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5 Quick Delay Mixing Tricks

Transcript
Hello, hope you’re doing marvelously well. It’s Warren Huart here. Please, as ever, subscribe. If you hit the bell there, you’ll get a notification when we have a new video. And of course, you can go to producelikeapro.com, and you can sign up for the email list, and get a whole bunch of free goodies.

Okay, so what are we doing today? We’re going to do five quick delay tricks. For those of you who haven’t already seen it, last week, we did five quick reverb tips. So these are five really popular things that I do. A couple of these are kind of little secret weapons that I learned from people much smarter than me. So I’ll show you those as well.

So what’s the first one? Well, the first one is fairly obvious. It’s an extension of what we did in the reverb one, and that is sidechaining your delay.

So here we have the vocal. It’s once again, Conditions by David and the Workday Release. So let’s create a new track. So we’re going to go — in Pro Tools, we’re going to go Shift+Command+N, we’re going to make a stereo auxiliary track.

Now, quite often, because I don’t put the effect on the vocal itself, I create a separate one, quite often, I’ll use the same send. How dare he? Well, the reason why I do that is because if I’m automating the delay on its own auxiliary, I don’t need to automate the send. Now, you can, but you know, you can have a separate one, and I think for that one out of every now and then, you might need a separate send we can send up. But often when I’m moving quickly, I won’t do that.

Alright, so. I’ve created 11 and 12 here. Let’s send that here. Find an output. Alright, so we’re going to call this, “Vocal” or just, “Vox delay,” and we’ll make it sidechain.

Okay, so now the tempo of the song is at 182. So let’s go and pick one of my favorite delays. There’s quite a few. There’s a lot of really good delays, but one I particularly like, and you’ll see me using a lot of course, is our good friend, EchoBoy. I use this a lot.

So as I said, the tempo is 182, so I hit this button up here on my EchoBoy, you’ll see it immediately defaults to 182. Now, I want the mix to be 100%. The reason why I want it to be 100% is I don’t need the dry signal mixed in there. Now, as you can see, it’s set at the moment defaulted to an eighth note. And you know what? I’ll keep that.

So let’s have a listen to just the regular eighth note delay.

[vocals with delay]

Got some feedback on it. It sounds good. It defaulted to studio tape delay. We could try other ones. We could try all kinds of different things, but we’ll go there. So it’s a single echo, eighth note, decent amount of feedback. Have a listen.

[vocals with delay]

Sounds good, but it sounds muddy. Doesn’t it? Because what we’re hearing is we’re hearing this delay underneath the real vocal, and it’s getting in the way. So the first inclination would normally be to turn it down. However, we don’t want to do that. We’re going to sidechain it. So we’ll go, we’ll choose a reverb. I’m going to go with a good old fashioned R-Comp. And I’m now going to bring it in with the same input. Let’s just take 11.

So the same one that’s sending to that delay.

[vocals with delay]

So what am I doing? Well, immediately you can hear the delay dies, but it’s coming up after each phrase. So with, [imitates music], and you hear a little bit of the delay after it. It’s a wonderful trick. So it cleans it up under the vocal, gets rid of that muddiness, but lets you hear — gives you the illusion that there’s more delay there, because it’s being sidechained.

So what we’re doing is we’re sending from the vocal to the delay as we’d expect, but I’m also from that same send sending to a compressor that’s set after the delay.

[vocals]

See that? Let’s try this little phrase here.

[vocals]

Cool. Just for shnits and shniggles, let’s do this. I’m going to — in Pro Tools, I’m going to Shift+Option+D, which is going to duplicate this effect here, and now on the EchoBoy, the second one, I’m actually going to make this shorter. I’m going to make it a quarter note.

So that’ll be kind of fun. Have a listen here.

[vocals with quarter delay]

It’s pretty tasty, because it’s really good for filling up space in production work where maybe the vocal is like, hanging over into a bridge. You can go, [mimics music]. It’s really nice. It’s like a — it adds some class to it.

Now, I learned that from Tim Palmer, because he mixed something for me and I loved the effects. I was like, “How are you doing it? It must take so long to automate all of the delays.” He was like, “No, I just stick a compressor and sidechain it.” I was like, “Oh.”

So quick trick, wonderful on the vocal.

Okay, next one. This is a favorite of mine. In this instance, we could just create a mono, if you like, track. So mono auxiliary. Change our output the same. Again, I could use the same input if I want it, if I didn’t want to automate it. I’ll create a different one, but often I used the same send. If it’s my production, I know what I’m doing, and I realize where I’m going to head. I quite often just use the same sends, because I’m automating the actual effects themselves.

