Delays are everywhere -- they’re bundled with most DAWs and can be freely downloaded by the rackful. This being the case, if someone is going to try and sell you a new delay, it had better be a real humdinger. Which brings us to Timeless, a delay that FabFilter think is well worth paying for. This cross-platform plug-in does offer the classic tape-style features but is also far more than a mere echo box -- it’s a sonic sculpting tool that offers a wealth of advanced functions.
At its most basic level, Timeless is a dual delay line that can be synchronised to your host’s tempo. You can select the note value of the echoes, adjust the feedback to taste and filter the lot for a classic tape echo sound. So far, so good, but as great as they might sound, none of these things are remarkable. Where Timeless really shows its class is in the sheer number of parameters it offers and the myriad ways that they can be modulated.
Whereas some delays have a dedicated LFO, for example, Timeless has two of them onboard. There’s also a fully featured ADSR envelope generator and a pair of multimode resonant filters that can be arranged in series or parallel. You can also stick one on the right channel and the other on the left. With all of these goodies in place, Timeless actually seems more like a synthesizer than it does an effects processor.
This view is reinforced when you take a look at the list of modulation sources -- just about every parameter on the thing will respond to pitchbend, velocity, aftertouch, keyboard tracking and, of course, the aforementioned modulation features. If all of that isn’t enough, comprehensive MIDI Learn implementation enables you to tweak all those virtual knobs with ease using your favourite control surface.
Happily, all of the modulation sources can be routed to their destinations via FabFilter’s unique drag-and-drop mod matrix. This features a whopping 24 modulation slots divided into three banks of eight, which ought to be more than enough to handle even the most convoluted configurations! As with all FabFilter plug-ins, Timeless offers all sorts of unique touches that enhance its appeal considerably. In addition to the preset patches that come included -- over 100 of them -- there are also presets for some of the individual sections. The LFOs, for example, come with settings for ‘Slow Sine’, ‘Sample and Hold’, etc.
One particularly nice option is that you can select from two different delay styles. There is, needless to say, a setting for the familiar tape variety of delay -- when this is selected, echoes change in pitch as the delay time is adjusted. However, there’s also a stretch mode, which keeps the pitch constant when the delay time is changed. Very cool indeed.
Timeless is a grand slam of a delay, and one that enables you to transform a signal into something entirely new and potentially unrecognisable. What’s more, it’s perfectly capable of more conventional time-based effects such as chorusing, phasing and more. It might be more complex than some other delay plug-ins, but it’s unlikely to addle your mind if you’re a novice user.
If it does, though, there are always those presets to turn to. At $129, this isn’t the cheapest delay on the block, but you should remember that it still costs less than most modest hardware models. Timeless fulfils the needs of desktop engineers who need a bit more control than they’re currently getting from their freeware or bundled echo boxes, while also delivering that pristine FabFilter sound quality. Do you need another delay? If you’ve decided that you do, you’d be nuts to pass this one by.