Well-timed long delays (echoes) are an excellent way to fill in part of a song’s rhythm track. Examples of echo effects can be heard in current electronic music, classic rock, reggae, and many other genres. Where would U2 be without the sound of The Edge’s delay pedals? Where would Steel Pulse be without their delayed snare hits?
The reason echo effects work so well is their ability to stay in-time (locked to the tempo of the song) and their ability to create interesting rhythms that add dimension to the overall sound of a song.
When creating delay effects with long echoes, you can define specifically when echoes are heard in rhythm with the entire song. For instance, you can set echoes to repeat every quarter note or every eighth note. Or, you can get more complicated and create a unique rhythmic pattern by placing the echoes on multiple subdivisions within the groove of the song.
You can also pan echoes to different positions in the stereo field to create a wider stereo image, or adjust the volume level of the echoes to add depth to your mix.
In the video below, lynda.com author Alex U. Case explains how to construct a groove-based echo effect by setting the rhythmic timing of an echo, adjusting the panning of your echoes, and balancing echo levels for the best outcome in a mix.
If you’re looking for more information about the fundamentals of delay and modulation effects and how to apply these effects, technically and creatively, to improve the sound of a mix, check out Alex’s full Foundations of Audio: Delay and Modulation course on lynda.com. As with all the Foundations of Audio courses, Foundations of Audio: Delay and Modulation includes Get In The Mix (GITM) interactive exercise files that open directly within your own DAW, allowing you to follow along with the course author in real-time as he explains the concepts and techniques. These files are free to all members (no Premium membership required) and they currently are available for the Pro Tools and Logic Pro Digital Audio Workstations.