by Jerry Vigil
This month's Test Drive takes a look at a digital multi-effects processor, but this is not your typical effects unit. The DSP FX Engine does not come in a rack-mountable box, and it only works when plugged in to an Orban DSE-7000. The Orban DSP FX Engine is the new 24-bit effects processor card for the DSE-7000. It is offered as an upgrade kit for older models and comes standard with all new models which bear the new name, DSE-7000FX. In a successful effort to keep pace with other workstations offering on-board effects, the DSP FX Engine brings to the DSE high quality, internal, digital effects including equalizer and compressor algorithms from a design team headed by Bob Orban himself. The reverb algorithms come from the engineers at Orban's sister company, Lexicon, maker of high quality reverb and effect boxes.
This review will focus only on the DSP FX Engine and what it brings to the DSE. References to keys on a control panel refer to the DSE's control panel. For a review of the DSE-7000 itself, see the November 1994 issue of Radio And Production.
The DSP FX Engine lists for $1,450, and the price goes up to $1,750 after the first of the year. You can ship your unit to Orban for the upgrade, have your engineering staff perform the upgrade at your studios, or, if you're very comfortable with computers and have handled their guts many times before, you can do the upgrade yourself. It's as simple as replacing the fax/modem card in your PC. There's also new Version 6 software which installs quickly and easily. (The software will work in models without the FX card, but, of course, there won't be any FX!)
Once installation of the card and new software is complete, it's time to re-boot the system. The main screen of the DSE remains pretty much the same as the old with the exception of a more graphic representation of the DSE's new logo. The only other obvious change right off the bat is the length of time it takes to create a new project or open an existing one. Add an additional five or six seconds as the system initializes the DSP card. While this is happening, the screen displays a message: "Phase 1 of DSP start-up now in progress...."