Mono or narrow elements can sound lacklustre in a mix, but delay can help with that. For imperceptible stereo width, I like to use ‘Haas’ delay: call up a stereo delay plugin, set the feedback to 0%, then pull both the left and right delay times back to 0ms. This’ll only make the signal louder – until you offset the delay time of either L or R by a few milliseconds (up to around 15ms), whereupon the source signal will appear to spread out to the sides of the mix. I then blend the dry signal back in, and sum to mono to check for phase cancellation.
Stereo delay can also be used to add more flavoursome stereo content, or even reverb-style ambience. To do this, I’ll experiment with longer delay rates and feedback settings for the left and right sides. Oh, and try overdriving your delay repeats to give that width more vibe and ‘push’.
When creating drums from scratch – especially when programming one-shots alone – it can be tricky to find that magic ‘sweet spot’ that gets your head nodding to the groove. An inspiring solution I’ve discovered is to apply echo to different percussion parts at different points within the loop. For example, instead of programming mechanical ghost notes or shuffles as MIDI or audio, I throw my main snare through a creative delay plugin and experiment with various delay times and feedback amounts.
Instead of keeping echo time regimentally clocked to host tempo, unsync those repeats and try to set the delay time by ear, as you would with an old-school analogue delay – you’ll probably stumble upon a groovier pattern this way. And experiment with the delay plugin’s filter and modulation options to shape the timbre and character of your delayed percussion.