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Effects Processors, Digital (Hardware)

January 1, 2000
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TC ELECTRONIC M3000

($2,495)

Bells and whistles are always welcome on multi-effects processors, and the TC Electronic M3000 has them to spare. But it's the unit's extensive feature set that moves it to the front of the pack, with onboard 24-bit A/D and D/A converters, dual processors that can be routed almost any way imaginable, and comprehensive digital I/O (including two channels of ADAT Optical). For many users, though, the M3000's most desirable feature will be the realism of its reverbs: "the most natural-sounding digital reverb I have ever heard," exulted our hard-to-please reviewer. That's great news for those of us who record our tracks in an acoustically dead space not much bigger than a walk-in closet!

Responsible for this new level of verisimilitude is TC's Virtual Space Simulation (VSS) reverb algorithm. Although the M3000 includes reverb algorithms from the M2000 and M5000 (nothing to scoff at there!), the VSS patches are what put this unit ahead of the game. Each utilizes from 40 to 100 early reflections to define a room's "personality," followed by high-fidelity reverb tails up to 20 seconds long. Not surprisingly, the early reflections and reverb tails can be independently modified via numerous parameters; indeed, there's precious little on the M3000 that can't be modified!

The M3000 provides plenty of patch memory, too, with 250 single and 50 combined presets in ROM and the same number in RAM. It also accepts PC Cards, providing an additional 2 MB of program storage per card. Other effects include delay, pitch shifter, EQ, expander, compressor, chorus/flange, tremolo/pan, phaser, and de-esser. Several unique features get a thumbs-up, too. The helpful Recall Wizard yields a menu of suggested patches based on what you enter for application, type of source material, and size of acoustic space. Dynamic Morphing is a creative tool that lets you morph gracefully between effects based on input level. Other useful features include dithering (8-bit through 22-bit resolution) and the ability to recognize external word clock from 32 to 48 kHz. (The unit's internal clock can also be used as the master clock.)

If all that power suggests to you an unwieldy tangle of controls, think again. In fact, the M3000's user interface is a cinch to navigate, thanks to dedicated buttons laid out in logically organized columns and a single Adjust wheel for scrolling through parameters. Patches are easy to edit by accessing first-layer edit functions or the voluminous Expert mode. If you're looking to acquire a comprehensive multi-effects unit with the latest and greatest in reverb simulation, and you could make use of some premium digital converters, the TC Electronic M3000 is a many-trick pony worth taking for a ride.

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