ValhallaÜberMod, at its heart, is a stereo modulated multitap delay line. The signal is written into parallel delay lines (1 for left, 1 for right), and is read out by one or more delay taps. The taps can be moved back and forth in time, by low frequency oscillators or user controls, in order to produce pitch changes via the Doppler effect. The plugin also incorporates diffusion delays, soft saturation, low and high cut filters, and a variety of other controls to shape the delay tap amplitudes, spacing, tone and movement.
So, what can you do with a stereo modulated multitap delay line?
- Chorus. ValhallaÜberMod contains elements inspired by the Roland Dimension choruses, but vastly expanded in order and with fully parametric controls. The classic “Dimension D” sound can be emulated, but ÜberMod can also emulate the multi-voice choruses previously limited to high end rack gear.
- Ensembles. The modulation section of ÜberMod contains slow and fast LFOs, that can be mixed in together. In addition, some of the Modes are based around the specific modulation schemes of vintage string ensemble units, such as the 3-phase LFOs found in the Solina and Crumar Performer, and the dual triangle LFOs of the Roland VP330/RS505. This allows ÜberMod to dial in a variety of “classic” ensemble effects, as well as more realistic emulations of orchestral sounds.
- Flanging. By using one of the multitap modes, and keeping the delays short and grouped closely together, ÜberMod can create huge flanging sounds, that incorporate the through-zero effects of tape flanging, while adding random motion and complexity to produce an effect that is remarkably similar to a jet flying overhead.
- Delays. ÜberMod allows the user to sync the delays to the DAW tempo, as well as dialing in specific delay times in milliseconds.
- Multitap Delays. With up to 32 taps, ÜberMod can create dense clusters of delays, rhythmic tapped delays, strongly pitched comb filtering effects, and all sorts of multitap sounds. The TAPS controls allow the user to shape the spacing and amplitude of the delay taps via intuitive high-level controls.
- Ping-Pong Delays. The new WARP InputPan control (introduced in the 1.0.1 ÜberMod release) allows for any of the delay Modes to be turned into a ping pong mode. This goes well beyond the standard ping pong delays, and can produce ping ponging delay clusters, ping pong delays with strange rhythmic divisions, ping ponged multitap clusters, and tons of other effects that bounce back and forth between speakers.
- Tape and BBD delay emulations. ValhallaÜberMod has a flexible overdrive section, including pre and post gain, as well as noise that can be mixed into the signal. The delay time changes can also be slewed, using the WARP Smoothing control, to produce the slow delay transitions and pitch changes that are typical of analog delays. By dialing in overdrive, noise, and feedback, and adjusting the flexible EQ section, the user can get low-bandwidth BBD emulations, wobbly tape delays, and long echos that degenerate into shrieking oscillation.
- Diffuse delays. Many of the high-end Lexicon and Eventide rack units combined diffusion delays with longer delay lines, to soften the attacks of echos. ValhallaÜberMod has a flexible diffusion section, to create smeared echos, clusters of delays, and all sorts of diffuse effects.
- Reverbs. The diffusion section in ÜberMod has variable size and modulation parameters, similar to ValhallaShimmer, but more optimized for generic delay effects. Crank up the diffusion size and turn up the feedback, and all sorts of reverb effects can be produced: short ambiences, large rooms, huge halls.
- Nonlinear and reverse reverbs. Combine the diffusion section with a Mode that has a larger number of delay taps (8/16/32 taps) to generate short gated reverbs, “reverse” reverbs that fade in slowly over time, room reverbs with a truncated decay, etc.
- “Glitch Shifting.” The triangle oscillators in ÜberMod were designed to create “detuned” choruses, without an obvious sense of pitch wobble. Crank up the OverMod control, however, and all sorts of unpredictable pitch shifted and reversed sounds can be produced. I call this “glitch shifting,” although I still feel dirty whenever I type that phrase.
- Oscillations. Turn on the DRIVE, and crank up the feedback, and ÜberMod will start making sounds on its own. By adjusting the delay and modulation settings, all sorts of crazy burbling whirling machine noises can be generated.
- Stereo Widening. Use short Diffusion settings to widen the stereo image. Add a bit of modulation to create stereo choruses. Crank up the DEPTH control to create super-stereo effects.
