Plugin Spotlight: Cooper Time Cube MkII by Universal Audio

This plugin spotlight features the Cooper Time Cube MkII by Universal Audio, a unique emulation of the original garden hose-based mechanical delay device.

Cooper Time Cube

Overview

The UAD line of plug-ins is famously known for their unmatched ability to emulate legendary classics with precision at the highest quality. The Cooper Time Cube is an example of their mastery to not only capture the original sound characteristics and functionality but to also provide modern enhancements for today’s sonic demands.

Designed by Duane H. Cooper and Bill Putnam, the Cooper Time Cube was a garden hose-based mechanical delay device introduced in 1971. Over the years it has achieved cult status as the most unique delay processors ever made. Famous for its short delay and doubling effects, the original the Cooper Time Cube offers simplicity at its finest as well an impressive ability to sit perfectly in the mix.

The Cooper Time Cube MkII plug-in for UAD-2 hardware and Apollo interfaces is a precise emulation of the coveted original hardware unit. It faithfully captures the sound of the original delay system, while offering modern delay features making it a versatile, fat-sounding space maker worth checking out.

Key Features

  • Designed by Duane H. Cooper and Bill Putnam — one of the most unique delays ever made
  • All the vibe of the original, with modern feature enhancements
  • Two delay lines can be set independently and adjusted with Delay, Decay, Pan and Volume controls
  • Separately adjustable tempo sync for both A & B delay lines
  • “Coils” selection recreates the original sound of the CTC regardless of Delay setting
  • Treble and Bass tone controls, High Pass Filter, Wet Solo, and analog-style metering
  • MIMO, MISO and SISO operation (SISO is true stereo)
  • Requires a UAD-2 DSP Accelerator Card or Apollo Interface available from authorized dealers worldwide

The Original Cooper Time Cube

Cooper Time Cube

Designed by Dr. Duane H. Cooper of the University of Illinois and Bill Putnam of UREI, the original UREI/Universal Audio Model 920-16 Cooper Time Cube was a unique delay system that introduced a garden-hose-based mechanical delay to the stage in 1971. Originally created specifically for recording studio and motion picture sound applications, the original Cooper Time Cube became famous for its unmatched short delay and doubling effects, as well its astounding ability to enhance sounds in the mix. However, the hardware unit was limited and only provided 14ms, 16ms or a combined 30ms delay setting. Although it was less flexible than conventional tape-based delays of the time, the Cooper Time Cube provided a unique character that became highly sought after. In addition, only 1,000 were ever made.

Cooper Time Cube

The original Cooper Time Cube hardware was built with a rugged 2′ x 2′ plywood housing filled with coiled tubing, Shure SM57-style microphone capsules at both ends of each line used as speakers and pickups, and a series of tooled aluminum blocks with “tuning screws” at various places for tuning the delay. Also, the entire delay mechanism was suspended on springs within the housing to maintain “acoustical isolation,” and was then filled with packing peanuts. In addition, a 3 1/2″ x 19″ rack mount unit provided two audio channels, a power supply, access to four UREI 1109 line amplifiers, independent delay line input gains, a meter to view the delay output, and four TRS jacks for front-panel signal access and routing. The rear of the unit included two standard 25″ microphone extension cables with XLR-3 type connectors for interconnecting the chassis and the housing.

Cooper Time Cube

Before the era of digital delay, the hardware worked by sending live audio through long pieces of tubing to create a time delay. There were two channels, A and B. Each channel is transduced to/from a coiled length of plastic tubing which provides the acoustic “sound columns” that define its distinctive sonic character. The coils for each channel are placed at fixed but different lengths, which defines the available single delay times of 16ms for channel A and 14ms for channel B. The two channels could also be cascaded in series via external routing to create a total delay time of 30ms.

Since its inception, this incredible delay unit has grown a strong following and has found a home in some of the most prestigious studios around the globe and has been used on countless hit records over the years. Top producers and engineers such as Richard Dodd, Vance Powell, and Joe Chicarelli still swear by the Cooper Time Cube for its unique character and its exceptional ability to always sit perfectly in the mix.

Working with Cooper Time Cube

Cooper Time Cube

The Cooper Time Cube MkII plug-in has all the vibe of the original plus modern feature enhancements easily accessible through a user-friendly interface. It is a true stereo plug-in that sports two independent delay processors. Each channel has its own set of controls in addition to global controls. The front panel provides all the controls; there are no hidden panels and options. The plug-in version goes much further by offering all the necessary features expected from a modern delay device such as independent channel controls for Delay times, Decay, Pan, Volume, and Tempo Sync. MkII also incorporates other enhanced tone-shifting features such as a 2-pole high pass filter and a Color switch that toggles between the original filter emphasis of the hardware in position A and the “leveled” filter frequency response in position B, which allows for greater Decay ranges. Lastly, there is also a switch for soloing the Wet signal and a Send switch that allows momentary interruption of the signal being sent into the delay system. In addition, UAD offers 32 presets to get you going with ease. They provide a good starting place to hear all the different delay possibilities.

Take Away

The Cooper Time Cube MkII is a brilliant sounding spatial processor that delivers the sound of the original delay system while offering all the necessary features expected from a modern delay device. The distinct sound of the single or double hose Coil is preserved regardless of delay setting, and either sound is available at the flick of a switch. This delay is great for adding subtle richness and loudness enhancement to any sound using the shorter delay times or for introducing small room ambiances and more traditional echoes with longer delay times.

Also, it’s inspiring to have the opportunity to work with a legendary processor that has been a major recording studio staple for over three decades. Not many delay plug-ins can deliver this magnitude of performance at a fraction of the price that aging hardware version is going for. The Universal Audio Cooper Time Cube MkII is remarkability one of the finest “character” delay plugins available today at an affordable price. Another great achievement for Universal Audio!

Availability

The Cooper Time Cube MkII plug-in for UAD-2 hardware and Apollo interfaces is available to download at Universal Audio.

 


About Universal Audio

Founded in 1958 by Bill Putnam Sr., Universal Audio has been synonymous with innovative recording products since its inception. A favorite engineer of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles and more, the late Bill Putnam Sr. was a passionate innovator who is widely regarded as the father of modern recording — with many of his legendary studio and equipment designs still in use today.

Universal Audio was re-founded in 1999 by Bill’s sons, James Putnam and Bill Putnam Jr., with two main goals: to faithfully reproduce classic analog recording equipment in the tradition of their father; and to design new digital recording tools in with the sound and spirit of vintage analog technology. To that end, Universal Audio employs the world’s brightest DSP engineers and digital modeling authorities to develop our award-winning UAD Powered Plug-Ins platform. Featuring the most authentic analog emulation plug-ins in the industry, our DSP gurus work with the original hardware manufacturers — using their exact schematics, golden units, and experienced ears — to give UAD plug-ins warmth and harmonics in all the right places, just like analog.

With 165 employees and offices in Los Angeles, Colorado, and Amsterdam, Universal Audio is headquartered near Silicon Valley in Scotts Valley, California — where our classic analog gear is still hand-built, one unit at a time.

Software or hardware, every Universal Audio product is backed by a decade’s long legacy of innovation, superlative quality, and technical passion.

 


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