

For more information on the A.R.T. line, call (716) 436-2720.

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