Delay Tricks Every Producer Should Know!

Tom Apr 19, 2021

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Delay Tricks Every Producer Should Know!

What’s up producer!

Since analogue tape delay was discovered (and used and used and used….) in early Rock n Roll way back in the 1950s, there is hardly a recording or mix up to present day that hasn’t used some form of Delay. Whether that be in the form of flangers, phasers, chorus effects, digital reverbs, or even just straight slap delay.

The time of the Delay in the ‘good old tape days’ was based on the tape speed and distance between the Record Head (used to encode the magnetic tape) and the Reproduce Head (used to playback the recorded signal), a short time later.

In fact, Delay is a ‘go to’ tool to achieve depth, character, and clarity in a mix! We’re focussing on vocals in this blog, but you can try Delay out on pretty much any sound you like!

We’ve asked Bronwen from to do a video for us, demonstrating different uses of Delay on a vocal from the Seven Sounds Pop World Wide 3 Sample Pack in a mix.

Here are a few tips & techniques to get you going!
The easiest way to get depth in your vocal is to add a single slap delay. Use this with varied delay times, and the slap delay can provide anything from slight depth and padding, to the full, large echo that was the sound of early Rock n Roll. Delays sound great when you base them on the tempo of the song as well as the pace of the vocal. Using 1/16th, 1/32 or 1/64 note timing work well to create a nice slap effect. The best thing to do is play around with the delay time to be slightly longer (or shorter) than the exact musical tempo timing. This will give you a really ‘natural’ sound. You’ll find that slow tempos with legato type vocals, will allow you to use longer delay times. If you have an up-tempo track with busy vocals, then use shorter delay times so that you get the depth and ‘space’ you’re looking for without muddying the performance.

Something to always remember is that any slap effects are ‘felt’ more than heard, so go easy on the settings. A little change can make a BIG difference.

Use filters to control the depth and separation in your mix.
We are not going all super science on this, but, over the course of any distance, an acoustic audio signal will lose high frequency as well as low frequency energy. By using High and Low pass filters you can control depth and separation. Using High frequency filtering (reducing or cutting the highs) enhances the depth of the delay. Using Low frequency filtering (reducing or cutting the lows) enhances the clarity of the delay.

As always, everything needs to be heard in context in a mix. This is especially important when setting your filters. Use heavier settings and filter more when the vocal sounds confused or disrupted; ad use less filtering if you really need to hear the slap effect clearly, rather than ‘feel’ the slap.

Once you’ve heard the vocal and effect in context of the mix, when you need to fine tune the settings on the Delay; then it’s good to solo the vocal part. Working this way will help you find the right timings and parameters you need as well as filter settings that work well in the mix as a whole!

Keep your imagination bouncing!
The r-loops team

USED SAMPLE PACK (Seven Sounds - Pop Worldwide 3):