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Microphone Month 2

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Delay on Lead Vocals?


Any advice on how to use delays on vocals (or on anything else for that matter)? I hear it being used in commercial mixes and it sounds great! Very dimensional and interesting sounding--though sometimes it's so subtle you hardly notice it. When I try it, however, it sounds like a jumbled up mess, or I run into phasing (comb filtering) problems. I don't get it. :( I've studied the Haas Effect, I've tried matching the delay to the BPM of the song, and a hundred other things, but still no joy. :(
Any tips?
April 19, 2003 @06:55am

Most good delay units will have options to reverse the phase of the delay and of the feedback. The trick is to figure which one or both of those work best for you. I have tap pedals for all my delay units so I can do it with my foot. Delays are very tricky. Always make sure the delay send is returned to a different channel. i.e. do not insert it on your vocal. Experiment with EQing just the vocal delay and not the dry vocal, and then try other rhthyms as well. Don't just always use the quarter not tempo, try doubling that, and in some cases multiply that by 4x as well. One trick I have found that I really like (when using a TC D2 delay unit) is to tap in the tempo, and then grab the tempo wheel and make the delay a little longer by grabbing the tempo wheel and spinnin it twice. This will usually add around 50 - 75 more ms of delay. It causes the delay to ride the backside of the beat which often times makes a little more space for it. The hardest thing is getting the return level just right. If your delay is too loud it just ends up sounding cheezy and amateur. If it is too quiet, then it isn't heard. It is not easy, but practice and you will get the hang of it. Also, whenever possible I like to put the delay send on a fader. This makes it easy to delay just individual words or to delay a phrase with emphasis on certain parts. Delays are incredibly fun, and when done right are really cool. you can even fake reverbs with them if used right. Have fun:)
April 19, 2003 @04:39pm

get the ultra-funk sonitus fx: delay plugin. its the best delay plugin ever!!! especially for vocals. it has wiked filters built right in, that way you can make the delay signal sound different than the original signal, thats the key right there - to create different textures. u can even low pass the thing and use a high regeneration to make a reverb effect. get that plugin, i use it on almost every vocal.
also, use different delay times in the left and right speaker sometimes - it makes the vocals sound huge (not to much level, like xstatic said).
eq-ing the delays is key, thats why the plug is cool - its got filters!
April 19, 2003 @11:31pm

Also, if u compress the delay WITH the dry signal at the end, it will make them fot together better and sound more' professional'
April 20, 2003 @04:16am

i wasn't even thinking about plug ins, I was thinking harware boxes in my mind. If you need an outboard delay, look at the TC D2. It even has instant buttons on the front to add compression, chorus, reverse, ping pong, spatial etc...
April 20, 2003 @04:15pm

yeah, i forgot this was a hardware board - but still, the same principles apply. its all digital anyway.
April 20, 2003 @09:00pm

Thanks for the help so far. It's much appreciated.
One thing I should mention, though: I'm not going to throw any money at this. I should be able to get good results with what I have. I just need to know some of the fundamentals and techniques, and then (hopefully) I can take it from there.
Also, it's important that my mixes translate to mono without changing too much. How do you folks deal with that when mixing with delays?
Thanks a lot,
April 20, 2003 @10:22pm

just make sure the dry signal is the loudest signal. the delays should be relatively background. that way when u flip to mono, its intact. also, do mono checks every once in the while.
April 21, 2003 @01:44am

Naturally, the biggest thing is tempo. Try doing different beat patterns--instead of setting the tap to on the beat, subdivide, or increase the lengths, or do triplets, or...so on and so on.
I agree w/ everything Xtatic mentioned, and to back up a notch:
Use an Aux send to get the signal from your vocalist to the unit, and bring it into the board in a seperate channel. Play with pre/post fade if you're able. Play around with all the options on your unit. Experimentation is the best way to learn!
April 21, 2003 @05:01am

What are you using for delays? As far as translation to mono, jsut play with the pahse flips on your delays (both dry delay and feedback). Also, if possible, set your delay to return only the delayed audio and not the original dry signal as well. This will help the delay to sit better without increasing the volume of the actual vocal when you place the delays in the mix. There should not be a mono/stereo problem with your delay if you are only returning the wet part of the signal. If you do however return the dry signal in the delay channel, it would be very easy for there to be an apparent phase shift (because of two sets of dry signal appearing in the mix, one of which has been processed).
April 21, 2003 @04:07pm