- Chimeras. This is the term I use for sounds that combine aspects of several effects to create sounds that are new, weird, and in many cases defy easy categorization:
- Reverbs with ensemble modulation
- Ping-Pong Reverbs
- Tape Reverbs, where the sound gets more distorted as it decays away
- Sounds that don’t have names yet
So, why create a single plugin that covers all of these sounds, instead of several plugins where each plugin is tailored to a specific application? I’m not exactly sure. In many ways, I feel that ValhallaÜberMod was a plugin that designed itself, instead of me creating something that did exactly what I wanted it to do. At each stage during the development process, I uncovered new and exciting sounds that defied easy categorization. I decided to create a plugin that allowed for those sounds to be dialed in, as well as sounds that as yet remained undiscovered.
ValhallaÜberMod is “close to the metal.” There are a lot of controls, that have been grouped according to logical function. In some ways, ÜberMod is like a Swiss Army Knife for modulated delays, but this doesn’t really describe the chimera effects that are neither fish nor fowl. The oddball possibilities are what I find most interesting about ÜberMod. It explores the spaces, the shared commonalities, that lie underneath the common modulated delay effects, while making room for other effects that don’t fit within the standardized categories. I nearly went crazy designing ÜberMod, and I think that some of that over-caffeinated energy was captured within the plugin, in the context of a logical structure that allows the user to control the sanity/insanity ratio.
ValhallaÜberMod allows the user to dial in different chorus, ensemble, and glitch shifting modulations through the use of the MOD controls. By clicking on the MOD button at the upper right of the GUI, the 5 modulation parameters can be viewed and adjusted:
The MOD parameters:
- MOD SlowRate controls the slower delay modulation LFOs, with the value represented in Hertz. Depending on the Mode being used, this will control the speed of anywhere from 1 to 16 LFOs.
- In modes with multiple LFOs, the modulation rate varies for each LFO, so the SlowRate value maps to the cycle speed of the slow LFO with the highest frequency – all the other LFOs will be somewhat slower.
- MOD SlowDepth controls the modulation depth of the slow LFOs. This is more of a scale than an absolute value, and is used to balance the slow and fast LFO depths (which are both scaled by the high level DEPTH control).
- The MOD SlowDepth also depends on the MOD OverMod setting, which acts as a control to set the slow LFO depth beyond reasonable bounds – see below.
- MOD VibRate controls the faster delay modulation LFOs, with the value represented in Hertz. Depending on the Mode being used, this will control the speed of anywhere from 1 to 32 LFOs.
- In modes with multiple LFOs, the modulation rate varies for each LFO, so the VibRate value maps to the cycle speed of the fast/vibrato LFO with the highest frequency – all the other vibrato LFOs will be somewhat slower.
- For most applications, the MOD VibRate should be used to add vibrato to a chorus, with the main detuning generated by the MOD SlowRate and MOD SlowDepth controls. However, this is just a suggestion – the fast LFOs can generate cool chorus effects by themselves.
- MOD VibDepth controls the modulation depth of the faster LFOs. This is more of a scale than an absolute value, and is used to balance the slow and fast LFO depths (which are both scaled by the high level DEPTH control).
- The MOD VibDepth setting doesn’t get as deep as the SlowDepth control, as LFOs running at faster frequencies cause more pitch change than slower LFOs.
- In addition, the MOD VibDepth isn’t affected by the setting of MOD OverMod.
- MOD OverMod. Acts as a scale on MOD SlowDepth. At the default OverMod setting (1X), the slow LFOs are optimized for creating chorusing and detuning effects. For higher settings of OverMod, the detuning gets deeper and deeper, until it moves into the realm of pitch shifting and backwards delays.
- The modulation depth established by MOD SlowDepth and MOD OverMod is also scaled by the high level DEPTH slider.
- The pitch shifting is not the controlled type found in ValhallaShimmer. The amount of pitch bend depends on the interconnections between MOD SlowRate, MOD SlowDepth, MOD OverMod, and the DEPTH slider. A better name for this would be “glitch shifting.” I just threw up a little in my mouth as I typed this, but it is the most descriptive phrase I can think of for the OverMod artifacts.
