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Advanced tape-delay effects

From: Foundations of Audio: Delay and Modulation

Video: Advanced tape-delay effects

If you want to create tape delay and happen to own your own tape machine, or work in a studio with one, or are simply tape curious, this movie is for you. A tape machine represents a mechanical source of delay. Usually, a tape machine has only a few tape speeds and thus only a few delay times. Sure, it might cost several thousand dollars for those few delay settings, but it is a way to create delay. Tape delay was originally used, because it was one of the only choices at the time. It's still used today so we'd like to know more about it.

Advanced tape-delay effects

If you want to create tape delay and happen to own your own tape machine, or work in a studio with one, or are simply tape curious, this movie is for you. A tape machine represents a mechanical source of delay. Usually, a tape machine has only a few tape speeds and thus only a few delay times. Sure, it might cost several thousand dollars for those few delay settings, but it is a way to create delay. Tape delay was originally used, because it was one of the only choices at the time. It's still used today so we'd like to know more about it.

Using a two track recorder is a bit clumsy, so manufacturers solved the problem by introducing tape-based delay units. These were tape machines with a loop of tape inside, where the spacing between the record and the playback heads could easily be changed to make the delay time adjustable. Nowadays, studios have more options. Life is good. Today, we can buy a digital delay that is easily adjustable, wonderfully flexible, cheaper than a tape machine, and it either fits in one or two rack spaces, or exist conveniently in a pulldown menu in our digital audio workstation.

Why bother with tape delay? There is one major reason and it's the most important motivator in our field. Sound. Some great sounding, old recordings made effective use of tape delay. That's inspiration enough for some engineers. Retro for retro's sake. Tape delay is such a unique sound, so rich with character and subtleties that plug-in makers continue to try to emulate it to import those sound qualities into our DAW. While these emulations might sound great, there is no way they can exactly match the sound of your tape machine.

You should go to the trouble to use a tape delay when you really want that sound. An analog tape machine introduces it's own complex, but understated coloration to the sound. It adds a slight low-frequency lift to the frequency content of the signal. The exact frequency and gain of this low-frequency emphasis depends on your tape machine. The tape speed, the tape gauge, and how the machine is calibrated. If you push the recording level into the red, that signature sound of analog tape compression is introduced. At hotter levels still, saturation distortion, a sound wholly unique to analog tape results.

So as it turns out when we give it a closer listen, tape offers far more than just delay. It's a delay plus equalizer, plus compressor, plus distortion device. It can be darn difficult to simulate digitally. It sometimes the perfect bit of nuance to make a track special within the mix.

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This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Audio: Delay and Modulation
Foundations of Audio: Delay and Modulation

32 video lessons · 9476 viewers

Alex U. Case
Author

 
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  1. 4m 58s
    1. Welcome
      1m 40s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      50s
    3. How to use the exercise files
      54s
    4. Using the "Get In the Mix" Pro Tools session files
      1m 34s
  2. 25m 46s
    1. What is delay?
      2m 7s
    2. Creating delay effects overview
      1m 41s
    3. Delay time, level, and feedback parameters
      3m 0s
    4. Utilizing a low-pass filter and polarity reverse
      3m 7s
    5. Setting up an effects loop for delay
      1m 6s
    6. Setting up an effects loop in a DAW
      5m 40s
    7. Setting the delay time by tempo
      5m 40s
    8. Setting the delay time by ear
      3m 25s
  3. 31m 29s
    1. Overview of short, medium, and long delays
      3m 49s
    2. Long delays
      3m 17s
    3. Get in the Mix: Using long delay on key lyrics
      7m 2s
    4. Get in the Mix: Establishing groove with long delays
      8m 42s
    5. Get in the Mix: Creating slap-back echo with long delays
      6m 6s
    6. Advanced tape-delay effects
      2m 33s
  4. 49m 48s
    1. LFO
      2m 39s
    2. Get in the Mix: Modulation rate and depth
      7m 32s
    3. Get in the Mix: Modulation shape
      7m 43s
    4. Delay effects examples in various plug-ins
      3m 52s
    5. Medium delays
      3m 52s
    6. Get in the Mix: Chorus
      5m 54s
    7. Get in the Mix: Double tracking
      6m 23s
    8. Get in the Mix: Spreaders and thickeners
      11m 53s
  5. 16m 31s
    1. Constructive and destructive interference
      2m 16s
    2. Short delays
      1m 6s
    3. Get in the Mix: Creating a comb filter and a flange effect
      5m 34s
    4. Get in the Mix: Flanger and phaser effects
      7m 35s
  6. 19m 11s
    1. Using delays in a real-world mix
      16m 59s
    2. Course summary and goodbye
      2m 12s

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