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Sunday, December 30, 2012

MODULATIONS PART 3: DELAY AND ECHO! (with Free Vst Plugins Inside)



Hello and welcome to This week's article!
Today we're going to talk about Delays and Echos! These effects are also called Time Based Effects, because they take the first sound and repeat it continuously at a certain rate, as if you were talking inside of a cave, with the reflections of your voice coming back to you on a delayed time, summing up one another.
Although the two terms are today exchangeable since they refer to the same thing, usually with "echo" we refer to the natural phenomenon, while the delay is the implementation of that in the audio effect; 
in common language many manufacturers calls "echo" a warmer, more vintage sound,  and "delay" a crispier, more digital sounding effect. 
Delay is an effect born in the '50s by recording a sound on a tape and playing it continuously to simulate an echo (the famous "Tape Echo"), but today it is a very common tool featured on pedalboards and racks of virtually any guitar player in the world; the two guitarists that probably own more of their trademark sound to this effect are Robert Fripp of King Crimson and The Edge, from U2 (which is famous for his riffs that are often exclusively based of the layers of delay).
Delay is the basic modulation effect, from which descends almost all of the other modulations: Chorus, Flanger and Reverb are consequences of applying particular settings to a delay, but there is also another use of a extreme settings applied to this effect: the looper.
A looper is a delay which records long phrases of an instrument, up to several seconds (e.g. a guitar riff) and set them in loop, so that for example a guitar player can play a solo above that base.

The most common and specific uses for a delay are the Doubling Echo, the Ping-Pong delay and the Slapback Echo.

Doubling Echo: Is used to create a sound that feels like the original instrument has been doubled by a second one, and to do this the delay time must be very short: 10 to 50 milliseconds. 

Slapback Echo: instead is a longer delay effect (75 to 250 milliseconds), and was often used in the '50s records to underline the main vocals, and later in the '80s it's been used on synths and percussions too, to produce creative rhythmic textures.   
Today Delay is often syncronized to the metronome of our Daw, to ensure that its repetitions are perfectly in sync with the song, but if we want to make the repetitions to cut through without being overshadowed by the other rhythmic elements of the mix it's suggestable to use the same metronome but with different beats, for example triplets, or a 5/4 rhythm; the delay will still be "on the click", but the repetitions will be noticed more.

Ping-Pong Delay: a particular type of stereo delay that "bounces" the repetitions (sometimes called "Taps") from left to right, sometimes it has been used by Jimi Hendrix and Brian May from Queen, among the others. 

Here are the most common controls found on Delays and Echos:

Length (time) - The delay of the repetition in ms (thousandths of a second)

Length (musical) - The length of the repetition in beats (e.g. 1/8 note)

Feedback - How much of the delay output is fed back into the input of the effect.

Wet/Dry (sometimes these two controls are fused on a single control called "Mix")
Wet - The amount of processed signal in the output.
Dry - The amount of unprocessed signal in the output.

Lowpass filter - A filter, which filters out from the repetitions the frequencies ABOVE this value.

Hipass filter - A filter, which filters out the frequencies BELOW this value.


Today most DAWs already feature some basic Delay and Echo Effect, but if you want to try something new and different here's a selection of the best freeware Delay and Echo Vst:

Readelay, a one of the most used free delays around, very versatile and professional

Variety of Sound Nasty Dla II, an excellent Chorus and Tape Echo device

Valhalla Freq Echo a creative and easy to use delay

WatCat a very interesting replica of the vintage hardware "Custom Copicat" device

Tal Dub a vintage style delay effect

TapeDelay a very simple tape delay effect

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