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Diogo C 11th September 2019 03:51 PM

ValhallaDSP ValhallaDelay
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The scope: At this point Valhalla DSP’s approach to plug-ins is widely known - plugins that are simple on the surface but offer plenty of flexibility through different “modes” of a given effect, flat 2D interfaces which takes cues from NASA design manuals, a preset system that facilitates sharing and last but not least, the friendly ($50 USD) price tag, which certainly helps with to make them even more appealing. It’s a formula that seems to be winning, confirmed by the many threads ushered by these plug-ins and by the countless posts and reviews that overwhelmingly recommend them. Valhalla’s forte so far has been reverb, and although they have done a few time-based effects in the past (such as FreqEcho and UberMod) it’s their space-creators that have captured the audience’s attention, offering quality algorithms that are affordable enough for the masses to enjoy, with Vintage Verb and Room becoming widely appreciated. Sean Costello, the man behind these plug-ins, now flexes his muscles towards an effect which alongside reverb is quintessential to modern music production - I’m talking about delay. So now we are presented with Valhalla Delay, a plug-in that presents the brand’s take on the subject.

Sound quality: Simply put, this is one stupendous delay plug-in with some of the best sounding effects of the category. In fact, I shouldn’t delay as we must speak in plural here as there are many delays inside it, from vintage to cutting-edge and everything in between. BBD, Ghost, Pitch and Tape are really something, and along with the other modes makes Valhalla Delay stand out in a category that is crowded with excellent plug-ins, which by itself is a feat to be proud of. This is perhaps the most convincing challenge to Echo Boy’s lengthy reign as the go-to delay that sonically covers-it-all while still keeping some good operational simplicity. Although Echo Boy still has the upper hand when it comes to features (more on that later), Valhalla brings new elements to the table that certainly makes it worthwhile such as the Ghost and Pitch modes — the latter which gets into the Crystalizer territory if we want to keep the Soundtoys comparisons going. Nevertheless, this feels like a brand-new plug-in and certainly can sound like one if the user wants it, but it can easily cover classic delays as well.

Ease of use: As explained earlier, we know what to expect from Valhalla when it comes to their approach for GUI and usability. Flat interface with strong colors and contrasting knobs, a handful of drop-down menus for some core features such as delay mode and era and lastly there’s a simple preset browser with the user-favorite “paste” preset feature that allows for easy preset sharing. In case you get lost there are explanatory tips on the bottom when you hover the mouse over each control, which is super handy and ensures the user is always aware of what’s going on. Overall Valhalla Delay is easy to operate and most importantly it is easy to get great sounds out of it, so our excuses for bad delays are basically gone now.

Features: Delay follows the Costello’s textbook and plays by his rules for plug-in design, which usually means lots of flexibility (exceptions made to his freebies) but without overwhelming the user with tons of menus and sub-menus. This means that Delay is vast yet concise, and that’s thanks to its clever layout and to the “mode” system that enables it to delivery an array of different delay styles (Single, Dual, Ping-Pong, Ratio and Quad Tap) and sounds qualities. Each mode could well be a plug-in on itself, and given how different they are it means that Valhalla Delay is actually six delays — Tape, HiFi, BBD, Digital, Ghost, Pitch and Reverse Pitch — each with its own character, interface color and two variable parameters that specific to each one of them. If there’s one thing that I’d like to see here is a “Rhythm” style a la Echoboy, but that’s hardly a complaint since this plug-in actually brings new elements to the table such as the “Ratio” style and “Ghost” mode, which I’ve never heard before on other delay plug-ins.

Bang for buck: At fifty bucks it’s basically impossible to miss, even if one already has a bunch of cool delays, which is probably the case with the bulk of our user base and readers. If that’s not the case and you’re confined to the stock plug-ins of your DAW of choice then open a new browser tab, type “Valhalla Delay” and thank me later.

Recommended for: quite literally everyone, unless you’re only doing music that is a hundred percent natural and acoustic that needs no effects at all.

  • Superb sound quality throughout all delay modes.
  • Immensely versatile.
  • Mostly easy to use, with a clean interface and onboard explanatory tips.
  • Extremely affordable.

  • Hardly any, but the multi-tap delay style feels a bit underwhelming when compared to other equivalents out there.

Things to try:
  • Tiny amounts of “diffusion” (1-5%) can go a long way into blending a delay into a mix by softening the tap sounds.
  • Mapping the “feedback” parameter to your hardware controller is always an excellent idea that shouldn’t be underestimated despite of how obvious it is.
  • Make sure to try all delay modes and styles on all occasions instead of instantly reaching for the cookie-cutters. You may find some pleasant and unexpected surprises!

Sound-Guy 20th December 2019 02:00 AM

4 Attachment(s)
Valhalla Delay ver 1.5.2 from Valhalla DSP

Valhalla DSP is a small but well-known developer of excellent audio processing tools as already noted in several Gearslutz reviews. I just checked out the latest Valhalla Delay version, 1.5.2, which was released shortly after the last Gearslutz review of this amazing audio processor, and the additions over the previous version are significant and worth a mention.

