50 Years Later - The World's First Digital Delay

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by orville71, Feb 16, 2021.

  1. orville71

    orville71 Commercial User

    Aug 8, 2019
    Eventide Audio employee
    Please check out a piece of musical history as we talk about the world's first digital delay unit, the DDL 1745. 26621eef-4d60-42ba-92a0-550b4ecd564a.jpg

    Read the whole story here: https://www.eventideaudio.com/blog/aagn ... 1745-delay

    Hear from legendary engineers and the founder of Eventide as they talk about this mysterious box!

  2. orville71

    orville71 Commercial User

    Aug 8, 2019
    Eventide Audio employee
    The original DDL 1745 had one major shortcoming. Using the big switches to set delay would usually result in a dangerously loud pop/crackle/bzzzztttt. Engineers quickly learned to pull down the appropriate fader before changing delay. Richard took advantage of two new innovations—the shaft encoder and the Light Emitting Diode—to create the model DDL 1745A. Today, an encoder would be the logical choice but encoders were not yet commercially available (or, if they were, they were prohibitively expensive). Eventide designed its own encoder and the “Big Knob” was born. Turn it slowly for fine control or spin it quickly for large changes. The Big Knob has become a key control feature for many of Eventide’s products since that day in 1973.

    The 1745A also featured an LED numerical display of the delay setting—likely the first display of its kind to find its way into a studio.

    Read more about it in our blog here!
  3. orville71

    orville71 Commercial User

    Aug 8, 2019
    Eventide Audio employee
    In continuing our Flashback series...
    By 1975, integrated circuit technology had advanced to the point that Random Access Memory (RAM) chips became commercially available. For audio delay this was a game changer. Instead of being limited to shifting bits into one end of a delay line and waiting for the bits to emerge from the end of the line, audio could be ‘stored’ in memory and recalled at will. The 1745M was unlike anything that existed and for many, DDLs were still a mystery. Here’s how the Instruction Manual introduced it to audio pros and studio maintenance engineers: “...this is an unusual instruction manual”.
    Read the full blog here: 50th Flashback #2.3: The DDL 1745M Delay | Eventide
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  4. Peaveylover

    Peaveylover Inactive

    Dec 6, 2019
    Funny how the older digital technology sounded so good. Better in some ways than the modern stuff. Rush recorded Moving Pictures digitally (I could be wrong about that). That's one of the best sounding albums of all time. And those old Boss Digital Delays had a lot of nice tonality too.
    orville71 likes this.
  5. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Every Eventide piece of studio gear I've ever used was awesome.
    They really covered some new ground when they release the H949 Harmonizer 45 years ago.
    H949 | Eventide
    orville71 likes this.
  6. rjmsteel


    Jan 25, 2009
    Lake County, IL
    I am the original owner, and still use, a Black Face H3000/ First run from the 1980`s; in my bass rig (when using the rack). Note: pedalboard utilizes a Pitchfactor and sometimes they play together :cool:
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  7. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    Moving puctures was ADD, so tape was analogue.
    Is Rush's Moving Pictures a Digital Recording?
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  8. Peaveylover

    Peaveylover Inactive

    Dec 6, 2019
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  9. orville71

    orville71 Commercial User

    Aug 8, 2019
    Eventide Audio employee
    Here's our Omnipressor Flashback 3...
    The Omnipressors (1973 & 1974) — A Tale of Two Richards — Factor and Nixon

    It’s 1973 and Richard Factor is thinking about how compressors and limiters are used in the studio solely for utilitarian purposes and wonders: Could a device be designed to create dynamic effects? Richard recalls a conversation that he had with Dr. Mark Weiss, an audio expert who was later asked to investigate the infamous 18-minute gap in an Oval Office recording that was at the center of Richard Nixon’s impeachment inquiry. Factor recalls Dr. Weiss describing a ‘homomorphic filter’ and is inspired to create a “dynamics modifier.” Here’s Richard recalling his thinking in the invention of this groundbreaking technique during an episode of the Gear Club podcast.

    Learn more about the history of the Omnipressor and look at all the cool things we found in our archives:
    50th Flashback #3: The Omnipressor | Eventide
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  10. orville71

    orville71 Commercial User

    Aug 8, 2019
    Eventide Audio employee
    And now for Flashback 4, the H910:

    Please read our latest blog in which we teach about the history of pitch change:
    https://www.eventideaudio.com/blog/aagn ... harmonizer

    Excerpts from the blog:
    There’s a lot of history to cover about the conception and development of the Harmonizer so let’s first consider the underlying principle: the interesting phenomenon known as Pitch Change.

