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The Roland SDE-1000 was one of the Japanese company’s first effects unit – a digital delay line. Roland DDLs became fairly common in London studios in the 1980s and were some of the first Japanese-made effects to be found in studios
The SDE delays were quick & simple to use with a very straightforward front panel & interface. If you look at contemporary products from the likes of Korg and Yamaha you’ll see clear influences of the SDE-1000 and SDE-2000
Despite being early, cutting-edge devices, these Roland delay lines were great units and proved to be extremely reliable. Sound quality was excellent with a smooth, very analogue sound. Maximum delay time is 374 mS in standard mode (747 mS in x2 mode) and 605 / 1210 mS using the x1.5 rear panel control. The sound of the SDE in X2 mode is quite reminiscent of a slow tape delay, and increasing feedback results in a gradually decaying, dulling repeat – again, like tape. It sounds great
A common feature of early digital delays was the ability to double the delay time (and halve the bandwidth) by changing the clocking. The SDE-1000 goes one better with a hidden rear-panel delay time control which is variable from x1 to x1.5.
Delay time is displayed on a 4-digit blue fluorescent display with an Up – Down rocker switch to alter delay settings. The VCO has speed & depth controls. This can give deep chorusing effects or a gently shifting delay with phasing. Unlike the SDE-2000, the 1000 has memories to store user presets
The SDE-1000 looks more generically Roland than the SDE-2000. Partly this is due to the adoption of the usual Roland control knobs – also found on late SDE-2000s – and partly due to the large number of 1U devices coming to market. It’s hard to make 1U devices distinctive, but Roland achieved it with the SDE range. The front panel is a masterpiece of industrial design, laid out with Germanic simplicity, with clear labelling in white on a black front panel