Adding Delay on Vocals: 4 Basic Types of Delays used on Vocals

Adding Delay on Vocals


You likely know what a delay effect is and also you may even have come across a cool delay guitar pedal that makes you write some superior psychedelic songs.

Maybe you may have seen delays getting used to numerous mixing tutorials online, particularly on vocals. You understand you’ll be able to select from 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 notes delays, and lots of different note values. (Using the Dotted note value is definitely one of my favorite delays to make use of on drums).

Adding Delay on Vocals

Delays can be used to create particular FX or give width to instruments, due to this fact, still permitting them to be dry and upfront in your mix.

Delay (also referred to as Echo) effects on vocals are as old because the world, beginning maybe with prehistoric birds singing in a canyon. They can be used to create an impression of space, usually together with reverberation, so as to add texture to an instrument, or just to create a cool bouncy rhythmic vibe.

However, when mixing, there are only so many audio materials you’ll be able to cram into your stereo area earlier than the outcome turns to mush. A delay repeats your vocal recording in a number of instances. Usually, the repetitions end up intertwined, like a number of singers fighting for attention, which makes it troublesome for the listener to grasp the lyrics.

Slapback Delay

It is a quick delay with normally only one echo of the vocal part, it virtually doesn’t sound like a separate delay but more like a mirrored image off of a tough wall in a small room. With the delay channel setup from the vocal delay information already operating, all you must do is bring the delay time all the way down to about 100-150ms, and scale back the effect of any low-pass filters or eq you may have put in – as we would like the delay to be crisp and punchy.


Slapback Delay Pedal

Check out this article for some interesting delay tips and tricks!

Stereo Delay

You may set this to either give you a ‘ping-pong’ delay from left to right, which bounces forwards and backward as the echo dies away, or you can use it extra subtly to offer some stereo width to a delayed effect. For a ‘ping-pong’ delay, set the left side of a stereo delay plugin to be half the delay time of the right side, and the vocal will bounce from the center (from the dry vocal channel) to the left after which right on the delay channel.

If you need the delay to repeat and die away for longer, you will want to have rather more feedback on the shorter side of the delay plugin, because the repeats come much quicker so will die away faster.

To add some stereo width to a vocal delay, you’ll be able to scale back the delay time on one side by a really small quantity – 10ms is plenty. Bear in mind that in addition to including some stereo width to the vocal delay, shortening the delay on one side will make the delay sound like it’s coming from that route. i.e. if the left delay is 10ms shorter than the right, you’ll hear only one delay barely to the left of the center, in addition to the delay sounding wider. To compensate, you can also make the right side louder to drag the delay again to the middle and retain the added width.

stereo delay pedal

Short Delays

Delays lower than about 80ms sound a lot much less noticeable as separate delays, and mix in with the dry vocal part to assist it to sit better within the mix. This is a quite common trick for rock and metal vocals, the place you normally can’t afford to add reverb because it’s too thick and can take away from the readability of the mix.

short delay pedal

Ducked Delay

That is really quite simple, all you must do is put a compressor on the delay channel and set the side-chain input to be the vocal aux send (as set up from the vocal delay information). Then dial up a quick attack time and slow delay and release times.

This means that when the lead vocal sings, the delayed vocals are compressed so that they don’t get in the way. When the lead vocals cease, the compressor releases, and the tip of the final phrase echoes.

This will take some fine-tuning to get the delay and release instances precisely right, and if it’s too difficult to get excellent then you’ll be able to at all times simulate the impact with some simple automation of the delay channel.

eventide time factor delay

Delay for Back Vocals

Up till now, all of those strategies have been catered towards lead vocals, however what about background vocals like stacks or ad-libs? These are a bit extra subjective, however, what I love to do is create a distinction between the sound of the lead and the sound of the second vocal—not solely to separate them tonally, but in addition to creating some sense of depth or stereo spread to the music.

Be at liberty to get artistic with the delays on the ad-libs too, as usual, they don’t occur as a lot within the music, so they are not in as much danger of stepping on different components of the mix. Altering the delay time to triplets or dotted notes can add an attention-grabbing rhythm to the empty areas. Mess around and see which of them works the best for the track.

h delay by waves


Mixing with delay can add depth to your mix in a fascinating approach. Short delays can be used so as to add distance between your devices equally to reverb. But in contrast to reverb, you possibly can add a number of repeats to the delay or echo, add interesting stereo panning, and way more.

There’s rather a lot that may be accomplished with delays so as to add distinctive sonic textures to your mix.

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Nikoloski is the founder and main content writer and editor of Mixing Tips. With his experience in audio engineering, mixing, and mastering for over 15 years, will provide hands-on experience and expertise in all the matters covered on this website.

  1. […] Here is our take on how to use Delay on Vocals! […]

  2. I currently play with an old geezer classic rock band. Many years ago, I played with another band. We did a song back then that I would like for my current band to play. The song is “Time Has Come Today” by The Chamber Brothers. My band used a Maestro Echoplex to reproduce the vocal echo/delay part of the song.

    I have two questions. First, how would you characterize the echo/delay used in this song? Second, do you have a recommendation for a pedal or soundboard add-on that can reproduce the Echoplex effect for vovals?

    Thanks for any information or suggestions.


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