Universal Audio Drops EP34 Tape Echo Plug-In
Universal Audio has released the EP34, a software recreation of the Echoplex tape delay unit. The EP34 claims to model elements of both the EP3 and EP4 Echoplex variations, including wow and flutter, input clipping, and the ability to self-oscillate.
Just as on the real thing, delay time is set not by adjusting the tape speed, but by varying the distance between the record and playback heads, the latter of which is mounted on a sliding bar. Delay time is continuously variable between 80 and 700ms, and can be set manually or, when running the plug-in in Sync mode, at values between a 64th and half of a beat.
» Sound of original EP-3 and EP-4 Echoplex tape delay unit
» UAD-2 plug-in for Mac or PC
» Unique movable record head design creates warm, rich sound
» Provides a range of tones, from simple slap effects to self-oscillation chaos
» Amalgam of features from EP-3 and EP-4 hardware units, plus “digital only” extras for modern mix use
» (The fine print) Requires a UAD-2 DSP Accelerator Card
The number of repeats, and their volume, can also be varied, and there’s a two band EQ for shaping the delay tone. Using the Recording Volume control, you can distort the source material, and this effect can be used on its own as an overdrive, even with the delays muted.
A handful of switches on the left-hand side of the UI allow for some other tonal changes: an Input Hi/Lo switch selects between emulations of either the mic or line input, and can be used to further overdrive the input signal. A Tension Hi/Lo switch, which models two different tape tensions that could be achieved on the original by tightening or loosening a screw is also included. The effect of this switch becomes apparent when moving the record head slider in real time: with a high tape-tension setting, the delay time (and accompanying pitch shifting) changes relatively slowly, while on the low tension setting it occurs faster.
A Wet On/Off switch, which when set to On kills the dry output, making the plug-in suitable for use as a send effect. The Send On/Off switch, meanwhile, disables the signal input, for when you want to use the EP34 as a sound-generating plug-in, by making it self-oscillate. Of this mode, Universal Audio say that the plug-in can be used as “an instrument that can be played by manipulating the controls while in chaotic oscillation”, which sounds rather fun! And finally, the self-explanatory Echo Pan knob allows you to place the delays anywhere within the stereo field.
UA’s EP34 plug-in costs for Mac and PC costs $199. More information on Universal Audio EP34 Tape Echo.