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Zen Delay Review

Zen Delay Virtual
5.0

We take a look at the new Erica Synths Ninja Tune delay plugin in our Zen Delay Review.

We take a look at the new virtual offering of the Zen Delay hardware unit. Erica Synths, a team of visionaries, engineers and musicians have teamed up with London based record label Ninja Tune to being you this epic delay plugin which we investigate further in our Zen Delay review.

More about the Zen Delay review

After the phenomena of the Zen Delay hardware unit, a version of this is now available as a software (virtual) plugin. This will allow an in the box experience of the Zen Delay unit to all manner of producers and artists alike without breaking the bank or needing extra space for additional hardware.

Installation of the Zen Delay plugin is simple. Once downloaded from your plugin provider (I got mine via Plugin Boutique) then you will be provided a license key to add to your iLok account. If you don’t have iLok then sign up is quite simple, needing only a small piece of software on your computer to authorise the plugin.

The install offered VST2 and VST3 options – using Bitwig Studio I always just opt for VS 3 to save on duplication.

If I plan to use any utilities in Audacity or other non VST3 digital audio workstation platforms then I’ll opt for both. However for this Zen Delay review I only need VST3. A quick install, a launch of Bitwig and we’re ready to go.

Zen Delay Review First Impressions

On opening the plugin, there is nothing too surprising to learn about what I’m seeing. Being familiar with the look of the hardware unit it is nice to see nothing is drastically different from the original look. To be honest, it would be weird if it was completely different I think! Everything is there that I would expect including knobs for:

  • Delay Time
  • VCF Cut-off
  • Drive
  • Feedback
  • Resonance
  • Delay Mode Selection

Obviously the plugin doesn’t have the inputs or power feed detail on the top of it as per the hardware box, but there are plenty of routing options within different DAW’s for placing this in to a production plugin chain.

Personally, for Bitwig I like to put a delay plugin on an FX channel and then dial in the amount required to the various tracks rather than have this sat on each track.

zen delay review first look

As you can see in the image, the delay mode offers up some tasty variety of delay efforts for you mix. Putting this on a simple – and I mean SIMPLE – saw bass line via Bitwig’s Poly Synth (the most default of defaults you can get) it brought something to the sound.

A touch of Drive and 1/4 sync added a nice little delay to the otherwise bland tone. Sometimes simple is best.

Plenty Of Presets

I must admit, I didn’t spot the preset options for a couple of sessions and was only when looking at the other features from the Zen Delay website was that I saw the option to have a preset saved.

The presets were a little hidden away, under the top right button (with the down arrow on it). This opens up the expanded menu and offers up a vast array of presets.

zen delay review presets listed

The presets come from various artists and are sorted into categories ranging from Rhythmic to Drone to simple FX types.

Music producers who like to delve deep into plugins and get technical will be interested to hear about the other features under the hood. By clicking the Wave icon, a new window to allow changes of Time Modulation, Digital settings and Cut Off Modulation is displayed.

This offers the ability to change items such as the Waveform type or Bit Depth and Sample Rates giving you further manipulation of your sound.

zen delay cutoff module and modulation parameters

Having these tweaks available are one of the selling points of this version of the delay unit – the ability to make changes in software open up a whole new capability of sound design not previously possible in hardware.

Pricing comes in at just over £106 at the time of writing this Zen Delay review but from a bang for your buck I think it’s a good effort and probably priced about right for the market it is aimed at however it might be a little more than a bedroom producer who dabbles as a hobby may want to pay.

But then again, you won’t need any other plugin to do delays if you have this and I think it offers good value for the money.

This plugin is certainly one to watch as a contender for awards over the course of this year. It’s a fascinating bit of software and will certainly become a regular member of the squad in my plugin arsenal.

It’s been fun learning this plugin and seeing what it can do. I definitely look forward to seeing future releases from these developers. A well deserved 5 stars from PartTimeProducer.com.

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