In keeping with the tradition set by ValhallaShimmer and ValhallaRoom, there are several different “modes” in ValhallaÜberMod. These modes are selected by clicking on the name of the currently active mode, to the right of the “MODE:” text. A popup menu will appear, with the names of the available modes:
Each of the ÜberMod Modes selects a specific combination of delay output taps, as well as different modulation options for moving those taps around. I have referred to these as chorus modes or delay modes, but they are really both, so “modes” is probably the best description. A few things that all the Modes have in common:
- Separate LFOs for slower and faster modulation. The idea is that the slow LFOs are used to create the base “detuning” of the taps, while the fast LFOs are used to add string ensemble vibrato if desired. Of course, the user can use and abuse these controls however they see fit.
- Each delay tap in a mode is modulated by a unique LFO, or a unique phase from a multiphase LFO. This creates a high degree of aural complexity.
- The slower LFOs have their overall rate adjusted by MOD SlowRate, and their depth by MOD SlowDepth and MOD OverMod.
- The faster LFOs have their overall rate adjusted by MOD VibRate, and their depth by MOD VibDepth.
- True stereo, where left and right inputs feed separate delay buffers.
- An even number of delay taps, where half the taps are panned to the left, half to the right. The amount of panning is controlled by the DEPTH parameters. The 8Tap mode, for example, has 4 taps panned left, 4 panned right.
- All modes have a “pay for what you use” approach to CPU usage. The more taps there are, the higher the CPU. ValhallaÜberMod has been programmed using SIMD-optimized vector functions, so it is pretty darned optimized, but the laws of physics dictate that it is cheaper to compute 2 interpolated delay taps than 32 interpolated delay taps.
ValhallaÜberMod Version 1.0.0 ships with nine different delay/modulation modes:
- 2TapChorus has two modulated delay taps, one for the left input signal, one for the right input signal. The slow tap modulation is derived from a single triangle LFO, with the modulation phase inverted for one of the taps (I call this “antiphase modulation”). The vibrato modulation uses a quadrature oscillator, with the left and right modulations separated by 90 degrees. The 2TapChorus mode is useful for emulating the Roland Dimension C and Dimension D choruses, and also serves as a useful starting point for tape echos, diffusion-based reverbs, and all sorts of other effects.
- 4TapEnsemble has four modulated delay taps, two for the left input channel, two for the right input channel. There are two slow LFOs, one for the left taps and one for the right taps, using the same antiphase modulation as the 2TapChorus, but with different rates for each channel. Each channel has a single sine vibrato oscillator modulating one of the taps, with different rates for each input/output channel. The 4TapEnsemble can be viewed as 2 mono versions of the 2TapChorus, one panned left, and one panned right. The architecture was derived from the ensemble section of the VP330, and is naturally suited towards creating string ensemble emulations, as well as thick detuned choruses.
- SuperSix has 6 modulated delay taps (3 left/3 right). There are 3 slow triangle LFOs, using the antiphase modulation technique, with the LFO frequencies staggered to emulate the detuning of the sawtooth oscillators in the JP8000 SuperSaw. Each channel has its own independent 3-phase vibrato LFO (0/120/240 degree outputs), for emulating the vibrato component of classic string ensembles. The vibrato speed is slightly different between left and right channels, for a wider stereo spread. The SuperSix mode is a good starting point for emulating the “unison” control on older analog polyphonic synths, when all of the oscillators were used to create a massive detuned sound. SuperSix is also useful for creating triplet echos, short gated sounds, and other multitap effects.
- 6TapRandom has 6 modulated delay taps (3 left/3 right), and 3 slow LFOs, each of which has a randomized triangle waveform for the slow LFO. The left and right channels are modulated in antiphase, in a similar manner to the SuperSix mode, but the randomized triangle results in less audible patterns for the detuning. There are 6 independent vibrato LFOs, one for each output tap. The 6TapRandom mode is useful for thick multitap choruses, with less audible patterns than the SuperSix mode.
