ValhallaUberMod: The Preset Menu

ValhallaÜberMod has a cross-platform preset format, allowing users to use the same presets for all plugin types (RTAS/VST/AU, for both OSX and Windows). The preset format is based around XML, which allows presets to be copied and pasted into emails, forums, or any other place that can accept text.

To access the presets, simply click the name of the active preset, to the right of the PRESET: text in the lower right side of the GUI (the plugin will display “Default” when first opened):

PresetButtonDefault

The Preset Menu will display when the current preset name is clicked:

ValhallaUberModPresetsMenu

To select a preset, simply mouse over the given preset name, and release the mouse button. Mouse over a given preset folder name (the ones with the triangle to the right) to view and select presets within that folder.

To save a preset, simply select “Save as…” from the menu. This will allow you to name your preset, and choose the folder to save the preset to, or to create a new folder for your preset.

If you wish to copy a preset from a forum or blog post, simply select the text with your mouse (including the < and > closing tags), and copy the text (Command+C on OSX, CTRL+C on Windows). Then, select the “Paste from Clipboard” option from the preset menu.

If you want to share a preset with someone, select the “Copy To Clipboard” option, then simply paste the text (Command+V on OSX, CTRL+V on Windows) into the document/email/forum where you want the preset to be.

Special thanks to Randy Jones of Madrona Labs for developing the original text-based preset code that I ported over to ValhallaRoom and ValhallaÜberMod.

ValhallaUberMod: The WARP Parameters

When I was working on ValhallaÜberMod, one of the goals was to come up with a list of parameters that could be placed into logical categories. Most of the parameters fell into line – all the modulation parameters fit into MOD, the overdrive parameters fit into DRIVE, and so on. A few of the parameters just wouldn’t fit into the other categories. I decided to create the WARP tab for these misfit parameters, as they all shared the characteristics of warping the sound. That, and “WARP” looked cooler in the button text than “MISC.”

ValhallaUberModWARPTab

The WARP Parameters:

  • WARP Speed: Controls the recording/playback speed of the internal buffer in ÜberMod. This also controls the internal sampling rate of ÜberMod.
    • When WARP Speed is 1X, the delay will play back at the normal sampling rate, and the longest output delay will correspond to the setting of the DELAY slider.
    • When WARP Speed is 1/2X, the delay will play back at 1/2 the sampling rate, and the longest output delay will correspond to 2X the setting of the DELAY slider.
    • Changing the speed will also change the playback rate of any sounds currently in the delay buffer. For example, if the delay is 1 second, and the WARP Speed is changed from 1X to 1/2X, the sound will drop in pitch by an octave, which will last for 2 seconds before things go back to the original pitch.
    • Setting WARP Speed to 1/2X will result in a “darker” sound than 1X Speed, as all frequencies above 1/4 the sampling rate will be filtered out.
  • WARP fbMix: Controls the routing of the feedback paths between left and right delays. By changing the fbMix control, ÜberMod can be smoothly varied from two mono delays, to cross-coupled delays, to a “figure-8″ loop that is useful for reverbs and ping pong delays.
    • When WARP fbMix is set to 0%, the left delay output feeds back into the left delay input, and the right delay output feeds back into the right delay input. This is essentially using ÜberMod as two mono delay lines in parallel.
    • Setting WARP fbMix to settings greater than 0% will cause some of output of the left delay line to be mixed into the right delay line input, and vice versa.
    • A WARP fbMix of 50% results in equal amounts of the left and right delay outputs to be sent to the left and right delay inputs.
    • Setting WARP fbMix to 100% results in the left delay output being routed exclusively to the right delay iput, and vice versa. This will create ping pong echos if the WARP InputPan control is set to Left or Right.
  • WARP Smoothing controls the smoothing time of the entire plugin, in milliseconds. Changes to the delay tap positions (that occur when adjusting DELAY, or altering the TAPS controls), and changes to the modulation depths, will be “slewed” or smoothed out, in order to avoid clicks. The Smoothing control allows the time constant for the slewing to be adjusted.
    • A WARP Smoothing setting of 10-50 msec should be enough to avoid clicks, while still having fast transitions between the old and new delay tap settings. Around 50 msec, you can get a chirping sound that is pretty cool.
    • WARP Smoothing settings >100 msec will result in longer slewing times for delay transitions, similar to what is found in tape and BBD echoes.
  • WARP InputPan: Controls how the input signal is sent to the delay lines. This control was added to ValhallaÜberMod, and is intended to allow for various ping-pong and reversed stereo effects.
    • The default setting of WARP InputPan is Stereo. The left input is sent to the left delay, and the right input is sent to the right delay.
    • When WARP InputPan is set to ReverseStereo, the left input is sent to the right delay, and the right input is sent to the left delay. This can create a wider stereo image.
    • Setting WARP InputPan to Mono results in the left and right inputs being summed together before being sent to the left and right delay inputs. This can be useful for stronger flanging effects, as the left and right delays will contain the same signal (creating stronger reinforcement/cancellations of harmonics).
    • With WARP InputPan set to Left, the left and right inputs will be summed, and then sent to the left delay input only. This is useful for creating ping pong effects that start from the left (be sure to set WARP fbMix to 100% to create proper ping ponging).
    • With WARP InputPan set to Right, the left and right inputs will be summed, and then sent to the right delay input only. This is useful for creating ping pong effects that start from the right (be sure to set WARP fbMix to 100% to create proper ping ponging).

