REVIEWED: Waves Factory Echo Cat
Echo Cat is the new Waves Factory emulation of the 1958 “Copycat” by Charlie Watkins, a tape delay with 3 playback heads mainly used during the 60s and 70s.
As digital technology develops so does the audio plugins and this one is proof of that not only doing an incredible job at emulating the hardware but also bringing more features to the table which would not be possible in the “real world”.
Let’s start with the heads: Previously on the original hardware the heads were pre-set, now you can modify each one of them to your taste adjusting Volume, Pan, Time (You can also sync with your DAW), a LPF and a HPF activating and deactivating each one of the heads from the white 1, 2, 3 buttons underneath.
Moving on to the “TAPE” we got 3 sections:
- The HISS brings up that flavour of the hissing noise from the tape
- The CAT-IFACTS:
- WOW emulates the fluctuations caused by speeding up and slowing down the motor
- FLUTTER adds some random pitch variations
- AGE alters the frequency response, losing high-frequencies and gaining low frequencies. If feels as if the tape was getting older and dustier on the surface.
- SIGNAL LOSS controls the amount of high-frequency signal that is randomly lost
- The LOOP GAP: Analog tapes can never be glued together perfectly to make a loop, there’ll always be at least a small gap creating a signal loss which gets repeated by the Heads. The more the depth amount, the bigger the gap. That just adds up to the analog feel of the plugin.
Now let’s modify the MOTOR behaviour with 2 more sections:
- HUM adds low-frequencies switchable between 50hz and 60hz found on the original Copicat. The Auto Mute will automatically stop the humming noise when there is no signal coming in.
- VARISPEED: With this, you can vary the speed of the motor so the times of the heads also vary having a slight pitch effect.
- SMOOTH acts like an ADSR attack and also controls the slew effect when changing the time parameters
- MODULATION DEPTH: Amplitude of the LFO
- MODULATION HZ: Speed of the LFO
When getting to the MASTER there are some interesting features:
- DUCKING eliminates the need for using a sidechain between the plugin and a vocal for example. It ducks the wet signal when the dry one comes in. In it, you can adjust the speed, the amount and also the target flicking through Stereo and Mid. Would be great to see an update where you can act on both simultaneously.
- GLOBAL TONE is the overall EQ with HPF, LPF, BASS being a Low Shelf and TREBLE a High Shelf.
- FAKE ST applies 5ms delay on the right channel to give the impression of a wider sound (Be aware of the mono compatibility issues that might appear)
Apart from all of the main features, Echo Cat comes with an HQ button to allow oversampling, a Panic Button in case you need to erase the tape suddenly, 77 presets, the option of saving your own presets, a By-Pass button as Power ON 220-240 AC and if you’re having issues with the rendering of the plug-in you can try to enable/disable OpenGL on the top right burger menu. AH! I almost forgot. The screen is resizable!
Waves Factory Echo Cat really gave me the feeling of using an old analog hardware. For a producer in-the-box like me, it is an amazing way to get closer to that raw signal. I’m definitely using on my productions from now on.