UNIVERSAL AUDIO HAS GAINED A REPUTATION FOR
developing software plug-ins that successfully emulate the
sound and response of classic audio hardware processors, many
of which work wonders with acoustic and electric guitars. Here,
we’ll examine three guitar-friendly ambience plug-ins.
The latest U.A. plug-ins are only compatible with the second
generation of the company’s accelerator cards, known as UAD-2,
which are available as internal PCI Express cards for use with
desktop computers (Mac or PC), or external
Firewire 400/800 devices for use with
laptops (Mac only). The UAD-2 hardware
supports VST, Audio Unit (AU), and RTAS
plug-in formats. I tested AU versions of the
plug-ins on a six-core 3.33GHz Mac Pro
(OS 10.6.6/13GB of RAM) loaded with a
UAD-2 Quad DSP Accelerator card. The topof-
the-line Quad card sports four SHARC
processors, providing enough horsepower
to handle a plethora of even the most DSPhungry
plug-ins. My primary host application
was MOTU Digital Performer 7.2.2.
EP-34 Tape Echo
Following on the heels of U.A.’s excellent
Roland RE-201 Space Echo plug-in comes
the EP-34 Tape Echo ($199 retail), a remarkably
realistic emulation of the ’70s-era solidstate
Maestro EP-3 and EP-4 model Echoplex
echo units. The user interface looks very
similar to the control panel on the EP-4—
down to the “sliding head” used to adjust
delay time between Short (80ms) and Long (700ms)—though
the EP-34 also provides some very handy features not found
on the original, such as a delay time in milliseconds display, a
Sync switch for locking delay times to your DAW’s tempo, Hi
and Low inputs for affecting tape saturation, and an Echo Pan
control for positioning delays within the stereo field. Another
clever feature is the Echo Send On/Off switch, which lets you
enable/disable signal sent to the delay input without affecting
already occurring repeats.
If you have ever used an Echoplex you will find that the EP-34
responds and sounds very much like the real thing (factoring
in the idiosyncrasies of individual hardware units, of course).
Move the sliding head while playing and you can hear the tape
hiccup and reset itself as the pitch and time increase or decrease.
Increase the regeneration at the same time and the EP-34 goes
into self-oscillation, creating spacey Bitches Brew-type effects.
And being able to automate the EP-34’s functions opens up lots
of creative possibilities. If you dig Echoplex sounds, but would
prefer to get them without the bulky hardware and attendant
maintenance hassles, the EP-34 is for you.
The U.A. UAD-2 Quad PCI Express card sports a quartet of SHARC processors.
Cooper Time Cube Mk II Delay
Created by Duane H. Cooper and U.A. founder Bill Putnam
in 1971, the Cooper Time Cube is a rare electro-mechanical
device that creates dual delays by routing audio through a pair
of long hose-like tubes and capturing it at the other end. The
Time Cube only produces 14ms and 16ms delays (30ms with
the tubes connected in series), but it has a unique sound that
is exceptionally pleasing and, among other things, enhances
stereo imagery in a way that works beautifully with most musical
instruments—including guitars. The Cooper Time Cube Mk
II Delay plug-in ($149 retail) extends the maximum delay time
for both delay lines to 2,500ms, allows you to sync the delay
times to your DAW’s tempo, provides global EQ (Bass, Treble,
HP Filter) and Decay controls, and lets you pan the delays separately.
There is also a Coils switch for choosing between the
sound of individual or combined coils, and a Color switch that
selects between the original unit’s filtering emphasis and a flatter
Despite its somewhat minimal controls, the Time Cube is
capable of producing numerous sounds, from subtle stereo
image enhancements to slapbacks and pseudo-spring reverb
to longer and rhythmically synched echoes. But the main
thing is just how good it makes everything sound, and the
way in which it enlarges and emphasizes sounds within a
mix without necessarily increasing their level. This is truly
a magical effect, and if you are like me, you’ll be tempted to
use it on everything.
The user interface for the EMT 250 Classic Electronic Reverberator.
EMT 250 Classic
EMT introduced the Model 250 digital reverberator in 1976,
and it is still considered by many to be one of the best-sounding
digital reverb devices ever made. Universal Audio’s emulation
was modeled on a cherry unit at Ocean Way Recording
and incorporates the original algorithms. The interface for the
EMT 250 Classic Electronic Reverberator ($249 retail) looks
nearly identical to that of the hardware: Six pushbuttons select
Reverb, Delay, Phase, Chorus, Echo, or Space mode, and four
levers control various functions depending on the mode. For
example, in Reverb mode they control decay time (400ms-
4.5 seconds), low-frequency decay time, high-frequency decay
time, and pre-delay (up to 60ms). Delay mode provides up to
a 315ms delay, and Echo mode adds delay repeats. The Chorus
and Phase modes sound great, if not like what you might expect
(e.g., there is no LFO to create modulation). The Space mode
is unique to the EMT 250 and sounds much like you might
imagine, enveloping any sound in deeply reverberant spaces
with long decay times. As for the Reverb mode, the sounds
are truly majestic, and suitable for everything from adding a
touch of ambience to an individual instrument to imbuing
complete mixes with a sense of shared space.
CONTACT Universal Audio, (877) 698-2834; uaudio.com
More from this Roundup:
J Ferro Basses Introduces the Arcadia to their Line of Basses
Def Leppard Announces North American Tour with Poison and Tesla
Journey Instruments Expands Line of Collapsible Carbon Fiber Acoustic Travel Bass Guitars
Best Service Presents Ethno World 6 by Marcel Barsotti
Bonnaroo 2017 Reveals full Lineup
ADAM Audio Introduces the S Series Range of Studio Monitors
GIK Acoustics Makes Impact with New Impression Series
Best Service Presents Etnno World 6 by Marcel Barsotti
Titanium Timepieces Make Every Time the Light Time
Ibanez Introduces Retro Fuzz Pedal as a Mini
Shochu makes a splash in its Japanese homeland and abroad
ICYMI: Metallica to Perform at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards
So This Is Suffering Premiere New Song and Music Video, "Columbine"
Behemoth Frontman Nergal Premieres First Single From New Gothic Folk Project, "My Church is Black"
NAMM 2017: BluGuitar Amp1 System Now Available in the U.S.
Four Ways to Practice Drop 2 Chords Through the Cycle of 4ths
Using Out-of-the-Box Scale Fingerings to Master the Fretboard
Copyright ©2017 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470