- DualEnsemble is a stereo version of the classic string ensemble choruses, as found in the Solina/ARP String Ensemble, Crumar Performer, Moog Opus 3, Korg Polysix, and so on. Each channel has its own dedicated 3-phase slow LFO (0/120/240 degree outputs), with each of the 3 taps per channel being modulated by its own phase. An identical LFO, running at a faster rate, is used for the vibrato modulation of the taps. The 3-phase LFOs for left and right channels are running at slightly different rates, to create the impression of a separate string ensemble for left and right channels. The DualEnsemble mode is the first place to turn for emulating vintage ensembles, but is also useful for creating unique effects that combine ensemble modulation with multitap effects and diffusion. Check out the SolinaVerb preset (in the Reverbs category) for an example that combines ensemble chorusing, diffusion, and feedback, to create a rich modulated reverb that adds complexity to synth pads.
- 8Tap has 8 modulated delay taps (4 left/4 right). There are 4 slow triangle LFOs, using the antiphase modulation technique, with the frequencies arranged to produce a smooth detuned sound at “sensible” settings, or a cluster of pitches when OverMod is used. There are 8 sine vibrato LFOs, one per each tap, for thick ensemble sounds. The 8Tap mode is useful for creating realistic orchestral choruses, multitap effects, short gated reverbs, ensemble effects that don’t have the distinctive 3-phase modulation patterns, crazy pitched echos (check out the presets in the Pitched folder, which all use the 8Tap mode) and all sorts of cool things.
- 16Phase is a 16-tap mode (8 taps left, 8 taps right) where all of the taps are modulated by two unique 16-phase sine LFOs, one for the slow modulation, and one for the vibrato. The phases are staggered left-right to get a wider spatial image. This is useful for creating a “super string ensemble” that has the distinctive lushness and artifacts of the old 3-phase string ensembles, only more so. The 16Phase mode is also useful for denser gated and reverse reverbs, nonlinear echos, metallic comb filtering (with the DEPTH set to 0.0), and areas I haven’t had the chance to explore yet.
- 16Tap is a 16-tap mode (8 taps left, 8 taps right). There are 8 slow triangle LFOs, using the antiphase modulation technique, with the frequencies arranged to produce a smooth distribution of detuned outputs. The triangle LFO phases are inverted between channels, to get a wide spatial image. There are 16 sine vibrato LFOs, one per each tap, with the frequencies staggered to simulate 16 separate sound sources. The 16Tap mode is useful for lush choruses that have less obvious “string ensemble” artifacts than the 16Phase mode, realistic modeling of large numbers of instruments, gated and reverse reverbs, and strong comb filters.
- 32Tap is essentially the same as the 16Tap mode, but with double the taps (16 taps left, 16 taps right) . There are 16 slow triangle LFOs, using the antiphase modulation technique, with the frequencies arranged to produce a smooth distribution of detuned outputs. The triangle LFO phases are inverted between channels, to get a wide spatial image. There are 32 sine vibrato LFOs, one per each tap, with the frequencies staggered to simulate 16 separate sound sources. The main application of the 32Tap mode is for nonlinear, gated and reverse reverbs, where the high tap density can be used in conjunction with the DIFF controls to get dense reverbs without feedback. All sorts of crazy echos and pseudo-reverbs can be made with the 32Tap mode. It is kinda overkill for chorus applications, but turn up the OverMod control and you can get crazy thick pitch shifting for drum reverbs.
ValhallaShimmer was primarily designed as a reverberator. However, it can also get some cool chorus sounds. The Chorus preset is a good place to start. Some general tips:
- Set Size as low as possible. This will keep the reverberant quality to a minimum
- Use one of the smaller reverbMode settings. The Chorus preset uses smallStereo, but mediumStereo can be used for a more diffuse, washy chorus.
- Set Diffusion up around halfway to start with, and go from there. Too high of a Diffusion setting will result in more of a small room sound, but this might be what you are looking for.
- modDepth should be set to about 0.5 for starters, and modRate should be adjusted to taste.
- Note that higher settings of Diffusion result in more pitch change for given settings of modRate/modDepth, so you may want to turn down Diffusion and/or modDepth if things get out of hand.
- The bright colorMode will result in a full-bandwidth chorus signal, while the dark colorMode will be closer to the older BBD based choruses.
- Use highCut to control the overall brightness.
- lowCut can be used to shave away the low frequencies, which can add clarity to a chorused signal.
- Feedback should be left at 0 for standard chorusing. Turning it up with the above settings will result in a very metallic sound, which, again, might be exactly what you are looking for.