AudioThing Outer Space by Funkybot
· Product: Outer Space
· Developer: Audio Thing
· Formats: 32/64-bit AAX, AU, VST (Mac/PC)
· Price: $49
· DRM: Keyfile
This is nice. Audio Thing’s Outer Space began as Outer Verb, an emulation of the Roland RE-201 Space Echo’s spring reverb tank, without the delay section. However, shortly after it’s release, the developer announced that Outer Verb would be replaced by an upgraded “Outer Space,” which would be a full blown emulation of the Space Echo at no cost to existing users. Within a few weeks Outer Space was released.
So how is Outer Space? Let’s explore...
Interface & Features
If you’ve ever seen a Roland Space-Echo you’ll be familiar with Outer Space’s GUI. You’ve got the big Mode Selector knob in the middle, with your volume controls to the left, and your delay and reverb controls on the right. The Delay controls include the standard time (Repeat Rate), feedback (Intensity) and Echo Volume controls, along with the addition of a Wow & Flutter knob that doesn’t exist on the hardware. The [spring] reverb section has a set of Bass and Treble knobs (these only affect the delayed signal by default but there’s a menu option to include the reverb), a Reverb Volume, and the addition of a Short/Long decay.
Down along the bottom of the GUI there’s an Echo on/off button, a Wet Only button (there’s volume controls for Reverb and Delay but no traditional Wet/Dry, so if you want 100% wet, this is how you do it). There’s a stereo/mono button, then controls for noise levels, the Tape Head delay times, tempo Sync on/off, and finally the Tape Type, with 3 different settings (RT, New, and Old).
Up top, there’s a preset menu with previous/next and Save/Delete buttons. Right clicking a control will pop-up a menu that allows you to lock certain parameters from changing, which can be very fun when combined with the Random preset button up top. Don’t know what you want? Lock a few of the controls from randomization and click the Random button until you get a sound you like. There’s also a More button up top that opens a menu with Oversampling options, the ability to change the EQ behavior (delay only or delay+reverb), engage a limiter, link to the online manual, and more. Lastly, the icon in the top right functions as a Bypass control.
The GUI is not scalable, but it’s a good size with enough contrast that I think it will work on a variety of display setups without issue. In fact, it’s a very attractive UI, which makes using it a pleasure.
This is a Space Echo clone so the first thing I did was whipped together a quick dub reggae jam with drums, bass, and organ, figuring this would be the best way to demo an emulation of what’s probably the most well regarded dub delay. This particular demo track came into existence before Outer Space was actually released, and dates a few weeks earlier when it was still called Outer Verb. I was originally combining the Space Echo modes of Echoboy Jr. with the spring reverb of Outer Verb. This immediately yielded cool results on the organ.
When Outer Space was released I swapped out Echoboy and Outer Verb and replaced them with Outer Space. What I noticed immediately was that the tone of the delay was different. Outer Space’s delays are much brighter than EchoBoy Jr.’s, which were not only darker, but somehow sounded more diffuse and modulated. I won’t speak to the authenticity of either, but I prefered the character of the original EchoBoy Jr.+Outer Verb combo on that particular track. The Audio Thing developer has pointed out that his particular Space Echo was recently restored and is a very clean model, and if you visit their website, you’ll see exactly what he means when you see photos of the actual unit. It looks brand new. I suspect the well maintained condition, and perhaps the guys at Sound Toys taking some liberties in Echo Boy Jr. (the delays sound a bit chorused) account for the differences. Once I wanted to do some automation on the track however, the difference between the two delays mattered less than the convenience of wanting to automate the parameters from a single interface so Outer Space won in the end.
Next up was snare. I put Outer Space on the snare bus starting in an echo+reverb mode with the Echo Volume initially at 0. Once I had a nice springy snare sound, I engaged automation and began working in some delay, while also playing with the Repeat Rate and Intensity eventually building up a giant climatic wall of oscillating feedback. This is exactly the kind of fun you expect to get from a Space Echo emulation and Outer Space did not disappoint. Those two instances of Outer Space helped make that skeletal reggae track interesting.
Next up, I plugged my Jazzmaster into an instance of the Amplitube Fender Collection 2 and just began jamming with some mostly clean tones with a healthy dose of Outer Space. This was one of those instances where I wished I had an extra set of arms to tweak Outer Space with while I played guitar! The sound was stunning, and the experience was just downright fun.
My only real critique of Outer Space has to do with the Wow & Flutter which, compared to something like Diva’s built-in delay which has a wonderful sounding Wow effect, sounds very extreme. Once over 35% it just sounds almost like someone’s added a deep univibe effect into the delay loop, rather than the more subtle bending and stretching of the delay times like I’d expect. That said, this knob is perfectly usable for me up to that point, and I’m sure the parameter range was intentionally geared for people who’d want to abuse this effect.
Fun, fun, fun! Outer Space is an absolute joy to play with, and is an inspiring plugin. At $49, the price makes it an absolute no brainer. So whether you’re looking for your first dub delay, or whether you’ve already got 20 sitting in your plugin folder, you’re going to want to check out Outer Space. It’s one of those plugins I’d recommend to anybody and everybody. Plus, as of the time of this review, Outer Space is on version 1.03, but it sounds like the developer is working on a back panel set of features to really expand the creative possibilities and make Outer Space more than a Space Echo emulation. I frankly, cannot wait to see where this goes.
Beautiful and familiar interface
I’m not in love with the Wow & Flutter knob’s extreme range, but I’m sure others will love it
Sound Quality - 5/5: Great sounding dub delay+springverb that will work on a very wide variety of sources.
Ease of Use - 5/5: Looks and acts like the original!
Features - 5/5: Takes the original and expands on it with sync times, wow & flutter depth, adjustable noise, independent tape head delay times, and a lot more features planned for future updates.
Bang for Buck - 5/5: At $49 this is an absolute steal.