Review of Ultratap delay effect by Eventide

 
Eventide have introduced Ultratap, a versatile multi-tap delay effect capable of a huge range of effects from rhythmic and glitchy delays, volume swells, tremelos and many more. It is available from Eventide’s website in VST, AAX and AU formats in 32/64 bit versions typically priced at $79 although is currently available at the discounted price of $49 for a limited time. A demo is also available. Ultratap uses iLok activation.

Ultratap started life way back in 1982 with the world’s first rack mount programmable audio processor, the Eventide SP2016, where a flexible 64 tap delay debuted as part of its Factory Program suite. By the late 80’s UltraTap had migrated to the legendary H3000 Harmonizer effects processor and then to the DSP4000 and H8000. Thanks to advances in technology, Eventide were able to include UltraTap in a portable compact form factor, the H9 Harmonizer stompbox. And now UltraTap has come back to the studio via your DAW and FOH environment, where it all began 35 years ago!

In summary, Ultratap is an excellent plugin which is very easy to start using and get to grips with. It comes with a very generous selection of presets which are excellent in their own right but also help you to learn how to shape and create your own effects. As well as the standard reverb / delay effects I especially like some of the more unusual glitchy and swell type effects that it can produce. I’ve really enjoyed using Ultratap and have created an album, unseen consequences which is embedded at the top of this post. I’ve used Cataract (Glitchmachines), Cassette 909 (BPB), Grain Voyager, U-Drone, Groove Matrix (Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3), Synthmaster 2 (KV331 Audio), Noisetar (Nusofting) and Subvert (Glitchmachines). It was recorded live in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3 and mastered in MuLab 7 using Overtone (Soundspot), Stage (Fiedler Audio) and Neutron (iZotope).

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Ultratap has a clear, well defined interface although it isn’t resizable. The control knobs are large and allow easy adjustment of the controls to shape your sound as desired. There are 2 additional controls which give you further control over your sound. The ribbon allows you to program 2 settings for any controls and morph to any sound between the two. Hotswitch is programmable to instantly change to an alternate sound. The controls are designed to emulate manipulating hardware and I’d say they achieve this.

The input level is on the left hand side with a meter above and the output level is on the right hand side also with a meter above.

The signal flow is essentially input -> pre-delay -> tone -> slurm -> chop -> tap delay -> out.

The controls are pretty self explanatory.

Mix is the dry/wet setting. This control has a non-linear taper which puts most of the knob travel in the most usable range.

Length is the total time of the tap spacing with sync settings of your host or timing up to a maximum of 4 seconds.

Taps is the number of delay taps from 1 – 64.

Pre-delay is the amount of time before the taps start up to 1 second.

Spread is the rhythmic spacing. This can be a constant interval or a speed up or slow down setting.

Taper controls the fade of the taps. You can have equal gain, fade up or fade down.

Width – for stereo instantiations, this can be from centre panned to alternate hard left / right panning.

Tone is a simple control adjusting from darker to brighter sounding taps.

Slurm is a setting which adds slurring and modulation. Essentially as you increase the setting you lose attack and definition to get an increasingly ‘smeared’ sound.

Chop is a pre-tap chopping tremelo or auto-volume. The tremelo has several waveform options; auto-volume can produce swells or a gated effect.

Chop speed, ride or release is determined by the setting chosen on the chop dial. It’s a multi-functional control which sets the LFO speed for chop waveforms, the swell rise time or release for the trigger setting.

Tempo sync has 3 settings. When off, the tap button adjusts values for length and/or chop LFO waveform speed. You can also choose sync to sync to your host DAW tempo or manual to set times as required.

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The Ribbon is an innovative feature designed to emulate hardware. You can program left and right ranges and morph between them with the ribbon which looks like an electric arc.

It’s as simple as clicking on the white dot in the arc which shows the position of the knob dial in the range of travel and dragging it to the left hand side of the ribbon. You then click the blue dot on the opposite side of the arc and drag it to where you want the right side of the ribbon to represent. You can then adjust the range of ribbon settings by moving the dots or right click to delete them.

Active turns the effect on and off.

Hotswitch allows you to adjust settings so that you can switch between effects. It’s easy to set up, long-press to enter programming mode, make the required changes and then long-press to exit programming mode. When you press the hotswitch button you toggle between the two settings.

Tap controls are determined by sync mode. If tempo sync is off, tapping this button will update length and/or chop LFO waveform speed value to match a quarter note at the tempo being tapped. If tempo sync is manual, pressing this button updates the tempo value. It has no effect in sync mode.

The top part of the display has presets. There are about 150 arranged by effect type – delay, modulation, pad and ambient, glitch and stutter, artist name. These are excellent quality sounds and give some great starting points to experiment with, tweak or use as they are.

You can load/save from this menu bar and there are handy options to ‘compare’ whioh toggles between current settings and the last saved or loaded preset. Mixlock enables all presets to be loaded at a specific mix setting.

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