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Korg SDD-3300 review

Some of you have been discussing the SDD-3300 lately, so I thought I'd pass
along this "review" Michael Caloroso sent to Analog Heaven earlier this
year, hope it's helpful...

>The SDD-3300 is a programmable triple digital delay with 64 memory slots
>and MIDI In, Thru, and Out.  It has a 2x40 LCD screen, menu page buttons,
>and six sliders for editing the sounds.  This is five better than one or
>none at all on most FX boxes and is much better than increment/decrement
>buttons, but sometimes I confuse the sliders as I move between menu items.
>You can name each patch.
>I see a lot of head scratching out there.  Most people wouldn't
>immediately recognize the applications of three digital delays in one box.
>Hey, I didn't either when I saw one of these in a store five years ago.
>Wanna know a dirty little secret?  The best stereo chorus and ensemble
>effects use a triple delay configuration.  These include the coveted
>phaser/chorus/ensemble in the ARP/Solina String Ensemble/SE-IV, the Korg
>Trident, the ARP Omni/Omni II, and the original analog chorus pedal, the
>Boss CE-1.  Well looky here, this little gem can do that.
>The delays can go from 0.5 to 500 milliseconds at 16Khz bandwidth and you
>can apply 12dB lowpass and/or highpass filtering to the feedback path.  If
>you chain the three in series you can get 1.5 seconds of delay.  The delay
>resolution varies depending on the range you're in; the longer the delay,
>the more coarse the resolution, so it's not as fine as the SDD-1200 or the
>SDD-2000.  You can get up to 110% feedback for runaway loops.  Each delay
>can be used as sampling units for playing over looped audio, and you can
>assign a MIDI note to trigger each unit.
>There's an input mixer and an output mixer for each delay unit, with
>levels for any of the three input busses, feedback busses, output busses,
>and effect busses.  Not only that, you can invert *any* of the inputs off
>the busses.  This allows you to configure the delay units in parallel, in
>series, or any combination, and you can cross feedback lines to your
>taste.  The nicest plus is that you can tap any combination of effect
>lines to the outputs for the ultimate stereo processing.  It's like having
>a programmable patchbay for three delay boxes.  This is one *seriously*
>configurable box.
>There's a peak level LED above the three master input sliders and a four
>segment input level LED for *each* input and output mixer.  The LEDs are
>also critical to make sure you're not clipping anywhere in the system,
>which is easy to do.  Once you've normalized the levels and made them as
>even as possible, you'll get the best S/N ratio.  Let me tell you it's a
>*gas* watching these things dance in a complex stereo effect.
>Each delay has *two* LFOs, and you can control the phase of each LFO
>relative to the LFO in the first delay or you can run them asynchronously.
>Why are phase control of LFOs significant?  You use out-of-phase LFOs to
>get stereo processing that doesn't cancel in mono mode.  Why two LFOs per
>delay unit?  For awesome ensemble effects, like the ARP String Ensemble.
>On the rear panel we have input, direct output, mix output, hold/trig, and
>level control for each independent delay unit.  At a glance it's sparse
>compared to the rear panel of the SDD-1200, but deep inside the SDD-3300
>*does* has the I/O flexibility of the 1200, with the added bonus that it's
>programmable in software.  But there's no access to the feedback path at
>the rear panel.
>Changing the delay time interupts the audio signal which is common for a
>digital delay, but it's about a one second wait before the audio comes
>back in.  Likewise with the bypass function - when you enable it the
>effect does not come on immediately.  This is not a box you'd use for live
>realtime tweaking.
>As experienced as I am with delay processing, it took a little time before
>I got comfortable with this system, it's easy to confuse the parameters in
>the input and output mixers.  This is not a box for the novice, so if
>you're starting out you'll want a good reference on delay processing.
>Harmony Central has an excellent primer on delay processing techniques:
>So how does it sound?
>The cleanest clearest stereo chorus I have ever heard, excellent flange
>effects, good reflections (simple algorithms), and good tapped delay
>effects.  The ultimate in going hog wild on outlandish effects and
>unconventional delay configurations not possible on any DSP box,
>especially when crossing feedback ann effect paths.  I used to pump the
>Memorymoog through my old ART Multiverb and it would clip way too easily,
>and then I'd have to raise up the already noisy output of the ART to
>compensate.  I don't have that problem with the SDD-3300.  The delay
>effects I get on this thing just doesn't compare to a DSP box; if I want
>reverb I'll use DSP, but if I want basic delay processing I'll reach for
>this thing.  The clarity is unreal.  I can get awesome stereo ethereal
>sounds from the Memorymoog, and playing the Mini on one oscillator through
>a stereo imaging algorithm is heaven.
>I bought my unit used and I think it had the original presets in it.  I
>think Korg originally marketed this to guitar players, but many of them
>give up trying to struggle with it.  The presets are so-so, but I started
>having fun creating my own effects.  This thing is made for the
>experimenter.  There's a lot of magic in this box, if you see one and are
>not afraid to experiment, grab it you will not regret it.
>It will find use on vocals, guitars, and other instruments.  I dialed up
>an awesome stereo imaging effect that uses phase-controlled LFOs, it is
>*wonderful* sounding. I also dialed up a great chorus effect that makes
>any sound move around the room in the stereo image :)  The famous
>ARP/Solina String Ensemble/SE-IV, whose sweet stereo high strings have
>been heard on almost all the 70s records (and is still popular today),
>gets its sound from a triple delay processor with twin LFOs.  That effect
>is nice enough that many SE owners have had the chorus board scavenged
>from the keyboard and mounted in a rack as an outboard effect. With a
>little research from http://www.midiwall.com/aharchives and info from the
>schematics, I was able to duplicate that effect with the SDD-3300.  This
>baby can do it.  Feed it a simple filtered ramp, and -presto- instant
>stereo strings, high notes are *sweet* just like the real thing.
>The kicker is even though it's 12-bit A/D at 88Khz, it sounds *good*.
>The manual tells you how to operate the unit, but it doesn't give you any
>basics of delay processing, IE parameters for chorus, flanging, doubling,
>etc. The manual *is* well written, nothing like most pathetic Roland
>manuals.  It has a MIDI program mapper and you can load/save a single
>program or the whole kit-n-kaboodle.  The block diagram on the top of the
>unit is reproduced in the manual.  It even provides the MIDI Sysex codes
>for remote editing!