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DM-2 vs. DM-2

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Jan 19, 2010 6:28 AM GMT

Many harmonica players love the old Boss DM-2 analog delay. It is featured in a couple of Jason Ricci's videos on gear. There is some basic information on the pedal here:

As noted at that site, the pedal was made in the early eighties, and only the earliest ones had the MN3005 chip, while most had the MN3205 chip. Some guitarists (they love this pedal, too) make a big deal about the difference, and the MN3005 versions often fetch considerably more money. The MN3005 versions are considered to be "better," and less noisy, but many suspect the differences are subtle.

I've had the MN3205 version for some time, and adore it for both guitar and harmonica. It is a warm, rich delay that seems to make anything sound better.

When a MN3005 version came up on a guitar forum for barely more than I paid for the MN3205, I jumped on it. Someone was ahead of me in line, but thankfully, it is on its way to me.

I'm planning to compare them with both harmonica and guitar. Has anyone ever played both? Any preferences? I know that I'm not the most knowledgeable person on HS, but now I wonder if I'm the most obsessive!

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Comments (15)

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Jan 26, 2010 6:43 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

I'm not sure why this pedal, traveling via Priority Mail, went east from the seller in the US state of Ohio to Pennsylvania, then west and far north to Alaska to finally head south to Hawaii, but it is waiting for me at our little rural post office. The comparison will happen soon. I did find a post on a guitar forum in which someone compared the two versions of the DM-2 for guitar, and found the MN3005 to be a cleaner (although still warm) delay, while he thought the other version was a somewhat muddier echo-style pedal. That review would tend to make me think the more desirable version might be better for harmonica, but I'll compare them soon.

DM2 -3005

Jan 27, 2010 6:11 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

I received the pedal today, and did a first round of tests. I used a modified Special 20 into a 1962 Shure Green Bullet and a 1983 Fender Champ II amp. I want to do more testing with other amps. Tonight, the two pedals sounded significantly different. The MN3005 version had crisper repeats, less noise, and more of a tendency to pick up stray sounds. The less expensive MN3205 version was a bit muddier, and had a bit more noise, but tonight, I preferred it a bit for harmonica. It seems to thicken the sound and give a sense of presence ... less crisp sounded better to my ears for harmonica. I liked the MN3005 version better for guitar, as it had more of a rich sound, with better harmonics. They were quite close, and I'm very curious to see whether the results change with other amps, mics, etc.

Jan 27, 2010 6:54 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

Looks like this DM-2 was ind the sand bath. Too much scracthes. Are you happy with bypass of DM-2. Which year it was produced?

Jan 28, 2010 7:08 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

Boris --

There is a way to date these pedals from one of the components inside, but I haven't done it. The DM-2, according to, was produced from June, 1981 to February, 1984. There were three versions. It looks like the first one had the MN3005 chip, the second one had the MN3205 chip and a black label on the bottom, and the third version had the MN3205 chip and a green label on the bottom. If my categories are right, I have a first and a second version. I'm guessing that my older pedal was from 1981 or 1982, and the newer one was from 1982 or 1983.

I actually like some wear on old pedals, guitars, amps and mics. It gives them some character, and leads me to have no worries about scratching them! Boss pedals, at least the old ones, are known to be very well-built, and both of these pedals work fine. The other one I have is a little less worn ... but not much!

Jan 28, 2010 9:10 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:


Do you compare it to other delay pedals like lonewolf, BBE two timer, carbon copy? What about bypass? It's not true bypass, but modern boss stompboxes has a relatively good bypass. What about older one?

Jan 28, 2010 12:33 PM GMT
Kingley Replied:

I use a Boss DM-2 and for my money it's the best delay I have ever used. Over the years I have used a lot of different ones and none of them come even close to the DM-2 to my ear. Although I haven't tried the BBE Two timer and the MXR Carbon Copy.

