Audiowish delay Discord 4 EP-34 Tape Echo Galaxy Tape Echo Korg SDD-3000 Permut8 PrimalTap Relayer Replika XT Reverse Sampler 2 Sandman Pro Sonic Charge Sound Design SoundToys timeless 2 UAD UberMod UVI Valhalla

Sound Design Techniques & Tools Series: 10 Key Ways To Shape, Stretch And Transform Your Audio, And The Best Plugins For The Task: Part 1 – Delay

It’s never been extra necessary to have the ability to craft distinctive and unique sounds if you wish to make your songs and productions shine and really stand out. Fortuitously, there have also by no means been so many tools to choose from to enable you to do exactly that. With this in mind, we’re kicking off a brand new 10-part collection of posts that explore important sound design methods, along with the easiest and most cutting-edge plugins for the duty in every corresponding category.

Whether you’re designing big cinematic impacts, weird and unique layered drums kits and synth sounds, processing foley and atmos sounds to evoke imaginary sci-fi environments, or simply trying to subtly (or perhaps not-so-subtly) spice up the combination of your next digital, hip hop, rock or pop music with some actually distinctive ear candy parts, there are primarily solely actually a handful of core ways to push, pull, mangle and in any other case rework your audio.

This shouldn’t be felt as a constraint, although. In reality, when you get your head round these few key processing choices, and much more importantly, how they can be stacked or chained together in several mixtures, you’ll be able to leverage them with a bit of apply to realize literally any sound you may have the ability to imagine.

On this new collection of posts on sound design, we’ll break down 10 broad methods or processing steps you can think about when approaching your sonic sculpting in any sort of sound design venture, with loads of ideas and recommended plugins to attempt them out with along the best way. My hope is that by focusing on every potential process separately, you’ll be able to construct up a repertoire of methods and tools to combine and match nevertheless you need, and create a strategy and a few workflows that work greatest for you and your personal fashion.

We’ll be masking a single facet of sound design in each submit, akin to modulation results, layering, artistic distortion, panning and stereo results and so forth, and embrace a rundown of a few of the greatest plugins for these duties for you to take a look at and add to your private toolbox.

A notice on the plugin choices: I attempted to avoid plugins which are great however have been mentioned lots already, often within the context of typical mixing, in favour of these processors which might be still very top quality but in addition supply something just a little totally different: a certain uncommon strategy or GUI, or that additional flourish of weirdness or mixed effects that give it a sure chew or character.

Notice: The categories are admittedly pretty arbitrary in locations, and most of the plugins featured might belong to 2 or extra classes. However it’s a great way of dividing up a very giant subject, enough you can browse simply and make sense of all the most effective choices out there, without it being too chaotic!

We’ll start with delay under, however let’s first go over a couple of useful ideas that apply to any sound design state of affairs.

Part 2 – Distortion can also be now obtainable, check it out here.

