Boss DD-20 Giga Delay and OD-20Drive Zone

February 1, 2004

By Art Thompson
The Twin Pedal series stompboxes from Boss is a boon for players who crave more features and flexibility from compact effects. There are currently six models in the series, and I recently had an opportunity to shake out the DD-20 Giga Delay and OD-20 Drive Zone—both of which offer metal enclosures, backlit LCDs, four user-definable memory locations, and a ton of great sounds.

DD-20 Giga Delay

Highlights of the DD-20 ($299 retail/$229 street) include 23 seconds of delay time, Seamless Switching (preserves the delay tail when a new program is selected), and a sound-on-sound program that doesn’t use up a memory slot. The DD-20 runs for approximately seven hours on six AA batteries, and it’s extremely easy to use. The left pedal turns the effects on and off, and the right pedal controls both program selection and Tap. You select effects via the Mode knob (see sidebar, “DD-20 Modes”) and adjust their lengths with the Delay Time control, which incorporates a high-speed function that works when you press the knob and turn it in either direction.

Other hip features include a Tempo button that allows you to specify delay times in terms of rhythmic subdivisions (i.e. quarter notes, dotted-eighths, triplets, etc.), and the ability to switch the display to show the delay tempo in beats-per-minute (a feature that lets you quickly synchronize a delay to a song’s tempo). You can also choose between four output modes (stereo or split wet/dry at either –20dB or +4dB) to match the input requirements of amps, effects devices, mixers, and multitrack recorders. An optional external footswitch (such as the Boss FS-5U or FS-5L) can also be patched into the Control Pedal jack for remote control of effects bypass, program select, and Tap.

The DD-20 powers-up in Manual mode, but you can store a new delay setting simply by pressing the Delay Time knob after making an adjustment. Programming your own sounds is easy: Adjust the controls to get the effect you want, press the Write button (the two Memory LEDs begin flashing), press the Select button to access any of the four memory slots (also indicated by LEDs), press the Write button again, and you’re done.

Sounds. Capable of delivering clean, quiet, and extremely long delays, the DD-20 offers a meaty-sounding Tape setting (with select-able two-head operation for ultra-spacy effects), a fat Analog model for authentic stompbox-style textures (including runaway feedback tricks), and a Dual setting for creating the cavernous effects you get by running two delays in series. More radical effects include Twist (a delay with an accelerated feedback function), Modulate (a pitch-bend delay with adjustable rate and depth), and Warp (which keeps the delay going when you hold down the on/off pedal—it’s like instant looping). Speaking of which, there’s a dedicated looping program called SOS that allows you to record up to 23 seconds of material and then layer parts over it.

This is handy for working out solos or song ideas, and you can jam along using a delayed sound by holding down the Memory/Tap footswitch.

Tappin’ in. On any mode other than SOS, you can change delay times with the Memory/Tap footswitch or, if you prefer, press the Tempo button to see delay times specified as note values. Subsequent pushes on the button change the note values displayed in the LCD, making it quick and easy to tap-in tempos for, say, quarter-note triplets on a reggae song or a dotted-eighth rhythmic delay for rockin’ out Edge-style.

The DD-20 sounds so good it’s hard to stop playing it, and its simplicity and user-friendliness make it a natural for those who want a flexible delay but don’t need the oodles of effects provided by more complex floor processors. The DD-20 is easily the most happening digital delay pedal in the Boss stable, and it gets an Editors’ Pick Award.

OD-20 Drive Zone

Designed to deliver 22 distortion and overdrive effects, the OD-20 ($249 retail/$179 street) comes armed with a good variety of sounds (see sidebar, “OD-20 Effects Types”), as well as some standout features that include the Attack Shape (enhances note attack) and Heavy Octave (sub octave) controls, and a clever Amp Control function that allows you to simultaneously switch channels on your amplifier or turn its effects loop on and off. This function can be activated independently via the Amp Control button or programmed into the OD-20’s memory. Other than that, the steps involved in editing and programming sounds are basically the same as with the DD-20.

Sounds. The OD-20 is one-stop shopping for just about any distortion sound you could possibly need. In fact, it would be possible to cut a lot of gigs with just the Tube Screamer setting, as the Drive, Bottom, and Tone controls provide mammoth tone-shaping power. Boss has also enabled the OD-20 to sound far more extreme than its other distortion pedals. For example, the excellent fuzz and octave-fuzz settings can be forced into collapsing-transistor cacophony simply by jacking up the Attack Shape and Heavy Octave controls. And doing the same with the high-gain Stack/Crunch, Metal/Loud, or Boost/Lead settings yields heavy-bottomed rock and metal rhythms and gnarly octave-divider lead tones.

Players who revel in brown high-gain sounds will especially appreciate how the Attack Shape function enhances edge and detail while keeping the treble nice and smooth. The OD-20’s models are dynamically responsive, and they offer the richness, warmth, and vibe of the analog devices that they’re based on—you can just do a lot more with these sounds courtesy of the OD-20’s powerful gain and EQ circuits.

For players who need a bunch of distortion textures but don’t want the hassle or the expense of multiple stompboxes, the OD-20 offers an ideal solution. It’s reasonably priced, it sounds amazingly authentic (if in doubt, just try the Scholz Rockman program), and it’s bonehead simple to use. Thumbs-up to Boss—the OD-20 nabs an Editors’ Pick Award.



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