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May 9, 2012
Delay, delay, delay … One of the first audio effects to be used, delay usually falls into the same category as reverb since there effect was first created by recording reverberated sounds in a closed enviornment. As mentioned in the previous post, delay is basically the alocated time a sound takes to reach your ears after being reverberated off a solid structure like a wall or hard surface. In the earlier days, producers used what was called tape delay where they would actually use a reel to reel player to shorten or lenghten the tape and adjust the read heads to achieve the desired effect.
Delays basically take the input sound, store it in the effect units medium storage and play it back in different time sequences (1/2, 1/4, 1/8, etc.). The sound is comparable to yelling in a room that has a lot of echo or in a canyon where your voice carries through the valley. Today, delay can be achieved with a variety of simple plug ins and the best part is some of the best ones are free! Delays offer a great way to add some rhythmic variation to percusive parts and can make a simple boring loop sound expansive and more advanced. You can pretty much apply delay to anything so long as you mix it in properly and remeber THERE ARE NO RULES IN MUSIC PRODUCTION. Never restrict yourself and just have fun.
Most delays have a time signature setting that replays the audio in correspondence to the beat of a phrase. If your delay is set to 1/2 then the delayed sound should happen every half beat. If it is set to 1/8 then the audio will be played on every eighth note and so on and so on. For this reason, its a great practice to set different delay times for various instruments. Setting your guitar to delay every quarter note while your vocal snippet delays at every half note will bring out some very cool atmospheric effects. Some producers even go as far as turning up the feedback of the delay to pro long the delay period of a sound. Further more, they will add sidechaining to give it movement. Once again, the only way to harness these types of sounds is to mess with various settings and experiment with your own set up.
Feedback on a delay is essentially the amount, or percentage of the sound which gets fed back into the delay for more processing. By increases the feedback on a delay plug in, the processed sound becomes much more complex. It will almost sound as though another delay has been placed in the chain. Feedback is great to use for build ups and is one of my first go to tools for filling in the stereo spectrum. Some units or vsts may also have an EQ option. This is great for filtering out certain frequencies that you would like to be untouched by the delay. Rule of thumb here is to cut out any low end frequencies on all mid to high range instruments. If your EQ does not have a built in EQ feel free to place one before the delay effect.
Delay can be fun and rewarding if applied properly and is quite possibly the easiest and most creative effect to use when producing electronic music. For groove heavy beats such as tech house and minimal delays are often used by not only producers but touring DJs as well. It is a great effect for building tension and will surely drive the dance floor nuts!
As always feel free to send me your comments and remarks and be sure to check out the rest of the DJ Mag Canada site for news, updates, and more tips and tricks!