When drums meet delay
Echo effects are ideal for spinning groovy rhythms and effects out of drum machine hits. Let’s go!
While traditionally used for vocal ambience, sound effects and general repeating, delay effects can also be a fantastic creative tool when you don’t know where to take a sterile drum groove. Plus, with the sheer amount of feature-packed delay hardware and software available, you can quickly play around and spit out weird fills, stutters and embellishments that you’d never think to program with a mouse.
Rendering and repiecing audio works well with these techniques, as you won’t be at the mercy of a feedback-heavy delay’s randomness. In this quickfire tutorial, we’ll start with a bog-standard drum machine groove. By firing percussion hits into creative delay plugins, it’s easy to generate quirky loops, ghost snare-style skips and entirely new rhythms that can be bounced out to your samples folder.
This 130bpm 808 beat is as simple as you can get: a two-step kick, snare, and sparse closed hats. Sending the hats to a delay (set to tempo-synced 16th notes) creates sprinkling hat flourishes spread to the sides of the stereo field. We bounce the delay signal to audio and move on…
Next, we send the snare signal to an aux return containing a tape delay plugin. By wiggling the delay time as we record the return’s signal to audio, we induce pitch-wobbling echoes, creating an audio loop of transposed ghost snares that would be tough to program manually.
For a final round of extreme loop synthesis, we send every drum channel to an aux and load up a creative delay plugin. This saturated, filtered delay peppers odd hits throughout the groove, adding life and motion throughout.