Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools
Illustration by Richard Downs

Using the DigiRack delays


Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

with Brian Lee White

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Video: Using the DigiRack delays

While a Reverb is designed to stimulate a sound wave's reflections in acoustic space, a Delay is much simpler. Basically a Delay's main job is to take its inputs, hold on to it for a defined amount of time and then let it go. When we combine this time delayed signal with the original on time system, it sounds like an echo or a repeat of the original, tapping out in time. The DigiRack Delay suite is an easy to use, straightforward digital delay, meaning it will create an exact replica of the input held back in time.
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  1. 14m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 12s
    2. The past, present, and future of mixing
      6m 20s
    3. Strategies for mixing and mastering
      5m 38s
    4. Using the exercise files
      1m 40s
  2. 40m 24s
    1. Mixing "in the box"
      5m 9s
    2. Setting up the studio: Speakers and acoustics
      13m 12s
    3. Staying organized: Effectively prepping the mix
      10m 50s
    4. Managing system resources during mixdown
      11m 13s
  3. 41m 38s
    1. Introducing the Pro Tools Mixer
      2m 23s
    2. Understanding mixer signal flow
      3m 42s
    3. Using inserts and plug-ins
      7m 4s
    4. Working with plug-in settings
      5m 1s
    5. Using sends and creating FX returns
      6m 55s
    6. Submixing with aux tracks
      4m 30s
    7. Using groups while mixing
      3m 46s
    8. Using master faders effectively
      8m 17s
  4. 21m 12s
    1. Conceptualizing the mix and making a plan
      7m 45s
    2. Using volume and pan to balance the mix
      11m 18s
    3. Knowing when to process: Mix problems vs. mix solutions
      2m 9s
  5. 1h 3m
    1. Understanding the mechanics of sound
      3m 53s
    2. Learning the basics of EQ: Frequency-specific level control
      4m 29s
    3. Using DigiRack EQ III
      16m 3s
    4. EQ strategies in mixing: Corrective vs. creative
      7m 18s
    5. EQ workflow example 1: Kick drum
      5m 39s
    6. EQ workflow example 2: Filtering loops
      5m 10s
    7. EQ workflow example 3: The "telephone" effect
      3m 7s
    8. Mixing tips and tricks for EQ
      17m 36s
  6. 1h 16m
    1. Understanding dynamics and dynamic range
      2m 1s
    2. Working with dynamics processors
      2m 57s
    3. Using the DigiRack Dyn III compressor/limiter
      10m 6s
    4. Balancing and shaping track dynamics
      3m 19s
    5. Using gates and expanders
      9m 23s
    6. Using de-essers to eliminate sibilance
      5m 47s
    7. Dynamics workflow example 1: Vocals
      10m 0s
    8. Dynamics workflow example 2: Drums
      9m 29s
    9. Mixing tips and tricks: Dynamics
      11m 37s
    10. Building parallel or "upward" compression
      7m 53s
    11. Reviewing dynamics concerns: How much is too much?
      3m 28s
  7. 47m 49s
    1. Using time-based effects to add depth and width
      3m 23s
    2. Using DigiRack D-Verb
      14m 27s
    3. Using the DigiRack delays
      9m 18s
    4. Mixing with reverb
      7m 59s
    5. Mixing with delays
      6m 19s
    6. Mixing tips and tricks: Creating mix depth
      6m 23s
  8. 18m 8s
    1. Working with the Creative Collection
      9m 8s
    2. Building distortion and saturation
      9m 0s
  9. 37m 33s
    1. Understanding automation
      4m 10s
    2. Recording real-time automation moves
      7m 6s
    3. Viewing and editing automation
      10m 17s
    4. Automating plug-ins
      7m 36s
    5. Automation strategies for mixing
      8m 24s
  10. 29m 31s
    1. Understanding the characteristics of a great mix
      7m 2s
    2. Working to reference tracks
      4m 35s
    3. Avoiding some common pitfalls
      7m 50s
    4. Building healthy mixing habits
      3m 36s
    5. Crafting your mix from start to finish
      6m 28s
  11. 1h 5m
    1. Understanding mastering
      4m 15s
    2. Bouncing the mix
      7m 9s
    3. Working with general mastering strategies
      8m 50s
    4. Using limiting and compression to maximize track level
      10m 57s
    5. Working with multi-band compression
      7m 9s
    6. Understanding sample rate, bit depth, file formats, and dither
      7m 30s
    7. Using Pro Tools for CD track sequencing
      10m 11s
    8. Compressing audio for the web
      9m 41s
  12. 44m 51s
    1. Tips for evaluating plug-in processors
      6m 51s
    2. Using EQ plug-ins
      5m 35s
    3. Using dynamic compression plug-ins
      11m 3s
    4. Using reverb and delay plug-ins
      10m 46s
    5. Reviewing additional plug-ins
      10m 36s
  13. 57m 18s
    1. Effectively using saturation/analog style effects
      13m 40s
    2. Setting up side chains
      7m 5s
    3. Master buss processing
      5m 34s
    4. Creating and using mix templates
      6m 54s
    5. Surround mixing
      6m 22s
    6. Dealing with plug-in delay and latency
      6m 26s
    7. Drum sample replacing
      11m 17s
  14. 32s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools
9h 18m Intermediate Aug 20, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Once recording and editing are finished, audio engineers can take advantage of the training in Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools to punch up the final output. Digidesign Certified Expert Brian Lee White covers all the basic mixing tools that every producer and engineer should know, from using EQ to add clarity and focus to using compression and limiting to maximize track levels within a mix. Brian stresses the importance of setting up a solid mixing plan prior to any work in Pro Tools, and gives advice on the best plug-ins for each stage of the process. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Using the Pro Tools Creative Collection to add clarity, punch, width, and depth to a mix
  • Recording real-time automation moves for future replication
  • Building healthy and profitable mixing habits when putting a final mix together
  • Knowing when to process the audio of a track
  • Using saturation effects to capture that "analog" sound
  • Working with limiting and multiband compression during the mastering process
  • Dealing with plug-in delay and latency in a mix
Audio + Music
Pro Tools
Brian Lee White

