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Blueshift Boss DC-2 chorus ensemble DIY clone
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY  
Author Blueshift Boss DC-2 chorus ensemble DIY clone
LED
I've been on the lookout for something DIY-able regarding a similar chorus "ensemble" effect I used to have in a Roland VP-330 vocoder but it's either "DIY from scratch" (I'm not an electronics engineer), "etch your own PCB" (I don't have the equipment for that), buy an overpriced vintage original unit or an inferior replicate (Behringer CC-300).
Then I came across this DIY clone of a Boss DC-2 "Dimension C" where you can buy ready made PCBs for it! Check out these links:

Blueshift DC-2 Dimension C clone
Blueshift DC-2 blog info page for the above




Has anyone ordered from them and/or built this clone?
Does it work with line-level signals (or can be modified to do so), or only guitars?
I intend to use it with a DIY rack vocoder I'm working on.
Isaiah
I’m currently building one.
PCBs are partially populated with components I had in stock but I need to order more.
I’ll report back once finished but I suspect that will be in January.
Synthbuilder
LED wrote:
I've been on the lookout for something DIY-able regarding a similar chorus "ensemble" effect I used to have in a Roland VP-330...


The ensemble unit in the VP-330 is way more complex than the one in the DC-2. The DC-2 is 'just' two BBD delays modulated by one LFO with the left channel modulated in anti-phase from the one on the right. It's a nice effect but it doesn't really give you the lush ensemble sound. It's more of a thickener really - like the one on the JP-4.

You could, however, look at a project I've done. The Oakley SRE-330. It is a very big project though. PCBs only at the moment although I'm looking at getting a pre-drilled and labelled case at some point.

http://www.oakleysound.com/sre330.htm



Tony
the bad producer
The SRE-330 sounds mega-lush Tony, really would like to build one of these at some point!

Also, the little BOSS project looks fun in itself - would like to hear your feedback Isaiah, when it's done.
basicbasic
Don't forget the Multi-Dimension module by Feedback which can do Dim-C-ish stuff as well as get into flanger territory too, as well as having a bunch of CV options
ym2612
Just how inferior is the Behringer clone? I've seen other reports about it that were pretty favorable. Or is this just their reputation speaking?

Coincidentally, I was looking at this clone yesterday, but hadn't seen this thread yet. I'd like to build one, but the parts list is long and pricey, and I'd have to put together a drill layout to order an enclosure from Mammoth.
basicbasic
I have the Behri and love it. I did the mods detailed here ( https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1754199 ) but TBH it sounded great before hand with proper gain staging.

I'm vaguely interested in building the Blueshift but it won't give me anything the Behri doesn't and I just built the Feedback Mult-Dimension so i'm probably not going to bother.

The Oakley Ensemble does look pretty amazing tho.
LED
Good to see so many options. Some I hadn't heard of before.

The conclusion it seems is that for recreating the ensemble effect from my (long since sold) Roland VP-330 in my new (ETI 14-channel rack DIY vocoder) I either have to go with one of the expensive, complex, and large solutions presented here, or end up with something completely different and not nearly as "fat" or "lush" as that type of chorus ensemble effect. Have I understood it right?

So I believe my choices are either to go for one of the VP-330 like solutions (Oakley SRE-330, Oakley SE-330, Feedback Multi dimension or maybe the Jürgen Haible triple chorus Solina emulator or Elkorus. I read somewhere that the Roland SDX-330 Dimensional expander also replicates this kind of effect very well) or.... cheaper, smaller projects (in every sense of the word) that would be more suited to fit inside my vocoder, but with what I understand would be a poorer substitute, such as the Boss DC-2 "Dimension P" (or one of its clones).

I've never come across any decent online demo of the DC-2 with a vocoder or a similar string sound as the VP-330 (demos are mostly with guitars), so it's hard to compare, but I've been looking into it as a solution based on all the positive comments I've read in various forums. The big question of course is if it'll "fatten up" the vocoder sound enough, in the same way as the VP-300 or if it'll just be a disappointment (in which case I might just as well leave out any chorus effect circuitry and instead rely on external processing).