Valhalla (a.k.a., Sean Costello) makes plug-ins that create a wide range of reverb and delay effects with some pitch shifting, modulation and other sometimes wild effects thrown in. His ‘motto’ is “bigger and better sounds are more important (and fun) than exactly duplicating physical reality”.

Far Out Delay?
OK, delays are usually pretty tame, but the Valhalla take on a delay has far more going on. Valhalla Delay can act like a well-behaved delay with simple repeats at set time or note intervals, act like a tape delay complete with tape defects, can create reverberation effects, pitch effects, reverse effects, and other sound mangling that takes it far from a normal delay module. The newest version 1.5.2 adds three new delay modes to the previous seven modes: BBDuck, a bucket brigade mode with ducking; Clarity, a clean delay with a program dependent limiter to eliminate distortion at high drive levels; and DuckTape, a tape delay mode with built-in noise reduction and ducking. Ducking in this case is not a level control via an external side-chain as it is with many compressors, but an automated level control of the echo that tracks the input signal volume. So if the source sound level suddenly increases, the echo level also increases so that it is not masked by the original signal. A clever idea. Of course there are still the previous seven modes: Tape, HiFi, BBD, Digital, Ghost, Pitch and Reverse Pitch, each of which provides distinct effects.

The preset shown in the image below is one of the most amazing and fun variations of a delay I’ve heard – a delay using reverse pitch mode that includes pitch shifting (two octaves down in this case). I have set the Mix to 100% which of course eliminates the original signal, and creates an astounding effect, truly a “sacred cave” sound, like some monks chanting in a huge cavern (and the source in my first test was a female rock vocalist!). Take a listen to the Delay-1 audio example – it starts with the mix at zero percent with the vocal, then quickly ramps the mix to 100% for the remainder of the sample – there is no longer any hint of a female singer!
The RevPitch mode is used for some of the SFX presets and is not your father’s delay module.

Valhalla Delay can also create more normal delays in which case the mix would be set to less than 100%, likely 50% or less so that the original source sound is heard before the delayed signals. The audio example Delay-2 is a more traditional tape delay effect but with a high diffusion setting and significant wow & flutter levels. Again it starts with a dry signal, this time a drum loop, and after a few seconds ramps up to a mix level of 22%. These settings sound more like a reverb than a delay. And as with all Valhalla products, sound quality is superb with any setting, and controls can be varied while it is processing sounds with no glitches, which can lead to some unique dynamic effects.
Note for the Tape mode, the pitch control of the RevPitch mode changes to a modulation control with wow & flutter.

I won’t try to cover the ten modes, the eras, and other settings – take a look and listen at Valhalla DSP via the link below. There are videos, audio examples, and detailed explanations of all modes and controls.

A few General Comments

In addition to the new modes, version 1.5.2 adds Mac Catalina notarization since older versions of Valhalla software may refuse to run on the newest Macs. Windows users won’t care about this.

One thing you will notice about each of the Valhalla plug-ins is that there is no user manual, per se. However, I didn’t miss this much as I dove into this review since the controls are clearly identified and “self documenting”. If you mouse over any control, a tool tip will show up at the bottom left of the plugin. And Sean has a blog on the Valhalla DSP site with links from each plug-in page that provide detailed descriptions of every control of every module in case you want more details.

Tech Data
I tested Valhalla Delay using my trusty PC Audio Labs Rok Box with Intel Core i7-4770K CPU @ 3.5 GHz, 16 MB RAM running 64 bit Windows 7. RAM requirements for the Delay module are the highest of any Valhalla plug-in, but still rather minimal by today’s standards: about 82 MB. That’s megabytes. CPU use was also low – under half a percent in my DAW (REAPER) and latency was zero.

All the Valhalla tools are extraordinary and priced very reasonably at US$50 each. Valhalla Delay is pretty much a “steal” at the price. Do you need it? That’s up to you – if all you record/mix is pure acoustic performances of folk singers in the local coffeehouse, it might be a bit more “out there” than you need, and one of the Valhalla reverbs such as VintageVerb, Plate, Room or Shimmer might be more to your taste. From my point of view (create and mix all kinds of styles) I’d say the Delay is a must-buy. But check out all the Valhalla products and buy what you want as you can. You certainly won’t be disappointed with any Valhalla product.

Excellent sound quality and extraordinary range of effects.

As with all Valhalla products controls can be varied while it is processing sounds which can lead to some unique dynamic effects.

Very easy to use with mouse-over tool tips for every control, and detailed descriptions of all controls on the Valhalla DSP site.

Great value for money

Really nothing unless you want a separate PDF manual – but I think you’ll find Delay easy to master, and a look at Sean’s documentation links will help if you want all the details.