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Charles: How do you use delays in your mixes?
Old 24th November 2002
Here for the gear
🎧 15 years
Charles: How do you use delays in your mixes?

Hey Charles,

Thank you for all of your help, here and at the DUC. You have given me much information and inspiration.

How do you use delays in your mixes?

Do you set up the typical 1/8 note 1/4 note types of delays?

Also, how do use reverbs on vocals? On the tracks of yours I have heard, the vocals seem pretty dry.

Thanks a ton.

Old 26th November 2002
FX smörgåsbord user
Charles Dye's Avatar
🎧 15 years

Your very welcome, I'm glad I've been able to help. It's really rewarding for me. I get a lot from being able to help others.

Regarding delays, I'm pretty much a mono 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 note, sometimes dotted + sometimes triplet kinda guy.

For plugs I prefer the DigiRack delays, been using them from the beginning. The new ones with the BPM + groove settings are very cool, and I hear that in the future with PT6's Broadcast Tempo Data feature they will automatically set themselves to the tempo of your session.

About how I set them up here's what I wrote in October's Hard Disk Life:

I always start my mixes with an 1/8-note delay, and a 1/4-note delay. I use PT to tell me the delay time. I first put the system in Grid mode + Bars:Beats, and I highlight an 1/8 note on any track. I then switch to Min:Secs and in the Length box at the top of the Edit page is the value of the 1/8 note in milliseconds. I then do the same for the 1/4 note.

I use the DigiRack delays; they're really DSP efficient. I usually set the LPF to anywhere from 9k to 3k, and feedback to whatever's appropriate (0% – 70%). Again, going retro, I used Analog Channel AC2 after the delay to warm it up, and also, to emulate tape delays. To get that deteriorating feedback effect that is the signature of a tape delay I set the feedback to zero on the delays, and set up an AUX Send from the delay channel + feed it back to itself. I then turn up the AUX Send to get the desired feedback.

I like to add effects to my delay returns via AUX Sends. With the 1/8 note, I was going for a very swimmy-flangie sound. I put a lot of my LexiVerb Snare Plate on it (-8.6 dB), and tons of the MetaFlanger Mutron Tape (see below) (+6.0 dB) — very washed out and just what I was looking for.

To give the 1/4 note delay a wider sound than its source tracks, I put the DPP-1 Split Harmonizer Effect (see below) @ -8.6 dB, and a lot of the Reverb One 1 '70's Chamber, as well (-3.7 dB).

I also have a third delay which is a cleaner version of DDL 1, the 1/8-note delay. It has Analog Channel AC2 with the input backed off for less saturation, but no feedback and no flange — just some LexiVerb Vocal Plate (-18.8 dB) + the DPP-1 Split Harmonizer Effect (-14.5 dB).

In addition to the reverbs, I also have a set of effects: a Pitch Shifter, a Chorus/Flange, and Delays that I always like to begin each mix with. I import all of the reverbs + effects AUX Input tracks into my mix session from an effects template. With this common set of effects I can really get the mix started faster. And for consistency's sake, I usually keep all the effect return's AUX Input levels at 0dB. Here are the effects.

Pitch Shifter — Split Harmonizer Effect

I use the DPP-1 in an emulation of a pair of split Eventide 910 Harmonizers. Using a mono AUX Input and a Mono/Stereo DPP-1, I set one side to –9 cents with a delay of 14ms — and no feedback. I set the other side to +9 cents, a delay of 19ms, and no feedback. I then pan them hard left and right.

Just after the DPP-1, I insert an LPF at 16k to roll-off the top end. This helps emulate the older 910's, which had less bandwidth. This effect does a very good job of widening mono signals, as well as thickening stereo ones. It can also be used with a stereo AUX Input and a stereo DPP-1, I just prefer the mono set-up. Wave Mechanic's Pitch Blender also works perfectly for this same effect.


I always like to have a chorus or flanger available for each mix on a mono AUX Input using a mono/stereo plug-in. I use different ones each mix, sometimes a more aggressive deep flange, sometimes a sweeter chorus. Some of my favorite starting points are TC|Chorus' Hi-Trash Flanger, and MetaFlanger's Classic phaser and Mutron Biphase.

For this mix though, I wanted a stereo in + out flanger, so I used a stereo AUX Input. Keeping in mind the retro idea, I was looking for a vintage tape-sounding, relatively deep flange. I started with the Mutron preset and tweaked the rate + depth so it felt good with the track. I next inserted Analog Channel AC2 after MetaFlanger and tweaked it to sound real grungy (vintage, 7.5 ips, way over biased). And at the end, I inserted a FilterBank F3 HPF set to 128Hz to clean up the mud.

Then, to get an analog tape-sounding feedback, I set the feedback on MetaFlanger to "0," created the feedback by using an AUX Send from the MetaFlanger AUX Input itself, and sent it back to the MetaFlanger bus. This way, every time it would feedback, it got grungier and more distorted, just as with a tape delay. I also cross panned them, so the left side would feedback into the right and vice versa.
For info about the reverbs mentioned above see the Reverb + Effects section of September's Hard Disk Life. And if you have anymore questions about how I set them up, just ask.
Old 26th November 2002
Here for the gear
🎧 15 years
Thank you Mr. Dye,

Also, how do use reverbs on vocals? On the tracks of yours I have heard, the vocals seem pretty dry.

There is definitely a trend towards shorter reverbs, and dryer lead vocals on commercial recordings.

I was wondering what your thoughts were on this.

Thanks again in advance.

Old 26th November 2002
FX smörgåsbord user
Charles Dye's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Oops sorry, I forgot about that one.

How I treat vocals is actually a big topic. I'm splitting it up over two months' Hard Disk Life columns. If you're willing to wait, in a few days my column for background vocals will be out in DigiZine, and January will be completely devoted to lead + harmony vocals and how I treat them.

Will that work?

BTW, which tracks of mine are you refferring to? I could tell you how I treated the vocals on them if I knew which ones.

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