Interesting reading about the Behringer CC-300 modifications. But with prices soaring quite high as mentioned above it might be just a good option to go with the Blueshift DC-2 clone PCBs. Can it/is it necessary to modify in the same way, or does it handle line-level signals without any such problems as the Behringer?
I believe I also read about a modification/adjustment somewhere (I forgot where) which would make the chorus effect much more dramatic (closer to that of the VP-330?) -does anyone know anything about it? Or perhaps it was with one of the other chorus pedals... Would any old chorus pedal work just as well for my task? One thing that's stuck to my mind since parting with the VP-330 is that without the built-in ensemble effect I was left with a very thin and non-eventful vocoder sound and with it on it just blew me away! Then again I didn't have any effects-processor at the time (reverb, delay etc.), so for all I know it might make a huge difference just using a "regular" effects processor with it....
diablojoy
ordered one as I was looking for a pedal like this thanks for the original post thumbs up
but it's also got me thinking now
I have a tube of mn3007's kicking around
and some ne570 might see what I can come up with that's a bit different chorus wise
Synthbuilder
LED wrote:
So I believe my choices are either to go for one of the VP-330 like solutions (Oakley SRE-330, Oakley SE-330, Feedback Multi dimension or maybe the Jürgen Haible triple chorus Solina emulator or Elkorus...


The Oakley SE330 is no more. That one has been replaced by the SRE330. Jurgen's Triple Chorus is an excellent unit but probably not what you're looking for. It does the classic Solina/Logan style ensemble which is probably too animated compared to the gentler and lush VP-330.

The Elkorus does have a dual mode which can be made to sound a bit like the Dimensions (no stereo widening though) and other two channel ensembles like on the Elka string machines. It'll not do the VP-330 though. It's also terribly hard to find and the first ones may have build quality issues.

To get the VP330 ensemble you will need a device that has four BBD channels and four LFOs. None of the Dimension clones will get you that. They do however give you a great sound and I think they would work well with a vocoder. A standard single channel chorus, like a CE-2, etc, can work great too.

There is another option too. The Roland RS-09, either version, have a similar ensemble unit to the VP-330 and they have an external input to process audio through the ensemble.

I've not tried the SDX-330 but, from the specs, it does look like it does the VP-330 ensemble.

Tony
LED
Thanks for clearing up a few things, Tony.
I remembered incorrectly, thinking the SE-330 also had a "human voice" (as in the Roland VP-330) but I confused it with the photo I had seen of your SE-330 ensemble and "Human voice module" in the same 19" rack enclosure. Now I see that the human voice module is no longer available either, but concerning the SE-330 I take it the new SRE-330 is just an improved version of it?

I think in my case I should just go for a small chorus/ensemble solution such as the Boss DC-2 Dimension C (or a clone) for the vocoder and then decide if I should build an SRE-330 or something similar in addition to that, to be used with all my gear as a dedicated effects processor, not just for the vocoder.

You mentioned the RS-09 ensemble. I've studied its service manual but to me (an electronics enthusiast, not engineer) it appears equally complex to extract the ensemble circuitry from the rest of the synth as the VP-330, but perhaps you meant to suggest buying an RS-09 and using its ensemble input for my vocoder? A quick eBay search reveals that they too go for a fair bit of money, so in that case it'll probably be a better solution to build your SRE-330. A 19" rack is also preferrable to save space.
If however you have ideas on how to extract the ensemble section from the rest of the RS-09 I'm interested.

Just how would a vocoder sound with a "regular" chorus of some kind compared to that of the VP-330 ensemble, and how about the DC-2 (or a clone) -would that be a step closer to the VP-330 ensemble, or would a regular chorus with its more adjustment possibilities be a better candidate?
Synthbuilder
LED wrote:
Now I see that the human voice module is no longer available either, but concerning the SE-330 I take it the new SRE-330 is just an improved version of it?

