Eventide UltraTap by Diogo C
Formats: AAX Native, AU, VST
Requirements: Windows 7+ and macOS/OS X 10.7+
DRM: iLok (USB dongle optional) with up to two concurrent activations
Demo: Fully functional for 30 days
Price: $79 MSRP ($49 intro offer until Sept. 5th 2017)
The Scope: The effects maestros at Eventide are back with a new plug-in that brings to our DAWs one of the most popular algorithms from their H9 stomp box. UltraTap was first introduced in 2013 and this is not your everyday repeater, it’s quite a different delay with up to 64 taps with maximum 4 seconds of length and powerful rhythmic and stereo capabilities, but before that all happens UltraTap can tweak the incoming signal with an interesting processing chain that’s displayed in the diagram below:
As shown above UltraTap can darken/brighten the signal with the “Tone” control, smear transients with the chorus-esque “Slurm”, then it can “Chop” the input so signals are modulated with an amplitude envelope that can work as an LFO with different waveshapes but it can also do ducking, gating and even swells. Then the signal finally hits the tap engine, which besides determining the number/length of taps can also tweak the way they’re distributed or grouped with the “Spread” control and add fade-in/out envelope through the “Taper” control. Lastly we have a “Width” control which can place the taps in the center (mono) or distribute them through the stereo field - interestingly it is a bipolar control that when dialed fully to the left makes the first tap go to the left channel, with subsequent taps alternating on right-left, while dialing the Width fully clockwise will lead to the inverse behaviour i.e. first tap on the right channel with subsequent taps alternating on left then right. UltraTap also features a mix knob, input/output levels trims with display meters and it brings back the ribbon controller and its clever modulation system, which was initially developed for the H9 and first appeared on our DAWs with the Blackhole plug-in. This powerful system can morph from one setting to the other with ease, by using external rings on each knob which can de freely set to determine the range covered by the ribbon. This controller is capable of receiving MIDI (mod wheel or CC1) and it’s great for adding movements to sounds and it gives more depth to the plug-in.
Sound quality: UltraTap can go from pristine rhythmic taps to crazy glitched sounds and it can also deliver some good dashes reverb if needed. Despite the maximum tap time being limited to four seconds it can get pretty atmospheric with some particular settings, but it’s better geared for dense buildups that are constantly being fed with notes and sounds than for everlasting and evolving tails from a few notes far in between. Overall it’s an effect that rewards creativity and can deliver some unexpected sounds which are unconventional for a delay once you start playing around with the controls - “Slurm” and “Chop” are particularly powerful in that regard. It’s definitely more on the experimental camp than on the versatile-workhorse side, it’s a rather unique effect that brings some cool new tricks - which is precisely what Eventide is known for. In terms of sound character UltraTap is mostly clean and it does not attempt to recreate the behaviour of any old delays i.e. there’s no degradation of each tap a la Soundtoys Primal Tap and others, taps are all equally pristine until you start to shape the input sound with the tone, slurm and chop parameters. It also doesn’t resemble any previous Eventide gear, it sounds quite different from the delay algorithms in the H3000 Factory/Band Delay plug-ins.
Ease of use: Straightforward to use when all parameters are fully understood and the slick interface design also helps a lot. UltraTap does not have a ton of parameters or hidden settings on multi-level submenus, everything is laid out very clearly so the learning curve is quite smooth and it shouldn’t take long to get great sounds out of it. For those relying on presets there is a good number of them, 150 to be exact, some of them are quite interesting but with this kind of processor I always found better luck tweaking settings from scratch, but the included presets should be good enough to demonstrate its capabilities to a good extent. Nevertheless, dialing the desired sounds won’t be a problem and it’s actually a big part of the fun because it can lead to some pleasant surprises along the way, so I strongly advise doing so. In case you need further clarifications the user manual is very good, providing all the necessary help in clear language and it’s readily available by clicking on the “info” button of the plug-in - which by the way should be a standard these days!
Features: As stated before, UltraTap is not about being a swiss-knife, so we’re presented with a very focused effects processor and a feature set reflects that approach. It’s not a plug-in packed with numerous features and tons of parameters but instead it relies on a few yet highly significant controls. The tap engine on itself is quite interesting, with many possibilities from regular time-based effect but it can also deliver some really strange sounds as more taps are added. “Slurm” is a rather unique feature and a very clever one - the same can be said about the “Chop”. “Spread” and “Taper” can lead to some interesting results, adding not only further control over the taps but it also enables more glitched goodness, and lastly the “Tone” control is also handy to nudge the sounds towards the desired color. Nevertheless, as Gearslutz we always have our wish lists and in that regard I wouldn’t mind having a set of post-taps HP/LP filters and a freely-assignable LFO to modulate some parameters. Full MIDI support for all parameters would also be welcome, but that’s a lesser issue since parameter mapping/control can be provided by some DAWs. Last but not least, I have to praise the ribbon controller and its modulation system, which is nothing short of amazing and tons of fun. It’s the second Eventide plug-in to have such lovely feature (the first one was Blackhole) and I can only hope that many others will follow.
Bang for buck: An absolute no-brainer at the intro price, but also a very good investment on full retail price considering that it’s still a pretty affordable price. If you’re looking for a new effects processor that breaks new ground then there’s a very good chance that you’ll enjoy UltraTap. It’s hard for plug-ins to bring something genuinely new these days, but Eventide has done it once again.
Recommended for: Anyone working with modern-sounding music, sound design or game audio will probably enjoy and find some good use for UltraTap. Its biggest strength is definitely the creative side, it can take guitars, drums, vocals, keys and synthesizers to whole new places that other effects don't often reach, so if you’re looking for a delay that breaks away from conventions then by all means give it a try.
- Sounds really unique and rewards experimentation.
- Straightforward to use.
- Reasonably priced.
- Hardly any, but I wouldn’t mind having full MIDI support.