Forgotten Artifacts: The Endless Oscillations of Eelke Kleijn’s Dynacord SRS 56
A while ago I was on the lookout for a Dynacord analog BBD delay. I had been told those were the best, and I was particularly interested in the VRS 23. When Joep Pennings — the founder of the famed Amsterdam audio gear shop Synths ’n Stuff — described it to me, he spoke the words ‘second-best delay ever made’. So my first response was ‘Then what’s the best one?’. And so, a few weeks later I left his place with a fully revised Dynacord SRS 56.
The SRS 56 was made in the late ’70s and early ’80s. It features two independent delay channels that can be used in series, in parallel, and they can also be made to feed into each other. It also boasts two reverb modes, but contrary to most reverbs from that era, which uses springs, the SRS 56 uses the BBD chips for reverb. It also has modulation and pitch options, so you can get some very nice chorus-type sounds out of it. My unit has been modified for endless self-oscillation as well, so it’s really easy to get those tape-type loops out of it.
As a delay, it is much darker than most delays you will find nowadays. I’ve used it extensively on my new Oscillations album. For instance, in the track “Distance” (feat. Josha Daniel), the lead sound that gets introduced in the breakdown was sounding too dry to my ears. But no matter how much reverb or delay I threw at it, somehow I couldn’t get it to sit right. It went from too dry to too wet and back. When I got the SRS halfway through my recording process, it made a huge difference. Somehow this is a delay that you can use incredibly loud and wet, but it doesn’t overly sound so in the mix. I then continued to use it on various tracks. On “Taking Flight” (feat. Nathan Nicholson), it does a variety of the vocal effects, and on “Lifetime” it does most of the guitar delay.
What I especially like about it is that it opens up a whole range of creative processing. It can go from reverb, to delay, to chorus, to phaser, and pretty much everything in between. And because it is such an obscure machine, it has a very unique sound that you can’t really find elsewhere. It plays really well with modern gear as well. I love my Strymon pedals for instance, and I use those reverbs and delays all the time. Layering a reverb from the Strymon Big Sky together with the SRS, and then panning them independently works like a charm!
The one thing that puts me off sometimes is that these old machines require maintenance. Mine has broken down once so far, and so you need to have someone that really understands these machines and can keep them in great shape. But I guess that goes for a lot of the old school gear, it definitely isn’t the first bit of kit that I needed servicing on. And if you’ve got a working model in good shape, there’s nothing like it!