    The Strange Case of Pitch Change

    While Pitch Change is naturally occurring, throughout history, humans would rarely have perceived the effect because the sound source must be traveling at a high enough rate of speed relative to the listener to cause a discernible change in pitch. Why had no one elucidated this effect in our long history? It’s simple; few things moved fast enough! Sound travels at ~750 mph. To notice even a slight pitch change of 2% a sound source with 100% constant pitch would have to be approaching the listener at 15 mph. (Kids whirling objects around on a string were not the scientific observers for which one would have hoped.)

    In 1842, Christian Doppler suggested that “the observed frequency of a wave depends on the relative speed of the source and the observer.” Doppler was thinking about star light, not sound, but a wave is a wave is a wave.

    Just three years later, Buys Ballot, a Dutchman, demonstrated the Doppler Effect on sound waves by having six tubas play the same sustained note while perched on the front of a speeding locomotive.
    If you dig this H910 history also read parts 4.2 & 4.3 of Tony Agnello's blog:

    Part 4.2: The H910 Harmonizer, the product
    50th Flashback #4.2: H910 Harmonizer® - The Product | Eventide


    Part 4.3: The H910 - Minds Blown
    Blog 50th Flashback #4.3: H910 Harmonizer® - "Minds Blown"

    Bob_Ross likes this.
  11. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Reading that reminded me of the first time I ever used an H910, circa 1981 when we were mixing a 5-song demo by my punk band The Vacuumheads at Jay Rose Studios in Boston MA.
    The studio had an H910 in the control room rack, and we convinced the engineer to try it on nearly every source...sometimes successfully, a few times facepalmingly/cringingly inappropriatly. There's one passage on that tape where we put my bass through the H910 and it sounds exactly like a tuba! But no matter what source we used it on, when I listen to those mixes now 40 years later, I can always identify where we used the H910...that telltale quantization artifact is like a beacon to my ear regardless of how far back in the mix it's buried.

    I always loved Todd Rundgren's comment about early Harmonizers, something to the effect of
    "Harmonizers are like heroin: The first time you use it, you throw up. But then you can't stop using it!"

    orville71, Driven Crane and nbsipics like this.
  12. Driven Crane

    Driven Crane

    May 30, 2014
  13. orville71

    orville71 Commercial User

    Aug 8, 2019
    Eventide Audio employee
    Flashback #5: FL201 INSTANT FLANGER

    The Flanging Effect
    Flanging became popular in the 1960s when recording engineers discovered that they could mix the output of two tape machines, one running slightly slower than the other, and get a cool new effect. The Small Faces iconic pop hit, "Itchycoo Park," is a classic example of the early use of flanging.

    The Flanging effect is created by mixing the original signal with a slightly time-varied version of itself. This creates many amplitude nulls and peaks in the sound, and a spectrum that looks like the teeth of a comb. By slightly varying the speed of one of the tape recorders, the delay time changes and the so-called comb filter sweeps across the spectrum with the familiar ‘jet plane’ effect. How was the tape speed and delay controlled? Digitally—with the engineer’s thumb! Some developed quite the skill of ‘playing’ the effect by artfully pressing on the flange of the spinning tape reel and applying varying degrees of pressure to adjust the tape speed.

    Is Flanging Phasing & Phasing Flanging?
    In days of yore, engineers used the terms flanging and phasing interchangeably. Our first product, the Instant Phaser, used analog filters to create phase shifts which resulted in a new effect, a slightly anemic simulation of true delay-based flanging. It seemed logical to call the box a Phaser without considering the confusion that we would cause. We got away with it for decades until producer and engineer Bill Wittman suggested that we should have coined a new word for our effect because back in the day phasing and flanging were the same thing. Sorry Bill. From day one, Eventide distinguished analog phasing from delay-based flanging. We covered phasing in Flashback #1. Here’s a brief history of flanging, starting with the ‘flange’ itself.

    Exactly What is a “Flange”?
    The magnetic tape is held in place by a pair of flat metal plates called flanges which prevent the tape from disastrously unspooling.

    50th Flashback #5: FL 201 Instant Flanger | Eventide
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  14. orville71

    orville71 Commercial User

    Aug 8, 2019
    Eventide Audio employee
    Today we're taking a look at FLASHBACK #6

    World’s First Digital Guitar FX Device
    The first Harmonizer, the H910, released in 1976, was designed to sit in a rack in the studio. Within a couple of years, major acts with big budgets like Led Zeppelin, The Mothers of Invention, and Van Halen began to tour with them. Costing nearly $10,000 in today’s dollars, the H910 was far beyond the reach of, well, nearly everyone else. This was the era of primitive logic chips, and it took a small boatload of them to simply delay audio as 1s and 0s by a fraction of a second. In 1978, our founder, Richard Factor, took on the challenge of designing an ‘affordable’ Harmonizer; one that a guitar or keyboard player might take on the road.

