The DPS-V55 was released in the U.S. around 1996 and came in two flavors: the DPS-V55 and the DPS-V55M, which included a front panel mic/line jack. Both models are 2U-rackmount, quad-DSP boxes that can function as a four independent mono processors, two independent stereo processors, or as a single, cascaded stereo processor. The DPS-V55 uses an unbalanced I/O scheme that can be switched between -10 dBV and +4 dBu. Effects supplied include multiple reverbs; time effects (delays, phasers, flangers); panners; dynamics (compressors, limiters); a few odd things; and a couple of equalizers. We purchased the DPS-V55 about three months ago from an individual who was clearing house. The price was $170, which is just below typical eBay prices.

Test One. I decided to inaugurate the processor by dropping it into a field production. The project included hyped radio-style-compressed-to-hell-vocals produced by a couple of corporate middle managers in someone's living room. I had a pair of Oktava small-diaphragm condensers going into lunch-boxed SSL preamps with the DPS-V55 on the L/R inserts. The preamps then went straight into a Canon GL-2 DV camera. One of the presets on the DPS-V55 is a stereo compressor with a three-band EQ on the front. After tweaking the preset, I routed the outputs back into the remaining stereo inputs and used another EQ patch to roll-off some funky artifacts with a high-band cut. (I could have used the preamp's filters, but this was a test.) The result was cool, with the perceived stereo image incredibly wide and the vocals loud and razor sharp. This was the goal.

Test Two. Our agency was producing a live event in Las Vegas that was loosely based on the Carson-era Tonight Show. The creative bits included Carnak-style vignettes and "field reporters" that were pre-recorded. In addition to the on-screen material, the show was scored with a ton of Cole Porter tunes played by myself and another musician. I decided to use the DPS-V55 on both the post- production and the live event. Most of the character shots were left dry for live treatment with the exception of the Carnak-style bits. For these, we needed an "attention getter" effect that would pull the audience's attention away from whatever they were focused on at the time (namely, their drinks). I decided on a pre-delay vocal and reverse gate effect a la Coil's "Window Pane." There was no preset even close to this, so it turned out to be a nice test. I sampled the vocal using an AKAI S3000XL, so we could sequence a fly-in, and then fed the output into the DPS-V55. After applying a massive plate, we dialed up a simple tempo-delay to achieve the vacuum effect we were after. The plate, by itself, was kind of harsh with its frivolous high-end distortion, but after reading the manual, we learned that it was designed for aux-sends and we were inserting it directly. When the signal chain was set up properly, the distortion was negligible. For the live event usage, we used a medium-hall reverb with an SSL quad-buss compressor before the amplifiers, and it sounded great. After chatting with a few live-event engineers at the event, I learned that the DPS-V55 is a trusted box in their equipment racks. I have to say that it just kicked butt on live material.

Shortcomings? No matter what the presets say, this is not a mastering processor. I always ended up replacing the compressor patches with a dedicated unit. The small 2x10 LCD really leaves something to be desired compared to the larger displays on newer designs, and the overall programmability- access to the gritty details-is pretty shallow.

If you can get over the unbalanced interfacing, the DPS-V55 is a cool unit and is easily a useful tool in an effects array. It's not an Eventide, but it's definitely worth more than we paid for it.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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