Lets say you’re trying to fatten up a vocal track:
Create an aux track and insert a stereo delay effect. If you prefer, you can just insert the delay effect on the track itself and adjust the mix (wet/dry) to taste. However, sending your source to an aux track offers more flexibility and it is easier to manipulate.
Next, set different time settings for each side of the delay unit or plugin, keeping them around 20- 40ms. Make sure your delayed signals are panned hard left and right. Using the track’s send fader adjust until you start hearing the effect. Make sure the unit’s mix control is set to 100% since you are using the send fader to take care of the dry/wet aspect. (If you decided to use the effect as an insert on the track, adjust the mix on the effect itself). Try different feedback values and see what you can come up with!
Another common use of delay, as I mentioned earlier in this series, is the slap-back effect. Follow the steps mentioned above but with delay times above 35ms all the way to around 350 ms. Adjust the feedback level to a single repetition and wet/dry to taste. You’ll soon hear many familiar sounds as heard in some music of the 40’s and 50’s, surf music, etc. However, depending on how you tweak your settings, you’ll find that slap-back delay can be very useful for adding depth and richness to a vocal or instrument.
That U2 Delay Sound:
If you are trying to get that U2 sound on a guitar track that was recorded without a delay effect. Use the Tempo Sync function in your plugin and set the delay to a dotted eighth note for example, then hear and see what happens and whether or not it works.
Flanging and Phase Shifts:
Delay effects can also be used for creating flanging (10-20ms delay time) and phase shifting (1-3ms).
A word of caution! When using delay times below 15ms, comb filtering will result more than likely. So, if you are concerned about phase cancellation caused by your delay settings, you might want to double check your mix in mono and see how it is affecting your overall signal.
As with everything in mixing, the use of the techniques and tools available to us are very helpful but, it is your dedication, practice and experimentation that will help you get the results you are after and continuously improve your craft.