Uhbik-D is a multi-tap delay resembling a classic tape echo unit, with multiple record and playback heads. The delay time is a function of tape speed: the slower the tape, the longer the delay. Like classic echo units, Uhbik-D also feature a regeneration control (feedback) – how much of the output is mixed back into the input.
Real tape echo has several technical imperfections and limitations. Magnetic tape already has a limited frequency and dynamic range, tape wears out over time, transport mechanisms become erratic. But what were previously considered serious drawbacks in need of improvement, such irregularities (coloration, flutter) have become quite popular in this age of digital perfection!
On the other hand, digital delays do have some significant advantages. For instance precise and repeatable timing and freely adjustable taps (the digital equivalent of playback heads).
Uhbik-D combines all these concepts, adds synchronization and more. As there are no physical playback heads, delay times can be extremely short – and tap positions can even cross over!
1/16, Pan, Vol
Uhbik-D has 5 freely adjustable taps. The length/position of each tap can be set (0 to 16 semiquavers) via the upper row of knobs labelled 1/16. Note: the order of taps is irrelevant, they all work in parallel.
The pan and vol knobs control the panorama position and final volume (not the feedback level!) of each tap.
Speed, Depth, Mod Rate, Modulation
The large speed knob simultaneously adjusts the length of all taps (by +/- 50%), which is very handy for changing the overall timing, from straight quaver to dotted or triplet etc..
Of course the speed can be modulated. To the right are 3 smaller controls: modulation depth, mod rate, modulation type. The modulation type LFO is similar to chorus: all taps are by slightly detuned, resulting in a more organic sound. The flutter setting is a random modulation source for more irregular echos - perfect for simulating real tape echo.
Feedback Knob and Selectors
The feedback knob controls feedback intensity, effectively how long the echos take to fade away. The five selectors at the bottom activate/deactivate feedback for each tap, so very complex feedback patterns are easy to set up. If none are selected, an ‘invisible’ tap at 16/16 is fed back into the input. Feedback volumes are fixed, feedback is not affected by the vol knobs.
The tape echo paradigm still holds true here: The signal (on tape) is read at several points along its length by multiple playback heads, feedback signals are ‘re-recorded’ and sent to all taps again.
If you select feedback for many taps at once, it is possible to generate a delay that builds up instead of decaying. Fortunately, non-linear processes (limiting and distortion) enforce a ceiling level. Also, switching on feedback for more taps automatically reduces individual levels in the feedback signal, which also helps keep feedback under control – so just TURN IT UP and see what happens!
High Cut, Low Cut and Soft Clip
Uhbik-D includes a few additional sound shaping devices: Two shelving filters (high and low) plus soft-clipping distortion. These are embedded in the feedback channel so that echos become increasingly colored and/or distorted as they fade out - typical behavior for real tape echo machines, and adjustable in Uhbik-D.
The mix knob controls the relative volumes of the dry and wet signals.
Tips for Uhbik-D
Groove delay: As mentioned above, a tap can still contribute to the feedback even if its volume is set to 0.00: the vol values only affect the final output from each tap. Imagine an echo that repeats every quaver although precise quavers are not part of the echo signal: simply set one of the taps to 8.00 with volume at 0.00. Switch on its Feedback. Set two other taps to around (but not exactly) 8 and 4, then adjust their volumes...
Ping-pong delay using the Haas effect: Set up Tap1 as an inaudible (vol = 0.00) feedback delay, length = 4.00. Set taps 2 and 3 to 2.00 and pan them fully L-R. Similarly, set taps 4 and 5 to 4.00 and pan them fully L-R. Listen to the results with taps 2 to 5 set to maximum volume and feedback around 50.00. Now slightly spread the lengths of each pair slightly, in opposite directions like this:
Tap2 = 1.90, Tap3 = 2.10, Tap4 = 4.10, Tap5 = 3.90
Although the left and right panned echoes in each pair (2&3, 4&5) happen almost simultaneously, one appears to come from the left and the other from the right. This is the Haas effect at work, a subtle but interesting ping-pong effect that would be impossible using only 2 taps.