Review: Boss DD-500
The brand-new Boss DD-500 will quite likely prove to be a definite milestone in the effect company’s history. Boss’ newest creation isn’t just another run-of-the-mill delay pedal; instead, the company’s R&D-department has set out to create a genuine “mother of all delay pedals”, aiming to take the user all the way, from the illustrious past of echoes and delays right into the here-and-now of top notch audio processing.
The Boss DD-500 (current street price in Finland approx. 370 €) comes over as a very matter-of-fact, businesslike pedal with a very clean and uncluttered look.
Despite the fact that each effect patch contains quite a number of different adjustable parameters, Boss have provided the user with physical knobs and buttons to access the most important features directly. In addition to the all-important Delay Mode selector, you’ll find controls for Time, Feedback, Effect Level, Tone, and Modulation Depth. This makes tweaking any patch very fast and easy.
The Model-selector goes right to the heart of what the DD-500 does, offering you access to the different delay types on offer. The DD-500’s twelve Modes really run the whole gamut of all delay types known to mankind, starting with a state-of-the-art, contemporary delay (Standard) and leading you all the way to some of the best digital models of tape- and bucket brigade-delays you’re likely to hear. Let’s not forget about the more special delay types on offer here, such as Boss’ own Tera Echo Mode, Shimmer, Slow Attack, or Reverse. The outlandishly bit-crunching SFX setting, as well as the fat and chewy Filter Mode will take your playing closer to the realms of synthesizers and Electronica. Depending on the chosen mode, the maximum delay time on offer stretches to a whopping ten seconds!
Naturally, the DD-500 also comes with a phrase looper, which can loop up to two minutes of audio.
The Boss DD-500 will work equally well in mono or stereo setups.
The Control/Expression-jack lets you hook up an additional (double) footswitch unit or an expression pedal (not included) to the delay unit, allowing for real-time control of almost any parameter(s) you choose.
You can use MIDI to synchronise your delays to an outside source (such as an audio sequencer), as well as for remote effect patch switching.
The DD-500’s USB-port can handle both MIDI data, as well as digital audio, making it easy to record your effected guitar signal straight into your sequencer.
The Boss DD-500 offers plenty of memory space for effect patches:
Set to factory specifications, the delay unit will give you access to 99 banks of two patches each (A & B), that you can turn on and off using the switches of the same name. In this configuration the third switch is set aside for tap tempo and parameter control duties. You can change the factory configuration, though, which makes it possible to use 99 banks of three patches each (A, B & C). And if you’re really adventurous, you can also choose a setting that lets you use two delay patches simultaneously.
The Boss DD-500 can be run as a true bypass-effect, meaning that the input signal goes straight to the unit’s output, whenever the delay is turned off. If you have a long effect chain, or if you’re forced to run long cables to your backline, you will appreciate the delay’s buffered output option, too, which will keep all your precious trebles and dynamic content intact.
Boss’ internal digital signal processing, with a sample rate of 98 kHz and a 32-bit resolution, lays the perfect groundwork for the DD-500’s excellent audio quality and amazing versatility. This isn’t your daddy’s delay box, where you can only set the delay time, feedback, and effect level; the DD-500 allows you to delve very deep to hone your tone in exactly the way you want. For example, all Delay Modes come with their dedicated semiparametric EQ, a comprehensive modulation section, and a ducking compressor.
Adding the possibilities offered by the CTL-switch – or additional switches, or an expression pedal – into the mix, further multiplies the tonal options on tap in the DD-500. If you don’t need the tap tempo function, you can use the built-in CTL-switch for special effects, such as – among others – Hold (the repeats don’t fade away, while the footswitch is pressed), Warp (basically a modern version of tape-spin; your delay running wild) or different types of Roll (changing the note value of your delay).
Yes, there is a long list of different parameters that you can tweak, but the DD-500 is still surprisingly easy to use. Despite the fact that this unit is much more versatile than a simple analogue delay, making your own delay patches is still relatively simple.
In my opinion, the new Boss DD-500 is the best and most versatile delay pedal available today.
Even used “straight” – that is without further modulation or filtering – the basic Delay Modes sound great, offering you the widest possible scope to take you on a sonic journey par excellence. Here’s a short clip introducing all twelve Modes, using the same knob settings (with Modulation Depth set to zero). I start with Standard and work my way forward in a clockwise direction:
The factory patches in the DD-500 offer so many different types of delays that a review, such as this, can’t cover them all. The demo track features 12 different factory patches on the lead guitar, plus an additional patch, used to simulate a violin sound.
Here’s a mix of just the lead guitar parts:
And here’s the full track:
I’m pretty sure that the Boss DD-500 will put an end to many a guitarist’s epic search for the “perfect delay pedal”.
This delay unit offers you such a wealth of different sounds, delay types, and tonal options, that I probably could have spent weeks on end with the DD-500, without bumping into the outer walls of this universe of inspiration. The Boss DD-500 is an equally excellent choice for the traditional guitarist, looking for authentic versions of legendary delay sounds, as it is for the fearless sound traveller, who will draw a sheer never-ending wealth of inspiration from this device.
street price ca. 370 €
+ 12 delay types
+ broad scope for adjustment
+ large patch memory