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Old 24th April 2019
seancostello's Avatar

Originally Posted by guavadude View Post
Great work on this Sean and getting better all the time!

As a guitarist and Roland RE-501 user for decades, the main difference I find between the real thing and tape plugins is the way tape delays tuck into the sound.

Most people emulate the wow and flutter which is part of what makes the chorus sound but really it's the way the echoes duck based on how hard and short you're hitting the input. If you play soft and slow, the signal is recorded softer so you end up not even hearing delays, just a nice soft pad. If you hit it harder, the delays become more present and audible.

I've tried a lot of tape delay pedals and they all miss the mark in this regard. I've had much better luck using a BBD analog delay since it can do the blend thing better.
Anyway, if you work on some sort of ducking feature you might keep this in mind. It should have a depth of ducking control and not just be a threshold for the gating.
OK, I'm going to geek out for a minute here. Apologies in advance...

The sound you are talking about is partly due to tape saturation, but with your RE-501 there is something else going on. It's the compander that is in both BBD analog delays and your Roland RE-501. And I LOVE the sound that you are talking about!!!

The Tape and HiFi modes in ValhallaDelay are based on "standard" tape delays, without noise reduction. The RE-201, RE-301 and EP-3 (my main touchstones for the tape modes) don't have any compander code. These will exhibit some of the natural nonlinear "ducking" that you are talking about, due to tape saturation. But they won't duck as much as your RE-501 would*.

The BBD mode is based on hardware BBDs, and has a compander in there. Try running your signal through the BBD Mode, with Era set to Future, and turn up the Drive to a high level. This will cause the compander to really kick in, getting that natural ducking sound to a much bigger degree than what you hear in most tape echoes.

In general, turning up the Drive in ValhallaDelay past noon can cause this sort of "natural ducking" to kick in. I love this sort of organic behavior, that just comes out of the weird nonlinear physics of analog delays.

Here's a preset that shows the "natural ducking" of overdriving a compander input, in a somewhat exaggerated manner:

<ValhallaDelay pluginVersion="1.0.4v4" presetName="BBD-DuckingDrive" Mix="0.5" DelayStyle="0" DelayLSync="0.25" DelayLNote="0.20000000298023223877" DelayL_Ms="0.30000001192092895508" DelayRSync="0.25" DelayRNote="0.20000000298023223877" DelayR_Ms="0.5" DelaySpread="0.5" DelaySpacing="0.5" DelayRatio="0.61414140462875366211" RepeatSwell="1" TapA="1" TapB="1" TapC="1" TapD="1" Feedback="0.38999998569488525391" Width="1" DriveIn="0.71600002050399780273" Age="0.50800001621246337891" Diffusion="0" DiffSize="1" LowCut="0" HighCut="1" ModRate="0.27383410930633544922" ModDepth="0.5" Wow="0.5" Flutter="0.5" FreqShift="0.5" FreqDetune="0.57999998331069946289" PitchShift="0.5" PitchDetune="0.54500001668930053711" Mode="0.125" Era="1" Reserved1="0" Reserved2="0" Reserved3="0" Reserved4="0"/>

Try tweaking the Drive control until you get the signal to cut out with transients. It doesn't really cut out - the delay signal gets stronger as the input is getting louder, which results in the feedback being "dominated" by the new input. The result is that the feedback sounds like it is being controlled by the signal dynamics!

A few people have asked "why no ducking?" in ValhallaDelay. Part of the reason is that we wanted to have as simple a UI as possible, and you can always set up a ducking path in your DAW. A bigger reason, for me, is that I really love the "natural ducking" you can get out of these nonlinear delay systems. It's an organic sound, that you can't get by simply controlling the output volume of a delay, and it sounds super musical to my ears.

* I don't have an RE-501. I have a Korg Stage Echo, which is similar to the RE-501 in that it is a tape echo, with a compander used for noise reduction. My Stage Echo has a REALLY crappy tape in it, that results in a TON of dropouts. Listening to how the dropouts were exaggerated really got me thinking about the effects of a compander in a system, and how the expander would work fine for noise reduction, but would make a minor tape dropout sound huge. This was a great example of how broken gear can be useful for learning how to model that gear. But I still need to get that Stage Echo repaired.