If you take on playing guitar, you have to know about delay, one of the coolest and most commonly used effects in playing music. The article will give you a deeper understanding of this effect and how to use it to improve your track.
So, now let’s begin with the definition: What is delay? How does delay work?
What is Delay?
A delay – which is basically an echo – is simply a repeat of a signal. A delay can be one single sound or many sounds combined. Imagine that you play a signal and it is repeated back to you. Now you can set up the delay to control the length and speed of the signal played back.
Or, you can view delay in this way. It is a lag that postpones the audio signal from playing for some milliseconds depending on the tempo and rhythm of the song (1000 milliseconds are equivalent to a second).
You may find it annoying and useless at first. But when you combine the delayed sound and the original score, the result will be very interesting!
I will use the analogy of lightning and thunder to make you easily understand the sound delay. We see the lightning immediately but we hear the thunder later. The delay in sound is similar. It is the period between when something occurs and when it is heard.
History of delay
Do you know that delay has a long history?
The initial delay effect is line delay, used by radio stations. They sent their signal from towns to towns and then back to the station through the telephone lines. Knowing the distance dictating the amount of delay and choosing different routes, they could manipulate the number of milliseconds.
You might wonder why telephone lines were used. The answer is because they were made of copper, and electrical signal would be transmitted nearly as fast as at the speed of light.
In the 1920s, magnetic tape recording came into being. And in the early 1950s, tape delay.
Tape delay had a similar concept; however, it worked on magnetic tape on a reel-to-reel system instead of telephone lines.
In the 1960s, Bucket-Brigade Device (BBD) device changed the delay radically. BBD delay pedals split a signal and a secondary one running through the BBD, before being mixing them together.
Finally, Digital technology creates delay effects perfectly. Nowadays, digital delay has become the favorite choice of numerous people.
In case you want more information, I know an expert in this field. Visit Musical Study by Kevin Deal, he shared some valuable information about delay pedal.
Most common delay controls
Here are the most basic and common delay controls that you have to know:
- Delay Time is measured in milliseconds. The delay time control determines the length of time between any two repetitions of your signal.
- Unit Switch determines whether the delay is tempo-based/in “Steps” mode or free time delay/”MS” mode.
- Level controls the volume of the repeats.
- Feedback refers to the number of delay repeats. The higher the feedback control, the more the delay repeats are.
- Pan. The pan control pans the delay effect to the left or right.
- Dry/Wet. It adjusts the balance between the source audio signal (dry) and the delayed effect (wet).
And now we move to the very exciting part of this article: Delay effect tips!
Some delay effect tips
- The delay time under 50 milliseconds will create an acoustic effect around the sound.
- If you want to make a more creative use of the delay effect, try Dub delay effect to automate the delay time. This will automatically introduce the pitch shifting effect by which Dub genre is well known for.
- Presets will be a great starting point for your creative mind. Use them!
- Use a delay of about 12ms and pan both the dry and wet signal hard left and hard right to create a stereo effect.
- If your mix sounds muddy and dark because of using too much reverb, you can try adding some time delay.
- If you want to emphasize some parts in the vocal recording, try to automate the dry/wet parameter. Believe me, you will get an immediate focus on the part you need, which attract more attention from listeners.
To sum up
So that’s all the necessary information about delay effect as well as delay tips that I want to show you. Of course, there are still many things to learn if you have a passion for playing with sound. Wait for more useful information related to this field in our next articles!