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Galaxy Tape Echo Manual

Endless, lush, dub-style delays and psychedelic spring reverb.

In 1973, Roland created the RE-201 Space Echo* — a tape delay/spring reverb system that created warm, warped, unabashedly analog echo effects. From subtle tape textures to mindbending chaos, this iconic contraption can be heard on classic Pink Floyd and David Bowie, to seminal dub sides from King Tubby, Scientist, and Lee "Scratch" Perry.

The Galaxy Tape Echo UADx plug-in is an exhaustive emulation of the iconic, legendary '70s unit, and expertly captures the physical behavior of the inspiring hardware, down to its distortion, musical wow and flutter, sci-fi pitch shifting, and real time tweakability.

  • Add subtle tape delay or colorful cacophony to drums, vocals, guitars, and synths
  • Harness distortion, wow and flutter, and pitch shifting, for organic time-based effects
  • Use wild-self-oscillation for creative sci-fi textures
  • Employ the ambient shimmer of spring reverb on any source
  • Create with plug-in-only features: Tempo Sync, Effects Pan, and Tape Select

Space is the Place

Universal Audio has painstakingly captured every quirk and characteristic of this complex device. For example, just like the hardware, you can drive the input hard to add hair to a vocal, or widen a drum bus with fat analog character. Tweak the controls and harness seemingly infinite wow and flutter and pitch shifting combinations — perfect for energizing electric guitars. From rockabilly slapback to hazey trails of swirling delay, the Galaxy Tape Echo is a secret sauce for any source in any genre.

A Faithful Reproduction — Warts and All

The Galaxy Tape Echo keeps the controls of the original hardware, and adds some for modern workflows. Use the original Mode Selector for various head combinations, Repeat Rate for timing control, and Intensity for repeats and self-oscillation. The Echo/Normal switch mutes the signal to the echo, while global Bass and Treble let you season to taste. New features include Tempo Sync, Pan controls for reverb and delay, and Tape Select, for varying delay timbres. By capturing the eccentricities of the original, and adding enhancements along the way, the Galaxy Tape Echo is a tool of infinite creativity.

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Galaxy Tape Echo interface

 


 

Galaxy Tape Echo Controls

The following digital-only features not in the original hardware are available with the Galaxy Tape Echo plug-in:

  • Mic and instrument volume controls are replaced with single input control
  • Tape Age switch for emulating newer or older tape
  • Wet Solo control for auxiliary bus send/return effect configurations
  • An output volume control for utility
  • Separate Pan controls for Echo and Reverb
  • Splice switch for triggering the tape splice at will
  • Tempo synchronization for tempo-based effects

Peak Level

The Peak lamp indicates when transient signal peaks and clipping are detected just after the input volume control. It begins illuminating at approximately -2 dB to -1.5 dB, then gets brighter as the level increases.

Input Volume

This control determines the signal level that is input to the plug-in. Unity gain is at the 12 o'clock position.

Tip: Click the INPUT VOL text label to return to the default position.

As with the original hardware, clipping distortion at the input to the plug-in effects the tone of the echo and reverb. Clipping is often used as part of the desired effect. At unity gain, clipping can be easily induced. However, if a cleaner sound is desired, reduce the input volume below unity and increase the plug-in output volume to compensate.

Head Select

Galaxy Tape Echo contains a tape echo effect and a spring reverb effect. The active effect(s) are selected with the Head Select knob.

Tip: Galaxy Tape Echo uses less processor in reverb-only or echo-only modes versus when both modes are used simultaneously.

The original hardware has three tape playback heads. By changing the combination and positions of the heads, a total of 12 different echo/reverb modes can be obtained
(four echo only, seven echo+reverb, and one reverb only). All modes are faithfully reproduced in the plug-in.

Head Select Knob Positions

The tape head and reverb modes for each Head Select knob position is detailed in the table below. A black dot indicates the head and/or reverb is active in that knob position.

Tip: Click text labels 1 – 11 to quickly switch the knob position.

Knob Position

ECHO

REVERB ECHO

REVERB

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

Reverb

Tape
Heads
Active

1

 

2

 

3

     

   

 

(N/A)

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

 

Reverb Active

       

Echo Rate

This knob controls the delay time for the echo effects. Rotate the control counter-clockwise to increase delay time; rotate clockwise to decrease delay time.

The available delay times are as follows:

  • Head 1: 69 ms - 177 ms
  • Head 2: 131 ms - 337 ms
  • Head 3: 189 ms - 489 ms

The delay times available with this control depend on the Head Select knob. As with the original hardware, this control varies the tape playback speed in realtime by manipulating the tape capstan motor and therefore has a musically useful "ramp-up" and "ramp-down" effect.

When Tempo Sync is enabled, this control is quantized to allow only rhythmic notes available at the leading head.

Feedback

This knob controls the repeat level of the echo signals. Rotate the control clockwise to increase the number of echo repeats. Higher values will cause self-oscillation.

The self-oscillation of Galaxy Tape Echo is one of the magic features that really makes it more than a mixing tool; it's also an instrument to be played. The effect may be used subtly, sending the unit into gentle oscillation on held notes, or it can be put into over-the-top oscillation with extreme Feedback settings. Different Head Select modes will reveal different qualities of oscillation. Single head modes tend to have simpler oscillation qualities, while multiple head modes will have a more complex sound when oscillating.

