Tremolo – but if you think that just means 'volume wobble' you haven't tried the mother of all tremolos yet: Uhbik-T!
Our tremolo unit Uhbik-T is a general-purpose 'rhythmicizer' featuring linear or exponential gain modulation. But there's much more: You can morph between user-defined patterns in the 11 x 16 grid, apply rhythmic lowpass filtering, add vibrato or Haas-delay spatial effects... tremolo redefined!
Uhbik-T: Tremolo & Panner
The most common definitions of tremolo involve a regular and repetitive variation in volume, by whatever means are available to the musical instrument. In electronic-music-speak it usually means amplitude modulation via LFO...
For standard LFO parameters, see "Uhbik LFO Parameters" below.
There are a lot of different elements in Uhbik-T, and the LFO has more to do in this one – see Pattern modes below.
In parallel with amplitude modulation, the signal can be moved across stereo channels, and the tone can be modulated using a lowpass filter. The perceived position can be shifted using a short delay between stereo channels, making use of the Haas Effect: how we hear position is affected by slight differences in the time it takes for the sound to reach each ear. Up to about 40ms, the longer the delay between the left and right channels, the more extreme the panning effect will be.
So Uhbik-T’s LFO can modulate 3 parameters at the same time: volume (conventional tremolo), stereo or surround position (Haas effect), and tone (cutoff frequency of a lowpass filter).
While the most useful LFO rates for flanging and phasing are quite slow (one cycle often extending over several bars), tremolo is more musically useful if the LFO is faster i.e. several cycles per second. Also, soft LFO shapes tend to be less interesting than hard ones such as pulse waves or rhythmic patterns. To make all this available in Uhbik-T, it has a much more complex LFO than the other Uhbik effects. You can even set different patterns for each channel.
Gain Attenuation and Gain Law
The gain attenuation knob controls how much the LFO will affect volume. Immediately below this is the gain law selector which determines the range and response of modulation: either linear, or exponential at -12dB, -30dB or -96dB.
￼Haas Delay and Channel Offset
The haas delay knob controls the maximum delay for each channel. Note that the Haas effect is only apparent if the LFO phases are shifted apart using channel offset. Also: When summed to mono, the Haas effect becomes a chorus.
The Filter Attenuation knob controls how much LFO affects the cutoff of a lowpass filter. As well as making a sound quieter, reducing high frequencies will also give it a less defined position.
No Mix Knob
A mix control wouldn’t make sense in Uhbik-T because adding the dry signal to the Haas delay would result in an obvious chorus, overpowering the intended effect. However, you can isolate the dry signal by setting gain attenuation, haas delay and filter attenuation to zero.
Combining all 3 effect modules in Uhbik-T can deliver some very interesting spatial effects. “A bit of everything” is often more effective than a pure tremolo or rhythmic pan here. Because the volume stays fairly constant, it is particularly easy to mix into a song.
The operation switch selects one of four LFO modes:
Wave: the LFO is exactly the same as in the other Uhbik effects.
Wave x2 / x3 / x4: the LFO completes 2, 3 or 4 cycles in the same time as it would otherwise only complete one. What makes these modes interesting is that the Symmetry parameter still works as if there was only a single cycle! Consecutive LFO cycles are therefore squashed and stretched, resulting in a kind of tremolo “swing” - which can be very handy for music with complex grooves.
The Pattern modes are a bit more involved – but this is where the fun really starts in Uhbik-T...
The two pattern modes are used for creating complex rhythms or dramatic gate effects. Patterns are user-definable, so these modes have a special editor (click on the pattern tab in the top left of the Uhbik-T window). You can define up to 11 patterns, with maximum 16 steps. The description below may seem a little confusing at first – reading isn’t enough, you will have to try it out!
Patterns replaces Uhbik’s standard LFO shapes. For 16 semiquavers, set the LFO to 4 quarters. For typical gating effects, 2 quarters is enough. In Uhbik-T, the wave (pattern) knob doesn’t blend LFO shape, it selects a position on or in- between the 11 patterns. Setting it to a value of e.g. 5.00 will apply patterns 1 and 2 with equal strength. Intermediate values are particularly useful for accents, like in a drum-machine.