Using the DigiRack delays

While a Reverb is designed to stimulate a sound wave's reflections in acoustic space, a Delay is much simpler. Basically a Delay's main job is to take its inputs, hold on to it for a defined amount of time and then let it go. When we combine this time delayed signal with the original on time system, it sounds like an echo or a repeat of the original, tapping out in time. The DigiRack Delay suite is an easy to use, straightforward digital delay, meaning it will create an exact replica of the input held back in time.

So if we look at some of the DigiRack delays in Take Me Down, I have a short delay and a long delay. Now, I use again sends-and-returns to route these delays. However, you can use delays directly on track, sort of like how you would use a delay pedal on a guitar. But when you do use sends-and-returns with your delays, it's cool because you can feed those delays into other things. Like I often like feeding my delay via Sends into other delays or Reverbs or Choruses or Flangers or other different kinds of effects to kind of flavor the delay signal a little bit away from the dry signal.

So, let's look at the controls in a DigiRack delay. First of all, it comes in a few different flavors. Whether you're working on a stereo track or a mono track, you'll see that under multichannel you have a set of delays, Slap, Short, Medium, Long and Extra Long. These are just there to define the total amount of time that a signal can be held back and that kind of are there from the original TDM plug-in days where they needed to reserve more DSP for longer delay taps.

Now if you look at the multi-mono side, you see we have the same plug-ins here. So if we look at the difference between the stereo one, let me pull up a mono one right next to it, the mono one is going to have those linking options, but, by default, the left and the right- hand sides are going to be linked. So if I chose a quarter-note delay, they will be equal on the left and right-hand side, whereas if I chose the multichannel version, what I'm getting is a separate left and right-hand delay settings, which is kind of cool if I want to offset or do kind of a ping-pong style delay effect.

