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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I bought one of these old gems on E-bay last week. I should have it next week.

During the 80s most PA racks had one of these powerful and wonderful sounding effects units. I've bid on several over the past few months and finally won this one.

I suppose there are technically more advanced products out these days, but this is a unit I understand and can relate to. I like the sounds.

http://www.gbaudio.co.uk/data/yamaha/spx90.htm
 

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still use mine, symphonic is a unique chorus like nothing else, and I just mixed a power pop record with major 80's influences. Right before I started, a friend said check out Mutemath...not my thing but 80's reverb everywhere...... we had one big punch that I drenched the snare in SPX 80's gated rev...the right tool for the right job. Enjoy it, lots of fun.

Andy
 

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I used one at University-very cool, I remember plugging in an Ovation 12 string and using some kind of a stereo pitch change delay/echo patch so I could play triads, loads of fun, got real fun after detuning the guitar to 5ths too-reminded me of some of Larry Coryells 80's experimental stuff...I had forgotten about those thngs, good score!
 

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I just got home from a gig where two of these was all I had for FX - I still use these all the time. I like the REV's and the Robert Plant and Ozzy shifts, but I'd perfer not using them for delay units. The max delay time is too short and it takes too long to adjust between 50ms or so. I end up setting up my patches with 50ms differences in delays so I can get close enough in short order, but if the battery is dead, it's a real drag.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I just got home from a gig where two of these was all I had for FX - I still use these all the time. I like the REV's and the Robert Plant and Ozzy shifts, but I'd perfer not using them for delay units. The max delay time is too short and it takes too long to adjust between 50ms or so. I end up setting up my patches with 50ms differences in delays so I can get close enough in short order, but if the battery is dead, it's a real drag.
Refresh my memory. What's the max delay time? I generally don't use delays longer than 500 ms.
 

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500ms is the max, an SPX 90II goes up to 2 seconds.

It's not that big of a deal unless the band does something that needs something long like Comfortably Numb, Higher Ground, War Pigs - something that the half time delay is way to obvious.

The flanges and chorus' work pretty well on that unit as well. I use it mostly for REV and the odd pitch shift effect.

If you are looking for a nice cheap dedicated delay unit an Ibanez DMD200 is a nice unit. They are from about the same time period, but they are dead easy to make quick changes on.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
500ms is the max, an SPX 90II goes up to 2 seconds.

It's not that big of a deal unless the band does something that needs something long like Comfortably Numb, Higher Ground, War Pigs - something that the half time delay is way to obvious.

The flanges and chorus' work pretty well on that unit as well. I use it mostly for REV and the odd pitch shift effect.

If you are looking for a nice cheap dedicated delay unit an Ibanez DMD200 is a nice unit. They are from about the same time period, but they are dead easy to make quick changes on.
I already have a nice delay unit. It's a digitech and does up to a couple of seconds as well as modulation effect. It's easy to control delay times but it's not programmable.

I'm not sure how I would insert a second external effects unit with my board. I'm maxed out on channels and the board only allows me to insert one effect. I suppose I could daisy chain them together.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Are you sure you don't want a nice DX-7 to go with your SPX-90?

I think the knock on the SPX by today's standards is that they are a little too sterile or brittle sounding. The SPX was the hot hot multi fx when 90% of recording was still done one a 2 inch 24 track machine with Dolby SR. You could record the effects to tape and soften them up.

With today's all digital set ups the SPX really shows it's colours, both good and band.

The REV 5 and REV 7 were common dedicated reverb units.

Live....I think the SPX is still a valid tool. It's been a while, but I seem to recall the user interface is quite acceptable. For recording the plug-ins are probably the way to go.

If you haven't found this, here is the manual:

http://www.yamaha.com/yamahavgn/Documents/ProAudio/SPX90.pdf
I bought the SPX for live use only. When it comes to recording I have no use for anything but the most rudimentary set up and rack gear isn't a part of that for me. I figure the best way to get a good recording is still in a well equipped and designed studio.