ValhallaUberMod: The DRIVE Parameters

The original idea behind ValhallaÜberMod was to create a powerful chorus/multitap delay plugin, that stayed “pristine” at all feedback settings. Fortunately, my early beta testers convinced me that I needed to put some filth into ÜberMod, and so the DRIVE section was born.

The goal of the DRIVE section is to allow the user to dial in the amount of overdrive and noise they want, from subtle colorations to high amounts of grit, and to be able to switch the drive off as needed to return to the original “pristine” algorithms. The DRIVE section uses a highly optimized soft saturation algorithm, which is oversampled to reduce aliasing.

ValhallaUberModDriveSection

The DRIVE Controls:

  • DRIVE On/Off: Selects whether the DRIVE is enabled or disabled. When the DRIVE is Off, the calculations are bypassed, reducing the CPU load.
  • DRIVE InGain: The input gain for the overdrive section, in dB. Higher values result in more distortion
  • DRIVE OutGain: The output gain for the overdrive section, in dB.
    • By setting DRIVE OutGain to be the opposite (i.e. same numeric value, but with opposite sign) of the input gain, the feedback gain for low level signals will be the same. This means that the FEEDBACK slider will work in the same way.
    • If the DRIVE OutGain is set higher than the opposite of the input gain (i.e. InGain = 12 dB, OutGain = -6 dB), then the feedback gain for low level signals will be higher, and the feedback signal becomes more likely to break into oscillation.
  • DRIVE NoiseGain: Controls the gain of noise that is added to the signal, post-saturation. This is useful for emulating worn tape echos, or BBD delays. Turn the DRIVE NoiseGain all the way down if you want a less noisy delay.
  • DRIVE Pre/Post: Controls whether the overdrive happens before the outputs are taken (Pre) or after the outputs are taken (Post).
    • If DRIVE Pre/Post is set to POST, the first delay repeats that reach the outputs will be clean. The overdrive will only be heard on the feedback signal.

ValhallaUberMod: The EQ Parameters

The EQ section in ValhallaÜberMod has a few straightforward parameters, as well as a few that require deeper explanation. By adjusting the parameters, the user can create bright, clean echos, as well as dark, tape-esque decays. The EQ section is inside the feedback loop of ValhallaÜberMod, so any changes to the EQ will be multiplied by each feedback iteration.

ValhallaUberModEQ

The EQ controls:

  • EQ Mode: controls the overall “color” of the EQ section, and of ÜberMod as a whole. The choices are Bright and Dark, and are fairly self explanatory. It is worth noting that the EQ Mode control has a far more dramatic effect when the DIFF section is enabled.
  • EQ Low Cut: controls the cutoff frequency of a -6 db/oct high pass filter. Useful in reducing the amount of low frequencies in the signal.
    • An “analog” echo will have this set to a fairly high frequency (150 Hz or more), such that the feedback signal “thins out” as it decays.
    • Cutting the low frequencies out of a chorus can be useful in creating a clearer sound.
  • EQ High Cut: controls the cutoff frequency of a -6 db/oct low pass filter. Useful in reducing the amount of high frequencies in the signal.
    • Setting EQ High Cut above 10 KHz is useful for “digital” delays and modulation effects, as well as any type of effect that benefits from extended high frequency response (such as flanging).
    • An EQ High Cut setting around 10 KHz is useful for emulating the high frequency response of BBD-based chorus and ensemble units.
    • For emulating tape echos and BBD echos, set EQ High Cut to a fairly low frequency (3KHz or lower).
  • EQ SpatialEQ controls the cutoff frequency of the crossover used in the “crosstalk” mixer controlled by the WIDTH slider. When WIDTH exceeds 100%, the output of one delay channel is inverted in phase and mixed in with the output of the opposite delay channel, to create a wider “pseudostereo” effect. This phase inversion can result in a loss of bass frequencies, so the EQ SpatialEQ is used to control a crossover that determines at what frequency the inverted mixing occurs.
    • The SpatialEQ algorithm was inspired by the complex filtering found in the Dimension D chorus, but has been extended to work with greater numbers of delay taps. A lot of research went into developing an algorithm that would have unity gain for all settings of WIDTH.
    • By setting EQ SpatialEQ to 150 Hz or higher, the bass frequencies of the delayed signal will be maintained for all settings of WIDTH. Adjust this by ear to suit the input signal, or just set this to 300 to 400 Hz to ensure that the bass energy doesn’t get cancelled out.
    • Setting EQ SpatialEQ to a lower frequency can result in cancellations of the bass frequencies. This can be useful for producing hollow flanging sounds, such as those heard on the “Axis: Bold as Love” album.

ValhallaUberMod: The TAPS Parameters

ValhallaÜberMod, at its heart, is a multitap delay. The TAPS section of the ÜberMod interface is used to control the delays and amplitudes of the taps. Instead of providing individual delay/gain controls for each tap, a few high level controls are used to adjust the broader tap characteristics.

A few notes about the TAPS parameters:

  • All changes to the TAPS controls that affect delay times (TAPS Spread, TAPS Skew, TAPS Random) are smoothed, with the smoothing time controlled by the WARP Smoothing parameter. This can result in flanging or pitch bending sounds as the TAPS parameters are adjusted.
  • The delay times that are set by the TAPS parameters are also modified by the MOD controls and DEPTH setting. The TAPS controls are used to set the base delays, and the modulation LFOs controlled by the MOD controls will add on to these base delays in a time varying manner. For the most part, the modulation LFOs add a few milliseconds of delay to the base tap delays, but the MOD OverMod control can result in tap delays that are far different than what the TAPS and DELAY settings would suggest.
  • The TAPS parameters are used to control the general distribution of the taps with regards to the DELAY slider, as opposed to specific tap delay times. You can think of the TAPS section as being used to create a specific shape, that is then stretched by the DELAY parameter.

The TAPS parameters:

  • TAPS Spread: controls the spread of the tap delays in time, relative to the setting of the DELAY parameter.
    • A TAPS Spread setting of 0% corresponds to all of the taps having the same base delay length – they are “right on top of each other.” This is useful when creating flangers, as the individual taps will move around the base delay, back and forth past each other, resulting in through-zero flanging effects.
    • Setting TAPS Spread >0% results in the taps being spread out in time. The longest tap delay will always be at the time set by the DELAY slider, while the other taps will spread out to fill the times between no delay and the DELAY setting.
    • An example: With TAPS Spread set at 50% and a DELAY of 100 msec, the taps will have delays between 50 and 100 msecs.
    • With TAPS Spread set to 100%, the taps will be evenly distributed between no delay and the maximum delay set by the DELAY slider. By using the delay modes with multiple taps, you can create rhythmic subdivisions of the delay time.
  • TAPS Slope: Controls the amplitude distribution of the taps with regards to time.
    • TAPS Slope at 0% results in all taps having the same amplitude, and is useful for choruses, gated reverbs, flangers, and clusters of echos.
    • With TAPS Slope set to <0%, the taps will “fade in” over time.
    • A TAPS Slope setting of -100%, in conjunction with higher settings of TAPS Spread, longer DELAY values, and a MODE with a fair number of taps (i.e. 8Tap/16Tap/32Tap), will create a “reverse reverb” effect.
    • With TAPS Slope set to >0%, the taps will fade out over time. This creates the effect of a “truncated reverb,” that starts decaying away, but then is abruptly cut off.
  • TAPS Skew controls whether the tap delays are shorter on the left or right side of the stereo image.
    • A TAPS Skew value of 0% results in identical delay times for left and right channels.
    • TAPS Skew values <0% result in the first delays being heard from the left channel.
    • TAPS Skew values >0% result in the first delays being heard from the right channel.
    • Setting TAPS Skew to +/- 100%, and TAPS Spread to 100%, results in delays that will ping pong back and forth between the output channels in a rhythmic manner. The specific rhythms depend on the MODE being used.
  • TAPS Random is used to randomize the spacing between the tap delays.
    • A TAPS Random value of 0% results in the taps being equally spaced from each other. Depending on the settings of TAPS Spread and DELAY, this can result in metallic comb filter artifacts. Which are either good or bad, depending on the sound you want.
    • TAPS Random values >0% result in the spacing between taps being randomized, which breaks up the metallic comb filter artifacts. For nonlinear reverbs, you probably want to set TAPS Random above 0%, to avoid a metallic sound.
  • TAPS TapGain controls the overall gain of the output taps. This can be considered a trim gain for the “wet” signal.
    • When TAPS Spread is set close to 0%, the wet output gain can get considerably louder, so the TapsGain parameter can be used to manage this signal level.
    • For most settings of TAPS Spread and modulation depths, the output taps will be decorrelated from each other, and TapsGain can be left at 0 dB.