So we’re going to call this, yes, “Slap delay.” Now, you might say, “Well Warren, slap delays are great if you want Elvis kind of style or 50’s.” Well, that is true, but they’re also fantastic for just adding energy. So I can go and pick EchoBoy. Just the mono is fine. I actually want the mono. There’s a reason for that. I’m trying to make this sit underneath the vocal and give it some energy. Distorted slap delay. So once again, 100% mix, so just the affected signal. I’m going to go for really really short.

So 1/64th. Set the tempo.

[vocals with slapback]

Saturation. Now, on this particular delay, and it doesn’t matter what delay you use, I’m just going to this. I’m going to go to an EchoPlex. I actually have a real EchoPlex, and I do this all the time with a real EchoPlex. I’m going to do the same thing. I hit it too hard and it does this.

[vocals with slapback]

So let’s do this. I’m going to go to pre-fade on this, and I’m going to mute the lead vocal and you’re going to hear just the effect.

[vocal slapback effect]

I mean, that’s pretty disgusting, isn’t it? It’s fat, it’s warm, distorted, yucky.

[vocal distorted slapback]

I like it. And what does it do? It gives the vocal a bit more energy.

[vocal, then full mix]

It’s crazy when you stop that delay and keep hearing it going on. It’s fantastic.

But anyway, so that distorted delay there, with those other delays creates a lot of energy around the vocal, but I’m a big fan of that distorted delay, and it all started from using a tape delay of the EchoPlex. So you know, EchoBoy has that, you know, almost every single delay has that. Now, if you don’t have that, there’s a quick tip, you could do this.

So let’s just say — we’ll just mute that for a second. You can do something as simple and obvious as this. What am I going to do? I’m going to go, and I’m going to get my SansAmp plugin, or any generic distortion that you’ve got, and then just put a delay afterwards that doesn’t have a distortion. I mean, one of those of course would be the H-Delay, which is a wonderful delay, but there’s no saturation on this.

So — which is a great delay, don’t get me wrong, but look.

[vocal with delay]

So immediately, you’ve got a distorted delay. Just stick a saturation plugin, you know, whatever it might be. There’s so many different ones out there. You know, even some generic compressors have ways of distorting when you overdrive them. You know, anything. Analog simulations. But there you go.

Now, that distorted slap, I have it — you can move it a little longer if I went to say, maybe 1/32.

[vocal with slapback]

And it starts to get a little noticeable, but I like it super, super close, because then underneath really low, it just kind of gives an energy to the vocal.

Okay, so what do we have next? Well, this is a fun one. So we’ve got these two different delays we talked about here on vocals. This is one of my favorite, favorite tricks. Because we’re going to take a drum bounce.

So I learned this one from Mark Endert. So let’s listen to the drums soloed.

[drums]

In the track.

[mix]

Cool. So nice drum track. You know, if I go to the chorus here…

[mix]

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Now, I’ve got that piano part that’s getting a little bit of movement, but let’s just say I want to do something to help the movement of the track, but I don’t want it to be another instrument, I don’t want it to be something that clutters the track necessarily. IE, not too loud.

So what do I do? Well, I have a drum print. So this is just a stereo drum print, exactly what we just heard.

[drums]

There it is again. Alright. Now let’s go and find ourselves a nice delay.

So we can go — let’s use the H-Delay this time. Equal opportunity. And we’re going to go BPM. Let’s match the BPM. Let’s have a listen.

[drums]

It’s a dotted eighth note. Now what I love about this particular delay, and as most of them these days, is you can start low passing and high passing.

[drums, filtered]

So it’s all kind of low mid somewhat now. We’re low passing here at 1kHz. We’re high passing here at 162. Cool.

So it’s keeping out of the way of the cymbals, the high end. Solo our drums, let’s turn this down. So now we’re turning down the delay that we just created on the drums.

[drums]

It’s a very 60’s kind of trick. You’re hearing it now, just subtly. Drop it into the track.

[mix]

Take it out. Back in. It’s a very, very subtle way of just adding some movement.

Now, Mark taught me when he mixed “Hey, Soul Sister,” which is a massive song that so many mixers that I know reference, because it’s such a great mix, when he mixed that, Martin Terefe had added that delay on the kick drum, which sounds like somebody kind of slapping their feet.

Now, that’s a lot louder than what we’re doing here, and I’d originally learned this delay trick from Mark about 20 years ago when he mixed an album that I did about 20 years ago when I first started out here. Wow, long time ago.

