U-He - Uhbik-S

Uhbik‑S is a bit of a strange beast. It isn't exactly a ring modulator, though it can be made to sound like one. It isn't a phaser, but, again, it can be made to sound like one. It is both of these and neither, and an awful lot more besides!

The principle behind it is simple: it applies a fixed frequency shift to any signal. The effect is that different input frequencies seem to be shifted by different amounts. If the shift was set to 100Hz and you had a 100Hz sine-wave input, the result would be 200Hz, an octave higher. But with a 400Hz sine wave the output would be 500Hz, which is definitely not an octave higher. This can lead to seemingly inharmonic and metallic results with larger shift intervals, but also chorus and phaser‑like results when used with very small shifts.

In fact, it was this application that I preferred in the end. With some experimentation, I was able to produce some absolutely gorgeous phasing effects that sounded remarkably similar to the swirling pad sounds of Jean Michel Jarre's Oxygene album. One thing I soon noticed was that when using Uhbik‑S to generate phaser‑like sounds, the phasing effect is more like a 'barber pole' effect, where the phaser seems to be constantly sweeping upwards (or downwards) rather than having an obvious LFO‑driven modulation. This is actually a really pleasant effect and, in my mind, preferably to the cyclic phasing effects that are more common. Using some of the more ring modulator‑like settings on vocals produced a dizzying array of scary vocal tones that I am sure will end up giving me nightmares at some point! These kinds of effects have never really been to my taste, but when I tried them on some sampled drum and percussion loops they really came to life. They can give anything from a real lo‑fi edge to strange tuned overtones, and sometimes even bring out pitches in loops that I didn't even realise were there, turning a purely percussive loop into a melodic one. Very useful!