“Colour Copy is analogue delay brought slap-back up to date”. We review U-he’s latest offering.
Just ask anyone who’s ever used U-he’s venerable ‘Uhbik’ range of effects and they’ll confirm that the company know a thing or two about quality virtual outboard. Their latest offering in this regard, the curiously-monikered Colour Copy is not, as you might think, named after a 1980’s high-street photocopying shop, but is in fact a software emulation of an analogue bucket-brigade delay line (BBD) that owes its provenance directly to the delay processor found in U-he’s renowned Repro1 softsynth.
So what is a bucket-brigade delay exactly? BBD’s first appeared in the late 1960’s in the form of analogue delay effect pedals aimed at guitarists. They work by using a string of capacitors to store an analogue signal, passing ‘copies’ of it down the chain in a manner reminiscent of a human chain passing buckets of water to extinguish a fire, which is where the name originates from. The characteristic dubby sound of a BBD is due to its feedback function, where a portion of the delay’s output is fed back into the input to be processed again.
The name Colour Copy, meanwhile, alludes to the innovative Colour control on the plugin’s front panel, which can be used to morph the sound of the repeats between five different tone ‘colours’ – named Reso, Sparkle, Fuzz, Snap and Dusk. These effectively represent various settings for a number of internal processors, including filters, distortion and compression. According to U-he’s press release, this delivers the kind of colouration people still love in classic BBD units, but with a wider variety of colours to choose from.
The Feedback Colouration section also sports Brightness and Saturation controls which, together with the Colour control, are a definite bonus when working with pitched instruments such as guitar or piano, where this thing really shines. Those familiar, evocative, fitered delays that shed more frequencies with each repeat are a cinch to achieve. A quick flick through the presets will confirm that other delay-line stalwarts like Lennon-esque vocal slapback, trippy tape echo and gritty flanging are all catered-for comfortably while there is also a grin-inducing musicality about the character of the effect that’s somehow not as prevalent in some of Colour Copy’s peers.
U-he delivers the kind of colouration people still love in classic bucket bridge delay units, but with a wider variety of tone colours to choose from.
The front panel is well thought-out, with clear and logical controls surrounding an informative central display that shows the flow of the repeats through each of the left and right channels in real time. This area also houses the central routing matrix, via which the two channels for the main inputs and the feedback can be made mono, switched over or combined in a couple of clicks.
The amount of feedback is governed by the Regen control, and with a setting above 70%, the effect can build up to ear-threatening levels rather than decaying. To combat this, there’s a useful ducking mode that helps to prevent a buildup of delay repeats overpowering the original signal, and a big, friendly panic button (labelled with a big exclamation mark) to silence the effect altogether if it all starts to become too overwhelming.
Whacking the Freeze button to capture a loop of the effect and then tweaking the settings to alter the sound of the captured portion is a ton of fun, allowing the creation of some properly weird and wonderful drone effects. Elsewhere, other modern twists added into the mix to bring the BBD experience up to date include a powerful preset browser with the ability to add tags and descriptions to your own custom presets when saving, and the ability to sync the repeat rate to the tempo of the host DAW, backed up by the handy inclusion of musical notes in the central display indicating the appropriate values. There’s an HQ mode for higher-quality output if your processor can handle it, a MIDI key mode that allows control of the repeat rate via pitch data from your MIDI keyboard and a comprehensive modulation section that enables the unit to produce cyclic, time-based effects such as phasing and flanging.
The unit is equally at home providing authentic classic effects or lending a retro air to modern keyboard sounds and vocals; in fact, you’d be hard pushed to find any sound that Colour Copy won’t be able to breathe new life into. Even if you already own a virtual rackful of delay effects, Colour Copy is well worth a look. Versatile enough to cover all the bases while still being unique enough to stand out from the crowd, this is one delay that certainly needs no apology.
Colour Copy, €69, u-he.com