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Pro Tools 10 Essential Training with musician and producer David Franz illuminates the process of recording, editing, mixing, and mastering in Avid Pro Tools, the industry-standard software for music and postproduction. The course covers recording live audio and adding effects on the fly, creating music with virtual instruments and plug-ins, editing for time and pitch manipulation, creating a musical score, and mixing and mastering a track.
In this video, I want to discuss how delay effects work and how to apply them in your Pro Tools sessions. Delay effects record a signal, then play it back at a user-selected delay time, often called delay time or delay length. A single delay of less than 35 milliseconds is called a double, because this effect makes the tracks sound like there are two of the same part being played or sung at basically the same time. A slapback delay is a single repeat with the delay time of over 35 milliseconds.
Slapback delay times of 35 to 75 milliseconds are good for thickening vocal or instrumental tracks, while delays of 125 to 350 milliseconds are useful for making a vocal or guitar track sound large. Let's go over to the Mix window, and I am going to open up this extra long delay plug-in. Now it's usually a good idea to set the delay time in relation to the beat and tempo of the song. The rhythm you create with the delay can add a nice groove element.
To do this, make use of the Tempo Sync feature, which will synchronize the delays to the session tempo. It's this button down here. Just click this little icon to activate or deactivate Tempo Sync. When it's yellow like this, it's activated. In this part of the Plug-in window, we can tell the tempo of the session, which is set right here, 90 BPM, and if you want to change our delay time to represent a different subdivision of the beat, we can simply click on the note values just down here.
So we've got eighth note, quarter note, half note, whole note, but I am going to choose a 16th note here. Now if we don't want to have Tempo Sync on, we can turn this off and then use this slider to select our tempo, but I am going to turn this back on and utilize the 16th note value here. So let's listen to an example. I'll move this over the side here, and we can see here that we've got an effects loop set up where I have bussed these two acoustic guitar tracks up to 5 and 6, and they're being received here on this track, which is an aux track that has this extra long delay plug-in on it.
So right now I press play, and we'll just hear the solo guitars without the effect. (Music Playing) Now let me bring in the effect. (Music Playing) So you can hear that there's a single 16th note delay going onto the signal here.
Let me play this one more time, and I'll pop the effect in and out. (Music Playing) So let's talk about some of the parameters here. The Gain is the volume level, and usually you'll just want to keep that as 0 db. If you feel like bringing it down, you can, to lessen the volume of the delay effect. We'll just keep it at 0 here. And notice that we're working with a stereo effect here, so we have controls for both the left and right sides here in the Plug-in window.
The mix percentage is how much of the original signal is being delayed, and usually when you set up an effects loop, you want this to stay at 100, but you can reduce it if you want. The further that you bring it down the more of the original track or the unaffected track will be going through this plug-in. So usually you just want to keep it at 100%, keeping the dry tracks and the wet or the effected tracks separate in the mix. Next, we have the LPF, or the Low Pass Filter, and we use this to filter out any of the high end so that it doesn't build up when we're using a lot of feedback.
So we can bring this down lower than 10 kHz if we want. I mean we could bring it all the way down to 10 Hz, and we wouldn't hear anything. But I'll just bring it back up to 10 kHz and now everything above 10 kHz is filtered out. Next, we have the delay length or the delay time, and this is equal to 166.67 ms, which is conveniently equal to 1 16th note at a tempo of 90 BPM. If I change this to an eighth note then that'll double and a quarter note, it will double again.
The depth and rate of modulation creates slight pitch variations, and we'll use these parameters to create chorus, phaser, or flanger effects. We're going to leave those off for now. Finally, feedback sends the delayed signal back into the delay input, creating a delay of the delayed signal. The higher the feedback level the more delays are added, and when you add feedback to a delay, this can smooth out the sound of a track or give it an infinite or never-ending feel.
So I'm going to go ahead and press play and add some feedback here, and you'll hear what it does to the signal. (Music Playing) So as you can hear from the delay trail, there was a lot of feedback going on there. One other cool feature that we have down here is the Groove, and we can use this to add swing to our delay time. And as you see, when I slide this, the delay time is changing, and that adds a little bit of the swing to the repeats.
Now in Pro Tools there are a number of delay plug-ins available, and I've got another one loaded up in here; it's the Dynamic Delay. So let me open that up. I'm going to mute this one this one and open up the Dynamic Delay. Now let's hear what this sounds like. (Music Playing) Now that sounds pretty similar to what we just were listening to in the other delay.
Let's look at why that's true. First, we have the delay set for 16th notes, we've got feedback at a similar percentage to what we had in the other delay, we've got our mix at 100%, and we've got it synced to the tempo. The delay parameters I have discussed in both the extra long delay and the dynamic delay are fairly standard in all delay plug-ins and should be a great starting point to create any delay effect you want to make in Pro Tools.
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