Erica Synths have announced the release of the Zen Delay Virtual, a new delay plug-in that recreates and expands on their popular Zen Delay device, a hardware effects unit created in a collaboration with electronic music label Ninja Tune. ZDV features five delay algorithms along with a multi-mode filter and overdrive, and offers an extreme feedback range that make it a great choice for crafting experimental and dub-style effects.
A Delay Time parameter offers manually-controlled delay times that range from 3ms up to a lengthy 5 seconds, with a tap tempo function also provided by a button placed at the bottom of the GUI. If the plug-in is synced to a host DAW’s tempo, the control instead offers a range of relative time divisions and multiplications. A Feedback control then determines how much of the processor’s output is routed back to its input, with extreme settings capable of pushing the effect into self-oscillation.
Tape, Digital, Tape Ping-Pong, Digital Ping-Pong, and Vintage algorithms are available, and can be selected using a Delay Mode selector at the bottom left of the GUI. The two tape-style modes will introduce some pitch-shifting as the delay time is changed, whilst their digital equivalents will provide a similar effect but will keep the pitch constant.
Further variation is provided by the Vintage setting, which offers a modified version of the algorithm used for the tape modes, and facilitates some creative lo-fi effects by bit-crushing the signal as the delay time is increased. An additional Delay Off mode then bypasses the delay section entirely, allowing the plug-in to be used purely as a filter and overdrive effect.
Filter & Drive
ZDV is also equipped with a 24dB/octave filter section, which offers selectable low-, band-, and high-pass operation modes. The filter’s frequency is determined by a VCF Cutoff dial, and a Resonance control is also present, which will cause the filter to self-oscillate when pushed towards its maximum setting.
The Drive control governs the amount of distortion introduced to the incoming signal, and utilises an emulated valve overdrive stage. The effect has a wide operation range, and at its higher setting will produce results that Erica Synths describe as “quite destructive madness”! A limiter is present in the section’s signal path, ensuring that the overall output volume remains consistent even when extreme settings are applied.
The company are keen to point out that the plug-in isn’t simply a software version of the original device, but rather a successor that introduces some new features and functionality that are not present in the hardware. These settings can be accessed from a dedicated Modulation & Options page, with Time, Digital, and Cutoff Modulation sections providing a wealth of additional control over the plug-in’s parameters.
From here, it is possible to modulate the effect’s Delay Time and VCF Cutoff parameters with shapes that include sine, ramp, sawtooth, triangle, square, and pulse waves, with the speed and depth of the modulation controllable via Freq and Level controls. X AM and X FM controls are also present, and provide control over how much the sections modulate their own amplitude and frequency, with the latter capable of morphing the modulation waveforms into entirely new shapes. The Digital section then alters the behaviour of the two digital delay modes, providing access to their bit-depth, noise, and sample rate settings.
Check out the video below to see and hear the effect in action.
Zen Delay Virtual is supported on Windows and Mac platforms, and is available in VST2, VST3, and AU plug-in formats, as well as a stand-alone application. It is authorised via iLok, although does not require a physical dongle.
Pricing & Availability
Zen Delay Virtual is available now, and is currently (10 February 2023) being offered for an introductory price of €99. After 8 May 2023, the price will increase to €149.