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KSP8 first impressions....it's a looper, too

Greetings, fellow loopers....just spent some time with an new "tool of our
trade," and wanted to share the meat of  a review that's waiting to get
posted at H-C....This box'll definitely loop your loops and then some.
btw; best price I've seen is at AMS:  about $2300

(This review is really just a first impression, since I only got the unit
last week; I'll check back when I know it better. But it's such an exciting
piece I had to jump in and give any folks who might buy such a device a
heads up: This thing is HOT!!)

Ease of use:
You definitely have to read the manual, which I've done--several times!
--and there are still confusing issues, mostly because I haven't tried all
of the millions of options. Getting to the audition stage is quite
easy...altho I did have to buy a SmartMedia card and reader, then wait for
a tech-support callback (only took 2 hours) to get the OS upgraded so the
remote could see the unit. I'm giving it a 7, which is probably generous,
because as I get the hang of it, it's not too bad, but it is VERY deep,
with capacities that go far beyond most other processors (the thing's a
simple 8-track digital mixer, for cryin' out loud!). Also, there's a very
responsive and quite helpful mailing list at Yahoo groups, that's monitored
by Kurzweil insiders.
Still, I think there are a few needlessly complex and unintuitive areas of
the interface (like, even tho there's a big, beautiful display, there are
virtually no graphics; it's all just lists and data entry fields; I wish
more companies would follow tc's lead and spend some design time on their
user interfaces---the G-Force and FireworX are simply brilliant in that
respect), and I still have many unanswered questions after a week of
serious reading and trying it out. The manual (and the huge algorithm
reference) is very well written, and offers a few user tips, but like most
manuals, could use many more explanations and examples rather than just
feature lists.
A perfect example is the FUNs. These are mathematical FUNctions that will
transform the action of any modulators, in endless and complex ways. It's
cool that they are there, but where's the tutorial on how to use them to do
basic things that lesser boxes just give you simple, direct controls to do,
like scaling a footpedal when it's controlling multiple parameters.
Instead, the manual just tells us the best way to understand them is to
"use them." Sorry for the rant. I realize that I'm still a total neophite
with the KSP, and hopefully my opinion will be different in a few months,
but my experience with complex processors (see below) has often very
frustratingly been that, while they clearly CAN be made musician-friendly
(witness tc), you'll get the most from them if you're an engineer or
mathematician or computer programmer. But the bottom line so far is that
I'm more excited by the options than daunted by the learning curve. Go the
website (www.ksp8.com), download the manuals, and see for yourself.

Sound quality:
In a word: WOW!!
I'm a rack effects junkie, when I can manage it, and have had lots of units
in this price range in my at-home guitar studio where the KSP8 now sits,
including a tc G-Force and FireworX, Lexicon MPX1, G2, and PCM-80, Eventide
GTR4000 and Eclipse, and Ensoniq DP-Pro and DP-4 (they're not still all
here!).  Even compared to these, I have to say the KSP8 is simply the most
awesome sonic device I've heard. Obviously these other pieces are damn
fine--no problems with them sonically, for the most part; I'm simply
reporting my subjective experience of being knocked out by the "gloss,"
clarity, and headroom this thing has. It just seems noticeably better to
me. Maybe it's the analog converters they brag about in the ads;
whatever--I notice the difference!
It's hard to single out any effects yet; everything sounds marvelous, but
the reverbs and delays are really fine, with incredible variety, and this
is where I've so far spent the most time. I like to create repeating
rhythms with multi-taps, and all the KSP's various multi's feed back via a
loop tap, rather that with individual feedback paths, so rhythms are easy
to do. Maximum delay time in most algorithms is 2.5 sec, but at least one
multi-unit alg. offers around 20 secs of mono loop time, and tho I haven't
tried it, I can't see why you couldn't run several of these in series or
parallel. All delays have a HOLD parameter and setting up a global
input-level controller is very easy. The distortions are very flexible,
ranging from smooth tube-amp/cabinet simulations to really raw shapers and
bit quantizers. The amp sims are not quite Pod-quality, based on the little
tweeking I've done, but the range is impressive; definitely usable with
good tones coming in. A few of the preset chains prove that you can do
synth-like transformations of a guitar signal (check out the chain Scorched
Earth, for instance), and there are several sound-producing
oscillators---such as an add-noise parameter in the flanger for getting
more audible results with clean source material. Before the processing
blocks, there's a rich batch of input eqs, filters, noise sources and
shapers that don't use processing units; you can even use MIDI note
messages to pitch a sine wave source and patch a resonant filter after it,
creating a simple mono-synth before you even get to the monster fx rack.
The many filters include some that are very synth-like. There's no pitch
shifting or "harmonizing" per se--seems to be the only thing missing--but
there's a spectral "pitcher" effect that does something that sounds fresher
and almost more interesting to me using comb filters. Ring modulations are
here aplenty. I'm about half-way through the Algorithm Reference, and
suffice it to say that there's no scrimping on adjustable parameters, and
PLENTY of complexity and originality.
I'm using it via the analog i/o with mixer sends, and feeding it with
various guitar modelers (VG-8, PodXT, etc...), in parallel with other
processors and loopers. Haven't yet sent it any vocals, synths or
percussion...there're a lot of audio demos of that kind of thing on the
KSP8 website.
Check it out!