The new BOSS SDE-3000 and the slightly more expensive SDE3000EVH are stereo stompbox recreations of the vintage (and mono) Roland SDE-3000 rack unit from 1983 – actually, of a pair of them, since each unit offers two delay channels. The latter (pictured below) also offers 8 exact settings from Eddie Van Hallen’s live rig, via a dedicated panel, developed in collaboration with EVH.
In both units, each delay channel can be tweaked separately and features two delay lines (on the Left and Right channels, for a total of up to 4) and a host of parameters including panning options, momentary effects, EQ, and many other features found on modern delay pedals, including Tap Tempo, a commodity that didn’t exist in the ’80s.
But what made the original stand out was the modulation section, which can generate subtle modulation to pitch-shifting waves and is greatly enhanced by the stereoness of these new pedals; each delay channel has its own.
Replicating almost to the letter the control layout of the original, these BOSS recreations inherit the somewhat cumbersome navigation found in the original device, requiring a fair amount of tapping on buttons to get to the deeper settings – you can file that under “’80s-style tweaking,” which always implies a little learning curve.
The routing capabilities of the SDE-3000 are comprehensive, both internally and externally, which allows it to easily integrate with any rig, in the studio or live.
Here are the first videos of it!
BOSS SDE-3000EVH, Builder’s Notes
Guitarists have often split their perspectives on delay units into two distinct camps: analog and digital. Keywords attached to analog often include “warm, rich, organic,” while those given to digital, on the other hand, might lean toward “precise and clean”.
One of the early classics in the digital realm, however, set a standard for lush, musical delay tones that has reigned supreme for four decades, and established a sound that perfectly blends precision and character into a third realm that beautifully captures the best of both worlds. We could call this “Vintage Digital,” a third distinct realm capable of delivering the finest form of delay effect available by melding digital and analog in perfect harmony.
AN ORIGINAL INDUSTRY LEADER
Roland was already a pioneer in effects, synths, drum machines, and processing gear when releasing the SDE-3000 Digital Delay in 1983. It established the gold standard in rack-mounted digital delay for professional recording studios. And once a who’s who of big-name guitarists had recorded through the SDE-3000 they couldn’t resist having one, or several, in their stage racks, too. A host of musicians made the SDE-3000 their delay of choice, both live and in the studio, and its sound became the stuff of legends.
Deep into the 21st Century, digital delay is widely available: onboard affordable practice amps, guitar pedals, and studio plug-in software, so it’s easy to take for granted. In 1983 the SDE-3000 represented cutting-edge delay technology. Consider, for example, that the SDE-3000 was almost $2,000 in 1983 when launched. If you wanted to operate in stereo, you needed two!
A Marriage of Cutting-Edge Tech
The key to the warm, musical sound of the SDE-3000 lies in its combination of two technologies, rendered at the top of their games: early digital processing enabled precise, high-fidelity repeats while studio-grade analog circuitry performed all the other duties essential for getting your precious signal from input to output, plus a few other next-level tech tricks to achieve some of its most beloved bonus features.
A Smooth Transition
When we think about what entices and inspires us about the sound of one delay unit over another, it isn’t usually the accuracy of the repeated “echoes” themselves—which is a base-level requirement for any decent digital delay—but the performance of all the peripheral circuits to get the signal from the input to the delay line, blend in any feedback paths, generate repeats, induce modulation, and finally get the signal from delay processing to output.
Sound with Purpose
It’s the quality and nature of these contributing circuits that give character and personality to any digital delay. In the SDE-3000 everything was achieved by unique, purpose-built tech, featuring a lot of high-quality discrete circuits working around technical delay processing and injecting character and personality into the overall tone as a result.
SONIC SUPPORT NETWORK
Product-development of the SDE-3000 was Yoshi Ikegami’s first big assignment. As he explains, beyond merely achieving low signal-to-noise ratio and a wide dynamic range (all thanks to the high quality of the engineering), plenty more was done to ensure the unit’s uniquely euphonic sound.
“Although we say ‘digital delay,’” Yoshi tells us, “The overall circuit design and approach was still very analog. All components, such as resistors and capacitors and so forth, had a different impact on the sound, so we chose each component carefully with a focus on ‘musicality,’ not just noise reduction, for example.” He continues “We built a delay unit for processing all audio signals, but I love guitar, so it had some special tuning for guitar… of course!”
The SDE-3000’s modulation capabilities induced a sizeable proportion of its character, and further boosted its overall appeal to guitarists. The “intentional” Modulation effect on the SDE-3000 came courtesy of an LFO capable of generating anything from subtle modulation to genuine pitch shifting. Beyond this, though, there were levels of unintentional modulation induced by other “happy accidents” that gave depth and dimension to the unit’s sound, even with the Modulation option disengaged.
All in the Detail
From one part of the supporting circuitry, the clock that controls the sampling rate—generated by an analog oscillator—wasn’t 100% accurate, introducing small rate deviations that induced an appealing modulation in the delay sound. Elsewhere, the Delay Phase and Feedback Phase circuits, accessed via front-panel switches, mixed signal paths in a frequency-dependent manner that induced appealing modulation in delay and feedback sounds, again, further enhancing the richness and depth of the SDE-3000’s perceived “tone.”
From Studio to Stage
With a legendary sonic signature ensured by the tech, the SDE-3000 had unprecedented functionality, which was hugely appealing to touring professionals seeking to reproduce their recorded sounds live on stage. The unit boasted easy programming via its bevy of front-panel buttons, an impressive display for the time (giving delay time, feedback, and output levels, and modulation rate and depth), and perhaps most important of all for touring musicians, eight memory slots which could be programmed to save not only delay times and crucially Tap Tempo functionality!
FLEXIBLE CONTROL OPTIONS
Round back, impressive connectivity increased the SDE-3000’s flexibility. In addition to outputs for both the Delay and Mixed signals; a Send and Return for the feedback loop itself; remote switching for Preset Select, Tap Tempo, Hold, and Delay (on/off) offered a wealth of creative options.
BRINGING IT BACK TO LIFE
BOSS has tapped its industry-leading experience with creating cutting-edge algorithms to thoroughly and accurately capture the full “Vintage Digital” sound and performance of the original SDE-3000 in two powerful pedals that are impressively compact, despite their versatility: the SDE-3000D and SDE-3000EVH.
The SDE-3000D provides two authentic reproductions of the much-loved SDE-3000 in a modern floor-based pedal with independent delay parameters, versatile signal routing, and many other enhanced features. Developed in close collaboration with EVH, the SDE-3000EVH model goes even further, providing curated presets and expanded I/O to authentically recreate the dual SDE-3000 setup at the heart of Eddie Van Halen’s massive three-cabinet live stage guitar sound.
At the heart of both, though, lies the essential sonic integrity of the original SDE-3000 from 1983—a cutting-edge marriage of digital and analog circuitry that defined groundbreaking delay sound for generations to come.