Echoes from the future
So what might the next few years hold for the world of delay? Allow us to speculate for a few moments, and one day you’ll be able to look back and tell us how wrong we were.
Processing power was on the increase until recently, and with it the analogue-emulating renaissance has been in full swing. We’ve seen emulations of classic effects such as the Roland Space Echo, as well as ‘tributes’ built in the style of old tape delays and bucket-brigade numbers.
As CPUs nudge the limits of Moore’s Law though, we may see developers get a bit more sensible with their emulations. More efficient versions may be created, and the ‘older’ versions may be cheaper or simply free – so a comprehensive analogue emulation in every plugin’s folder? Well, only if you’re into that sort of thing!
The multitap concept has plenty of ground left to cover. Surely it’s only a matter of time before we see a plugin with a ‘draw-your-own’ delay tap setup, offering users a comprehensive toolbox of Photoshopstyle image editing tools, and presets designed by famous artisans. Well, maybe not, but the ‘program your delay spikes how you like’ concept still has plenty of room to develop, and there’s plenty more visual juice to be squeezed from those usually invisible echoes.
As the complexity of modern delay plugins increases, there’s got to be something to push that infinitely expansive delay out of the way of the dry signal, and we wouldn’t be surprised if there were more ducking features adding to the delays of the future. With the onboard limiter providing some protection, the processing could be diverted into fulfilling this purpose.
Perhaps the future of delay will converge with the future of reverbs. Reverb processors have been taking the route of the ‘tuned’ effect, with their algorithms honed by those with better listening skills than GCHQ. Is it high time we saw an ‘artistic’ delay processor that’s been curated by one of the world’s finest engineers?
Reverb has also increasingly incorporated EQ processing recently. Could society be truly ready to see a delay processor in which individual taps are modulated across the frequency spectrum?
Meanwhile, the underplumbed world of in-delay effects has been the subject of a few explorations. Take the case of Blue Cat Audio’s Late Replies, which lets you process individual taps each with a chain of up to four of its built-in effects, for some half-delay-halfeffect-sequencer action. Late Replies also offers four effects slots on input, four on output, and – even more interestingly – four slots for each of its two feedback loops. We’ll explore Late Replies’ state-of-the-art stylings on the next page, but does this feedback concept point to the next stage of delay’s evolution?
Feedback loops have been a vital part of delay processing since the very beginning, but it’s rare to find any way to process the loop itself. By tweaking the feedback signal every time it makes another pass through the delay, you can set up everincreasing effects that change as time goes by.
With even most modern delay effects offering simply a feedback loop with no way to process it, this area is ripe for experimentation. We’d love to see feedback loop effects become a staple of the digital delay, and we can’t wait to see what creative producers will do using a technology like this. What glitches did for IDM, so feedback loops could follow along behind.
And finally, as the rest of the world moves on and becomes used to the high level of delay processing that we see in the future, it can only be good news for freeware delays and those found in your DAW. As the standard increases through the rest of the plugin world, you might soon have an absolutely comprehensive toolbox free to ship with your host of choice (if you haven’t already), as well as several additional processors to give you more variety – all for no extra money on top!
Blue Cat Audio’s Late Replies lets users get creative within its feedback loops