The original Oakley HVM didn't sell in enough numbers to do another run so I have shelved it for now. I have done a version for the 5U modular format though.

http://www.oakleysound.com/5uhvm.htm

The SRE330 is a major revision of the SE330. It adds stereo input, better metering, solina/logan ensemble mode, different noise reduction circuitry and is now in a full width rack.

Quote:
I think in my case I should just go for a small chorus/ensemble solution such as the Boss DC-2 Dimension C (or a clone) for the vocoder and then decide if I should build an SRE-330 or something similar in addition to that, to be used with all my gear as a dedicated effects processor, not just for the vocoder.

An excellent idea. Vocoders work well with even a little chorus. The DC-2 is fairly subtle though - if you're building one it might be worth adding a depth and speed knob to the LFO circuit rather than the more limited four buttons of the DC-2.

Quote:
... perhaps you meant to suggest buying an RS-09 and using its ensemble input for my vocoder?


Yes, that was my thought and also being able to use the RS-09's auxiliary output as the carrier for the vocoder. But you're right they have increased in value it seems. I probably should have waited instead of selling mine for forty quid. d'oh!


Quote:
Just how would a vocoder sound with a "regular" chorus of some kind compared to that of the VP-330 ensemble, and how about the DC-2 (or a clone) -would that be a step closer to the VP-330 ensemble, or would a regular chorus with its more adjustment possibilities be a better candidate?


A DC-2 will never sound like the VP-330 chorus. They will, however, sound very good and thicken the sound in a useful way. That said it's nice to be able to turn the chorus off and just have the raw vocoder output. I have a Roland VP-7 digital vocoder and it adds a chorus effect that is on all the time - bloody nuisance.

I should add that the SRE330, as well as a VP330 mode and a Solina mode, does have mode that replicates the chorus section of the DC-2 but with fully variable speed and depth.

Tony
LED
Isaiah wrote:
I’m currently building one.
PCBs are partially populated with components I had in stock but I need to order more.
I’ll report back once finished but I suspect that will be in January.


How's it coming along?
Have you tried it out yet (with a synth or vocoder)?
LED
Synthbuilder wrote:
LED wrote:
Now I see that the human voice module is no longer available either, but concerning the SE-330 I take it the new SRE-330 is just an improved version of it?

The original Oakley HVM didn't sell in enough numbers to do another run so I have shelved it for now. I have done a version for the 5U modular format though.

http://www.oakleysound.com/5uhvm.htm


Cool! Moving the pots/sockets to a 19" enclosure panel should be no problem.
As I understand it, this is basically a special type of filter, and in order to get an authentic VP-330 human voice sound you need to feed a specific synth oscillator sound into it. Did you ever consider including oscillator circuitry in it so that it would be a completely self-contained unit for that authentic sound, or would this raise the cost prohibitively?

Quote:

Quote:
I think in my case I should just go for a small chorus/ensemble solution such as the Boss DC-2 Dimension C (or a clone) for the vocoder and then decide if I should build an SRE-330 or something similar in addition to that, to be used with all my gear as a dedicated effects processor, not just for the vocoder.

An excellent idea. Vocoders work well with even a little chorus. The DC-2 is fairly subtle though - if you're building one it might be worth adding a depth and speed knob to the LFO circuit rather than the more limited four buttons of the DC-2.


I have only been able to find a fairly low resolution schematic for the DC-2, but would the speed and depth adjustments be where the setting switches are attached to?
See attached schematic. Those would be R38 (22K) and R36 (330K).
Another thing that concerns me is the input section as it's (as far as I know) a pedal only made for a low-level guitar input. There was no mention of a line-level input on the Blueshift DC-2 clone page so I suppose it has to be modified somehow. Does anyone reading know how to do this?


Quote:

A DC-2 will never sound like the VP-330 chorus. They will, however, sound very good and thicken the sound in a useful way. That said it's nice to be able to turn the chorus off and just have the raw vocoder output. I have a Roland VP-7 digital vocoder and it adds a chorus effect that is on all the time - bloody nuisance.

I should add that the SRE330, as well as a VP330 mode and a Solina mode, does have mode that replicates the chorus section of the DC-2 but with fully variable speed and depth.

