One of the most exciting new boxes at the fall 2003 AES show was the Yamaha SPX2000 ($1,249) professional multieffects processor. The fantastic sounding 96 kHz box features the new “REV-X” reverb algorithm as well as the classic bank which features all of the tried and true classic SPX presets that every engineer born before 1980 knows oh so well.
Product PointsApplications: Studio, project studio, broadcast, post production, sound reinforcement
Key Features: Two-channel; 96 kHz-capable; new REV-X algorithms, old favorite SPX presets, tap button
Contact: Yamaha at 714-522-9011, Web Site
The heart of the SPX2000 is the 96 kHz audio DSP chip, with 32-bit internal processing (58-bit accumulator) which offers an abundance of processing power for the box’s advanced effect algorithms. The 24-bit 128-times oversampling A/D-D/A converters provide a dynamic range of 106 dB and a flat frequency response from 20 Hz – 20 kHz (0dB + 1.0, -3.0) @ 48kHz and 20 Hz – 40 kHz (0dB + 1.0, -3.0) @96kHz. The box’s internal clock configures to 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz or 96 kHz. If clocking from an external source, the box supports a nominal rate of 39.69 kHz – 50.88 kHz and a double rate of 79.38 kHz – 101.76 kHz.
The rear panel of the 1RU, 14.67-inch deep SPX2000 provides all of the box’s interface options. A pair of female XLR connectors and a pair of 1/4-inch TRS jacks provide analog input and a pair of male XLR connectors and a second pair of 1/4-inch TRS jacks provide analog output. The input and output level switches select either +4 dB or -10 dB operation. Two XLR connectors (one male and one female) provide AES/EBU digital I/O. A BNC connector accepts word clock input allowing the box to be clocked from an external source. Also, MIDI In, MIDI Out/Through and USB To Host connectors are provided for remote control and data management (via digital consoles, computers or any MIDI device).
While making use of the standard interface and common programs of its predecessors, the SPX2000 introduces a new dimension of sound quality with the new REV-X reverb algorithm and the 96 kHz audio DSP. The SPX2000 features three memory banks: Preset, Classic and User. The Preset bank contains 97 programs (17 are based on the new REV-X reverb algorithms). The REV-X is a whole new generation of Yamaha reverb programs that feature a rich reverberation tone and smooth decay. These algorithms include the REV-X Hall, REV-X Room and REV-X Plate algorithms and feature higher definition parameters such as ROOM Size and Decay.
The other 80 presets include the popular trademark SPX programs such as gated reverbs, pitch effects, delays, modulation and other special effects. All of the programs went through a refined editing process by top engineers. The CLASSIC bank consists of 25 classic SPX programs identical to several of the original SPX90 presets. The USER bank provides storage for 99 user programs.
The SPX2000 is extremely easy to navigate. The box’s parameters are sorted in three groups: Parameter, Fine Param and Utility. The box also includes other dedicated buttons like Undo, Compare, Bank, Mode, Meter, Tap and Bypass to ensure quick and efficient operation. The box’s familiar display offers two lines of 16 characters but new to the SPX2000 are five assignable LCD back colors. The user programs can have any of the five colors assigned to them. The preset programs are colored by effect groups giving you an instant recognition of the effect type (cyan: reverbs, white: delays, magenta: pitch and modulations, yellow: others, green: Classic Bank). Red is reserved for warning messages. The SPX2000 Operation Lock function provides three security levels, from preventing accidental changing of Utility settings, or protecting stored memories to prohibiting almost all operations. Also on the front panel is a foot switch connector which allows effect tempo adjustment to be entered via a foot switch.
The SPX2000 Editor (slated to release by the time you are reading this) provides computer controlled editing, data management, and remote control capability using the same environment and common interface as the Studio Manager for Yamaha Digital Consoles. This free download is available from www.yamahaproaudio.com and supports both Mac OS X and Windows systems.
I have used the SPX-2000 nonstop since it arrived at my studio a few months ago and I must say, I’m impressed. A few years back I vowed to never purchase another standalone reverb unless it was a real plate and now I’m eating my words (yep, I’m going to be buying this one). I found the SPX 2000’s operation to be very user-friendly. Anyone who has spent any time with any of the SPX boxes will immediately feel right at home with the SPX2000.
I compared the SPX2000 to the reverb presets in several of the plug-ins in my ProTools rig and was impressed at how much better the SPX2000 sounded in almost every instance. By using the digital I/O the SPX2000 interfaces flawlessly with my ProTools system adding a whole new dimension of effect options without using any of my system’s DSP. Many of the DAWs that I work on have limited DSP so a box like the SPX2000 can vastly improve the sound potential of a system without gobbling up valuable computer processing cycles.
I found the new REV-X reverb algorithms to sound stunning. I experimented with all of the presets on vocals, guitars, percussion, drums and keyboards and was amazed. Unlike so many boxes that only offer one usable preset for every 20 filler patches, the bulk of the SPX2000 programs are very usable. I found the REV-X Wood Room preset to be my favorite drum preset. It does a fantastic job of creating a natural space that sits extremely well in a mix. On vocals, I had wonderful results with the Vocal Chamber and the REV-X Vocal Plate programs. Besides being very natural sounding, I found that both presets have an amazing depth that adds a new dimension to the vocal performance. I also found that the delays worked very well with vocals and electric guitars. It is always refreshing to see an effects box with a couple of mono delay programs. I get so tired of the boxes that require you to duplicate all of the parameters of both the left and right channels to create a mono delay. I also found that several of the pitch-oriented presets worked very well on backing vocals (e.g. Stereo Pitch, Symphonic, Classy Glassy). The tap button is a handy feature when setting up parameters on delay and echo programs.
I always loved the presets in the Yamaha SPX boxes and although they tended to be noisy (especially the 90 and 90II), every studio had several so I was always putting them to use. The SPX 2000 includes all of the classic SPX presets in addition to a host of all new fantastic sounding effects based around the REV-X algorithms. The box is extremely quiet, easy to use and even though it’s a bit pricey, I consider it well worth the price.