This month in our ongoing “PAR Picks 6” plug-in recommendation series, we’ll take a look at some of the most critical tools found in just about every production: delay effects. From vocals and guitars to drums and keys, we use them for space, depth and distance. Luckily for us, there are many good ones available on the market. Here are six products that I personally rely on to get the job done, each with their own special niche.
Avid (Digidesign) Mod Delay II
1 Avid (Digidesign) Mod Delay II
As a longstanding Pro Tools user, I’ve been using these for quite some time. Mod Delay II actually has six different delay versions: AudioSuite only, Short, Medium, Slap, Long and Extra Long. I like each of them because they are simple and clean. With Mod Delay II, you can dial up a nice delay in just a few seconds with no fussing around.
To Tempo Sync, simply click on the Tempo Sync metronome icon, and the plug is locked to your session. Next, select the meter and duration and get to work. The delays themselves are quite bright, potentially on the edge of annoying. I’ve found the key to using this plug is to always drag the LPF (Low Pass Filter) over to filter out everything above 5 kHz; it warms up the overall sound and makes this one quite valuable.
Price: Included with Avid Pro Tools
Contact: Avid | avid.com
Eventide H3000 Factory
2 Eventide H3000 Factory
Break out the hardware! Well, it’s software now, of course, but this thing was ported directly over from the algorithms of the H3000, right down to keeping the patch numbers intact.
H3000 Factory offers another one of my favorite vocal delays; you can add a little bit of pitch shift to each side and slightly offset each. I tend to make the right slightly sharp (like a percent or two) and the left slightly flat. When combined, it makes for a lush vocal. Of course, you can lock it to tempo (Session Tempo) and open up the Expert page to tweak the delays, pitch, LFO’s, Filters, Envelopes, Scales and mix parameters. When going for big TV guitars with delay and chorus (especially on those ending hits), the Eventide is what I call upon.
It’s simply a classic.
Price: $717 (TDM only, currently 40 percent off its $1,195 list price as part of the Eventide Anthology II Plug-In Suite)
Contact: Eventide | eventide.com
Logic Pro Delay Designer
3 Apple Logic Pro Delay Designer
Pro Delay Designer is a sound designer’s “dream come true.”
Nestled within Apple Logic Pro, Delay Designer is one of those tools that I really don’t know how to use, I must admit. So why am I writing about it, then? Because the presets simply do really cool things to my audio that I couldn’t make up, even if I tried.
With it, you get to choose from a variety of Simple Patterns, Complex Patterns, Melodic Patterns and Warped Delays. All you need for some wild sounds is to place Delay Designer on a pad or a drum loop, go down to Warped Delays, and select something like Twisting Gears, Pitch Sweeper FX or 1/16 Pitch Climber. Then play with the Cutoff, Reso (Resonance), Trans (Transpose), Pan, Level and Feedback. Voilà ! Dreams realized.
Price: Included in Logic Studio
Contact: Apple | apple.com/logicstudio/plug-ins
4 PSP AudioWare 85
An enhanced version of PSP’s Lexicon PSP 42, this stereo delay also features all the presets of the PSP 84. Speaking of presets, there are 60 “new” ones in this unit that can quickly give you an idea of where to go with it.
PSP AudioWare 85
With 85, you get cool features such as automatic ducking, filter resonance modulation, a modulation signal generator, output panning and filtering. In the Reverb section, you can choose Spring or Plate; I tend to play with the Cutoff, Reso and Drive knobs in the Filter section while tweaking.
This is one of the quirkier delays in my collection and, when you take the time to set the filters, you can enhance any guitar sound. It makes guitar tones sound thicker, providing a good sense of depth. It’s also cool on drum loops, using the delay, ’verb and filters to create wild stereo effects. I like it because it sounds classic to me, and it feels like your tweaking good old Lexicon hardware.
Price: $149 direct (AU, RTAS, VST)
Contact: PSP AudioWare | pspaudioware.com
Sound Toys EchoBoy
5 Sound Toys EchoBoy
You may have guessed that this one would be in this list. There’s a good reason, too: It’s essentially a standard in many engineers’ DAWs. Aside from its cool sounds and quick user-friendliness (most notable with Tap Tempos, etc), there are a lot of secret gems hidden underneath the surface of EchoBoy.
On the GUI, selecting the Tweak button opens a variety of menus depending on which Mode is selected (Single Echo, Dual Echo, Ping Pong, Rhythm Echo). When selecting Dual Echo, for example, Tweak opens up with Accent 1, Width, Accent 2, FB Mix, Balance, FB Balance and L/R OFS. I find these settings useful when applying it to a mono guitar, while panning the balance and FB balance to the opposite side of the instrument. It creates a nice and wide image, especially with the Width on MAX. Or, I’ll do the total opposite, keeping the image all to the same side of the guitar, creating a “more mono” sound field, closely focusing the guitar image.
Don’t stop there, though. With the Style drop-down menu, you have a wide variety of cool sounds from Echoplex and Transmitter (super bright) to Analog Delay and Distorted (with a thick midrange sound). To tweak the Styles, many options are available by selecting the Style Edit button. That opens up a three-band EQ with Freq, Decay and Gain for each band as well as Mid Res. There’s another section where you can control the Decay Saturation, Output Saturation and such things as Diffusion, Size, Wobble, Rate and Sync. Add it up: That’s a lot of options within one plug-in.
Price: $179 and $349 (Native and TDM, respectively)
Contact: Sound Toys | soundtoys.com
Waves Super Tap
6 Waves Super Tap
I’ve used Super Tap for many years, and it’s still very effective. It’s a six-tap, multitap delay that can also run as a mono or stereo two-tap. Multi-tap, of course means you’re adding delayed copies to the original signal, each with independent delay times.
Super Tap can run with and without modulation, which affects the total delay time (1.2 seconds with mod, 6 seconds without). Its unique GUI lets you drag the taps to change both Gain and the stereo position. There’s also an EQ filter section, Feedback section and Modulation section (when selected). However, what I use the most is Tempo and the Delay Lines; it allows you to either tap a tempo, lock it to BPS, or let it run “free.”
I’ve used Super Tap extensively on guitars to create a very tight, short double (with a filtered return), though I rely on it quite a bit when doing surround, too. For the latter, I create a stereo aux, pan it hard into the rears (Left/Right) and use the tap tempo to create a perfect BPM match for the lead vocal on live songs. Using just two taps with a slight modulation, it creates a great sense of space.
There’s a certain fun factor in not knowing what you’re doing with this plug-in. I simply grab and drag these weird bars on the GUI. Often, I will Export the affected audio track to the desktop, and then bring it into Pro Tools (my main DAW) to continue manipulating it. No matter how you use Super Tap, it’s a super-creative tool.
Price: $19 and $79 (Native and TDM, respectively)
Contact: Waves | waves.com