Some Sound Design Ideas & Rules

  • As famous above, the magic happens once you artfully combine results and sounds into customized chains and layers. Once you perceive how highly effective sure mixtures of results may be — or similarly, the layering collectively of separate sounds — not solely do you’ve got an enormous benefit in your potential to choose the perfect instruments to realize what you want shortly, even with relatively “limited” particular person plugin processors, but you’ll have a deeper appreciation for those celebrated and widespread multi-effects that achieve their distinctive sounds by means of combining processors, and a a lot higher understanding of how they are doing what they do — which can will let you get probably the most out of their potential, and probably the most bang in your buck. This in turn will provide help to in creating your signature sound. We’ll be masking the perfect multi-effects plugins on the finish of this collection, by which era you’ll hopefully have gained a higher understanding of just how highly effective they can be once you forego the presets and dive into sculpting your personal multi-effect mixtures.
  • Develop a light-weight contact. With apply, you’ll know when a sound works higher being processed to oblivion, and when to tug back and do something more delicate that’s extra like an enhancing nudge relatively than a punch within the face. When training designing and processing your sounds, it will probably help to do a “gentle” model and an “extreme” model of each processing step, with totally different ranges of intensity, and render those out individually. Later, if you come again with recent ears, you may be stunned which one you want greatest.
  • Automation is your greatest sound design pal. Keep in mind that you’ve the perfect sound design device already, your DAW. With automation you possibly can either program or carry out in actual time, as many layers of adjusting parameters and modulating sources as you need. Mix this deceptively simple device with a sequence of effects, and also you’re at an entire other degree of sound design prospects.
  • Even in the event you’re mangling sounds past recognition, great beginning material nonetheless helps. Yes, you’ll be able to throw a bunch of junk sounds into a glitch effect plugin and perhaps end up with one thing helpful. Perhaps. However starting off with well-recorded, well-produced sounds can yield a lot better and extra persistently and reliably useful results than making an attempt to process garbage into something shiny and new. Actually, absolutely combined and tracks and stems out of your previous completed songs and mixes are prime source materials, since they’re already nicely polished but in addition (hopefully) bear your signature logos of sound choice and processing, which might be brought out again in a recent context.
  • Get beneath the surface of your chosen tools. With the vary of choices out there in all of our laptop computer studios, it’s by no means been easier to get a cool sound out of a brand new plugin. But what continues to be troublesome, and still the place the magic is, is spending lengthy sufficient together with your chosen tools that you simply get beneath their surfaces and begin to manipulate them like the fashionable musical instruments they are often. This takes longer than flicking via preset libraries (although truly, that’s debatable…), however so value it when it comes to the satisfaction and quality outcomes you get from creating an impact that’s distinctly your personal.

But how have you learnt which instruments you need to spend the time getting to know better? Which can make the duties of sound design not simply “possible” but enjoyable, fast and galvanizing at the similar time? Nicely, that’s why we put this collection of posts together, that will help you slender down your decisions and spend extra time creating.

Part 1: Delay Effects In Sound Design

Delay is among the easiest and commonest studio effects, generating distinct repeats of the source sound that can add an important sense of depth and area to a sound or mix that is quite totally different from from the dense washes of reverb tails.

For sound design functions, delay effects (like most effects varieties) get most fascinating whenever you crank up and “misuse” a lot of the controls more than you’d for mixing duties, to actually convey out the character of the unit: Quantity, Feedback, any Drive or Input/Output controls, and any Filter or EQ sections set to quite extreme cuts or boosts to make the repeats more ghostly or extra punchy, as fits your taste.

Inducing delicate — or not so delicate — distortion, clipping, saturation or compression, or howls of self-oscillating suggestions, can all deliver a wildness that jumps static supply sounds into life.

As is typical with sound design session workflow, it’s a good suggestion to render your extreme delay strains to audio – perhaps once you’ve additionally made some automation passes to vary the Feedback and other controls over time – then you possibly can return and chop out the repeats or specific sections the place one thing magic happened between the supply materials, the character of your chosen delay plugin, and the settings you had. Working with rendered audio provides you a unique sense of what the effect has contributed, and extra importantly, lets you draw a line underneath the previous processing step and resample or begin an entire next stage of processing!

Past primary delay features, the “modulated delay” has been a mixing and sound design staple for decades. Here, the delay repeats are usually not just sent via as relatively clean copies of the unique sound, however move via different processes as nicely: pitch-shifting is widespread, as are processors that generate minutely time-shifted copies that create the well-known results of chorus, phasing and flanging.

When you will have these delays which might be so brief they begin to blend with the unique sound, you get into that entire different realm of cool results (chorus, flanging, phasing and so forth.), which we’ll get into properly in a later publish on this collection. For now we’ll persist with taking a look at tools that usually excel at offering longer and distinct, separate delay repeats — however with a twist:

The Best Delay Results Plugins For Sound Design: Roundup Listing

Replika XT options 5 totally different delay modes, from Trendy and the excellently abstract Diffusion to extra recognisable Vintage Digital, Analogue and Tape. However it’s truly rather more than just a delay, that includes further layers of effects that you could apply to your delay line, within the form of phasing, flanging, chorus, pitch-shifting and micro-pitching, frequency-shifting, and filtering. General, Replika XT excels at producing shimmering delay cloud-clusters of sound, just like treated reverb effects but with a definite definition and airiness. Nice for atmospheric FX hits and shifting atmos pads that may be based mostly off different combined parts in a monitor, lending a subliminal cohesion.

