Posts Tagged ‘Delay’

Ibanez DL5 Digital Delay

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

DL5

What is it?
Ibanez DL5 Digital Delay from later Soundtank series. Made in taiwan in mid 90’s.

More from the better side of the palsticky soundtank series. These units are well used by almost everyone. It’s rare to see of these in mint condition and mine isn’t exception. Some wear and nicks, but otherwise clean look. Taking the bottom plate off shows a board layout with one big chip in there. Could it be…

DL5-guts1

Yes. The Ibanez’ weapon of choice for digital delay circuitry. Mitsubishi M50195 with 4164 DRAM chip as an companion. It may be more complex by the design than most current PT2399 based delays, but to my ears, it’s not any worse. On the contrary. Check the schematic and see for yourself. One is online and can be found via google. There are couple 5218A opamps that take care of the mixing and buffering.

DL5-guts2

Board features standard Ibanez JFET swicthing with 74HCU04 logic chip and a trimmer to handle delay time range. The board is in good use with not much free space. Neat. Indeed.

How does it sound?
Warmer than most competitors with a hit status. Nice analog feel to it, but with a lot less noise and sharper sounding control to repeats than  BBD-clocked analog counterparts. It does wide range of delay timing and can be mixed all the way up to being almost 100% wet. No wonder it’s still a popular and widely used pedal. Good delay with simple controls. Max the repeats and you’re off to noise land with neverending feedback.

Ibanez DDL Delay

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

DDL

What is it?
Ibanez DDL Digital Delay from Master series, made in japan in mid 80’s.

One of these units that usually are way too pricey for me. But if someone is really selling his/hers and is willing to give it away for good price, i’m once again there to snatch it. I even got a very nice present in the same parcel with this, but more about that later. Anyway. Thanks to Ari!.

I believe this unit was Ibanez/Maxon’s attempt to kill Boss DD2/DD3. The functionality matches, and the competition for king of digital delays was heating up in 1985. DDL has two different delay time ranges on a switch, plus “hold” mode. Which is similar to one found in Boss DD3 (which was in fact a rebranded DD2, but that is a subject for another pedal post).

The board is full. And when i say full, i really mean it. Neat and tiny solder joints right next to each other. And plenty of them. The MC4101F is mounted on the bottom and is responsible for all the action.

DDL-guts1

Couldn’t help myself but take another shot of the chip itself. That’ll also let you cloesr to the real scale that those solder spots have. If i was amazed what the Maxon engineers did with DFL, the digital flanger from this same series, i’m even more impressed now.

DDL-guts2

The board shares some qualities with the DFL. The three trimmers are in the same spot as is the DA/AD converter chip, the MC4101F. Couldn’t find a schematic for this right of the bat, so i can’t be 100 percent sure. It does seem like the two share some parts of the design.

DDL-guts3

The controls on this design are very impressive. There’s user’s manual scans available at Ibanez pedal information heaven, the Tone Home. Quite interesting read. They have listed the maximum delay time wrong though. It is in fact 1800ms and not 900ms.

How does it sound?
True delay monster with massive, yet clean delay times. Where the Boss’ counterpart is unnatural and cold, this massive design happens to capture some of the beauty found from analog delays. Not as clinical as you’d expect from a 80’s digital delay. Some circuits may have been scorched by time, but this sound stays unaffected. It still sounds good and fresh, even if it has about 30 years of life behind it. Very usable with its two delay time ranges and the hold mode. No wonder you won’t find any of these for cheap.

Ibanez DL10 Delay

Friday, March 14th, 2014

DL10

What is it?
Ibanez DL10 Digital Delay from Power series. Made in japan between 1986-1989.

The Ibanez delays are usually highly praised and for a reason. Solid construction and nice design. When i think of it, many other types have design flaws. This of course isn’t limited to just Ibanez. Still. usable delays are more common than, for example, usable distortions. The design here seems to be pretty much the same as found on DL5, or, we could once again argue that DL5 is just a remake of this unit. Opening the standard 10-serie box shows a couple of components mounted on the solder side of the board. This always makes me a little suspicious. This time, i think the components are there by the manufacturing process. I reached this conclusion by having obtained a second DL10 in defunct state. Or it would be highly unlikely that two separate units (one bought from canada and the other from a local guitarist) have the exactly same mod performed on them.

DL10-guts1

Hand drawn acid trip traces always make me smile. This time there’s another vow-factor due to crowded digital board and the hand drawn traces. Heart of the delay circuitry is Mitsubishi M50195P, which is one of the standard echo family chips Ibanez has used on most of their delay circuits. Including Master series Flanger and a lot of others.

DL10-guts2

Good delay pedal needs to be  simple to use and still offer more controls than just one tone. The Power series delays are all pretty good items. This one is more of a simple standard, while the others offer more and more special features. Let’s face it. Maxon designers have had their spoons flying pretty high in the 80’s. After all, there are seven different delay designs in a series which was manufactured from 1986 to 1989.

How does it sound?
Like a very nice delay with reasonably good control range. This stretches from tight slap back to neverending feedback with nice long delay time. This unit is common and lots of people are still using it for a good reason. Usable. Not much more to add.

Danelectro DJ-3 BLT Slap Echo

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

DJ3-BLT
What is it?
Danelectro DJ-3 BLT Slap Echo from mini series, made in china.

Most of the mini series effects are good and usable. This one is no exception. One can hear what the circuit is all about by just listening to it. It’s PT2399 delay with fixed delay time. Did this surprise you? Not me. PT2399 is widely used and trained ear can spot one easily. It has analog quality to its repeats, while remaining nearly free of unwanted noise. The reason for PT2399 being so popular chip for delays and echos is probably the simple usage. It requires way less components than any analog or any modern digital counterpart and the datasheet has an example circuit in it. That one can be slightly tweaked, and voilá, completely new delay circuit has arrived to take over the market from another PT2399 design. The example, of course, needs an mixer amp to accompany it, but otherwise.. That’s the circuit found in many, many modern delay pedals.

There are several reports on how to modify your BLT for full featured delay/echo. The one posted at FSB by Soulsonic will guide you through the process if you feel like doing it to your pedal. I won’t be modding mine as i seem to have a few delays that can do exactly what this would do once modded.

DJ3-BLT-guts
This unit has nothing too special going for it. Standard Dano electronic switching, modern traces and the main board (the one with controls on it) is pretty tight fit with all the surface mount components. By itself, it is nice cheap echo/delay with fixed delay time. I’m getting a feeling that many of the Dano designs are just your standard effects with one or more controls dropped. It doesn’t make them bad in any way. It just feels like the designer has made some of the choices for us.

How does it sound?
Good. Usable slapback echo with mix and feedback/repeat amount controls. It has the PT2399 chip’s signature sound, so you really can’t go wrong with this pedal. It’s fun and it can be modded to full echo/delay with relative ease.

Pearl F-605 Electro Echo Analog Delay

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Pearl-ElectroEcho

What is it?
Pearl Model F-605 Electro Echo Analog Delay, made in japan around 1977-79.

Saw this unit for sale and couldn’t help myself. Even if it meant that i was to eat dry bread for the rest of the month. Price wasn’t too bad, and i wouldn’t sell this for the price i got it – never. As analog delays come, this may be one of the greatest. It has input and output level selectors, which make it usable with synthesizers and other devices with line level output. In/out level settings depicted in the photo above work reasonably well with electric guitar.

Three modes on the right are Delay, Chorus and Duplex. Duplex, like the name suggests, mixes both delay and chorus together, resulting in quite spacious soundscapes. Unit runs on 12V DC supply or two 9V batteries. The latter seems to be quite a standard for these older designs. The photo below shows the circuit board. It’s pretty crammed…

Pearl-ElectroEcho-Guts

But the traces are neat and the design looks pleasing. That box could have housed a bigger board, but i do find this tightness intriguing. Board designer shows some great disipline. I didn’t take the pots off, so you’ll need to live with a shot of raised board. Yup. It is crammed.

Pearl-ElectroEcho-Guts2

The chip responsible for the delay is MN3005, a 4096-stage long delay BBD (Bucket-brigade device). I know i should dig deeper to the design to see what’s really happening in there, but this seem quite complicated analog delay device to begin with. I may have to start with something a little more straight forward.

Anyway. As a closing, here’s a shot of the bottom plate. Everyone will get what the text means, but i think that grammar beats even mine.

