How to Create and Use Delay Effects


Delay is the basis of several sound effects. It can transform any track from being boring in sounding professional and HQ. Though it is considered as an effect, it so much more than that. It a building block for one to create other effects, which includes chorus, flanging, etc. Therefore, you can use it as a tool for creative freedom. Here are several delay techniques that you may find useful and a quick guide on how you can make them.


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EQ delay

EQ delays are used when you want a subtle yet unique delay in your mix. They usually vary as they need to suit the type of track you have. For instance, if you want to emphasize vocal, you can hide EQ delay behind it. If you want the delay up front, you can have a word that is repetitive.

There are many plug-ins that will make EQ delay easy. You can use something that already has a low-pass and high-pass filters. Roll the high frequencies using the low-pass filter to soften transients. Then, you can bypass the low-pass filter withe high-pass one so as to remove the bottom end. Lastly, combine both to create a distinct delay signal and lessen the time taken by the delay.

Ducked delay

This makes the delay audible to the singer once he or she finishes a word but does not affect his or her vocals. Ducked delay can give you control over the level o your delay, especially if you want to change and edit your mix’s automation.

To reach a desirable result, you can set up a compressor and duck the delay in line with the vocals. To do this, you need a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and a compressor.  Add the later after a delay. Then, view its side-chain and set it to be triggered by the track of the lead vocal. While the track is playing, make the threshold lower and the ratio higher. Finally, apply the necessary gain reduction to the delay signal.

Ping-pong delay

Ping-pong delay is a  double delay. It consists of a first echo, which you can hear in the left channel and a second echo, which you can hear on the right channel.

If you use this delay, make sure you get the effect right. If you set a 30 ms for the left channel, then have a 60ms for the right channel. This will repeat itself, thus giving you some kind of telephone effect.

Multi-tap delay


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This is a delay line that happens when multiple outputs, commonly known as taps, are gotten from the delay buffer at various parts and used in the original. Multi-tap delays can be perfect if you are creating a rhythmic delay loops and patterns and if you can to have sound fields of good density.

To create this delay, use plug-ins like Waves Supertap and Echoboy and use their pattern mode. Then, create several delay taps that starts from 30ms and gradually increasing over time. You can experiment with the panning of the series of delay taps, changing individul tap volume, and filtering the tops and making some duller than the other.

Slapback delay

Slapback delay refers to an individual echo, which ranges from 60ms to 180ms, to add a thick effect to your track. This is initially created when a person wants to roll off tape machines, modulate the delay time, and polish inconsistencies with the tape. Some artists use this to make the vocal part livelier.

To do this, use a dual delay and create larger stereo image. Make sure that each delay is different from the other. For example, if the left channel is to 40ms, the right channel should be at 60ms. Slowly increase feedback. Listen to the short delay and determine whether it makes something like a spring reverb.

Not all of delays can be applicable to your track so be sure to know your mix and use one that will suit it. Using the wrong delay technique will surely ruin your mix.

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