Thoughts on Digitech DHP-33 & DHP-55? - Jemsite
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-17-2003, 11:15 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thoughts on Digitech DHP-33 & DHP-55?

So here's the deal...
I recently lost my 2nd guitarist in my band & we've opted to not spend months & months searching for a replacement. We played a ton of diatonic harmonies together. As the lone guitarist, I can play all the parts, but I really need a convincing-sounding, moderately priced rackmounted intelligent harmony processor. Other than the harmonies, I also want to be able to send the harmonies (wet signal) to a separate cab & the dry signal to another cab. Basically, I want to create 2-part guitar harmony projection on stage.

I hear the Digitech DHP-33 & DHP-55 are a great addition to any rack when an Eventide is way out of reach. Does any of you have any experiences with these? Do you have any other suggestions on other models?

The harmonies I use primarily are diatonic minor/major 3rds, minor/major 5ths, minor 6ths, 1 octave, & the occasional minor 2nds.

Currently, I'm compensating by using the pitch shifter in my Rocktron Chameleon, but I don't care for it at all. It doesn't sound all that great & plus, I can't do diatonic harmonies with it. I just use it for octaves & 5ths. Any help is MUCH appreciated. Thanks.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-18-2003, 08:04 AM
 
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Revsharp777:

I recently scored a DHP-55 with the Studio 5000 ROM upgrade (new presets and a few very minor bug fixes). I am STILL blown away by it. The thing is an absolute monster!

First, don't let the Digitech name fool you. The unit was built by IVL Technologies (Canada), the company that more recently joined up with T.C. Electronic to create T.C. Helicon. Thus, the only thing that says "Digitech" is the front panel and the manual. The serial number plate proudly proclaims "IVL" and the pan parameters use "Centre" instead of "Center." (Forgive me, but I'm not a Digitech fan, so I figured I'd mention this disclaimer.)

Plainly put, the DHP-55 sounds sick. Running a clean tone through the diatonic shifts are impressive but somewhat artifact-y and sound ... well ... like a processor. Using your amp's distorted tones, however, sound completely insane -- it's as close as you'll get to "four guitars" without having, as the old DHP adverts showed, four guitars and whole bunch of mechanical arms to play 'em at the same time. The distortion's overtones really fill in the sonic gaps in the shifted tones and it sounds COMPLETELY awesome.

It is totally worthwhile to point out that the DHP-55 has the ability to take a signal direct from your guitar for the purpose of analyzing its pitch, and a separate input for taking the distorted signal from your preamp/effects send. This makes a HUGE difference and allows the DHP to have nearly flawless tracking. You can crank 160bpm quarter notes into that baby and get dead-on diatonic shifting on every note (this is also due to the DHP's O/S being written in assembly -- it's scary fast).

As for the harmony structures, the DHP keeps things somewhat simple. You select a key and then choose chromatic, major, minor, wholetone, or diminished. You then choose the notes you want sounded from the root using their actual alphabetical names rather than degrees: Choose C-major and then tell the machine you want the E above, G above, D above, and C below root for an instant maj7 chord. Basically, you choose note intervals using "E, E#, F" etc rather than "minor 2nd, major 2nd, etc."

More on the scale types: Chromatic is basically "unintelligent," (a minor-3rd stays a minor-3rd whether or not it's "in key") and the others are exactly what they should be. "Minor" is just the relative natural minor (Aeolian). Thus "C Major" and "A Minor" are identical. Sounds restrictive, huh? Well ... here's the kicker ... you can write your own harmonies. That's worth repeating: You can write your own harmonies. Not your own _scales_, but your own harmonies.

Dig: instead of defining a scale and then programming in the note-based intervals you wanted (as mentioned above), this beast allows you to define what happens, harmony-wise, for every note on the 12-note chromatic scale. You can, for example, write a contrary motion harmony or really whacked out stuff: a C-major scale that adds an octave above when you play a "C," a minor-third below when you play a "D," a perfect-fifth above when you play an "E," and so on. Even if your second guitarist comes back, ditch him anyway because now you don't even have to stay in straight diatonic harmony! (Ha ha ha ... just kidding!)

I can, literally, go on for days about the DHP, and I've only had it for a month or so. Rather than waste too much forum time, I'll leave it at this unless you want more gory details about LFOs, ADR envelopes, "chord swell" and "chord shift" functionality, etc.

Last word: if you can find one of these, buy it. I'm looking for more of 'em for a backup/extra insanity!

Let me know if you have any more questions!

--jr
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-18-2003, 11:12 AM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the in-depth report, Johnny. This sounds like a poor man's Eventide to me.

My current rig:
Ibanez RG7, Kramer Striker 7, Steinberger GU7R > Sabine Tuner > Rocktron Chameleon > BBE 462 > Rocktron Velocity 300 > (stereo out) Behringer 4x12 straight cab.

Where are you putting the DHP-55 in you effects chain? I would assume you stick it before the preamp so that you get the clearest sound straight from the guitar (as with most harmonizers). I'm mainly interested in the harmonies, but I've also heard great things about the "String Swell" patches. Are these like the ones found in the 2120? If so, I'm sold. I've created a similiar patch in my Rocktron, but Digitech's version is awesome. It's one of the few effects from Digitech I actually liked. Oh yeah, how's the arpeggiator? Any other wacky effects? The Rocktron covers all my run-of-the-mill effects, but I enjoy experimenting with stranger sounds. Again, thank you thus far.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-18-2003, 12:28 PM
 
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I've owned a couple IPS33's over the years. I sold the first one because I got a 2101 which had similar pitch-shifting capabilities, and I sold the second because I got another guitarist for my band.

Anyway, I think the IPS33 offers good bang for the buck. Granted, it's only pitch shifting (no swells, delays, etc), but it does it quite well. It can generate 2 harmonies off of any note. You can used fixed intervals or intelligent harmonization. You can even define your own scales. Like the 55, the 33 also has the "preamp loop" so it can read the clean signal of your guitar up front and shift the pitch in the FX loop. Has a built-in tuner and full MIDI control. Has 3 outputs... one dry, and one for each voice, so you can do some really cool stuff if you have a rack mixer.

Only thing I don't like about it... you can't set the "MIX" independently for each voice without using an external line mixer (you can't program it into the patch). You can only control the mix using a knob on the front panel. So if you're relatively consistent in how you mix harmonies (e.g., 60% dry, 40% wet), it'll work great for you, but if you want different mix levels for different patches it'll be a problem.

All in all, I think it's a simple & effective pitch shifter. Not overly powerful, but it sounds good and has some nice features such as the preamp loop & individual outs for each voice.

--B
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-21-2003, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the suggestions so far, guys. Anyone else get some thoughts on harmonizers?
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-21-2003, 06:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Where are you putting the DHP-55 in you effects chain?
Right now, it's in the effects loop of my Marshall DSL 100. Well, _technically,_ the Marshall is in its effects loop due to the somewhat-strange-at-first-but-makes-sense-if-you-think-about-it nature of the DHP 55's separate pitch-recognition inputs. Basically, my JEM 777DY goes into a Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive and PH-2 Super Phaser and then directly into the right input of the DHP, and the "Effects Loop Out" goes into the input of the Marshall. The Marshall's Effects Send goes into the DHP's left input, and then the "mono/left" output of the DHP goes into the Marshall's effects return. Everything gets dumped into a Marshall 1960V with 4 Vintage 30s. Whew!

Outside of getting a good gain kick from the SD-1, I pretty much fly solo with the Marshall + the DHP. I'm planning on going rack one piece at a time, however, so I'm sure I'll wind up mating the DHP with various 1U goodies ...

Quote:
I've also heard great things about the "String Swell" patches. Are these like the ones found in the 2120?
Not being familiar with the 2120's "string swell," I can't give you a good comparison. I can tell you that the "string swell" is seriously trick, though. It really works best with non-distorted sounds -- it's basically a chord shift of one octave that swells in and really gives you some outrageous sonic stuff to work with. Very very fun! Now you can ditch your keyboardist too! Ha ha.

Quote:
Oh yeah, how's the arpeggiator?
There are actually two ways to pull off arpeggiation. The first, and most obvious, is the "four voice pitch shift with delay" algorithm, which runs stand-alone and is unintelligent (non-diatonic). That one works fine for special effects, and each regeneration of the delay is shifted as expected.

The second way to pull off arpeggiation is to run a diatonic/intelligent harmony, pan each of the outputs hard left or right, and pipe that into the stereo delay with separate L/R times for each channel. That gives you "one shot" diatonic arpeggiation at the expense of shifting the regenerations.

Quote:
Any other wacky effects?
The box is kinda loaded with goodies. As I mentioned, you've got ADR envelopes and 2 LFOs to play with per patch. Something fun is a little patch I created called "The Bends," which uses the ADR envelope to bend the harmony up a minor 3rd. Dig: When you play at a "normal" level, you get a straight two-part diatonic harmony. However, when you strike a string hard enough to kick off the ADR envelope, the harmony starts as expected, suddenly bends up a minor 3rd, holds for .5 seconds, and then slowly (over 2 seconds) returns to pitch, all the while the original note from the guitar is playing. Gives you that Metalica "Blackened" intro feel (I will likely be sued by the band for even construing the patch to begin with, as they hold copyright on the minor 3rd bend).

