Reverb and Delay: Tips & Tricks of the Pros

Here are a number of techniques often used for particular mix elements. Don’t limit yourself to the examples cited though, as they can easily work for other instruments, vocals or program sources as well.

Delay Tips For Vocals

A stereo delay with a 1/4 or 1/8th note delay on one side and a 1/4 or 1/8th note triplet or dotted note on the other provides movement along with depth and is a favorite trick of EDM mixers.

To simulate a vocal double, dial in a 1/16th note delay, then modulate it so it slowly raises and lowers in pitch. If the modulation can be set so it’s random, it will sound more realistic.

For a quick vocal effect to give it some space and depth during tracking or overdubs, set up a mono 220 millisecond delay with a couple of repeats.

For getting a dry vocal to jump out, use two bandwidth-limited (at about 400Hz to 2.5kHz) delays in the neighborhood of 12 ms to the left and 14 ms to the right each panned slightly off center. Bring up the delays until you can hear them in the mix, then back it off to where you can’t. Occasionally mute the returns to make sure it’s still bringing the vocals out and they sit well into the mix. You can also time the delays to a 1/64th note on one side and a 1/128th note on the other.

Delay Tips For Guitars
During the 1980s, when guitars were often recorded direct, many L.A. session guitarists used a short stereo delay of 25 milliseconds on one side and 50 milliseconds on the other to provide some space around the sound.

To make the guitar sound larger than life, set a delay at less than 100 milliseconds (timed if you can) and pan the guitar to one side and the delay to the other.

Use a mono delay on the guitar set to about 12 milliseconds (or whatever the tempo dictates) and hard pan both the guitar and delay. This makes the guitar sound much bigger and almost like two people playing perfectly in sync, yet still keeps a nice hole open in the middle for the vocals.

Pan the guitar track and the delay to the center (or put your monitors in mono), then slowly increase the delay time until it sounds bigger. Increase it a little more for good measure. You’ll probably find the result is in the area of 25 to 30 milliseconds.



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