German classic from the late 80’s (manufactured in 1989). For those on the other side of the great lake where this company is not so much known, we should mention that Dynacord has been a long time manufacturer for pro audio equipment. Old analogue classics like TAM-21 (flanger/chorus) and VRS-23 Vertical Reverberation System come first in mind (both from the late 70’s – still can be found relatively cheap).
Visually, what makes DRP-20 stand out in every rack is obviously its white face plate, which really looks cool. However, there is also the black face plate version around which has balanced jacks and is less noisy at the output stage (noiseless to be exact). Speaking about ease of use, i gave 5/10 because, it’s one of those devices, where you browse through the menu and tweak with the big knob. Can be time consuming and is not as “hands on” as some other devices, i.e. VRS-23 with one knob per function. Assigning patch names can be real pain in the a**, hence low mark on ease of use. I must admit everything is logically laid out in the unit, and once you get used to it, it’s point and shoot.
DRP-20 is a classic reverb processor made with a true stereo engine, which, on some algorithms can be split to “dual” mode where each line features its own “processor”. The unit features dedicated input and output level knobs with a HI/LO gain button for easy switching from a line level for synths to high gain setting for something like a guitar connected directly into the unit. On top of that, there’s a dedicated “mono input” and “mono output” jack on the front panel which guitarists might appreciate. For the classic studio setup, there are 2 inputs and 2 outputs on the back of the unit.
It is very hard to describe the sound of DRP-20 unless you actually try the unit, in your own setup, with your own gear, etc. I won’t bother describing the “sound” of reverb but rather focus on discussing the unit’s weaker and stronger points. First thing i should point out is that the short room reverb algorithms are definitely not this unit’s specialty. Much cheaper reverbs like Midiverb I and II are far better for the small rooms (ie. drums / percussion work). Luckily there are some really nice multi-taps for small room simulations to compensate for this somehow (intentional or not), but more on that later. Where DRP-20 really shines are the vast spatial reverbs. They sound so lush. And the tails on those are just magnificent! In fact i remember reading many years ago comments from ppl mistaking DRP-20 for Lexicon 480 and Quantec QRS (though this is all highly subjective, still somehow funny anecdote). One thing i know 100% sure, huge reverbs on this unit sound really really good! For some reason there are no much of them in the presets area, so you’ll have to make your own, using the buttons and the dial. Luckily there are more than enough parameters for the reverb, and every major aspect can be precisely set.
Speaking of other good stuff inside, the unit has some nice delay algorithms. One of my favorite is a VCO Delay, where LFO can be used to modulate the time. Since each line can be set independently in time and modulation amount, you can produce everything from wide choruses and flangers to old school delays with modulation (for some 60’s style Sci-Fi movie soundtrack). One very useful feature in the unit is the IN LOOP enable / disable function. Basically, when engaged, all the patches in the unit will have their “original signal amount” set to 0. In other words, all effects will be set to fully wet. This saves a lot of work to someone who’s moving from serial to loop connection or vice-versa, otherwise all the patches would manually have to be reprogrammed.
The unit features 32 bit signal processing based around the NEC’s DSP chip. Converters are 16 bit, both the A/D and D/A section. The unit features MIDI for external control of all parameters in real time. Parameters in the unit can be set to either “value” of 0-100% or in classic dB scale which is very useful for both the beginners and the professionals – kudos to Dynacord for that. There are 128 preset locations and another 128 user locations for program storage.
DRP-20 has a total of 26 algorithms or effect structures as they call it. Each structure has its own range of parameters. Structures range from Echos, Reverbs, Plates, Rooms, Echos+Reverbs, Multitaps, Gated Reverbs to the Flanger and Chorus effect. There are also five dual channel algorithms which basically feature echo line on one channel and room or plate on the other channel.
Speaking of Multitaps, last algorithm features 2×11 taps which can produce some really nice room simulations! Those 11 delays per channel are grouped with another channel to form a stereo cluster which can be drawn using cluster time function. It is possible to select one from 9 different clusters for each channel, for some really exotic stereo room effects. Further more, cluster time can be independently set for each channel (L & R) along with the independent feedback amount for each. With some careful programming, a collection of really cool room reverbs can easily be built.
Full list of algorithms:
Two Channel Echo
Echo + Plate
Echo + Room
VCO-Echo + Plate
VCO-Echo + Room
Echo + Live Reverb
L = Echo / R = Plate
L = Echo / R = Room
L = VCO / R = Plate
L = VCO / R = Room
L = Echo / R = Live
Plate Reverb & Gate
Room Reverb & Gate
Echo + Gated Reverb
Multitap 2×6 Syn