You can also assign volume to the ADR envelope to give volume swell/backwards guitar effects. LFOs can modulate harmony vibrato, volume, panning, etc. It's not as open-ended as it could be (you can't modulate delay time with the LFO/ADR, for example), and you'll notice it's an ADR envelope and not an ADSR envelope (no sustain level parameter) ... but still, for a $200 piece of gear you simply can't go wrong.

I'm starting to get into the "chord shift" algorithm, which is pretty much a polyphonic pitch shift. It's somewhat restrictive (only shifts +1 octave) and there's a noticable volume drop when it's in use, but it yields some very cool tones.

Two other things worth mentioning: First, don't get tricked into thinking that 1994 DSP technology = old and moldy. While it's true that DSP has come a long long long way in the last 10 years, remember that diatonic pitch shift really fell out of favour in the early '90s when everyone started scrambling to make germanium-transistor fuzz boxes and retro kitch gear. No one even though to use DSPs again until the late '90s, and it was pretty much limited to "modelling" old gear. Outside of Eventide and the "vocalist" market, diatonic/intelligent harmony is a lost art. Thus, what you get in the DHP is pretty much "state of the art" even for today.

There really is some impressive processing power in this puppy: In one patch, you can have a noise gate, compressor, 2-part diatonic harmony, chorus/flange/filter (one of the three), 6-tap 3 second delay AND a 2-channel 1.5 second stereo delay at the same time. Throw in the two LFOs and the ADR envelope and some realtime MIDI stuff and you've got an entire rack in 1U.

Second: May I just say that the input/output knobs on the front panel are super-cheesy? They're "set and forget," but still ... those things feel dangerous!!

I've obviously rambled a bit ... hope this information is helpful!

--jr
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-22-2003, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
 
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Once again, thanks Johnny for all the helpful info.
My Rocktron is a 24-bit processor & the pitch shift isn't all that great. From what I've seen on the net, the Digitech/IVL processors are 16-bit. Doesn't that equate to less processing power? Please explain.

Has anyone played with the DHP-33? How does it compare to the DHP-55?
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-25-2003, 10:39 AM
 
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Revsharp777:

I've also heard that the DHP is a 16-bit unit (albeit dual-processor). I owned the Rocktron Chameleon for about 5 years -- what a great preamp! I can assure you that the pitch-shifts in the DHP absolutely pants the Chameleon's ... remember that the Rocktron is "preamp first, effects afterwards." Most of the 24-bit DSP processing power went to making fabulous preamp sounds and meticulous EQ curves. Reverb and Delay got priority next, and Chorus/Flange/Pitch Shift/Tremolo/Phase/Wah kinda got added in last to add fun to the sounds.

Contrast that to the DHP, where pitch shift came first, followed by delay/reverb, and then chorus/flange, and, finally, distortion and a few other goodies (I actually like the chorus/flange in the Rocktron better than in the DHP ...). It's pretty much all about priority.

Quote:
Doesn't that equate to less processing power? Please explain.
The DHP has dual 10 MIPS DSPs for a theoretical total of 20 million instructions per second (compare that to a first-generation G4 with 1 billion floating point ops/second!). While this is certainly not enough to run Quake, it's really plenty to do intelligent pitch shifting, even with some sloppy code. IVL reportedly used assembly language (machine language) to write the O/S and algorithms inside the DHP, which is about as tight as it gets, so they were able to squeeze some good delays and reverbs in there, too.

Silly analogy alert: Just as it's possible to run WordPerfect 5.1/DOS (a great word processor!!) on a 16 MHz 286, it's possible to run the latest version of Word XP on a 3 GHz Pentium IV -- and they'll run equally fast. Difference is that Word has a pretty interface, Clippy the dancing paperclip, and a built-in flight simulator. WordPerfect is just a darn good word processor.

The rule of thumb: More processing horsepower does not necessarily equate to better product. It really comes down to what you do with it.

That being said, in the audio world, 16 bit is "CD-quality" for straight sampling and delay and such ... when you start shifting delays and doing funky stuff, 16-bit sampling can sometimes lead to "artifacts" and other sonic annoyances that make your tone suffer. When shifting upper-register notes, the DHP does, in fact, get a little quirky (no more or less quirky than Vai's tone on Ballerina 12/24 , but still). Many people (myself included) shrug at this, saying, "Yeah, well, it's still a pitch-shifter! Whaddaya expect?" For others, this is unacceptable. Some people are capable of hearing the difference between 16- and 24-bit sampling even with a non-shifted signal ... sorry to say I'm not one of them, but I respect their opinion nonetheless.

