PUTTING DELAY HEADS TO BED
Dedicated delay plug-ins can offer a comprehensive spread of delay basics with easy operation (Native Instruments Replika), or insanely deep multitap or spectral delay possibilities (e.g., Waves SuperTap or Artificial Audio Obelisk). Sandman, from boutique shop Unfiltered Audio, meets you halfway, with straightforward operation you can learn in a few minutes for delay essentials, as well as plenty of potential for extreme sonic warping, rhythmic glitch destruction, and warm, evolving textures.
It also throws in support for Steam Cloud (the popular videogame distribution platform that’s expanding into creative software), which lets you back up your presets and sync them on different computers—all at an impulse-buy price.
Sandman works off a delay buffer, the length of which you set in seconds or tempo-synched note values (see photo above). The buffer is capped at five seconds, but by turning down the Sample Rate knob, which pitch-warps and bit crushes the delayed signal, you can effectively extend the delay buffer all the way to a maximum of 500 seconds (or you can lock the delay time so sample rate doesn’t change it).
It’s simple to dial in a note value (from 1/64 triplet to whole note) and feedback amount to achieve basic delays quickly and then save them as user presets. A lowpass filter on the feedback can also color the delayed signal with a murky sheen or roll off piercing high end. But the fun picks up when you hit the Sleep button: This freezes the delay buffer in its current state (and turns off feedback and filter amounts) and lets you adjust the start and end points of the delay loop. From there, you can tweak the deeper settings for hours, staying up way too late conjuring up really trippy soundscapes by adjusting the delay time, sample rate, start and end points, and a whole other can of worms—the LFOs.
WAVES OF NOISE
Clicking an arrow unfolds the LFO section of Sandman. Two syncable LFOs with six possible waveshapes can modulate five destinations: delay time, Sleep start and end points, the sample rate, and feedback amount. Sliders for those five modulation destinations represent their current values in the center position, and you can adjust them to apply positive or negative modulation amounts.
The powerful LFO section helps rocket Sandman into potent sound design territory. Whatever audio you feed into Sandman, you can use it to create infinite all-new sounds and loops from something as mundane as a hi-hat pattern. Crank the mix knob all the way to wet, turn on Sleep, and go crazy recording your results.
DREAM UP SOMETHING NEW
Beyond delay, Sandman can create flange, bit crushing, and tone-bending effects, and its 23 presets show off all of those varieties. It can dirty up or “monsterfy” regular old synth or instrument tones like a Rhodes or string section that sound decent but could use some spice. You could turn a drum loop into something that sounds like a DJ scratching, or turn slowly played monophonic instruments into a busy, pleasant jumble of cascading notes. The possibilities are truly endless and potentially bizarre, beautiful, or both.
Straightforward operation. Goes from solid basic delays to transformational sound mangling in seconds. Versatile LFO section. You buy it; you own it—no activation required.
Sparse open-source documentation. No AAX or RTAS formats.