Pearl-ElectroEcho-Back

How does it sound?
One of the best analog delays i’ve played with. Versatile design that has useful modulation section. Not really sure if these units were meant to be guitar effects in the first place, but it works and sounds.. Well. Analog. Overall, analog delays have their own character which is in many ways worse than modern PT2399 or otherwise digital based delays. This one has cool vintage clang to it, which is not too bad. Unit may be collectible, but i can already see myself using it next time i’m in studio…

UPDATE! There’s a traced schematic up at Freestompboxes (for those who have an user account). This shows there’s no regulator at the power supply side. On battery use, the unit uses 18V, but the dc jack has 12V 300mA printed next to it. This being said, the unit sounds awesome on battery and a power supply that gives 15V and >100mA out. Since the batteries can handle about 20 minutes of use and 12V supply sounds like s**t, i’m under impression that the label next to DC jack is in error. If you have one, feed it with 15V supply and be amazed.

Danelectro D4 Fab Echo

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

D4-FabEcho

What is it?
Danelectro D-4 Fab Echo. Cheapest thing made in china. Came in a trade for next to nothing.

I usually have nothing againt using plastic enclosures. And as i stated on Fab Metal post, the build quality here is astonishingly bad. This particular unit doesn’t quite reach the horrifying things inside Fab Metal, but it is still nothing i want to spend my time on. The boards are a lot neater than on the Metal distortion though. Also the components are SMD all the way, which leaves a slightly better impression.

D4-FabEcho-guts1

Still i don’t find the boards eye pleasing in any way. No symmetry, nor any master plan at all. Don’t know what the designer has been thinking when doing a layouts for these. The design itself isn’t too bad. It may have looked and sounded reasonable on the designer’s breadboard before it made its way forward in the construction chain. As in all Fabs, the shilding is done with paper with foin on the other side and that piece of paper is screwed to ground. Designwise…

D4-FabEcho-guts2

Yup. That’s PT2399 digital echo processor with fixed delay time. This could be modedd to full delay by just swapping one of those left hand side SMD resistors for a pot. Personally i don’t think the mod is really worth the trouble, as you can score similar sound from other china brands for pretty much the same price. That way you’ll get better shielding for your box too.

This will be my last post of the Fab series. Last weekend, i sold both of these as there was just not anything interesting in either of these and the build quality doesn’t please me. At all. While i do like Danelectro’s boxes in general, this serie will not be collected. These will continue to give a bad name to Danelectro effects. I can clearly see why.

How does it sound?
Not too horrible. Sound exactly what PT2399 chips with fixed delay time should sound like. I’d still recommend checking out china brands for a delay instead of this…

DOD FX57 Hard Rock Distortion

Friday, September 6th, 2013

DOD-FX57-HardRockDist

What is it?
DOD FX57 Hard Rock Distortion. USA made box, dating 1987.

Bad year. 1987 i mean. According to DOD information heaven, America’s Pedal website, the basic idea for this design was already tried out on certain DigiTech double pedal, as well as on one Boss design. And what is this idea? To take a OD/Distortion and place a delay circuitry after it to “widen” or “thicken” the sound. I must say that the idea itself doesn’t sound that bad. Distortion with analog delay? How could that be bad? Well it can. For those interested, the schematic can be found online at Schematics Unlimited. It shows that the delay section is placed  after the main gain stage and to be mixed back to the distorted signal at the level control. The delay itself is created with MN3007/NM3101 pair. Level control is mixing the signal, delay included or not, with virtual ground and passing it to the presence control. The distortion control is basically just a variable resistor limiting the input signal current after the mandatory input buffer – which is needed due to basic DOD electronic switching. There are two trimmers that affect the delay functionality.

DOD-FX57-HardRockDist-Guts

The board looks kinda cool with those yellow mylar caps.

Now what exactly makes this a bad design? Two things. The distortion and the controls. That is a lot for one design. With the soft clipping, placing four Si diodes to the feedback loop of the gain stage offers something that isn’t too far from tube screamers, but the filters and second clipping stage (the Ge diodes) before the volume control gives out texture that isn’t too desirable. And that presence control would need a huge rework to even remind me of anything reasonable.  I personally think that presence is just a wrong word for this control. It should rather be “extreme bass cut pot that we here at DOD didn’t think all the way through”.

How does it sound?
Bad. Thin, hollow and nasal. Turning the delay off doesn’t quite help you. With the distortion at minimum and delay maxed, we can get something that reminds one of usable sound. But it is pretty crappy sounding design. Not all the settings are awful, but none of them are particularly good wither. Overall experience is so crappy, that i have high hopes for this becoming a rare gem – due to low(ish) number of units manufactured in relatively short period and the fact that some people will dispose their units with their everyday garbage. Which wouldn’t be too crazy idea with this particular unit. Not all of the setting combinations are horrible, but in genereal; it sucks and it sucks hard. But it is an interesting failure.