Test Drive: Yamaha SPX1000 Digital Multi-effects Processor

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The SPX1000 has a series of multi-effect programs and "2 Channel" programs. Multi-effect programs have quickly become the standard in digital processors. The multi-effect programs of the SPX1000 combine CHORUS and REVERB, SYMPHONIC and REVERB, and EXCITER and REVERB. With each of these three combinations, you also have access to parameters to control the COMPRESSOR and the DISTORTION settings; so, in effect, there are four effects at once. A PITCH and REVERB program would have been a nice addition, but there probably weren't enough Production Directors involved in the design.

The "2-Channel" programs are quite unique. They are PLATE + HALL, ER + REV, ECHO + REV, CHORUS + REV, and PAN + PAN. What makes these programs different from the multi-effect programs is that one effect can be applied to the left channel input, while the other is applied independently to the right channel. Using the ECHO + REV program for instance, if you send a mike into both channels, at the output you'll have the echo effect on the left channel and reverb added to the right channel. The effects won't be mixed together as in the multi-effects programs, however, there is the option to mix the effects. There are plenty of parameters in these programs to make playtime fun.

An EQ button on the front panel accesses the 2-band parametric EQ and a "Dynamic Filter" mode. Basically, every program has access to this EQ function which makes every program a multi-effect program. You can add EQ to any of the effects by hitting this key and making your adjustments.

Finally, the input mode of the SPX1000 is worth mentioning. From the front panel, you can select STEREO NORMAL, STEREO REVERSE, MONO LEFT, or MONO RIGHT as input modes. This eliminates having to run around the back of the machine every time you change input types. The mode selected is displayed on the front panel with small LED lights. STEREO NORMAL speaks for itself. STEREO REVERSE just reverses the inputs. MONO LEFT takes the left input and sends it to both left and right input channels. MONO RIGHT uses the right channel and does the same.

On the technical side you have full 20-20kHz bandwidth with 16-bit processing and a 44.1kHz sampling frequency. Yes, this unit sounds very clean. You have MIDI control but not over every parameter. All basic MIDI functions are supported, however. Inputs and outputs are unbalanced. There are digital ins and outs for use with other Yamaha gear. There are 59 user memory locations for storing edited programs, and the SPX1000 takes up one rack space.

List price on the unit is $1795. Shop around and you can find it for a few hundred less. Yamaha also offers an SPX900. List price on the 900 is $995, but you sacrifice the 5.8 second sample time of the SPX1000 for a mere 1.35 seconds. Also, the SPX900 is not a true stereo processor like the 1000. You have only one input. Most of the programs in the SPX1000 can be found in the SPX900, but many of them will be limited by the 1.35 second sample time of the unit, particularly the delay programs and programs using delay for added effects. Like the 1000, the SPX900 is a 16-bit processor with full 20-20kHz response. Users of the SPX90 will find the SPX1000 an excellent upgrade. While there is much more to this unit than found in the SPX90, familiarity with the SPX90 will make it easy to jump right in to the SPX1000's powerful programs. As we've done in the past with our Test Drives, you can hear what the SPX1000 can do on this month's Cassette! Be advised that what you hear on The Cassette is only a small sampling of what the SPX1000 can do.

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