With so many top-tier de­lay plug­ins around, can the revered ana­logue-mod­el­ling ex­perts bring some­thing new to the party? Let’s find out…

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“A true tweaker’s de­lay – think dub-style per­for­mances and pitch-sweeps”

Touted as “a vir­tual-ana­logue ef­fect in­spired by clas­sic bucket-brigade de­lays”, Colour Copy (VST/AU/AAX) is the lat­est plugin ef­fect from Ber­lin’s u-he: a greatly ex­panded ver­sion of the Lyre­bird de­lay mod­ule found in their Re­pro-1 and Re­pro-5 synths.

Known for their dis­tinc­tively dark sound, ana­logue BBD de­lays work by pass­ing the in­put sig­nal down through a se­ries of ca­pac­i­tors to the out­put, anal­o­gous to a queue of fire­fight­ers pass­ing buck­ets of wa­ter down the line from one to the next (hence the name). This re­sults in sonic ‘spillage’ with each sub­se­quent re­peat, plus sat­u­rated echoes with hot in­put lev­els. Chang­ing the rate at which the sig­nal is passed from ca­pac­i­tor to ca­pac­i­tor al­ters the de­lay time with less glitch­ing than dig­i­tal de­lays, as well as the pitch of the de­lays – think dubby, pitchshift­ing feed­back. u-he’s soft­ware em­u­la­tion aims to bring all of this and more to your plug­in­host­ing DAW.

Bucket list

Start­ing from the far left of Colour Copy’s in­ter­face, In­put gain (-24/+24dB) is used to drive the sig­nal harder and thus con­trol the de­gree of echo sat­u­ra­tion. De­lay rate is set with the Time Base drop-down – choose be­tween four un­clocked rates (.001s, .01s, .1s and 1s) or 15 straight, dot­ted and triplet synced times, rang­ing from 1/32 to 2/1 – while the bipo­lar Rate con­trol scales the Time Base value from 1/4 at min­i­mum to 4x at max, and can be swept or au­to­mated for those pitch-wob­bling re­peats de­scribed ear­lier. Change the de­lay time and you’ll see the de­lay time pe­riod change in the cen­tral win­dow – more on this later.

Then there’s the Re­gen(er­a­tion) knob: raise this to pro­gres­sively route the out­put sig­nal back into the in­put for roar­ing feed­back. If that gets out of con­trol, as can eas­ily hap­pen, there’s a handy Panic (!) but­ton to cut off the re­peats. Over to the right, you’ve got a trio of self­ex­plana­tory con­trols: stereo Width amount, dry/ wet Mix, and Out­put (-24/+24dB) gain for set­ting the fi­nal level.

Tap dance

The top half of Colour Copy’s green cen­tral win­dow dis­plays real-time vis­ual feed­back for the left and right de­lay lines. As men­tioned, the hor­i­zon­tal time­line rep­re­sents the cur­rent de­lay time as set with the Time Base and Rate pa­ram­e­ters, with note di­vi­sions over­laid on top. Drag an L or R pointer to re­po­si­tion those taps along the hor­i­zon­tal time­lines, and hold Cmd/ Ctrl to snap th­ese to those note val­ues. Do­ing this doesn’t af­fect the re­peat times of ei­ther de­lay line at all, but in­stead lets you shorten the time be­tween dry sig­nal and echo for L and R in­de­pen­dently, fa­cil­i­tat­ing stereo off­set ef­fects.

Th­ese tap po­si­tions can also be mod­u­lated, as we’ll get to shortly.

The bot­tom of the cen­tral win­dow is where you cus­tomise sig­nal rout­ing. Choose be­tween Stereo, Cross, Mono, Mono-L and Mono-R for the In­put sig­nal; and set Feed­back rout­ing be­tween Stereo, Cross and Mix. The po­lar­ity of the feed­back sig­nal can also be in­verted with the In­vert switch to the right, which is par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive at chang­ing the tone when us­ing very short de­lay times.

Mod­u­la­tion sta­tion

Colour Copy’s Mod­u­la­tion op­tions en­able you to as­sign a pair of stereo LFOs to the de­lay Rate or Tap Po­si­tions, cre­at­ing com­plex and dis­tinc­tive ef­fects. There’s also the Rate + op­tion, which ex­tends the mod­u­la­tion range in both direc­tions for de­lays up to four times slower or four times faster. The Amp(li­tude) mod­u­la­tion des­ti­na­tion, mean­while, al­lows you to dial in auto-pan­ning or tremolo ef­fects.

Duck tales

Per­haps less in­tu­itive but even more use­ful is the Duck­ing sec­tion in the bot­tom left, which en­ables the Re­gen­er­a­tion sig­nal to be sup­pressed when­ever the in­put sig­nal ex­ceeds a set thresh­old. The aim here is to avoid the de­lay sig­nal over­pow­er­ing the in­put, and it’s in­cred­i­bly ef­fec­tive. In Amp mode, the whole de­lay sig­nal will be sup­pressed, but the clever FB mode al­lows the first de­layed sig­nal through un­af­fected be­fore duck­ing the rest. Sim­ple, but highly use­ful.

CC me in

Un­like straight-up dig­i­tal de­lays, u-he’s BBD mod­el­ling is de­signed for smooth, glitch-free changes of buf­fer length in real time, and this makes Colour Copy a true tweaker’s de­lay – think dub-style per­for­mances and hands-on echo pitch-sweeps. There’s also a cool Freeze op­tion which loops the de­lay in­def­i­nitely. This, like all of the plugin’s main pa­ram­e­ters, can be as­signed to a MIDI con­trol, ex­pand­ing the ef­fect’s po­ten­tial as a per­for­mance tool.

The in­ter­face is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to other de­lay plug­ins, how­ever, and takes a lit­tle while to get used to – the way the Rate con­trol and L/R Tap Po­si­tions in­ter­act isn’t im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous, for ex­am­ple. If you’re look­ing for a more in­tu­itive de­sign, a plugin such as FabFil­ter’s Time­less 2 or Sound­toys EchoBoy might be the way to go. That’s not nec­es­sar­ily a crit­i­cism of Colour Copy so much as a dif­fer­ence in ap­proach, though, and CC’s sound is worth the learn­ing curve.

As you’d ex­pect from the cre­ators of out­stand­ing vir­tual-ana­logue in­stru­ments such as Diva, Re­pro-1 and Re­pro-5, Colour Copy sounds ut­terly awe­some at pretty much ev­ery set­ting. From scream­ing echo dis­tor­tion to lush cho­rus and flang­ing ef­fects and more, it’s an ab­so­lute beauty.

“As you’d ex­pect Colour Copy sounds ut­terly awe­some at pretty much ev­ery set­ting”

The Con­fig­u­ra­tion page makes it easy to as­sign MIDI con­trollers to Colour Copy pa­ram­e­ters for hands-on tweak­ing

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