Galaxy Tape Echo's oscillation qualities are heavily program and control dependent. Different sources of audio, gain, tone, echo rate, and tape settings will all effect oscillation performance. Galaxy Tape Echo can also achieve oscillation with no signal, making the plug-in a truly unique instrument.

Treble

Treble controls the high frequency response in the tape echo portion of the signal. It does not effect the dry signal or the reverb signal. This is a cut/boost control; it has no effect when in the 12 o'clock (straight up) position.

Bass

Bass controls the low frequency response in the tape echo portion of the signal. It does not effect the dry signal or the reverb signal. This is a cut/boost control; it has no effect when in the 12 o'clock (straight up) position.

Echo Pan

Echo Pan controls the placement of the echo signal in the stereo output panorama when the plug-in is used in mono-in/stereo-out and stereo-in/stereo-out configurations.

Note: When the plug-in is used in a mono-in/mono-out configuration, this control is disabled.

Echo Volume

This control sets the volume of the echo effect. Rotate the control clockwise for louder echo. Reducing the control to its minimum value disables the echo effect.

Note: Echo Volume has no effect when the Head Select is in the REVERB ONLY position.

Reverb Pan

Reverb Pan controls the placement of the reverb signal in the stereo output panorama when the plug-in is used in mono-in/stereo-out and stereo-in/stereo-out configurations.

Note: When the plug-in is used in a mono-in/mono-out configuration, this control is disabled.

Reverb Volume

This control sets the volume of the spring reverb effect. Rotate the control clockwise for more reverb. Reducing the control to its minimum value disables the reverb effect.

On the original hardware the reverb output is quite low, and with some sources, unusable due to a high noise floor. Our model of the spring reverb has no noise, and has an increased available output level to improve usability.

Note: Reverb Volume has no effect when the Head Select knob is in positions
1 through 4.

Input Send

When set to MUTE, this switch disables the signal sent into the echo portion of the processor. This control, sometimes affectionately referred to as the "dub" switch, is typically used to automate the echo effect.

Note: This switch has no effect if the Head Select knob is set to REVERB ONLY.

Delay Time Display

These LED-style readouts display the current delay time(s) of Galaxy Tape Echo. The three displays correspond to the three tape heads. Because the distance between the tape heads is fixed, the delay times always maintain their proportional relationship to each other.

The delay time values are displayed in milliseconds unless tempo sync is active, in which case beat values are displayed instead. When a particular head is inactive (see Head Select Knob Positions), dashes are displayed.

When Tempo Sync is active, note values that are out of range will flash. Imprecise note values due to head relationships are displayed with superscript + or - symbol before
the note.

Tempo Sync

This switch puts the plug-in into tempo sync mode, for synchronizing the delay times to the tempo of the host DAW application. 

Tape Loop

Splice

This switch resets the location of the tape splice when the switch is actuated.

Normally, the splice point on the tape loop (where the two ends are joined) circles around at regular intervals. This interval is determined by the current Echo Rate setting. Depending on the Tape Age selection, the splice can be subtle or obvious, and it can work as a catalyst for chaos especially when Galaxy Tape Echo is in a state of self-oscillation.

Splice is a momentary switch that pops back into the off position immediately after it is activated, allowing a new splice point to be triggered whenever desired.

Note that the splice effect isn't immediate. It drops the splice at the write head, and it needs time to go over the read heads (at which point there will be a dropout), and then the tape capstan (where it will create some wow and flutter).

Tape Age

In the original hardware, the tape loop is contained in a user-replaceable cartridge. As the tape wears out, it is subject to fidelity loss plus increased wow and flutter. The Tape Age switch allows the plug-in to mimic the behavior of new, used, and old tape cartridges.

Newer tape may be ideal for a pristine vocal track, while older tape could be described as having more character and might be more appropriate for sources where greater chaos may be musical.

Wet Solo

When this switch is OFF, the dry/unprocessed signal is mixed with the wet/processed signal. When set to ON, only the processed signal is heard.

Wet Solo is useful when the plug-in is placed on an auxiliary group/bus return that is configured for use with channel sends. When the plug-in is used on a channel insert, this control should generally be OFF.

Note: Wet Solo is a global (per Galaxy Tape Echo plug-in instance) control.

Output Volume

This control sets the output volume of the plug-in. It modifies the dry and effected signals.

The range of this control is ±20 dB from unity gain. Therefore, some signal may still be heard when this control is set to its minimum value.

Tip: Click the OUTPUT VOL text label to return to the default position.

VU Meter

The VU meter indicates the average signal that is recorded to the tape. Used in conjunction with the Peak Level lamp, an indication of signal level can be deduced.

Because this is essentially an input meter, it doesn't react when the Input Send switch is switched from Echo to Mute.

Note: The Peak lamp and VU meter measure signal just after the input volume control. However, as with the original hardware, echo feedback is applied just before the level detection circuit. For this reason, the Feedback control will effect the level readings.

Power

The is the plug-in's overall bypass control for comparing the processed and unprocessed signal. In the ON position, signal processing is active. In the OFF position, the unprocessed signal is heard.

Processor usage is reduced when the POWER is off.

Tip: Toggling the power switch will also clear the tape echo. This can be useful if Galaxy Tape Echo is self-oscillating and restarting the feedback loop is desired.

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Note: The Galaxy Tape Echo product is not affiliated with, sponsored, nor endorsed by Roland.
The Roland name, as well as the RE-201 and Space Echo model names, are used solely to identify the classic effects emulated by Universal Audio's product.

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