Miracle on Schlesische Stra├če?

Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind. It also means that Native Instruments is giving away a delay effect for free before it goes on sale at full retail – so now’s the time to grab it. (There’s also a download voucher, some Remix Sets, and a gear giveaway, but it’s the delay that I think rises to the level of newsworthy.)

The thing is, delays are very often as useful if not more indispensable than reverbs – whether it’s dark, dubby techno you’re producing or experimental soundscapes. And this one is really, really good – good enough that I’m a bit behind in writing about it because I got distracted trying it out; I was very quickly making some new ideas with it.

What makes Replika special is that it combines three delays in a single interface:

“Modern” is a clean digital delay – and delivers sounds you might expect of something like an Eventide.

“Vintage Digital” is my early favorite, in that it gives you a grittier, lo-fi sound that emulates retro digital units like the Lexicon.

“Diffusion” adds additional delays to produce a reverb (which is, naturally, how most digital reverbs apart from convolution reverbs work).

All of this is coupled with a resonant filter and phaser, and NI’s models of filters have been greatly improved (backed by some heavy research in the field), so … well, it all sounds good. Of anything we might love or hate from NI, you can count on things sounding like chocolate.

What brings this all together is that NI didn’t overthink the interface. There’s just a dead-simple UI for setting delay times. And with so many multi-taps getting, frankly, more complicated than you need, the one-knob approach is welcome. I always thought this was part of the genius of the Roland Space Echo. Complex multi-taps can open up creative possibilities, to be sure, but if you’re given a simple interface, you tend to focus on the sound.

Speaking of the interface, this is at last a plug-in built for Apple’s Retina Display. Hopefully others follow soon. (If NI has overhauled their graphics for this, you can expect more of their tools will be next in line.)

You’ll need OS X 10.8 or greater or Windows 7, and you do need a 64-bit host on Mac. (I will say, if your hardware supports it, I’ve actually been happy with recent OS X versions; if you want to keep hardware running longer, you might think about a Windows install, seriously – even Boot Camp on Mac. And… let’s see if this comment earns me some hate mail.)

The free download is on the Replika product page:

NI has been putting out a stream of effects. Molekular is a whole sound design world of its own, with modular routing, if you want something deeper. But I have to say, going simple means I expect to wind up using Replika a lot. Let us know what you think.

NI holiday specials: