ART DST-4 incoming

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Brendan, May 10, 2005.

  1. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Since you guys are such slackers, I went ahead and got a preamp/multi-effects unit on the cheap (might not end up selling the Ampeg if all goes well.)

    ART DST-4 single space rack unit. It's a fairly neat little box, overall. Four preamp voices/dist voices, 6 built in effects (Chorus, reverb, flange, delay, tremelo and pitch shifting), 75 presets/user banks, 25 effects programs (combinations of the 6 effects). MIDI capabilities, and an attractive gold faceplace (shades of a Marshal JMP-1).

    Limited parameter tweaking on the effects, but apparently there's an upgrade ART can do, that lets you tweak all the effect parameters.

    Neat thing is, it's essentially two units. You can run it with/without the effects, or with/without the preamp. So it's a preamp/multi-effects in one. Which I think is pretty neat.

    Anyway, even though I don't have the unit yet (en route), I figured I'd throw this up, since they're damn cheap ($75 shipped), and there's pretty much zero info on these things, anywhere. Almost litterally, I might add. Got good reviews on Harmony Central User Reviews, and they weren't all "I just got this, and I've been playing for a year" reviews.

    Discontinued, of course, and pretty rare at that. You have to contact ART directly for the manual, since the unit isn't even listed under the "discontinued" section. It's pretty much the DST-830, in case you've heard one of them.

    If any of you've had experience with it, chime in. I figure, even if the preamp thing doesn't pan out, I can still twiddle with the effects. If they suck, well, they probably can't suck as bad as a DOD right?

    Man, that post was long. I'm not all that pumped about it, but since there's so freaking little on it, I figured I'd start documenting this beast. Should be here Sat/Mon.
  2. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    Good find! I haven't had a chance to play with one of those, but I have owned several pieces of ART equipment, and always found their stuff to be excellent quality and lots of value for the $'s.
  3. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Okay, had this one long enough I can actually make a review that doesn't suck:

    First of all, this actually holds together on the Low B, which is pretty amazing. It's bass shy, even with the preamp bass maxed out (it is a guitar pre), but if you have an onboard EQ, bumping up the bass on your instrument seems to give it enough oomph. However, I would also suggest a post EQ of some sort to further beef the signal a bit. Overall, you'll get enough bass, but you'll be a bit tapped once you get there. Not a dub machine.

    However, this thing is LOUD. You can definitely make up for the lack of true bass by just shoving through the mix on volume alone. Sucker has volume to spare!

    The Extreme channel is very guitar-like distortion. It's pretty nifty, albeit a bit one dimensional. It sounds decent, but kinda thins out your sound (like heavy distortions do). However, the bump in the mids make this a cutter. Would work really well to make a single wall of noise.

    The Scream channel is the hardest one to wrangle. Of 75 presets and a lot of time tweaking, I got one good sound out of this, and even then it just sounds like the Retro channel. It's a lower gain version of the Extreme channel with a bit of your dry signal mixed in. Sounds like a good way to go, right? Not really. This is the channel I use the least.

    Retro channel - helllo raunch. This is your SVT on 10 channel. Sounds huge, overdriven, and powerfull. The word "rugged" comes to mind. Brutal, but not buzzy or farty. It's also significantly louder than the Extreme or Scream channels. It's got the most bass in it of the three distortion channels, and is chunky and rough around the edges, which lend themselves to bass quite nicely. I feel this is where the unit really shines on bass. Can absolutely destroy.

    The clean channel actually has a tube in it, so it comes across pretty well. When you max out the gain, however, it just gets farty. It's smooth, with a hint of tube warmth. It tends to distort the B string on any gain setting, though (again, it's a guitar preamp). Which is a shame, since it doesn't sound that bad on the EADG strings.

    However, for clean sounds, I just bypass the preamp and effects alltogether (making the unit act as a DI), and that's the cleanest way to go, and it like that. This doesn't distort or fart out on any strings, and that makes it idea for clean playing. Pretty hi-fi sounding.

    The effects aren't bad at all, and track the low B with no problem. Not a lot of variety (mostly reverb/delay/chorus types, with a couple phasers and some pitch transposers that aren't worht snot), but they do it well enough to have a couple toys to muck with. The wet/dry balance can give you some neat effects.

    I have a guitar too, and surprisingly, I think this unit sounds better on bass than guitar. Lucky me.

    The gain knob is largely for show. Not really sensitive at all. On the Clean channel, it merely means farty or smooth, and on the Extreme and Scream channels, it's more or less an "A/B" switch. Slightly different sound on 1 or 20, but that's it. On the Retro channel it's a bit more versatile, but it's still pretty limited. It is a digital guitar preamp, though, so I guess it being even as usefull as A/B is pretty good.

    Bass- Not enough of it. That's about it. The mids and highs work great.

    No difference between user/factory presets. There's 75 slots in this thing, and saving one means saving over another. A seperate user bank would have been nice.

    The way it's set up is a little wonkey. You have an edit mode that's activated whenever you touch any knob, even the volume. So, if you're in patch 30, and damn, it's loud, and then want to go to patch 31, you have to exit the edit mode. It's just a single button press, it would have been nice to see the volume as a seperate control. This feaure is nice because you can bump up the quiet settings and save them loud, or turn the loud ones down, so you have a matched volume set on your saved presets, but I still think it's kinda weaksauce.

    Channel switching can only be done via MIDI. A regular footswitch can be used, but only to On/Off the preamp and effects sections, not change between channels. And MIDI gives me a headache. I think MIDI gives everyone headaches.

    Overall: I don't think you can do better for $60-100 if you can find one. Has enough stuff in it that you're bound to find a couple things in it, and it does some things exeedingly well. Plus, it's a multi-FX on top of that. Also has a headphone jack, so you've even got a silent jam tool.

    Rock and Roll. Shame these are so hard to find. I might track down a second one just to have a backup.