It’s great. It’s inaudible at the moment. It’s barely in there.

[mix]

But it’s adding a slight bit of movement.

Now, you could also get in there and put distortion — some saturation before it as well and give it even more edge. It’s a great way of adding subtle energy, basically to the whole track, and give it some movement when you have a very simple kick and snare part like that.

So number 4, ping pong delay. This is something that I don’t often use, but when I do use it, it’s for this exact reason, and that is the ability to take one instrument, and make it feel a little bit more spacious.

So I have this piano part, I’ve got stereo guitars going on in the chorus. As you can see here, I’ve got this one guitar here, another guitar there, using my…

[guitars]

And that’s using my trick that we talked about in the reverb video where we have the reverb panned one side and the dry side the other. The dry sound, the other guitar opposite with its reverb on the other side, and it creates extra width. But we have this mono piano here.

[piano]

So why don’t we do this? Let’s just take this chorus section and let’s put a ping pong delay on it. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to create a new stereo track. Stereo auxiliary here, and we’re just going to — we’re going to automate this just for the choruses. So we’re going to call this ping pong delay. This kind of movement is very, very common in great mixers tracks.

They will do these kind of things that are barely audible, but they give a little extra energy, and they fill out the mix. Something a lot of people say to me all the time is like, “How do I get my mix to sound thicker? I compress, I EQ, and it just sounds like everything is pointy and not glued together.” Well, this is a great way to help that.

I think if we just go for a good old fashion EchoBoy again, setting it to 100% again — what I like about this is it has a ping pong setting here. Quick and easy to find. I’m going to go eighth note on one side, sixteenth note on the other side, and I’m going to add a little bit of feedback in there. We’re set to pre on our send, so that way we can listen to what it is.

It’s going to be chaotic because of the rhythm.

[piano ping pong]

Pretty chaotic. Now we’ll bring in the actual piano itself.

[piano]

So I want to lo-fi a little bit. So that means I’m going to change — and you don’t have to, but for me, there’s like a cheap tape here, so I’m going to get that.

[piano]

Oh, I like that. But I’m going to high cut some of that. No real need to — there’s no real need to low cut this, because it’s the cheap tape setting, but ultimately, I’m narrowing it. And you could do this by putting an EQ before like we did with the reverb on the 5 Quick Reverb Tips. Check that out if you haven’t as well.

So what do we have? We have this little chaotic eighth and sixteenth note delay. Put it against the real piano, but it’s low.

[piano]

There’s a part of me that still wants to get rid of some of that high end, so what I’m going to do — this is a good little trick, obviously, is actually just send this high end to it.

There you go. Cool. So now let’s put this all together in the track, and we have…

[mix]

Mute it. Back in. Can come down to me.

So it’s a great way of just adding a little extra energy. Very similar idea to the drums, but we’re ping ponging it, so it’s getting left and right, left and right, and gluing with those guitars.

Number five. Last but no means least is putting a reverb after a delay. Simple as that, it’s a very obvious trick, but it’s really kind of nice. So if we go back to our vocal, we’ll slip back there, and you can do it on anything. Lead guitars like this as well. We’ll go to our lead vocal here and we’ll create a stereo auxiliary. We’ll call this, “Delay verb,” because it’s a delay and a verb, and — obviously — and we’re going to get good old fashioned H-Delay. Straightforward eighth note.

And have a listen to that.

[vocals]

And remember, we can also sidechain compress this as well, but that’s a whole other thing you can do. But let’s go ahead now and just get a reverb. I’m going to go to good old fashioned D-Verb. It defaults to 100% mix.

[vocals]

To be honest, just the generic of both of those — see how easy that was? I opened up the H-Delay, I didn’t change any settings whatsoever, I just changed it to an eighth note. The feedback, everything came up normally, and then I went to the first AVID D-Verb straight away, did the job.

[vocals with reverb and delay]

It’s a great thing. I really like that delayed reverb on choruses in particular, because it adds some more space.

Now, what we could do of course is sidechain compress it afterwards. You could try that as well, but for that effect, it’s one of my favorite kind of quick, simple ways of creating space on a vocal.

So there you go. Five delay tricks. I hope you enjoyed that. Please check out the Five Reverb Tricks. Thank you ever so much for watching. Please subscribe, hit the notifications bell, and you’ll know when we’re uploading a new video, and of course, go to producelikeapro.com, sign up for the email list, and get a whole bunch of free goodies.

Thank you ever so much for watching. Have a marvelous time recording and mixing!

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Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at producelikeapro.com.

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