Plug-In Power: The UAD Roland RE-201 Space Echo
By Dave Crane
With the upcoming release of version 4.2 of the UAD-1 software and drivers, UA proudly presents the RE-201 Space Echo plug-in. Announced over a year ago, this plug-in has been highly anticipated, and I think many of you will agree it was worth the wait! Our engineers spent months on the algorithm, which was unlike any other algorithm they had previously worked on. The results are stunning, as you'll hear in the movie below and when you use the plug-in itself.
Figure 1: The UAD Roland RE-201 Space Echo
The RE-201 made its debut in 1973 and was quite unique at the time. Unlike the famous Echoplex, which utilized one tape head on a slider, the RE-201 has three tape heads and a spring reverb (for more information on the history of tape echo, please read the Analog Obsession article in the June 2005 webzine). Subsequent models of the RE-201 featured chorus and other changes.
The plug-in has many of the same characteristics of the original, but we threw in a lot of cool features as well: tempo sync, tape age (new, used, and old), splice trigger, separate pans for delay and reverb, and input and output volumes. Also, every parameter can be automated, creating some great fun (as you will see).
Our engineers spent months on the algorithm, which was unlike any other algorithm they had previously worked on. The results are stunning
Tempo sync's usefulness is self-evident. But Tape Age, and Splice? The Tape Age affects the frequency response of the tape as well as the quality of the splice. When we first got an RE-201, we noticed that different tapes sound, well, different, and we liked them all for their sonic character (the more used a tape was, the less it picked up the high frequencies). One old tape we had had a bad splice, and it added a cool effect when the splice came around. We found that we wanted to trigger that sound at will, so we put in the splice switch. At the fastest delay rate, the splice will come around on its own approximately every 9 seconds, and at the slowest, approximately every 25 seconds. The older the tape, the more radical the splice effect.
In this video example, I have used automation on the RE-201 to create some great delay-based rhythm textures. I have the RE-201 on an bus track and automated the sends on select track to send audio to the RE-201. I have enabled tempo sync, and I found a good delay setting that works well in modes 6 and 7.
I end up doing lots of little tricks, and so I let the loop play through twice so you can catch them all. First, I get a couple sources repeating and I crank up the Intensity control, which basically puts more signal on the tape, causing more repeats and making each repeat get more distorted. To account for the increase in volume, I have the delay output control back down a bit as the delays ramp up.
Right before the keyboard riffs (:09, :40), I change the mode from 6 to 7, which basically changes the delay time from a quarter note triplet to a straight quarter note. At :16 (and again at :46), I change back to mode 6.
I then do a quick flyby of the Logic Arrange window where you can see all the different RE-201 parameters that have been automated. Moving back to the plug-in, notice the delay pan control panning the feedback loop from left to right. At the end of the long feedback loop, the tape selector is switched to "Old," and then the splice switch is toggled. You can hear the delay hiccup and shift in pitch and time, creating a different rhythm against the track.