From France with love – we look at the oddest, and at the same time sweetest, delay with countless options and a full bag of presets.
by Alex Arsov, September 2015
Relayer is definitely one of the most unusual delays I have ever seen. After the first “what the hell is this?” impression I realized that most of the controllers are where they should be and that this delay can even act as a normal delay. Actually, when you get used to the workspace, you release how flexible UVI Relayer could be and how odd the results can be, as well as providing all those standard delay tricks we expect from any similar beast. I have plenty of excellent delays in my arsenal and the main difference between this one and all the others is its flexibility and extra visual editors. It covers the whole range of standard delays, from simple delays to complex multi-tap ones, even spreading into chorus, or offering various rhythmical patterns that go far beyond the standard delay functions we are used to in this sort of tool. So, it is a delay that covers a really wide spectrum of delaying tasks, including everything between an ordinary set of delays and an arsenal of the most odd sounding delays I’ve ever heard.
What Do We Get?
Relayer has a really clean interface in which everything is presented so clearly that you really shouldn’t have any trouble tweaking things to sound right, especially seeing that all global mix parameters are right there, on both the left and right side of the interface. But when you come to the window in the middle, called Visualiser, this is where most of the fun starts. You will definitely need a quick look at the user manual. It is a very powerful and flexible plug-in, but you will need some time to master it. Is it worth it? I presume so, as I haven’t heard any other plug-in that can give such odd results and still sound creative and useful (as it’s not so hard to make an odd sounding instrument or effect these days).
Global Mix Elements
The Global Mix part contains all the elements you can expect from any well-equipped delay: delay time, feedback, repeat control, dry and wet knobs and filter section with low and high pass options. Then things become even more interesting with a few additions that are not so common on this sort of plug-in: Input gate, for controlling when the delayed signal should appear, and the Color section, where you can add reverb to the delayed signal. It comes with a nice number of reverb spaces along with a dry/wet slider and a delay time modulation section where you can set modulation amount and rate. That is more or less all about the global part.
The Heart of Joy – Visual Editor
In the center is a big sequencer-like window with 20 steps, and four smaller windows at the bottom where we can see used values for four basic functions. At the upper, main one, we can draw different values for different functions that can be chosen through the menu at the top of that main sequencer window. Time, Gain, Pan, Fx1 and Fx2 can be controlled through this 20-step sequencer window. In theory it seems a bit on the boring side, but in practice you can go totally bonkers. To get started you have a menu with various shapes that you can insert into the sequencer window, a starting point for further tweaking or even drastically changing certain values for each step. Under this shape menu we find a set of Transform buttons for reversing values, or even swapping them from left to right, plus a few more options. Every function brings a few additional options specific for that function, like the Spread button for Pan, or Snap for Time.
If you are an advanced user you can do magic tricks, as described in a video on the product page, but if you are just a “happy user” (to say it politely) like I am, then you can still have enough fun by starting with some of the many presets that you can find at the top of Relayer’s interface and then playing with the settings to make something totally new, or just adapting it for your needs. Plenty of joy even for happy users.
Fx1 and Fx2
The Effects window offers a few different filters directed at different targets. Biquad and Comb filters control cutoff frequency. The Vowel effect modulates between various vowel shapes. Redux controls sample frequency and Waveshaper modulates drive amount. All these effects can be controlled through the step sequencer along with other controllers that are available under the step sequencer and are different from filter to filter. Trying different types it is not hard to notice that Vowel and Waveshaper can add some movement that crawls rhythmically behind the basic delay. 10 out of 10 for those, my dear UVI team. The strongest point of Relayer is that no matter what settings you use (OK, moderate, not extreme maximizing everything like a mad doctor) the end result still sounds very musical.
The last one in the menu is Feedback, allowing you to process the signal before it goes back to the delay, adding a low or high pass filter, selecting various drive types like Tube, Analog and Tape, and also which tap should be effected (if you are not sure there is also a “Last” option at the end of the row with tap numbers).
This is definitely not just one more delay in the market. If you want to use it just as a simple delay, you can, but no doubt you get enough solid, basic delays with your DAW. This one is a Cadillac – you don’t use it just to go shopping. It really shines in a sparse mix where every separate sound has its space and character. It is one of those tools that can send an ordinary, dry piano to inner space. It is one of the most unique delays I have ever come across, and yes, I’ve seen all sorts of them. It offers great flexibility – at some basic level it’s not so hard to set it just right, but it takes some practice when you go a bit deeper. And anyway, it comes with a great set of presets that can keep you busy for the next few years. No matter how many delays you already have, this one is definitely a good choice as it offers much more than any other delay available.
Is There Anything Missing?
The only “it could be better” issue is iLok. UVI offers an option to register Relayer directly to your system if you’re not happy using an iLok. I’m not, since iLok has some issues with Windows 10, and also I’m not so keen to register it only for my main computer because sometimes I also work on my second one. I really prefer a registration key file that you can copy to another computer, a system used in some virtual instruments from U-he, Synthmaster and a few other developers. You can’t beat the piracy, but you can make life a bit easier for the end user that uses a legal copy of the software.
$129 USD. More info, demo audio and video clips at: