I love delay! I don’t care if it’s analog, digital, hardware or software, or even if it’s natural sound bouncing off natural surfaces, echoes are awesome. Many moons ago, as a budding guitarist, I remember my first two effects pedals were chorus and delay. As my experiences and education as a musician grew, so did my love for the time-based effect. I learned all the neato tricks you can do with a delay, from cascading repeats(ala The Edge of U2 fame) to ambient drones and self oscillation effects.
Once I started using the iPad, I was always looking for ways to use delays to make music. Most of the apps I use have some type of delay, so I had plenty in my arsenal of effect from which to draw. I know there are many standalone delay effects, of which I only currently own one; however, Chris Rivers of Lofionic has released Duplicat, a tape delay-based app that harkens back to the days of the Echoplex and Copicat delay units. I’m excited to share the functions of this app, as I was able to beta test for Chris.
Upon first gaze, Duplicat looks like the classic tape-based echo units of the early 1960’s, complete with retro-styled knobs and buttons. The buttons signify the tape heads on the unit, and the knobs are controls for echo volume(Swell), amount of repeats(sustain), delay time(speed), and tape degradation quality(tape). The interface is as straight-forward as you can get.
During beta testing, I was asked to check to see it Duplicat could work in Audiobus, IAA, and as an Audio Unit. My go-to set up has always been Audiobus, so I opened up a scene and loaded up a couple of different synths for the input and Duplicat in the effects slot and had a go.
If you’ve listened to the audio demo above, you’ll notice two things; one, I really love the self oscillating effect, and two, this delay does a fine job of copping that old tape delay sound. I used the new Electro-Hamonix Micro Synth app( more on that in another post) running through Duplicat, then into Audioshare. I also ran Magellan in an effects slot in Audioshare, using only the compressor to avoid clipping. When you set the controls as I had, using heads 2 and 3 with all the controls at high noon, except the Tape control, which was around 2 o’clock, it doesn’t take much for it to run wildly out of control. I actually had to run this through a mastering app with a hard limiter to prevent the sound file from clipping. That’s not necessarily the app’s fault. When left in my hands, I can make digital distortion with the worst of them. That said, you do have to be careful of clipping on some settings.
All told, Duplicat is not just a one trick pony. You can make some warm sounding repeats on a clean signal or Rockabilly-approved slapback echoes on a guitar sound, when run in IAA. I also ran Duplicat in an effects slot in AUM, while playing a soft sounding synth drone, and was met with warm, chewy goodness reminiscent of actual tape echoes.
I should also mention that the controls might be a bit confusing at first. I actually asked Chris if he intended for the speed control to speed up the repeats when you turned up the knob, which was counter-intuitive of most delay units. He replied back that it was his intention to do that. A unique choice, but once you get used to it, you don’t even think about it. One of the nice things about this app is the user manual is right above the unit itself. This is an easy reference at first glance, giving you a speedy start up after opening up the app for the first time.
My only niggles with this app? I only have two, but they are so minor, I don’t even consider them a big deal at all. First, the app appears in portrait mode. This isn’t really a big deal, but when you’re working in, say, Audiobus, you’re in landscape mode. If you’re using Duplicat as a straight up delay, you’ll load it up, set it, and forget it. Not an issue. I am the weird guy, in that I prefer to “play” delays, by manipulating the controls for expression and general noise-making(see audio clip). When switching back and forth between apps, having to prepare yourself for orientation of the apps can be a little counter-productive. Again, not a big deal. The other issue I had is that sweeping the speed control isn’t very smooth on the sound. When I asked Chris about this, he told me that he chose better sound quality over the “smoothness” of knob operation(a wise choice, needless to say) as he hadn’t intended Duplicat to be used in that fashion, but will consider it to be part of a future update. To that, I kindly ask, for the sake of wierdos like myself, please do make that control smoother. Ultimately, this too is not a big deal, as I have always found a way to use anything the wrong way on purpose.
To sum up Duplicat, I feel it is an amazing effect with a great sound. Bravo, Chris, bravo! If you have ever thought you had too many effects, consider this: Duplicat will be another warm color to add to your pallet. And why not? At 99 cents, it’s definitely worth purchasing.
If you find yourself in need of a delay that makes you want to don a pompadour and leather biker jacket, sling a Gretsch guitar low and crank up a Fender amp, or recall the days of psychedelic sounds of the ’60s…or be a sonic savant not unlike myself, please check out Lofionic’s Duplicat, which you can purchase right here:
As always, thanks for reading and happy apping!