You get implausible crystalline sound quality, and but the plugin is very processor-efficient so you’ll be able to run many situations in a sound design venture without any hassle.

One among my favorite elements of Replika XT is the visual sample display in the midst of the GUI. Just like Soundtoys Echoboy’s sample show, it features rows of strains that symbolize every repeat, supplying you with very straightforward and intuitive management over the density, feedback length and decay (or swell) of the delay “particles”. Right here you possibly can arrange complicated rhythmic delay patterns, good for augmenting drum tracks or loops, hits, or chopping and layering with other sounds for fast but distinctive shifting textures. Highly versatile, and extremely satisfying.

Obtainable for: Mac, PC | VST, AU, AAX

BUY NOW by way of Native Instruments.


Sandman Pro is among the most full-featured and cutting-edge delay plugins out there. Like Replika XT, it has a variety of various delay modes that start with regular Tape Delay, however issues get actually fascinating if you bounce right down to the Trendy On the spot or Glitch Shifter modes and start messing with the Sleep Buffer part settings and drop-down Modulation panel on the backside. The modular-style patch cabling that illustrates which features are being modulated, and the well-curated choice of controls you could have entry to on the primary GUI, make Sandman Pro ultimate for arising with hyper-modern, sharp-sounding effects (that also avoid the “cheap digital”-sounding pitfall of some lesser plugins), that can get very pleasingly biting, unpredictable and galvanizing for resampling and further processing when pushed to more extreme settings.

Out there for: Mac, PC | VST2, VST3, AU, AAX

BUY NOW by way of Plugin Alliance.


While Soundtoys best-known delay plugin might be the much-loved Echoboy, that one has already been mentioned rather a lot (not least in my own Best Delay Plugins publish, here). Echoboy continues to be one of the crucial succesful and flexible delay plugins round, and is definitely a worthy device for sound design duties, however right here we need to spotlight one other plugin from the Soundtoys 5 bundle, PrimalTap.

PrimalTap is modeled after a cult piece of 80s studio hardware referred to as Prime Time. This unit’s most distinctive function when it was launched was truly born out of a technological limitation at the time: the reminiscence wanted for the cutting-edge digital delay circuit was super-expensive, so the designers introduced a Multiply knob which allowed you to extend the restricted delay time by incrementally decreasing the sample fee. For every doubling of the delay time, the unit would also halve the pattern fee of the resultant audio.

Skip to the top: everyone beloved the “limited” crunchy lo-fi character of the closely down-sampled delay strains the Prime Time might create — they usually particularly liked the power to control this impact on the fly — and a legend was born.

With the PrimalTap plugin, clearly you don’t need to worry about processing power limitations and forking out for a reminiscence upgrade to offer a frankly indulgent 256ms of delay… 😉 However even with our comparatively unlimited modern-day computing energy, you’ll be able to nonetheless benefit from the extremely characterful processing fashion the unique unit inspired. Mix the Multiply knob function with the Freeze toggle button, which captures a snippet of incoming audio as the isolated supply material for further processing, and you will get into some critically cool pitch-shifted, droney, sample-crunched sound design madness. Again, nice for spinning atmospheric pads, one-shots and warped-backing-vocal sound design effects out of present tracks and performances out of your venture.

Obtainable for: Mac, PC | VST, AU, AAX

BUY NOW by way of Plugin Boutique, as part of the Soundtoys 5 bundle, or as a single plugin.


