Have You Ever Seen The Rain?
Calling the Intellijel Rainmaker a delay module is kind of like calling a lion a cat, or a cruise ship a boat. The Rainmaker is an unprecedented stereo delay module capable of a diverse range of tones and textures with a huge degree of control. The unit is divided into a delay section and a comb filtering section each with their own separate parameters and CV inputs. The vast functionality of the unit is realized with a menu system for navigating and assigning the various parameters.
I’ll admit that while I was excited to try out the Rainmaker, I was also a little intimidated. I feel like I could have easily spent months learning the unit. My first approach was to go through the various presets to get a sense of how it sounds and its capabilities. Richard Divine designed the presets numbered from 82 to 128 and provided special instructions on how to best take advantage of his creations. It was easy to get lost scrolling through the options; some patches provided more conventional rhythmic delays, some provided lush expansive reverbs, many were much more wild and unexpected. The pitch shifting capabilities are easily able to make any material dissonant and mysterious, or beautiful, floating, and ethereal.
Let it Rain
The Rainmaker has dedicated CV inputs for feedback, pitch shift, and tone in the delay section with size, and feedback inputs on the comb side. The delay and comb sections each have their own clock inputs which override the tempo as multipliers for the delay rates and comb sizes. Intellijel intellijently decided to offer three flexible CV inputs. Trig, Mod A, and Mod B can be assigned through the menu system to control various parameters. Most commonly, the trig will cause a “freeze”, which captures an endless loop of the delay buffer.
The trig input and button can be assigned to a variety of other functions including a range of randomization and mute options. This means that by hitting the red Trig button, or feeding a CV trigger to its input you can randomize the Filter Type, Cutoff, Q, Panning, Levels, Pitch Shifts and more of all your taps. You can even reverse the playback of the buffer. The Mod A and B inputs likewise have a number of assignable parameters with attenuator knobs to control the range of modulation signal. These three assignable inputs and controls offer a powerful capability to evolve and morph your delayed sounds.
From a Great Height
With 16 delay taps and 64 comb taps each with a huge degree of customization, there is a strong potential for control to be overwhelming and ungainly. Thankfully, Intellijel has provided a few smart time saving features. Double tapping the rotary encoder in some pages will engage a “ramp mode” controlling parameters allowing quick setting up of swells, sustains, or decays. Each of the 16 delay taps has a dedicated button for selection. These buttons have secondary edit mode features to select and adjust various parameters. This degree of menu diving might be enough to steer some users away from this module, but it’s necessary to accommodate the power and control available in the unit. Also, almost every menu item has a dedicated button so you can quickly get to the menu you want to edit.
The Rainmaker lets you configure the routing of the two sections depending on whether you want to hit the delay section before, after, or in parallel with the comb section. You can also separate them between the left and right channels to use it as two separate mono delays.
I Can See Clearly Now
It’s a good idea to hold down the Clear button as you make adjustments and load patches on the Rainmaker. Because so many settings related to gain staging can change from patch to patch, you might find you get clicks as you make adjustments. The clear button empties the record buffer, thus eliminating the chance of spikes caused by setting changes. Gain staging is a very important thing to keep in mind with this unit because there is potential to internally clip and distort the signal if you’re not careful. The module provides appropriate controls and meters to make the most of this architecture. Input potentiometers provide a wide dynamic range allowing integration of line and modular level signals. Because it uses a 96 kHz sample rate with 32-bit processing there’s plenty of resolution and headroom.
Timing of delay taps is determined by a number of interrelated parameters. Besides the more traditional features of clock sync and LFO modulation, the Rainmaker has preset “Grooves” and what they call “Grids” and “Piles”. The Grid values determine how the taps will divide the clock to set their timing. Piles are groups of delay taps given the same timing, which can help speed up your editing. It’s also great if you want to quickly create chords in your delays using pitch shifting. The Grooves are preset patterns for the taps to follow. By increasing the Groove amount, the tap timing is adjusted from the evenly spaced straight pattern to the selected groove. There’s a few swing options, some variations on random, and some more experimental rhythms.
Singing in the Rain
I tried to make my example recordings fairly simple with a dry to wet transition so it would be obvious how much processing the Rainmaker provided. As it turned out, I used my Arturia MicroBrute for all the examples. Next time I promise I’ll provide more variety. Regardless, I think these demonstrate how effectively the Rainmaker can create something lush, dense, and/or complex from a simple input.
Reining it In
Obviously, the Rainmaker is a dense and complex module and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. Thankfully, Intellijel does provide a manual on their website, although it is rather dry and technical. The Rainmaker is a piece that offers a lot of room to grow into and may offer new discoveries for years to come. Depending on your priorities, the biggest advantages of the Rainmaker may be perceived as disadvantages. In order to accommodate the power and flexibility of the module, an array of controls and menu pages are necessary to fill the layout, and naturally it has a pricetag to match. I think they did a good job of making the most of the space, and keeping the price reasonable, but at 36HP and $639 US it will take up a good portion of a rack and possibly your grocery budget. I can definitely see the Intellijel Rainmaker becoming an essential module for many modular users.
Price: $639 USD
Pros: Hugely flexible. Smart routing, randomization and control options. Brilliant sound quality and solid build quality. Able to sync to clock and track pitch. Able to save and load presets. Thorough manual available on website
Cons: Lots of features means lots of menu diving, Creating something from scratch can be quite time consuming, larger rack real estate