Review of Undulator modulated tremelo effect (VST/AU/AAX/iOS) by Eventide

Review of Undulator modulated tremelo effect (VST/AU/AAX/iOS) by Eventide

Introduction
Eventide have released a plug-in version of the classic modulated tremolo effect Undulator whilst simultaneously making a commitment to social justice. “Eventide Audio is committed to supporting the fight against systemic racism and violence,” the company stated. “We hope that you will join us by listening, learning, and taking action. We embrace diversity and seek equality, justice, inclusion, and dignity for all. We stand in unity with the Black community and will take action by donating to organizations that support justice and social change. Eventide will be donating 100% of the proceeds of the Undulator desktop plug-in to the Equal Justice Initiative & NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.”

Undulator for Mac and PC supports VST, AAX, and AU plug-in protocols for compatibility with every DAW and is priced at an MSRP of $19. The iOS version of Undulator, which works as a standalone app, AudioUnit v3 plug-in, or Inter-App Audio effect, is priced at $7.99.

For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated Undulator webpage.

Overview
Undulator, a magical tremolo from Eventide’s iconic H3000 Harmonizer® effects processor, provides a unique rhythmic effect by combining ethereal feedback and detuned echoes which are fed through an AM / FM modulated tremolo. Whether used for manipulating samples or adding movement to strings, pads, guitars, and keys, Undulator is a muse for creative musicians. The plug-in is available for Mac, PC and iOS.

By manipulation of a multi-tap delay and powerful tremolo, Undulator’s controls give any sound sustain and shape. The plug-in excels at transforming ordinary synths, keys, guitars, and even vocals into evolving pads. It’s also perfect for creating tempo-synched production elements, time-lapsed dreamy soundscapes and otherworldly and fluctuant delays. Simply put, Undulator can make shorter sounds into longer layered effects and give sustaining sounds shape and rhythmic character.

Eventide’s Ribbon control lets users fluidly sweep Undulator’s effect between two completely different settings of any combination of controls. Ribbon allows desktop users to plug in a MIDI keyboard and gain tactile control of Undulator via the mod wheel. Changing the rate and depth of your tremolo for a “ramping up” sweep or sequence becomes very simple with this intuitive performance macro. Ribbon can also be used to morph tremolo patterns into vacillating and varying rhythmic territories – effective for calling attention to synth pads and creating a state of flux or rarity, which is otherwise arduous to achieve.

In-depth Review
Undulator is the latest H9 Series effect. I’ve previously reviewed MangledVerb, Ultratap and Blackhole. If you’ve used any of these effects then you’ll instantly feel at home.

Undulator has a clear, well defined interface. The control knobs are large and allow easy adjustment of the controls to shape your sound as desired.

The top part of the display contains the menu where you can load / save presets; compare current settings with the last saved or used preset; enable the ‘mixlock’ which locks the mix settings and uses this value for every preset you load and access the user manual.

The input and output levels are shown on the left and right of the display respectively. Each has a VU meter above and there’s a sticky overload indicator that remains lit when there’s an overload suggesting you need to adjust levels.

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.

Depth is the tremelo sweep range.

Speed determines the rate of the tremelo unless Envelope or ADSR is elected for the Shape parameter when modulation is driven by the amplitude of the audio input and Speed becomes a Sensitivity control.

Shape selects the shape/source of the tremolo with choices of Sine, Triangle, Peak, Random, Ramp, Square, Sample and Hold, Envelope, or ADSR. Envelope tracks the envelope of the incoming signal, while ADSR uses the incoming source’s envelope to trigger a predetermined ADSR envelope under the hood. In addition, the Ribbon can be chosen as a source although Ribbon mappings for all knobs are disabled in this mode because the algorithm is reading directly from the Ribbon.

Feedback controls the amount of feedback in the delay structure.

Spread controls the amount of detuning in the delay structure.

