Delay and Reverb

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by rwogh, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. rwogh

    rwogh Active Member

    Feb 11, 2010
    Hello All,

    I'm working on mixing some vocal tracks and am to understand that both delay and reverb help add sound quality. I have experienced this with other tracks and want to continue to use these effects, but have some questions on best practice. I'm fully aware of the "whatever sounds best" principle, so I'd like you opinions and advice outside of this.

    First question is delay then reverb -or- reverb then delay? I've thought about this long and hard and it seems that it shouldn't matter even though delay then reverb makes more sense. Is there a logical order and/or a reason for it?

    My next question is how to apply these. I always use reverbs on a send track so that I get the original track AND reverb on top. Should I do the same with delay? Should I use one send with delay and reverb applied? Should I send to one and send the result of that to another track? There are just so many possibilities!!!

    Again, any and all "best" practice tips would be great.

  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Sending the signal to the delay and then sending THAT to the 'verb allows you to adjust the "space" you're looking for. Many hardware reverbs have a dedicated "pre-delay" function with this in mind.

    In the "old days" I used to take the signal out to a modified Sony reel-to-reel recorder (TAPE?!?!?!? ) that gave me the initial delay and run that to an AKG or Micmix spring reverb. While I could have reversed the order (reverb then delay), it seemed that the dynamic compression of the tape recorder kept the torsion springs (or plate) in the reverbs from getting "boinked" too hard by transients from percussive instruments. Kind of "softened the blow", so to speak. These days, that is really not an issue, but old habits die hard :)

    In the end, there really isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to do this, and you certainly can't hurt anything by experimenting (as long as you don't inadvertently take the output of one device and feed it back to it's input with too much gain) . There are subtle (and not so subtle) differences to each approach. The key is to experiment and see which way YOU and the artist like it.
  3. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    An interesting concept is that delay on vocals can actually trick the mind into believing things are more in tune. So if the vocalist sings a D, then a C# that is out of tune, the delayed D actually reminds the ear of the key signature and psycho-acoustically 'retunes' the C#! So even if the ear can't perceive it as a heavy effect, a little delay timed right within the track can add to your 'pad' and actually tighten tracks up instead of cluttering them.

    In most cases delay first, reverb second - so you are adding the same ambience to the effected sound, rather than confusing the delay unit with additional reflection sounds. Reverb is last in most signal chains for this reason.

    With regard to your tracking yes, a 100% wet-mixed send track for the delay is the right way to go. If this is in the box good (assuming the box is good). As an aside, with guitar amps and so forth I've found it makes an amazing difference to send the delayed signal out to another amp & speaker altogether so your core tone & dynamics arent affected whatsoever. This is also a lifesaver when recording bands whose guitarists insist its their heavily delayed sound which 'makes' the track - I fire it to another room and another amp and put it in the headphone mix only. Then if they turn out to be wrong, its not printed all over every mic track. But as I say its an aside, not really relevant here.
  4. JasonAlanJohnson

    JasonAlanJohnson Active Member

    Jul 21, 2010
    I think it really depends on the 'intent' of your reverb and delay. For instance, sometimes I use delay to simulate reflections as if real reflections were occuring in the space where the instrument was tracked. Other times, I will use delay as a rhythmic effect for artistic purposes. And, like Jeemy said, you can even mask pitch problems with it. So if it were artistic use of delay, it is almost like changing the rhythm of the part, and I may want the whole new rhythm to then pass through the reverb. Also, I typically use reverb to create a perception of the space around the instrument. So the delay, if used for the same purpose, may compliment reverb and thus I would want it to occur afterwards. It seems like everyone agrees that "whatever sounds the best" is the only proper answer to this question. I will say that I like the idea of sending to another track whenever you have the capability. I guess whatever I can do to simply the mixing process to: 'pushing up some faders' relieves stress, so I am for it!
  5. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    I've been playing w/ a similar thing for vocals (slap-back type delay and a "room" reverb).
    So far delay>reverb seems to make the most sense, but you MUST experiment!
  6. rwogh

    rwogh Active Member

    Feb 11, 2010
    Thanks for all the replies! Any suggestions for a good delay plug-in? I've been using moogerfooger Analog Delay up until now. It sounds good, but I don't have a ton of freedom to create a variety of effects.
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