ValhallaShimmer Tips and Tricks: Shimmering

ValhallaShimmer was designed to get a variety of big reverb sounds, with the option of adding pitch shifted feedback to the decay. The “Shimmer” in the title refers to the classic shimmer effect, as used by U2, Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Coldplay, etc. There are a few presets that ship with ValhallaShimmer which reproduce this effect, but if you want to dial in your own version, here’s some tips:

  • Use the mediumStereo or bigStereo reverb modes for the smoothest shimmer sounds. The mono reverb mode will have a stronger sense of pitch shifting in the feedback signal, while the other modes have a gentler onset of the pitch shifting.
  • Set the Feedback control for the desired amount of pitch shift in the output signal, and then use the Size control to dial in the decay.
  • The Pitch control should be at +12 semitones.
  • Diffusion works best at around 0.9 for reverberant sounds. If you set Diffusion < 0.5, it will sound closer to a pitch shifted echo, which is another cool sound.
  • The different pitch shift modes have different levels of “smoothness”:
    • The single and dual pitch shift modes have more noisiness in their decay. This is better for emulating the orchestral sounds as heard in “Deep Blue Day.”
    • The singleReverse and dualReverse pitch shift modes are much smoother, and are better for organ-esque sounds.
  • colorMode should be set to dark. This produces a natural roll-off of high frequencies, which eliminates almost all of the aliasing noise in the feedback path of the pitch shifter.
  • Set the modDepth control to a fairly low value at first, as the pitch shifting provides its own random modulation to the signal.

Comments (7)

  • seanfraser

    Great Site! Do you have any ideas how to program a Boss SE-70 for the shimmer effect?
    I have to set the parameter levels for pitch shifter, delay, and reverb effects separately. Any help would be appreciated.

    • I don’t have an SE-70. I have an SE-50, but it is in a box somewhere. For the most part, I prefer to code my own effects nowadays, and don’t use much rack gear anymore (stomp boxes are a different story).

      Running a pitch shifter with feedback into a reverb is a simple way of faking the shimmer sound, but it won’t be the same. The best bet would be to use a pitch shifter without feedback running into a reverb, run one of the outputs into a mixer, and then feed the output of the mixer channel into one of the SE-70 inputs. This can go unstable, but the original Eno/Lanois patch ran that risk anyway.

      I used to run my SE-50 in pitch shift mode into a Boss RV-3 pedal, and run one of the outputs of the RV-3 back into the SE-50. The best sound was obtained by putting a Moog Rogue in the feedback loop, using the filter and VCA to control the total amount of feedback through the system, and mixing in oscillator pitches as needed to get the initial pitches going. Playing with the filter resonance was also fun. The system was very nonlinear, as opposed to the linear feedback in ValhallaShimmer.

  • seanfraser

    Thanks for the reply. I was planning to buy a simple 1-4 channel stereo mixer to run SE-70 through the effects loop of my amp anyway, so I will try your suggestion.

  • hello sir.. fun stuff all around. and.. but.. ahm.. im quite new to all this digital music stuff, and there is something im curious about, and looks like you might know. in this song (Harold Budd + Brian Eno “The Plateaux of Mirror”):

    the higher pitched crystallike sound… i like it. 🙂 how could i reach a sound like that you think? a nice piano + valhallaShimmer enough..? or is it sth more complicated you think? or simpler? any clues?

  • In response to Sadun Kal I believe what you have there is the sound of perhaps a larger analog through a very high end reverb that has modulation capabilities- circa 1980, so I will guess that if you look at Brian Eno’s arsenal then you might find your answers.
    From wiki article on same titled piece “The bulk of the instrumentation is Budd on acoustic piano with treatments by Eno. “The Plateaux of Mirror” and “Wind in Lonely Fences” are performed on electric piano…”
    I am going to guess and say the shimmering synth sounds are more than likely something like a Yamaha CS-80 synth or perhaps even an Rhodes or Wurli EP 200 with a light Budd touch to them…or some other larger electric piano type synth running through very high end studio effects like and Eventide 2016 or perhaps Lexicon 224..At that time, Digital reverberation was VERY expensive to use on a daily basis, even for someone like Brian Eno..
    To answer your question if Valhalla can achieve similar effects, the answer in this day and age would be an unequivocal YES, and then some…amazing where we have come in regards to the power of digital effects in music production, since the early days of the late 70’s and early 80’s.

  • Mark Clason

    Can the shimmer effect run backwards? Like to sneak in an intro?

    • Sean Costello

      Sure! Just reverse your audio track, run Shimmer on it, record the results on another track, then reverse it again.

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