Compression, EQ and reverb plugins seem to get all the love these days. With so many virtual processors dedicated to replicating a Fairchild Compressor or EMT Plate Reverb, it’s easy to forget that there are some excellent modulation and delay plugins out there that will really add some motion to your mix! I picked the five that I ‘reach for’ the most and absolutely couldn’t live without. If you’ve missed any on this list, it’s time to check them out.
I have a really special place in my heart for the Roland Dimension D chorus box. It was one of the first plugins I purchased back when I got into the UAD system, and I bought it because the first studio I worked in had a physical unit that I lovingly referred to as the ‘make it bigger button’. When running guitar or synth tracks through the Dimension D (and eventually the UAD Studio D) all you had to do was push one of the four buttons (or mash down all 4 at once) and your track instantly got more lush, spread out, and deeper. There are no dials. There are no controls. Just ‘1-2-3-4’ or ‘all’. The simplicity is beautiful, as is the sound.
I can’t really imagine anyone being unhappy with Replika Xt. It models 5 different types of delay from Tape to Vintage Digital. You can pepper each delay with more modulation effects like a phaser, flanger, chorus, etc… There are multiple diffusion modes, and it’s extremely processor efficient - you could load up a million of them in a session. The visual interface makes it extremely intuitive to program quickly, and the price is great.
Known to many of my studio friends as ‘instant Edge’, the SDD-3000 is a delay that works on anything, but especially shines on guitars. It has a ‘hold’ button that allows you to freeze time and create a glistening pad out of a delayed signal - super fun! The modulation section at the end of the plugin allows you to add some real motion to the time delay. You can dial in quite a bit from vibrato to flange at the end.
Molekular more of an ‘all in one’ modulation environment than a specific effect. There are delays, choruses, bit crushers… you name it. The key is that they all work together in a modular setup that allows you to configure the routing any way you like. You can also modulate just about any parameter with any of the others. You can create some real spectral madness with Molekular, and it’s super fun.
Relayer is what I lovingly refer to as the ‘control freak delay’. It’s really easy to use, but the depth of what you can adjust in this plugin is just staggering. You can quickly queue up the exact scope, placement, sound, and amount of repetitions you desire - but then you can adjust each single instance with extreme precision. This plugin is usable on everything from simple vocal ambiance to stutter step digital glitching. It’s really glorious.