The TC 2290-DT is part plug-in, part hardware: the bus-powered USB 2 device acts as both dongle and control surface. To first use the Mac OS/Windows plug-in (VST, AU and AAX) and access its main controls you must connect the hardware. Once installed, though, you can access limited functions for up to 60 days with the hardware unplugged: presets, user patches and the wet/dry mix. (Settings in a DAW project will be recalled.) Reconnecting the hardware resets the 60-day clock. The plug-in can work in mono or stereo, and sync to the DAW project's tempo.
In the mid–'80s, the TC 2290 rack unit was impressive — as one of the first really clean-sounding digital delays that included enough modulation options to recreate chorus, flanger, vibrato and ducking-delay type effects (with panning thrown in) it became a common sight in pro studios. The new TC 2290-DT's square buttons and black anodised front panel mimic the original's style; it even uses the same inc/dec buttons to set values. There are also four numeric displays (again styled after the original), I/O level meters and a keypad for value entry. Of course, this version's price tag is a fraction of the original's, and as it's a plug-in you can use it on as many tracks as you like.
Sonically, I can't fault the TC2290-DT. What you hear from the plug-in gets very close to what you'd expect from the original rack unit.
About the same size as a wide effects pedal, the controller doesn't occupy much desk space. Its non-slip base prevents it sliding, it sits at a comfortable angle, and multiple DT plug-in controllers can be clipped together.
You really need both the controller and the plug-in GUI to gain full control in a practical way. The GUI shows what were denoted as 'Special' functions on the original hardware, and while you can access these via the hardware, doing so is a bit long-winded: you enter Special mode, key in the number of the parameter you want to change (parameter numbers are listed in the manual), press enter, key in the value, and press enter again. And while the controller offers the benefit of a tactile approach, which people will love, the hardware's bright LEDs make the legend a little difficult to see, regardless of how dim your studio lighting is.
Sonically, I can't fault the TC 2290-DT. Delays have evolved since the TC 2290 first saw the light of day; we now have easy access to tape emulations and all sorts of other characterful delays. In its quest for sonic purity, the TC 2290 didn't have those, so you won't find them here — but the plug-in gets very close to what you'd expect of the original rack unit. If I had to sum up the character in a simple line, I'd say it is pristine without sounding clinical. The modulation, panning and dynamic delay section are strong points when it comes to cooking up creative modulation effects, and some presets show just how wide the scope of the TC 2290 really is. There are some lovely stereo treatments, and if you need shimmery delays, classic chorus, old-school flanging or drifting ambient effects, this plug-in will get you there. Whether you feel this cute hardware would be desirable in your studio or just act as a fancy dongle I'll leave you to decide. But it certainly delivers on the sound front!