ValhallaRoom: The Early Controls

ValhallaRoom can be viewed as having two separate sections for the reverberation, Early and Late. The Early controls can be accessed by pressing the Early button in the top of the plugin (under the VALHALLA ROOM text):

The Early section can be heard in isolation by setting the DEPTH slider to 0%. Higher DEPTH settings will crossfade between the Early and Late reverberation, with a setting of 100% resulting in the output coming entirely from the Late reverberation.

A quick overview of the controls:

  • Early Size: adjusts the length of the Early energy impulse, in milliseconds. A length of 10 to 50 milliseconds is useful for simulating the early reflections found in a smaller acoustic space, or for creating a wider stereo image without a strong reverberant decay (when DEPTH is set to 0%). Early Size settings between 50 and 100 milliseconds can create the impression of a “compressed” room, where the initial attack is squashed by a limiter or tape saturation. Settings above 100 milliseconds will sound like a “gated” reverb in isolation, and can create a slower attack when the Early energy is sent to the Late reverb (see Early Send for details). Larger Size settings are useful for creating long gated reverbs.
  • Early Cross: controls the stereo cross-mixing of the Early Energy. An Early Cross setting of 0% will result in no mixing of energy between left and right channels; a signal in the left channel will not generate any early reflections in the right channel. Higher settings will mix the energy between the left and right channels, and will also increase the echo density. Generally speaking, lower settings of Early Cross are useful in preserving the spatial imaging of a mix.
  • Mod Rate: Controls the base modulation frequency of the Early chorusing, in Hertz. This is an “average” rate, as there is a fair amount of randomization used for the chorusing. Values around 0.25 to 0.5 Hz are useful for warming up the sound, while around 1 to 2 Hz is useful for adding a bit of “string ensemble” effect to the sound.
  • Mod Depth: Controls the depth of the Early chorusing. In general, you will want to keep this low when creating realistic smaller spaces, and turn it up when creating large spaces or emulating older digital reverbs.
  • Early Send: Controls how much of the Early reverberation is fed into the Late reverb. The Early reverberation has been designed to interface nicely with the Late reverberation, such that sending the Early signal into the Late reverb produces a relatively colorless enhancement of echo density. A value of 0 corresponds to no send (i.e. the Early and Late reverbs are purely in parallel) while 1.0 results in the maximum send to the Late reverb. A few suggested settings:
    • Set Early Size to 10-50 msec, and Early Send to 1.0, to create a dense Late reverb.
    • Set Early Size to 150 msec or more, and Early Send to 1.0, to create a slow onset to the Late reverberation. This is useful for simulating very large halls and cathedrals, as well as adding clarity to the input signal.
    • Set Early Size to 70-100 msec, Early Send to 0.0, the Late Size to a smaller value, and Depth to 0.5, in order to simulate a smaller space that has a somewhat compressed attack.
  • Diffusion: Controls the echo density of the Early reverb. Low settings result in a less dense Early reverb, while higher settings increase the echo density. Unlike many algorithmic reverbs, high Diffusion settings will not result in a metallic decay with vocals and drums, so feel free to keep Diffusion set at 1.0 for most purposes. Low settings of Diffusion, combined with larger Early Size settings, can be useful in creating strange multitap echo sounds.