Delay effects are different types of echoes and their bounces. It can be used as a stereo delay, for example, where the same echo sounders come equally on both the left and right of the sound image. But there are two different signals that make you experience it as a stereo with a larger width of the sound. (Picture 1).
Figure 1: Soundtoys Echoboy set as stereo delay.
Then you can choose to add a monodelay. Here, the effect is in the middle without a stereo feeling, which means that the sound is experienced as working in depth. Depending on how big the relationship is between “dry” (no / little reverb) and “wet” (much reverb), it can be perceived as closer or further away. (Picture 2).
Figure 2: Waves H-Delay set as monodelay.
Another type of delay effect is ping pong delay where the bounces come in the left and right channels every other time. This creates lateral movement. (Picture 3).
Picture 3: Soundtoys Echoboy set as ping pong delay.
Delay effect for wider guitar
How can you be creative with these different types of delay effects? Well, let’s start with a monodelay that you can use in many different ways of course, and where only heaven is the roof for what you can do.
One way to use it is when you want a wider and fatter guitar wall. Let’s say you have recorded two guitars, one of which is a stud on the other. It sounds pretty big and nice but you might be missing something? Try to pan out the guitars to the maximum left and right. Then create two send channels and two return / auxiliary channels where you put a delay plug on each of these returns. (Figures 4a and 4b).
Figure 4a: Pan out the guitars to the maximum left and right.
Figure 4b: Two send channels and two return / auxiliary channels where you put a delay plug on each of these returns. (The image on the left is the lower part of the Pro Tools mixer and the image on the right is the upper part of the Pro Tools mixer).
These returns should preferably be in mono of course, and it should be panned max to the left and right respectively. You set the delay effects a little differently. On the left delay, you select a time of 40 ms and with almost no feedback. Leave the existing filters untouched because you want full bandwidth on them. If there is any kind of modulation, you should reduce it to zero. (Figure 5).
Figure 5: The settings on the left delay where you select a time of 40 ms and almost no feedback.
On the right delay, do the same, but select a delay time of 60 ms. Then send the left guitar to the right delay and then vice versa – the right guitar to the left delay. (Picture 6).
Figure 6: The settings on the right delay. Do the same, but select a delay time of 60 ms. Then send the left guitar to the right delay and then vice versa.
Then you listen to the left guitar in solo together with the right delay and balance the delay so that you get the feeling that it almost works like a stud. When it feels big and wide, you do the same with the right guitar.
Then, if you want it even wider, you can send the delay returns to another stereo return that acts as the output of both delays. On this you put a plug for stereo width, type Waves S1 Stereo Imager. You can also test how it feels to increase or decrease the delay times to see how it affects the guitars and your mix. You can of course do the same with other instruments that you have dubbed. Just keep in mind that if you are too generous with the delays, it can sound “bathroom”. (Figure 7).
Figure 7: If you want it even wider, send the delay returns to another stereo return that acts as the output of both delays. The image on the left is the lower part of the Pro Tools mixer and the image on the right is the upper part of the Pro Tools mixer.
Delay for larger piano
Now let’s take an example of how we can use the stereo delay effect. Let’s say you have a piano that you want to feel a little bigger and maffier. Then you make a return / auxiliary channel where you put a stereo delay on.
You set the delay so that it reads the tempo from your event or if you have not set an absolute tempo, you try to find the tempo via different apps that are available. Then set the delay to 1/8 parts. (Figure 8).
Figure 8: Set the delay (Echo 1) to 1/8 parts.
Depending on how much you want the bounces to remain or “swim around”, you set the feedback. The usual thing in this example is that there should be one, or possibly two bounces so that it does not get too messy in the mix. When this is done, cut off the bass up to 400-500 Hz approximately and cut the treble down to 4,000 Hz, between the thumb and forefinger. This makes the bounces narrower in the frequency response. Then you listen to the piano in solo together with the delay effect and set so that you send the right amount to the delay. The idea is that you should feel more than hear the delay bounces so you have to be pretty careful. After the delay effect, you can do as in the example above and place a stereo wider so that the bounces end up “outside” the piano in the stereo image. Stereo delays can of course be used in the same way with different instruments. (Figure 9).
Figure 9: Cut off the bass up to approx. 400-500 Hz, and cut the treble down to approx. 4,000 Hz. This makes the bounces narrower in the frequency response.
Delay effect for pads and strings and more
When it comes to ping pong delay, I use it to create lateral movements when it comes to solo instruments or inserts that are in the middle of the stereo image, but which I want to blend into other stereo sounds such as pad sounds, strings, guitar studs. The feeling is that the “middle instrument” marries better with these wider sounds.
I usually set it with 1/8-parts, 1/4-parts, punctured variants of these or as trio in some form and it depends on what tempo the song has and what rhythm is the basis for the arrangement. Then I usually be a little more careful with cutting the bass and treble so that the delay is experienced as a little warmer and more luxurious, but it depends of course on how the mix and the surrounding sounds sound as a whole. Sometimes you can be a little more generous with bass and treble, and sometimes you have to cut so that it does not get too thick. (Picture 10).
Figure 10: Setting with 1/4 part trioles. Cut in bass and treble so that the delay is experienced as a little warmer and more luxurious.
Read more about creating breadth and depth in your mix