Hands-On Review:Yamaha UD-Stomp
by Eric Kirkland
Delay is at the heart of many multi-effect tones. Yet many guitarists use it simply to create echo effects or to replicate the solid slapback sound that's been around since the Fifties. Players with more adventurous aims will find plenty to like about Yamaha's new UD-Stomp. With its powerful delay processing abilities, this effects processor lets you rediscover delay's vast potential for creating tones that go beyond the ordinary.
At the center of the UD-Stomp are eight delay circuits. They can be run in parallel, with each offering up to 700 milliseconds of delay, or ganged in series to allow a whopping 5.5 seconds of delay. Each features variable parameters for delay time, feedback (repeats), high- and low-cut filters, pan position (for when the UD-Stomp is used in stereo situations), phase, tap and modulation.
The tap function provides control over the delay time of each circuit relative to the other circuits, allowing you to create interesting rhythmic effects, including bizarre-sounding stutters. The UD-Stomp's modulation function, on the other hand, lets you create shimmering chorus and vibrato effects, as well as Doppler-like effects, in which the pitch descends as the sound repeats.
The Delay Chain
The UD-Stomp's eight delay bands can be joined in series or in parallel, or in a combination of both. When two or more delay lines operate in parallel, they act independently on the input signal; each can have its own tap, pan, filter and modulation settings. You can use this method to set up ping-pong and panning delays, or to create a flange effect on one band while producing long, repeating delays on another.
In series mode, the first band in the signal path feeds the next, and the final delay time is a combination of all the bands in the path. This is how the UD-Stomp can achieve very long delays, which are useful when you want to set up the processor for loop- and sample-style delays. But even when you're using just two delay bands, you can create delay times of more than one second and still have six bands left to work with.
The UD-Stomp has four footswitches that provide real-time control over the unit. The four-button layout is friendly to look at, but some of its operations are cumbersome. For example, to activate tap tempo, you must hold down one footswitch for several seconds, use another to select the band to be controlled and hit a third button to set the tempo time.
The UD-Stomp's 180 presets (90 user-writable) are organized into groups, each of which contains three banks of three effects. Switching within a bank is easy but switching banks within a group takes more care, and switching among groups is tricky. None of this will matter in the studio, but onstage it could be distracting.
On the plus side, the unit's front panel has dedicated knobs for most editing functions, and the UD-Stomp offers MIDI control over almost every parameter. You can also hook up a control pedal and route it to various parameters (such as delay time, level or feedback), then store the new values per patch or globally.
With 20-bit D/A and a sample rate of 44.1kHz, the UD-Stomp preserves the character and warmth of your guitar's tone while it creates truly breathtaking effects. The effects engine is incredibly versatile, and I especially like being able to have independent delays and modulation effects in a single preset. The factory settings, some of which were designed by jazz-fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth, cover a wide range of effects, from the basics, such as chorus to tape delay, to some that are just plain bizarre.
The Bottom Line
Anyone who's into tweaking tone will love the UD-Stomp-there's simply no other floor-mounted delay like it. Although it would probably be hard to take full advantage of its features onstage, the UD-Stomp more than makes up for its complexities with effects that are rich, rewarding and truly out of this world.