The Boss DD-3 Digital Delay has been a staple of the stompbox world since its release, quickly becoming an essential part of thousands of player’s sonic arsenal thanks to its mix of user-friendly settings, solid construction and great overall value. But aside from its positive physical features, the heart of the DD-3’s popularity has always been its tone: a crisp and clean sounding delay with remarkably precise repeats. I’ve messed around with plenty of digital and analog delay pedals and I can comfortably say the DD-3 is one of the cleanest around.
The Boss DD-3 is a long-lived pedal and as such doesn’t boast the huge amount of features that more modern delays come equipped with such as reverse delay, analog, loop or tap tempo. Despite this, it still offers a good amount of tonal flexibility and features most of the classic delay sounds many players are familiar with. There’s also a Direct Out line so you can run your 100 % delay out to one amp and your dry signal out to another.
The DD-3 features four control knobs. The Effect Level knob is essentially a wet control, allowing you to dial in just the right amount of delay effect to your signal. The Feedback knob handles the amount of repetitions. When turned slightly, it can produce a single slapback delay, with further turns increasing the number of repetitions. The Delay knob lets you adjust the space between the delay repeats. And finally, the Mode knob lets you control the delay time settings: Short for 50ms, Medium for 200ms and Long for 800ms. There’s also a Hold feature that lets you repeat a sample of your delay as long as hold it. Interesting feature but not very practical outside of home experimentation.
While the DD-3 doesn’t come with an endless amount of features, there’s still a good deal of delay sounds capable inside the box, everything from slapbacks to noise waves and perfect echoes. With the 50ms of delay time, the DD-3 works a bit like a dimensional enhancer; different from a chorus effect but thickens up your tone just a bit in a similar way. With 200ms, you can easily dial in a very clean slapback delay or widen the time just a bit longer for a pristine shimmer effect. 800ms will give you plenty of atmospheric delays, with further settings allowing you to dial in delays as wild as a the sound of helicopter blades or as gleaming as something straight out of a U2 album.
All in all, it’s easy to get a good range of classic, familiar sounds (or something more experimental if that’s more of your taste) without too much trouble thanks to its straight forward settings, and all at remarkably clean and clear levels. Players accustomed to the warm tone of an analog delay unit should keep in mind that the DD-3 is a digital delay and will therefore sound a bit colder in comparison.
The Boss DD-3 Digital Delay might not have all the bells and whistles of some of the more contemporary delay units out there but it still packs a good amount of versatility. With just a few minutes of getting used to the settings, you can easily dial up several classic and familiar delay sounds, from the intro to GNR's Welcome To The Jungle to the many of the signature guitar sounds of U2's The Edge and even some of Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon, its all in there. Couple that with its amazingly clean tonal characteristics and excellent price tag and you have a pedal that is definitely worth every penny.
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