So, while the DHP certainly has the ponies to do great shifts, it's kinda up to you to determine whether or not you can live with sampling limitations. Personally, I think the unit sounds amazing.

If you don't mind waiting a few days (I'm getting a new mic and mic preamp in on Tuesday), I can post a few samples of the DHP ...

--jr
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-25-2003, 02:45 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyRasgueado
Revsharp777:

If you don't mind waiting a few days (I'm getting a new mic and mic preamp in on Tuesday), I can post a few samples of the DHP ...

--jr
Hell yeah, I'd love to hear the pitch shifting capabilities! Thanks!
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-25-2003, 03:08 PM
 
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OK. I'll post 'em up by the end of the week.

--jr
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-07-2003, 09:05 PM
 
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Terribly sorry for taking so long in getting the audio files of the DHP55/Studio 5000 posted, but here they are.

Quickie on the recordings: '88 JEM 777DSY into a late '90s BOSS SD1 Super Overdrive (made in Taiwan) set to 2:00, noon, 11:00. '98 Marshall DSL100, Ultra/Lead1 channel (except the string swell patches, which were performed in the Classic/Clean channel), tone: 4, 4, 10, 5; gain dimed. Marshall 1960AV Vintage 30 equipped cab. Captured with a R0DE NT1 into a PreSonus BlueTube feeding a Korg D16.

Now on to the clips:

A minor run, raw
A minor run, harmonized

A slow run that shows off the DHP's standard harmonization capabilities.

The Bends, raw
The Bends, harmonized

Another A minor run, this time showing the DHP's ADR envelope capabilities. When the input signal reaches a certain level, the harmonization is bent up a minor 3rd while the original signal passes through. The bends in this run were produced by the DHP, not by the player.

Fast run, raw
Fast run, harmonized

Attempt to show speed of the DHP's tracking. According to the metronome, the recording is 140bpm. Sounds slower to me ...

Fade In

Another ADR demonstration -- this time the envelope affects volume to produce a cool "fading in" sound. Also can sound like a "backwards" guitar.

String Swell, neck position
String Swell, bridge position
String Swell, position "4"

The infamous "String Swell" effect. I ran out of headroom on my Mac in the neck position recording ... so if you hear some fuzz or noise, it's coming from my computer's audio-in, and not from the DHP/amp.

Hope these files help you hear what the DHP is all about. Let me know if you have more questions!

--jr
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-07-2003, 10:00 PM
 
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Thanks for taking the time to post...sounds great!
Greg
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-07-2003, 01:45 AM Thread Starter
 
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Well crap, I just noticed you posted the sound samples, Johnny. Too bad I didn't get to hear them. I tried to download them, but you must have taken them down by now.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-20-2006, 07:13 PM
 
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Re: Thoughts on Digitech DHP-33 & DHP-55?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyRasgueado
Terribly sorry for taking so long in getting the audio files of the DHP55/Studio 5000 posted, but here they are.

Quickie on the recordings: '88 JEM 777DSY into a late '90s BOSS SD1 Super Overdrive (made in Taiwan) set to 2:00, noon, 11:00. '98 Marshall DSL100, Ultra/Lead1 channel (except the string swell patches, which were performed in the Classic/Clean channel), tone: 4, 4, 10, 5; gain dimed. Marshall 1960AV Vintage 30 equipped cab. Captured with a R0DE NT1 into a PreSonus BlueTube feeding a Korg D16.

Now on to the clips:

A minor run, raw
A minor run, harmonized

A slow run that shows off the DHP's standard harmonization capabilities.

The Bends, raw
The Bends, harmonized

Another A minor run, this time showing the DHP's ADR envelope capabilities. When the input signal reaches a certain level, the harmonization is bent up a minor 3rd while the original signal passes through. The bends in this run were produced by the DHP, not by the player.

Fast run, raw
Fast run, harmonized

Attempt to show speed of the DHP's tracking. According to the metronome, the recording is 140bpm. Sounds slower to me ...

Fade In

Another ADR demonstration -- this time the envelope affects volume to produce a cool "fading in" sound. Also can sound like a "backwards" guitar.

String Swell, neck position
String Swell, bridge position
String Swell, position "4"

The infamous "String Swell" effect. I ran out of headroom on my Mac in the neck position recording ... so if you hear some fuzz or noise, it's coming from my computer's audio-in, and not from the DHP/amp.

Hope these files help you hear what the DHP is all about. Let me know if you have more questions!

--jr
I know this is extremely old, but do you still have those files?
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-20-2006, 07:28 PM
 
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Re: Thoughts on Digitech DHP-33 & DHP-55?

yeah I wouldnt mind hearing them myself
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