What most people call "warmth" I call distortion. The same applies to clean guitar tones.

Thanks for the manual by the way. I hadn't even looked for one. As I recall the interface is quite intuitive but it never hurts to have a reference.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Agreed....One of the knocks early on digital is that it is/was too clean or brittle. We are so used to distortion, (either pleasant or unpleasant) that we are completely unfamiliar as to what true hi-fi should sound like. We still design our digital processors to emulate the quirks, (flaws?) of the analogue devices they replace.

The fact that different guitar amps and or speakers sound, well....different is evidence of distortion. Anything that changes the shape of the initial waveform is distorting the waveform. I'm not saying that this is good or bad, only that it just is.

I'm far from being an audiophile tweak, but I've heard enough 5 and 6 figure home $tereo$ $y$tem$, (yes stereo, two channel, not 5.1 or 6.1), to realize that the first reaction most folks will have to a high end system is that it sounds wrong. Soooo many people are accustomed to hearing music through ear buds or in the car that they have no idea what music is supposed to sound like. One of the reasons I like small group jazz is that a well produced recording will sound like musicians are in the room with you when played on a great hi-fi system. That's less true with recorded music that is highley produced, 9for lack of a better phrase). It's kind of like the difference between photo-realism and impressionism in art. Van Gogh was into distortion! In sound reproduction, I am more interested in photo-realism.

The SPX is a solid unit. The fact that they are still functioning 20-ish years down the road is a testament to their build quality. They even have a 500ms sampler built in!!!! The midi implementation is pretty simple. I seem to recall it's a pretty quiet little box too.

I'd be tempted to get a small submixer. You can use the fx or aux sends on your Yorkville board to send to the two fx boxes you have, return them to the sub-mixer, and then take the stereo output of the submixer and return that either to the aux returns or into two channels on the mixer. You'll still have stereo fx, and you'll have the ability to take full advantage of both fx devices. This might be best done with a 1U line mixer in the rack.

Or you can dedicate one of the devices to a channel, and use it in the insert point. Don't the first 6 channels have inserts on your board?

Or.....you can patch it directly into the signal path from the post EQ out, thru the box, and back into the power amp in....or you could......geez there are a lot of ways to use this box effectively.

And the best part is no one will ever know how cost effectivley you get great sound!!!!
I think the Impressionism vs photo realism analogy is a valid one. Strangely when it comes to art I'm more into the impressionists than the realists. Monet is one of my favourites.

As for my board, unfortunately I'm maxed out on channels and don't have one available to insert an effect unit. A new, larger and more capable board is on my list of "needs" for 2008. I'll be going up to a 32 channel.

In the mean time I'll use either a switching device or a mixer (probably a switching device).

In and out with the power amps is not an option either. I only use the onboard power amps for monitors as they don't have the kind of power I need for mains.

There's always a way though.
 

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There's a couple of not as obvious "pro" tricks one can do in the studio with an "outdated" box like an SPX90 and there's a few things to avoid.

Avoid: Running the effect mix less than 100% because the a/dd/a's are hardly state of the art and also if combined (digital dry) with an analog dry (like in a parallel guitar amp f/x loop), phase cancellation occurs (thin, phasey sound)

Obviously, there are many applications where a parallel effect can make things more interesting but using the spx in series with another effect particularly a true stereo box can be really neat. Reverb is just lots of delays (oversimplification but true). Every box has a limit of horsepower so by running the SPX on Early Reflection and than the other box using the most processor intensive reverb (at the expense of its early reflections) can yield a sound closer to a much more expensive reverb. Same goes for delays and any modulation effect. Another technique is to run 2 or 3 reverbs in parallel and (pre) compress or expand them differently so that different dynamics trigger a different blend of reverb or balance between reverb and delays.

Hours of fun:food-smiley-004:

Andy
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Milkman, are you using this for guitar or vocal effects?
It will be used as an effects unit for the board and as such can be assigned in varying degrees to any channel, so I can use it on guitar, vocals and any other instrument as needed.


Mike
 
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