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In this installment of Foundations of Audio, author Alex U. Case explains the fundamentals of delay and modulation effects and how to apply these effects, technically and creatively, to improve the sound of a mix. The course covers adjusting individual parameters such as delay time, level, and feedback; working with long delays to create echoes, enhance groove, and add support; using delay modulation for chorus and doubling effects; and dialing-in spectral effects from delay, such as flanging. This course also includes Get in the Mix (GITM) sessions for both Avid Pro Tools and Apple Logic Pro. Exercise files are also included with the course.
If the tempo of the song you're working on is unknown, or if you're working on music that was not recorded to a click track, try using the snare to tune a delay, to set a delay time that makes musical sense. Even if the plan is to add delay to the vocal, piano, or guitar, it's usually easiest to use the snare for finding the appropriate delay time, both because it's a rhythm instrument and also because it hits so often. So much of pop music has a backbeat. The snare following regularly on beat 2 and beat 4. Send the snare to the delay and listen to the echo.
Starting with a long delay of about 500 milliseconds and with some feedback to make it repeat, adjust the time until echoing snare hits fall on a musically relevant beat. If the delay falls at a nonmusical time interval, it can be pretty jarring, but when it's adjusted into the time of the music, you'll instantly feel it. It's perhaps easiest to find a quarter note delay, and with practice and concentration, finding triplet and dotted rhythms becomes perfectly intuitive. You can also make use of the delay time calculations discussed earlier in this chapter.
After the delay time value appropriate to the tempo of the song is found by ear, don't forget to pull the snare out of the effects send and send the vocal or whichever track is to be treated with echo to the delay instead. That use of snare was a device for tuning the delay, not a mix move. Once the correct delay time has been found, undo the snare routing and return the snare to its rightful place in the mix. The delay now sits, ready to add the perfect echo to any track you feed it.
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