UberMod, or ValhallaÜberMod to provide it its proper umlauted title, is Valhalla’s tackle a stereo multi-tap delay and modulation plugin that sits properly alongside their producer-favourite reverbs VintageVerb, Plate, Room and Shimmer.

All the traditional wrongdoer delay-based effects might be easily achieved with the super-clear and intuitive GUI, plus a variety of sounds far beyond the standard which might be continually shocking given the on-first-glance minimal management set. For me although, it’s messing with weirder mixtures of the features like the Diffusion, Drive and Warp controls where UberMod notably stands out for designing really unique effects.

Valhalla designer Sean Costello elaborated on the artistic design process that lead to the event of UberMod, which sounded enjoyable: “Why create a single plugin that covers all of these sounds, instead of several plugins where each plugin is tailored to a specific application? I’m not exactly sure. In many ways, I feel that ValhallaÜberMod was a plugin that designed itself, instead of me creating something that did exactly what I wanted it to do. At each stage during the development process, I uncovered new and exciting sounds that defied easy categorization. I decided to create a plugin that allowed for those sounds to be dialed in, as well as sounds that as yet remained undiscovered.”

Right here’s also an excellent overview of what Ubermod can do that basically helps you familiarize yourself with it’s potential, from Sami Rabia aka Aiyn Zahev:

Also take a look at Valhalla’s free Freq Echo, a frequency-shifter and analogue-emulating echo delay that provides a superb streamlined entry-point to the Valhalla ethos and degree of high quality.

Obtainable for: Mac, PC | VST, AU, AAX

BUY NOW by way of ValhallaDSP.


Discord four is Audio Injury’s stereo pitch-shifting delay plugin. It’s additionally the newest model of the company’s unique and hottest effect, the one that helped make it’s identify really. Discord began off as a model of Eventide’s H910 Harmonizer, a hardware unit whose DNA could be present in pretty much all the plugins mentioned on this article, but through the years and a number of other version iterations, it’s now very much it’s personal beast and is type of vital in every self-respecting electronic producer and sound designers toolbox (notice: you can now additionally get Eventide’s official plugin model of the H910 in native and UAD codecs, which is available in both single and dual-channel versions, so also examine that out).

Discord four options three totally different core algorithms. Vintage mode is the unique H910/H949-modeled algorithm. Clean mode has less old-school colour for a sleeker, more trendy sound. Finally, Granular mode offers a number of the most cutting-edge experimental effects, good for taking your sounds into utterly totally different territory altogether.

Obtainable for: Mac, PC | VST, AU, AAX

BUY NOW by way of Plugin Boutique.


While it may well look a bit intimidating on first look, Permut8 is actually based mostly round a 12-bit delay line with variable sample price, so comparable in principle to the Prime Time / PrimalTap paradigm we mentioned earlier.

Where Permut8 is totally different although is partly in it’s use of rows of “operator” switches to regulate the delay strains and modulation routings. Very similar to with FM synthesis, this technique of multiple stacked operators working collectively can provide you with some very complicated, distinctive and typically wildly unpredictable results. For our sound design functions, this will in fact typically be just what known as for to spark shock and inspiration.

One other distinctive and super-fun facet of Permut8 is the power to load what Sonic Charge name “alternative firmwares”. These alternate firmware banks, which you’ll be able to load identical to loading a daily preset bank, either add new options or utterly substitute the usual signal processing algorithms that the plugin makes use of. It’s a enjoyable system, sort of a cross between a collection of preset packs and official “hacked” variations that significantly improve what was already a well-liked and great-sounding plugin.

Here’s developer Magnus Lindstrom demoing a number of the various firmware packs, that provides you a very good concept of Permut8’s superbly lo-fi and typically quite awe-inspiring type:

Obtainable for: Mac, PC | VST, AU, AAX

BUY NOW by way of Plugin Boutique.


