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Delay and Reverb: How to Make Your Tracks Pop Out

Enhancing your audio with the perfect blend of delay and reverb can make it truly shine. These effects have the power to elevate your sound, adding depth, texture, and a captivating ambiance. But how exactly can you achieve that ideal balance?

In this article, we will unlock the secrets to effectively using delay and reverb to make your audio come alive in the most remarkable way.

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Let’s explore the concept of delay.

Delay, simply put, introduces a time lag to the sound of a note. It achieves this by creating successive repetitions of the original note.

These repetitions are not random; instead, you have control over certain parameters that shape how the notes repeat. The primary parameters include time and the number of repeats.

Time represents the duration between the initial sound and each subsequent repetition. Adjusting this parameter allows you to control the spacing and rhythm of the repeated notes. On the other hand, the number of repeats, often referred to as feedback, determines the quantity of echoes produced.

In addition to time and feedback, you can also manipulate the volume of the repeated notes. This control is typically found in the level section of a delay pedal or plugin, enabling you to finely adjust the balance between the original note and its echoes.

By harnessing these parameters, you have the ability to create captivating and dynamic soundscapes, adding depth and texture to your music.

In the world of guitar pedals, there are three kinds of delays. Analog, Tape, and Digital.

Analog does the usual looping of a note, but the repeats get weaker every time.

Tape delays are more old school since they were the only way to get delay at the time.

Digital delays are the newest edition of getting delay. The delays last longer, and also have more variety in how you can go about the delay.

Choosing the right delay will depend on either what audio you are adding. Some might benefit from a more subtle delay, just enough to add more presence to your audio. But you can also use it as a way of adding flavor, such as long delays in guitars.

Whatever the case, there is something for everyone when it comes to delay.

What is Reverb?

Now, let’s dive into the world of reverb.

Reverb serves as a means to add a sense of space to your vocals or guitar. It can be likened to an echo that gradually fades away.

Naturally, you can experience reverb in environments like concert halls, churches, or even your bathroom. As sound waves bounce off walls, they gradually diminish in intensity, creating the reverb effect.

However, achieving natural reverb can be challenging. Most reverb types are modeled after real locations, such as empty concert halls or churches. The level of reverberation in your bedroom is unlikely to match that of a grand concert hall, and fitting your entire recording setup into a bathroom is not a practical solution. This is where reverb plugins come into play. They can recreate the acoustics of various spaces, providing you with the desired reverb effect.

Common controls found in reverb pedals or plugins include decay time, attack, and level. Decay time determines the duration of the reverberation, while attack governs how quickly the effect becomes audible. As with delay, the level control adjusts the volume of the reverb effect within the mix.

There exist numerous types of reverbs, each with its own characteristics. Some common examples include hall, spring, church, plate, and shimmer reverbs. Each type offers distinct qualities, allowing you to select the reverb that best suits your desired sound or complements the mood of the song. For subtle reverb, room reverbs are often employed, while halls and churches produce more grand and pronounced reverberations.

With an array of reverb options at your disposal, you have the power to create depth, ambiance, and a sense of space in your music, adding a touch of magic to your sonic creations.

Plate and spring reverb are more for guitars. Spring reverbs are typically added in guitar amps.

There’s a type for any scenario, so you can also feel free to experiment and see what works for you.

What’s the Difference?

So is there a difference between the two? They’re both time-related effects, but what sets them apart from one another?

Well reverbs can be achieved naturally. In terms of function, they provide echoes in different ways. Delay does it through the repetition of a note, and reverb does it through controlling the echo of a note.

This is why they are separate effects that you use together.

How to Get the Right Settings?

With the descriptions out of the way, here are some tips on how to use both effects.


The first thing to do is decide how you want to use your delay. If you want it as either a simple addition to your vocals or guitar or do you want to use it for adding more flare to your sound?

This will decide what kind of delay to use and how to work on the parameters.

For subtle delays, go for a Slapback delay. Slapbacks are very short delays. You won’t really notice it unless you only play the audio with the delay effect. This makes it a good choice when making guitars or vocals sit well with the mix.

it adds more depth to the audio without overwhelming the other songs, or in production lingo, muddying the track.


Reverb is a bit simpler in its approach. As compared to delay, its main focus is to add space to your audio. While you can use it for adding more flavor to your audio, this is the primary goal of reverb.

This means that the more subtle the reverb, the better.

Room reverbs are smaller in scale since they are based on small rooms. So if you want something subtle, the best bet is to use the room reverb option.

The Formula for Getting the Right Reverb

Now while reverb settings vary from track to track, there is a formula for getting the right reverb. This can even also apply to delay. This formula involves knowing your song’s beats per minute (bpm) and time signature

What you do is divide 60,000 milliseconds by the song’s bpm. This shows you how long each note is.

So if the bpm is 120, that means 120 quarter notes are played in a minute. With this formula, we now know that each quarter note plays for 500 milliseconds.

With this, you can now identify how much pre-delay to put, and how long the decay time should be based on both this formula and the reverb setting you use.

Time is now at your fingertips

And that concludes this basic discussion on how delay and reverb work and how you can go about it.

There is still much more about these two effects that you will discover on your own. But hopefully, this should at least make things clearer when you start tweaking them.

Make your audio feel more present by using these time-based plugins in your next track.