Jason Ricci did a great video on YouTube comparing the Boss DM-2 and the BBE Two Timer. On the strength of that video alone, if I didn't have the DM-2 I'd buy a BBE Two Timer.

Jan 28, 2010 3:21 PM GMT
John P Replied:

I think th BBE Two Timer sounds very BRIGHT. Good pedal though. i use the MXR Carbon Copy which is dark sounding, and seems to compress the highs just a little bit. Very smooth, fat sound for harp.

Btw, i absolutely agree w/Boris: true bypass is the way to go if you can.

Jan 28, 2010 7:59 PM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

I use lonewolf, but I'm not completely happy (great for blues and rock but not enough bright for jazz for my taste). Just interesting in is it worth to change it for harp delay v2 or for carbon copy or two timer.

Jan 28, 2010 8:44 PM GMT
Kingley Replied:

I'd get the BBE Two Timer as it has dual delay settings which is a very useful feature for gigs.

Jan 28, 2010 9:12 PM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

After looking at Chris Michalek's gear I prefer to have one short analog (or analog0like digital delay like lonewolf) for fatting tone and one digital delay for long delays, spacey effects ond other cool stuff. Now I have Lonewolf for fatting tone (but wanna carbon copy or harpdelay v2) and Ibanez DE7 (wanna Line 6 echo park) for effects.

Anyway it works good. You can listen to my tune, recorded live. It's SM57to Boss PS3 (octave effect on solo)to Harpdelay (always on) to to Harpattack (always on) to Small Stone Phaser (I use it under guitar solo) Ibanez DE7 delay (for beginning end the ending) i turn delay knob for pitch shifting of delayed signal.

B.Plotnikov-A.Rodovsky-Veteran - Nu Name

Jan 29, 2010 6:49 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

Boris --

Nice playing and very cool clips. I love the use of effects.

There's a huge debate in guitar circles about whether true bypass has been oversold, and whether some old pedals actually add tone rather than detract from it. In any case, I generally run my older pedals that don't have true bypass through a separate pedal that acts as an external bypass. It separates the DM-2, so the signal of the harmonica doesn't go through the DM-2 when I'm not using the DM-2.

Looper Diagram

I made this diagram of one of these pedals to help me figure out how to route the signal correctly. At the time, I was using it for old Ibanez and MXR pedals for guitar.

Jan 29, 2010 10:01 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

I want to make same bypass loop pedal but my pedalboard is already too heavy and I love all rig here:

1. AKG Wireles

2. Rocktron Hush

3. Boss HR-2 harmonist (or Boss PS-3 pitch shifter, I didn't decide which one I like more)

4. Electroharmonix Small Stone (or Ibanez PM7 if I'm lazy to carry Small Stone)

5. Lonewolf Harp Delay

6. LoneWolf Harp Attack

7. Ibanez DE-7

8. Boss GE7 EQ (for some amps MXR six band, or nothing if i'm happy with amp I gonna use)

9. BBE Sonic stomp

10. Boss LS2 (rare, to split sygnals, only if I use two amps)

I virtually have no place for another box...

Jan 30, 2010 2:39 PM GMT
John P Replied:

If a pedal isn't true bypass is has an effect on tone when not engaged. whether that effect is good or bad is a different question. Personally, I prefer true bypass if given a choice.

Jan 30, 2010 3:53 PM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

I think most players prefer true bypass (maybe except some guitarists, who use passive pickups). I always worry about AC adaptor, if it goes wrong I hardly can continue playing as bypass of my boss stompboxes can't work withoutelectricity. The same about batteries, if it discharged bypass stop working too. So If pedals are true bypass I can step them off and continue playing even without AC adaptor and with discharged batteries..

Feb 02, 2010 6:25 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

I've done more testing, and both DM-2s sound fantastic. For the most part, the results come out the same, although sometimes I like the MN3005 a bit better for harmonica, and sometimes the MN3205. I like both more than the other delays I've tried so far.

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