Tony


Yes, I definitely want to have a choice of using the vocoder with or without the built-in chorus.
Good to hear what the Oakley SRE-330 is capable of. Again, I think putting one of those inside the vocoder would be a waste (unless I add a external input jacks to it, so that external synths etc. could use the vocoder's effect for other things than the vocoder and in the process save a rack space cool
Synthbuilder
LED wrote:
As I understand it, this is basically a special type of filter, and in order to get an authentic VP-330 human voice sound you need to feed a specific synth oscillator sound into it.

A sawtooth works very well. Monophonic or poly.

Quote:
Did you ever consider including oscillator circuitry in it so that it would be a completely self-contained unit for that authentic sound, or would this raise the cost prohibitively?

Yes. I was going to do a full string and ensemble machine with the best bits of all my favourite stringers as well as a few improvements. The HVM and SE330 were born out of that dream. However, Behringer are cloning the VP330 and there is no way I could ever compete with that on price, so the chances of an Oakley string machine are slim.

Quote:
I have only been able to find a fairly low resolution schematic for the DC-2, but would the speed and depth adjustments be where the setting switches are attached to?

Yes. Although Roland have chosen some nice values already and you can push more than one button down to get some interesting variations. But replacing the switches with pots would certainly give you more to play around with.

Tony
LED
I should have asked this obvious question ages ago, but what's the major difference between the Roland VP-330 ensemble circuitry and the Oakley SRE-330 (or SE-330) units?

It's been a while since I studied the VP-330 schematics, but if I recall correctly it didn't appear to be such a large and elaborate section of the vocoder. Have the Oakley units added a lot of additional functionality and thereby making the PCBs bigger and more complex?
Or is the VP-330 ensemble actually a large and complex piece of the vocoder in itself?

(with limited engineering/design skills I've never quite been able to separate the ensemble circuitry from the rest of the vocoder).
LED
Oops...
Ignore!

(I tried to edit my posting but quoted it here instead).
Synthbuilder
LED wrote:
Have the Oakley units added a lot of additional functionality and thereby making the PCBs bigger and more complex?


The original ensemble circuitry on the VP-330 is pretty substantial but the Oakley SE330 added a lot of extra control over many of parameters like modulation depth and rate, wet/dry mix as well as balanced input and output circuitry.

The SRE330 goes even further providing the 'solina' 3-phase ensemble mode (not trivial when done in analogue), better metering and an extended noise reduction system.

Neither of the Oakley ensemble units are clones though. They are based on the topology of the VP330/RS09/RS505 ensemble and extend from there. A direct clone of the Roland ensemble would have been simpler but I wanted to go further.

Tony
LED
I just realized the Boss DC-2 has been reissued as the DC-2w with some additional features!

The Boss product page says it's audio circuitry is "all analog" -can someone confirm if this is correct, or are they only referring to the input/output stages and the rest is digital modelling or something?
"If it's too good to be true it usually is", but there are of course exceptions wink
Synthbuilder
LED wrote:
The Boss product page says it's audio circuitry is "all analog" -can someone confirm if this is correct, or are they only referring to the input/output stages and the rest is digital modelling or something?

The signal path is all analogue complete with Coolaudio BBDs and drivers, V3207 and V3102. The low frequency modulation oscillators and control is all done with an ARM microcontroller.

Tony
quarterturn
I took a whack at rolling my own digital version of the 3-phase 0.6 Hz + 6.0 Hz chorus ensemble effect. Didn't work out well. 44100 samples per second sounds like a lot, but not when you are dealing with very short delays. It doesn't give you much granularity to shift around samples unless you oversample and interpolate, which I could not do on my Arduino Due.

Someone like TC Electronic with their toneprint DSP pedals could probably easily do it if they wanted. I thought maybe you could do it yourself with the toneprint editor, but it lacks the ability to specify the needed phase relationships and LFOs.

Years back I thought "trichorus" was the same as string ensemble. Nope! I have a nice TC Electronic Nova Modulator which can do two separately-adjustable trichorus, and it sounds nice, but can not do the periodic-sounding animation of a proper string chorus.
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