So, use which one you think is appropriate for your specific situation. Now on a mono track, if we take a look at adding the delay to a mono track, we have two options. We have mono-in, mono-out and then the mono to stereo. The mono to stereo is going to let you use the delay to sort of stereolize a track's output. So you could have a little bit of delay on the left-hand side, but no delay on the right-hand side, which will kind of give a full stereo effect to a mono sound, whereas just the mono-in, mono-out version is just that.

It's going to hold the signal back in time, and however it's panned, it is going to be the same as the dry signal whenever you have the dry signal panned in your mix. So I may go over some of the settings of a delay plug-in. Now like I said the DigiRack delay is fairly easy to use. You have your input gain. You would pull this down if you are clipping or overdriving the effects' end. You have the Mix parameter, which defines wet to dry. Again I use 100% when I'm using these as an effects return.

I would blend this more towards the dry side if I was using it directly on a track. I have a low pass filter, which is going to act as sort of an EQ. So, it's going to sort of dole out the delay taps. Let's see if we can listen to this. I'll go apply Delay, say directly to my Snare Drum right here, for an Extra Long and solo that up. So we'll do a quarter note.

(Music playing. Drum solo.) So you can hear how that low pass filter is affecting the delayed signal.

The idea of using a low pass filter as opposed to let's say a high pass filter is that whenever we take the high frequencies away from a sound, it automatically gains some distance. So, this is just natural in nature when something is further away, it's going to lose high frequency content. High frequencies don't travel as far as well as low frequencies. So, by adding a low pass filter to your delayed sound, it's sort of simulating that distance from the original dry sound.

So it's really effective. If the filter inside the delay doesn't give you enough power, what you can do is actually EQ the delay tail. So you can actually put an equalizer after the delay and EQ it however you want. Now, probably the most important parameter in the delay is the Delay Time. That's sort of going to be time that it holds the signal back. This can be defined based on rhythmic values. It sinks to your tempo, so you can click that button there, the little metronome to sink it to your tempo.

You can define rhythmic values. They can be triplets or dotted. This is going to affect the delay parameter. Now you can also just adjust this by hand, if you know the exact millisecond value. There are benefits to using rhythmic delays, because they're going to reinforce the tempo and the rhythm of your tune. Depth and Rate are modulation settings. What I can do is modulate the pitch of the delay. So this is going to be how much the pitch modulates over the Depth and the Rate is how fast it's going to modulate.

So, let's see if we can hear that here, add a little Feedback. (Music playing. Drum solo.) So, you can hear the sound pitching up and down and the speed that oscillates from is the Rate.

So this is sort of kind of an LFO for this Depth right here. And that's cool! You can create modulated delays, kind of change in pitch. Unless you're trying to create alien sounds, you generally want to keep these settings fairly low, just do a subtle amount of Depth at a slower rate or very subtle amount of Depth at a faster rate. You can try those. Now, Feedback is going to control the amount of taps that the delay creates as soon as the dry signal is fed in and that sound is held back.

Feedback determines how much of that sound is fed back into the delay's input and thus repeats the taps over and over and over again. So, effectively if we had 100% feedback, the delayed signal will be fed back in at full level into the delay and you have sort of an infinite loop or an infinite amount of delays. There is no saying that's like, Oh! 30% is going to this many taps or 50% is this many taps, what you kind of do is just go by ear.

So if we listen here to how feedback changes the number of taps, choose an eighth note. (Music playing) A setting of zero is just going to be one tap. Now if you move into negative values, the taps or the feedback actually becomes phase and verse, and kind of creates a cool hollow effect.

Sometimes it can be neat, so you can kind of play with that negative feedback value. It doesn't mean it's going to reverse the delay taps. It's just inverting the polarity. So again, Delay is a key tool in defining the depth and width of elements in a mix. Stereo delays can create a wider perspective than pan alone and clever use of Delay sounds can really make the vocalists and other main melodic components sound huge without sounding washed out. So, staying in the front while trailing out across the depth of the sound.

So a lot of times, I'll end up using Delays and replace or instead of Reverbs.

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