    The HM80 featured guitar in, amp out, as well as performance features including expression pedal control of pitch and an auxiliary switch jack for switching the repeat function on/off. While it wasn’t a ‘stompbox’—the boatload of early power-hungry chips required more juice than a wall wart could supply, which gave us pause about putting AC at the feet of a guitarist—it predated the introduction of the first digital delay stompbox, the Boss DD-2, by nearly five years.


    At about half the price of an H910, HM80s found their way into the hands of a few gigging musicians and composers who, for the first time, could exploit the new world of digital audio effects live. To our delight and surprise, we found out the device also made its way into the hands of students and educators through universities who couldn't afford the H910.

    We asked Richard Factor (founder of Eventide) to dig deep in his memory and tell us how the first digital audio device designed for live use came to be. Here’s the full story:
    Flashback #6: HM80 — "The Baby Harmonizer®" | Eventide
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  15. orville71

    orville71 Commercial User

    Aug 8, 2019
    Eventide Audio employee
    This month we’re taking a look back at the first Intelligent Audio Processor, the H949 Harmonizer®. Introducing the terms "algorithm" and "micropitch" to the audio lexicon, the H949 represented a major advance in the very notion of an effects box. It was able to analyze audio in real-time and make decisions based on that analysis. It was used to create new sounds and to correct pitchy tracks. Among so much more.
    Read all about the history of this device in our #50thFlashback blog —> etide.io/H949Blog

    The Owl likes this.
  16. orville71

    orville71 Commercial User

    Aug 8, 2019
    Eventide Audio employee
    Today we continue our H949 history lesson with part two of the Flashback blog:

    Flashback 7.1, “Ding Dong! The Glitch is Dead,” took a deep dive into the technology at the heart of de-glitching pitch change, an advance that made tuning pitchy voices and instruments practical for the first time. Now, let’s return from our ramble down Nerd Boulevard and learn some of the other reasons why so many H910 fans sprung for over $11,000 (in 2021 dollars) to buy an H949 as soon as it hit the market. The H949 greatly expanded the sonic horizon of the simpler H910. The rapid advance of technology made improvements impossible to resist and new features possible to imagine. Plus, we had the benefit of users’ suggestions and pleas.
    The H910’s designer, Tony Agnello, knew what he wanted and needed to do next. Some things were obvious, others less so. To accomplish some of the ideas he had in mind, his first step was to design a compute engine that could generate as many memory addresses as possible for each audio sample. By designing a primitive yet really fast address computation machine, the H949’s design made possible unprecedented digital muckery, as implied by the front panel control legends:
    So New, So Cool
    In 1980, Suzanne Ciani demonstrated her “Voice Box, ” which featured an H949, to the amusement and bemusement of David Letterman and his national audience:

    Read the full blog here: Flashback #7.2: H949 — The New One | Eventide
  17. orville71

    orville71 Commercial User

    Aug 8, 2019
    Eventide Audio employee
    Now on to:
    Flashback #7.3: H949 Harmonizer® — Bending, Stretching, and Twisting Time
    In the first two parts of the H949 Harmonizer tale, you learned how the H949 built upon the legacy of the H910, offering de-glitched pitch-change for improved accuracy and a bevy of new features. With expanded options like Random delay mode and MicroPitch, the H949 set the standard for faithful, fine-tuned double-tracking emulation and pitch correction, which saved a lot of time in the studio when re-recording was not an option. Even in live sound, a brave engineer could use it to perfect pitch on the spot, in front of a live audience! But beyond being an intelligent pitch-shifting tool, with options like Repeat, Delay, and Flange, artists and engineers could achieve huge, layered sounds that soared to harmonious—or cacophonous—new heights.

    The H949 has been a go-to device for engineers on classic songs and albums by the likes of Prince, Frank Zappa, the Ramones, and artists of today like Ty Segall. We reached out to a few of the H949’s devoted users for their take on what has made this box so special, and integral, to their processes for over four decades:


    Check out all the quotes & interviews by reading the entire blog here:
    Flashback #7.3: H949 Harmonizer® — Bending, Stretching, and Twisting Time | Eventide