Mod depth amount controls the amount of modulation of the tremolo’s Depth parameter from the secondary LFO. This is analogous to AM (Amplitude Modulation) of the tremolo.

Mod speed amount controls the amount of modulation of the tremolo’s Speed parameter from the secondary LFO. This is analogous to FM (Frequency Modulation) of the tremolo.

Mod rate controls the secondary LFO rate. Effectively this determines how fast the Mod Depth Amount and Mod Speed Amount ”wiggle” their targets.
The range is from 1/8 to 8X the Speed value. If Envelope or ADSR is selected as the Source, the modulation is driven by the amplitude of the audio input and the Speed Amt control becomes a Sensitivity control.

Mod source controls the secondary LFO modulation shape/source. The
choices are: Sine, Triangle, Peak, Random, Ramp, Square, Sample and Hold, Envelope, or ADSR. Envelope tracks the envelope of the incoming signal, while ADSR uses the incoming source’s envelope to trigger a predetermined ADSR envelope under the hood. In addition, the Ribbon can be chosen as a source although Ribbon mappings for all knobs are disabled in this mode because the algorithm is reading directly from the Ribbon.

Tempo sync has 3 settings. When off, the pre-delay is set in ms. When in sync mode, the amount will sync to your host DAW tempo or you can set it manually as required.

The bottom part of the display contains the performance controls.

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 at the tip of any knob control and dragging it to the desired setting for the left hand side of the ribbon. This will program the knob and draw a blue arc from the initial knob position to the new, programmed knob position. To adjust the knob position for the right side of the Ribbon, click on the blue dot at the opposite side of the arc and adjust it to the desired position for the right side of the Ribbon. You can adjust the Ribbon programming by grabbing the dots at either end of the arc and adjusting them to the desired position. To delete programming, right click on either of the dots.

Alternatively, press the button on the left or right side of the Ribbon, and then move any knob to its desired Ribbon position for that side. The Ribbon programming can be cleared for all knobs by right clicking the button on either side of the Ribbon.

Additionally, the Ribbon is programmed to follow MIDI Continuous Control (CC) #1 messages so you can for example use the Modulation Wheel on a MIDI device to control the ribbon.

Active turns the effect on and off. It can be toggled via MIDI Continuous Control (CC) #2 messages. It will toggle when the CC goes from low (value < 64) to high (value >= 64).

Slow / Fast toggles the slow mode on and off. Holding the switch down engages a brake mode that slows the LFOs at a constant rate and pauses the tremolo until the switch is released. Slow/Fast can be controlled via MIDI Continuous Control (CC) #3 messages. It will toggle when the CC goes from low (value < 64) to high (value >= 64)..

Tap If Tempo Sync is in Off mode, repeatedly pressing Tap will update the tremolo’s Speed value. If Tempo Sync is in Manual mode, pressing Tap will update the tempo value. If Tempo Sync is in Sync mode, pressing Tap does nothing. Tap can be controlled via MIDI Continuous Control (CC) #4 messages. Tap is triggered when the CC goes high (value >= 64), and will return to the off state when the CC is low (value < 64).

Retrigger will re-sync tremolo and secondary modulation LFOs to the
beginning of their cycles.

Conclusions
This really is a win-win situation. You’re getting an awesome Eventide effect for only $19 and not only that, all proceeds are going to a very worthy cause.

It’s a superb effect. Not only does it do typical tremelo effects but the modulation options and multi-tap delays allow you to create some very interesting pad and soundscape effects. As well as automation to add subtle or more extreme movement, you can use the ribbon to morph between different effect settings for live performance.

I’ve used it extensively on the track embedded at the top of the post, using it on the guitar, pad, bass and vocals. I’ve used it to add depth and rhythmic qualities to the guitar; subtle rhythmic movement to the pad; with a delay on the bass to create a pulsing effect; with a reverb on the vocals to create a floaty, ethereal feel.

Electronic Music Production Courses from Pluginboutique.com