Vintage Digital


Sony entered the world of digital studio effects with a bang, a big bang. The Sony DRE-2000 was launched in 1981, and was a very expensive product for it’s time, and still are if you can find a working unit. The Sony DRE-2000 has been loved by Chris Lord Alge for many years and he has created some amazing mixes using the Sony DRE-2000 for reverb duties. It was some years before Sony introduced a new product, but they never made another digital reverb at that price point again.

In 1986 Sony released the Sony MU-R201, a far more affordable reverb, and a true stereo in and out reverb for the first time. The Mu-R201 was hugely successful in Japan, but no so much elsewhere. It was time to rethink things…Sony invested time and money to develop their next major effort in digital studio effects, the DPS series released in 1991. The DPS series consisted of four effects processors, each specialising in something different, the Sony DPS-R7 for Reverb, Sony DPS-D7 for Delay, Sony DPS-M7 for Modulation and the Sony DPS-F7 for Filtering effects.

The DPS series were very successful, primarily the DPS-R7 and DPRS-D7 and primarily in the broadcast world, but that is not to say they did not sell well to studios too, they did. As digital technology became more affordable and easier to make, Sony released their ultimate studio effects processor in 1995, the Sony DPS-V77. The DPS-V77 was essentially a ‘best of Sony’ effects processor. It is often called a poor mans Eventide, but this a is unfair. The DPS-V77 is a great processor with not only superior electronics to it’s earlier stable mates, but the effects patches too were great.

A few years later and Sony offered the world the Sony DPS-V55, a four channel version of the DPS series, but form all accounts it does not sound as good as the DPS-V77. As a final goodbye to studio audio, Sony unleashed their finest reverb to date, the Sony DRE-S777. This was an all out assault on the professional reverb market, and it used the very latest sampling technology (convolution) to reproduce real world spaces. The results were truly excellent, but it was expensive and came perhaps just a touch to late to market.

Sony DRE-S777 Sampling Digital Reverb

After the lack-luster DPS-V55, Sony had one last shot at the studio effects market, and they went out on a high with the spectacular DRE-S777 Sampling Reverb. The Sony DRE-S777 was a new type of reverb, one that used real impulse responses to capture real space, rather than the traditional method from the past of trying to emulate a real space.

Sony DPS-V55 Multi Effects Processor

Sony made a killer effects processor with the DPS-V77, so next step was to capitalize on that with a four channel version right? But, something went wrong…On paper at least, the Sony DPS-V55 should be a killer effects processor, but by all accounts it does not succeed. Just as Roland did with their SRV-3030, the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired.

Sony DPS-V77 Multi Effects Processor

Having done all they could with the DPS series, Sony only had one place left go, and that was to combine all four DPS effects into a single processor. The Sony DPS-V77 was born! In creating the Sony DPS-V77, Sony unleashed a ‘Best of Sony’ in terms of not only the effects on offer by combining all the best DPS Series effects, but also the sonic performance of the internals too.

Sony HR-MP5 Multi Processor

A year before releasing the Sony DPS-V77, Sony decided to offer a more affordable multi-effects processor in the HR-MP5, a half rack sized processor. The Sony HR-MP5 is not what one would hope for if looking for a ‘Best of Sony’ and probably was not intended to be that. Aimed at home recording studios rather than top flight studios, Sony had great success with the HR-MP5.

Sony DPS-F7 Dynamic Filter Plus

After the digital reverb, digital delay and then a modulation processor, what could Sony release next? A dynamic filter, which lacked the appeal of the first three effects in the DPS line up. The Sony DPS-F7 is suited to keyboard players that studios, as it generates rather interesting effects for keyboards including vocoder and synthesizer. Having said that, creative engineers could find great use for this effect in their racks.

Sony DPS-M7 Sonic Modulator

After a digital reverb and a digital delay, the next logical choice for Sony was a modulation processor, and that is exactly what they delivered with the Sony DPS-M7. With the new Sony DPS-M7, Sony continued to improve the sonic characteristics of the internals, with the DPS-M7 showing even better noise floor performance than even the DPS-D7 that preceded it.

Sony DPS-D7 Digital Delay

On the back of the success of the Sony DPS-R7, Sony developed and released the next processor in the line-up, the DPS-D7 Digital Delay with audible improvements. Sony didn’t just add int he new algorithms and release it, they also chose to make the DPS-D7 use a higher sampling rate of 48kHz to improve the bandwidth even further than the DPS-R7.

Sony DPS-R7 Reverberator

The Sony DPS-R7 was the first in a new digital effects line up from Sony, it’s success spawned a number of other effects using the same architecture as the DPS-R7. The Sony DPS-R7 is an excellent digital reverb that still stands up today, with it’s full bandwidth and excellent reverb algorithms, it is hampered only by it’s truly awful interface if you wish to program it.

Sony MU-R201 Stereo Digital Reverb

The Sony MU-R201 came after the ultra expensive Sony DRE-2000 and was the first Sony Reverb to offer true stereo processing. It was something of a sleeper in the west, (big in Japan however) but Roger Nichols was one of it’s few true believers, and used it on everything he mixed including some of the Steely Dan mixes.

Sony DRE 2000 Digital Reverberator

The Sony DRE 2000 was Sony’s first digital reverb and they headed straight for the heart of Lexicon with a complex and very advanced system, that also proved fragile. These reverbs are hard to find on the used market, partly because those who have them hang onto them, and partly because many of them have died, proving to be too expensive and difficult to fix.
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