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blackle 03/21/2011

Yamaha SPX90 : blackle's user review

« Always indispensable! »
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One input jack, two output jacks, you choose the operating level (+4 or -20 dB), 16-bit linear conversion, 31.25 kHz sampling frequency, which results in a frequency range of 20 to 12 kHz, maximum. The effects can't be edited via PC, but those interested should know that besides being MIDI controllable, the SPX 90 also works with the lovely remote controls of the REV 7 and REV 5. You wouldn't believe how practical that can be when you don't have the SPX 90 in sight. On the other hand, these remotes don't have an editing screen, they only allow you to control some very simple parameters that don't need too "complicated" settings. But it's still not bad!

UTILIZATION

Given its simplicity, it's useless to describe the programming procedure, despite the limited number of buttons on the front panel and the number of parameters. To be true, the manual is superfluous.

SOUND QUALITY

When it came out (1986), the Yamaha SPX 90 wasn't the first digital multi-effects, far from that, actually. Ever since sound can be manipulated on the time axis you have effects with names such as chorus, flanging, slap back, pitch shifting, or simply echo. But it was more complicated to get a stable pitch transposition or a quality reverb, and that's where the SPX 90 really made a difference compared to other gear of the day.
Set against other contemporary products, the reverbs of the SPX 90 are pretty convincing in most situations, less dense and complicated than those of the REV 7 or the Roland SRV 2000, obviously (since it doesn't have early reflections). Even if there are many plug-ins that are better nowadays, the SPX 90 has something particular: Its character which suits perfectly different uses. Try the reverse-gate to convince yourself.
The chorus, flange and phasing effects are perfectly usable and appreciated, even if they are clearly outdated, they provide an undeniable "vintage tone."
The Early Ref.1 and 2 modes, which help you determine the size of a simulated room are still truly excellent.

OVERALL OPINION

Bought in 1988, this formidable little machine has never left me "stranded." Even if it's fully outdated today in terms of technology, it still serves me well thanks to that "different" touch its effects have, which only it can reproduce. In short, I'll keep it still several decades and by no means out of nostalgia. What's more, it's Indestructible. It's far from the "disposable" character of some modern gear.
Try it and you'll want it.