Mixing 101: What Is a Delay

You want to learn how to mix hip-hop, mix rap and mix r&b so you gotta know the lingo. Today we answer what is a delay.

a delay is an echo

You might use a delay to:

  • Add feeling to a sound
  • Add ambiance to a sound
  • Make a sound stick out
  • [insert cool effect you come up with]

Add feeling to a sound with a delay

You know how Pimp C and Bun B have perfect adlibs on every UGK song, or more recently Kendrick Lamar’s adlibs in Money Trees (ya bish). In like manner, think about how Rihanna’s “Diamonds” (YouTube | iTunes) repeat in the hook of the song by the same title. The echo you hear is an example of a delay.

Note: People may use the phrase “delay length” or “delay time”, both tell you the time between the original sound and the delayed sound.

Delays longer than an 8th note (or half a beat) make sounds more emotionally intense. They make sounds seem to float off to me.

Add ambiance to a sound using a delay

Delays shorter than an 8th note but longer than 30 milliseconds (echos less then 30 milliseconds after the original can create a Haas effect) can add ambiance and presence to a sound. Listen to Andre 3000’s opening verse in the Whole World and you can clearly hear a “short” delay.

The echo adds a megaphone vibe to 3 stacks vocal. It also helps the vocal come through the mix while playing into the circus theme of the song.

Make a sound stick out using a delay

Delays can be¬†effective without being¬†as audible as the vocal echos referenced above. In your own mixes, there are times when you don’t want to raise the fader on a track but you want to give your listener’s ears some help in picking up a sound.

You can add a soft delay behind the original sound to do just that.

Of course, these aren’t the only ways to use delays.

Hopefully you now understand what a delay is or had your thoughts reinforced.

Let me know how you use delays in the comments. If you have any questions or concerns, leave those in the comments too.

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Hip Hop Mixing by TeslaThemes