As you may anticipate from the makers of the industry-standard Professional-Q3 EQ, Professional-C compressor, and multi-band distortion/saturation plugin Saturn, Timeless 2 is nice at delivering your straight-up delay strains when that’s what you need in a mixture, but when you get into the incredibly versatile filtering, envelopes, LFOs and drag-and-drop modulation type you shortly begin to understand just how deep and otherworldly this plugin can go. A contemporary basic.

Out there for: Mac, PC | 32-64 bit | VST, AU, AAX

BUY NOW by way of Plugin Boutique.


Reverse Sampler 2′ GUI is useful to say the least: but that’s type of the point I needed to make right here. Typically it might help to shake things up by not reaching for probably the most elaborate, superbly glossy processor you could have, but to start out a sound design session by enjoying with a single, relatively simple plugin software that does one factor rather well, with out fancy GUI distractions, and see simply how much juice you get out of your unique materials and samples with variations on one thing like a easy (however truly quite superior) real-time reverse-delay theme.

Between the straightforward sound design staples of reversing, pitching up/down, and layering, you’ll be able to accomplish an terrible lot, and something like Reverse Sampler 2 will help with the primary of those.

Obtainable for: Mac | AU only

BUY NOW by way of Audiowish.


UVI name Relayer their “precision creative delay”, and precision is strictly the best phrase. You are able to do so much with this plugin, but importantly, it’s additionally genuinely straightforward and intuitive to function.

The standout facet of Relayer for me is the central delay Tap display, the place you’ll be able to work with the individual delay faucets very similar to you could be used to working with automation lanes in a sequencer or arpeggiator. You possibly can manipulate individual delay taps in area/placement and time/density, or shape the overall sample as an entire extremely easily: it’s exhausting to think about many different plugins that have the ease-of-use/flexibility ratio that Relayer has. This capability to modify dynamically between working on the overall macro points of a sound and then finessing the tiny details, make it a perfect decide for intricate sound design work.

Out there for: Mac, PC | 32-64 bit | VST, AU, AAX

BUY NOW by way of UVI.


I thought-about highlighting the UAD Korg SDD-3000 Digital Delay right here, however seeing as we’ve already coated quite a few “vintage digital” delay models and “Freeze” functionality that the SDD-3000 additionally has, let’s go together with what might be one of the best classic tape delay emulation plugin bar none.

Sure, you might additionally point out the UAD Galaxy Tape Echo when speaking tape delays, however the cool issues concerning the EP-34 for sound design purposes are the weird artifacts you get around the edge of sounds once you drag the Delay Time slider backwards and forwards whereas enjoying your sounds by means of it. On the actual hardware, this slider is hooked up to an adjustable document head, so you’re actually lengthening the area between delay faucets. In the plugin, assign this management to a knob or slider on your MIDI controller, and also you’re golden.

The other particular points of the EP-34 are the character of the overdrive and self-oscillation that occurs if you crank up the Quantity and Echo Repeats knobs: a good way to shortly provide you with infinite variations of distortion and filtering in your source sound, which you’ll be able to then render to audio and select the most effective bits for resampling or additional processing.

Obtainable for: Mac, PC | UAD DSP-hardware plugin format

BUY NOW by way of Universal Audio.

As most of those plugins illustrate, the most effective and most distinctive sound design outcomes occur if you combine delay with other results: distortion, reverb, pitch and frequency modulation, to name a couple of. Stay tuned for the subsequent elements on this collection, all coming over the subsequent couple of weeks, for a lot of more ideas and inspiration on that.

Part 2 – Distortion can also be now out there, test it out right here.

For more delay plugins and inspiration, also take a look at our article on The Best Delay Plugins In The World. Several of the plugins featured in this article are also part of a number of the Best Music Production Plugin Bundles.

And as ever, depart a remark under together with your favorite sound design methods and effects, and the tools you employ to create them!

For a definitive collection of ideas and methods for enhancing your music to knowledgeable degree – from superior compression methods to shaping and putting your sounds in the mix with appropriately applied reverb and fine-tuned EQ changes – don’t overlook to take a look at our Final Guides e-book collection:

Ultimate Guides Complete Bundle v2016

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