The current pattern position is indicated by a small orange line to the right of the grid, and phase position is indicated below the grid. The scale (smooth) knob also takes on a new role (because amplitude scaling is redundant for on/ off values). It is a smoothing control. You may find this knob very useful for avoiding clicks!
The length of the pattern. Note that the steps are always spread over the total length of the LFO, so when you reduce the number here, steps will be played back more slowly. If you would like to have your new 12-step pattern play back at precisely the same rate as your 16-step pattern did, you should change times from 4 quarters to 3.
Pattern X vs Pattern Y
In Pattern X mode, the Channel Offset parameter separates the phase position for each stereo channel, just as it does in the normal Wave modes. In Pattern Y mode, it separates the pattern i.e. it lets you use different patterns in different channels (this also works in surround). Note that in Pattern X mode, channel offset splits the phase position indicator while in Pattern Y mode, it splits the pattern position indicator.
Tips for Uhbik-T
Try Uhbik-T with a complex drum loop, and experiment with all the controls using the various Wave modes. Then switch over to a pattern mode, enter the pattern editor and activate some points in the grid. You can click+drag in the grid to “paint” and erase multiple points. Adjust the Phase and modulation depths to accentuate or soften transients. While adjusting the LFO rate, Uhbik-T can sometimes get out of step. This can be remedied by stopping and starting playback in the host application (which resynchronizes Uhbik-T’s LFO). This also works in all Uhbik modulation effects, but it is particularly important for Uhbik-T because rhythms can be so strong.
Uhbik LFO parameters
Several of the plug-ins in the Uhbik collection are modulation effects which include a low frequency oscillator (LFO). They all have the same set of controls in the same positions:
Time Unit, Times
Modulation rate is controlled by a combination of the time unit and times parameters. The rate is continuously adjustable using the times knob, but depending on the selected time unit, it is either a time/frequency (in seconds or Hertz), a tempo (divisions of the current song tempo), or a manually set position within the LFO wave...
If quarters is selected, a times value of e.g. 16 means that the LFO wave has precisely the same length as 16 quarters. In this case, the higher the value of times, the slower the LFO. If 1/x is selected, 16 times means that the LFO cycle lasts for a 16th (semiquaver). In this case, the higher the value of times, the faster the LFO.
Similarly, if Seconds is selected, 16 times means 16 seconds. If Hertz is selected, it means 16 cycles per second. In general, the Quarters and Seconds modes are more suitable for slow modulation, whereas 1/x and Hertz are more suitable for fast modulation.
Manual lets you control modulation via e.g. parameter automation in your sequencer. In this mode, the LFO is effectively frozen unless you move the phase (see below) – which scans through the LFO wave manually or via automation. The times value here determines how many LFO cycles are included in the range of the phase knob. An example: times is set to 4. If you move the phase from 0 to maximum, you will have scanned through 4 complete LFO cycles.
Phase, Channel Offset
The LFO’s phase is particularly important in time unit modes that depend upon song tempo. The phase knob effectively shifts the LFO forwards or backwards in time – it adjusts the LFO phase so that modulation will rise and fall precisely where you want it to.
The channel offset parameter shifts LFO phase(s) between the channels of a stereo signal in opposite directions.
Wave, Scale, Symmetry
The wave parameter continually adjusts the basic LFO shape, from triangle to sine.
The scale parameter skews the wave vertically so that the upper half of the wave is shorter and more pronounced or longer and more subtle than the lower half.
The symmetry parameter skews the LFO wave horizontally so that the rising part is either shorter or longer than the falling part. For instance, minimum symmetry applied to a triangle wave makes it more sawtooth-like.
In combination, these parameters give you very fine control over the shape of the LFO. For instance, you can concentrate most of the effect on the “offbeat”.