BOSS pt2: Yet MORE weird designs!

US Miles from boutique; still wild & wonderful      21/03/24

BOSS pt2: Yet MORE weird designs!


I'm sure that most guitarists, plus more than a few synth players, have a Boss pedal or two in their collection. The industry giants have long felt like a "bread and butter" brand for certain sounds; distortions (whether for guitars or 303s!), delays and of course, lush chorus.

Picking up from where we left off, we have another interesting Micro Rack instrument - let's go!

BOSS RSD-10 Sampling Delay

To recap, the mid 80's were a time where BOSS launched a whole range of half-rack effects. Known as the Micro Rack Series, they were a mostly monophonic affair (the RRV-10 reverb is stereo) that covered all the standards - chorus, delay, overdrive, phaser, etc. Novel features included power daisy-chaining (so you could run a whole rack of them off one or two beefy supplies) and a kind of "CV control" on some of the models.

One such model is the RSD-10. Built around a delay circuit with a mid-fidelity 7Khz frequency response, the delay time could be anything up to 2 seconds - so far, so vanilla. The obligatory 80's "sampling" mode allowed you to record a sample into this 2 second buffer and then play it back, magic. Additionally, a "trim" knob allowed you to shorten the sample's length too.

But how do you play it back, perhaps a simple push button? Ahahahaha, no.

On the reverse of the device is a trigger input, great, but also a "keyboard" jack...hmmm!

A simple tone, (ie a square wave) once fed into this input, will control the pitch of the sample. There's a range of 2-4 octaves where the RSD lives happily, responding somewhat predictably to your playing; but step outside of this range and get ready for some lofi carnage!

Check out this video by Kablehead:

Sadly, by now, both the RPS and RSD units are highly sought after by weirdos like me, so units are pricey. Perhaps it's time for a reissue?

BOSS DR-5

BOSS DR5

Some people try so desperately hard to be "normal" that they come off rigid and weirder than the rest of us. 1994's Boss DR-5 is like this. Clearly designed as a kind of accessible drum machine for guitarists (the buttons laid out like guitar tablature), this kitchen sink of everything a bored 90's Dad might need can nevertheless make pretty weird music in the right hands.

Features range from the banal; Tuner, Drum Patterns, Preset instruments (Soundcanvas-like fodder) to the mildly interesting; User kits, Guitar Amp Simulation, etc. But it's one hidden feature that makes this unit weird: monophonic pitch tracking. The unit will (quite reliably) let you record single guitar notes, to be played back via the internal sounds. Feed it chords, drums or other sounds though? Chaos!

BOSS DF2

Finally, my favourite BOSS compact pedal! The DF2 is essentially similar in scope to BOSS's other distortions, yet there's one very kooky feature - hold the pedal down and you will hear simulated feedback. Rather than a gnarly guitar-hero squeal, the DF2's feedback is rather unconvincing. Here's what happens - when you depress the pedal, the DF2 attempts to track what note you are currently playing. It will then fade in a warbly triangle wave of the same pitch, and mix that into the distortion.

It works quite well, and I do use it on guitar - but on drum machines, my goodness! It will, if set just right, oscillate around your kick drum's pitch as a wildly dark drone. Check out this example via 3rdStoreyChemist:

It's also great on monosynths, where it will sometimes latch onto (and boost) interesting harmonics present in your signal:

So there we go, I hope you've enjoyed this unusual glimpse into the BOSS back catalogue.

Posted by MagicalSynthAdventure an expert in synthesis technology from last Century and Amiga enthusiast.



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