Understanding Time-Based Effects (Part 2)

In the previous article, we began to shine light on the peculiarities of reverberation, and some other important parameters that are vital for music production. Reverberation enhances an audience’s perception of music and it is an important acoustic factor in music or audio production because it guarantees a proper mix and mastering process. Reverberation helps to provide more meaning to the music by painting a correct picture of the sound to the listeners. 

         As we continue in this article, we will be explaining the close relationship between reverberation and other time based effects. Some of the factors include delays and the link they share with tempo, modulations and its components, and we will eventually examine why they are important factors for every mastering process in audio production.


         As the name suggests, the delay component works by temporarily halting the signal from the source. Delays create a complex time base effect on the original source signal which makes us hear a delayed sound similar to an echo. Long story short using delays is how you get that “echo effect” that many people ask for. Delays are based on time, set the specific time you want for the type of delay you want. To understand delay, it is important to look at some common parameters and how they contribute to the delay effect. 


Time – This is the time frame between the source signal and the echo generated. It happens in a small fraction of time that is measured in milliseconds. The simplest delay effect is the single repeat. Slap back echo can be created to fit within a short time frame usually between 30 milliseconds and 100 milliseconds, while a more distant echo can be created using a longer delay time. Short delay times can be used to create thickening effects. Depending on the style of the audio engineer, the echoes generated may be timed to flow with the tempo and controlled using the Tap Tempo button. The Tap Tempo Button comes in handy for the speeding up or slowdown of the audio repeat time. It is also useful for synchronizing the repeats in consonance with the music’s tempo.

Time X – Time X is the reference beat that is used to sample the tempo for the delay. It is set to the basic unit of a quarter note. If for instance the tap beats represent the quarter notes of the music, Time X will be set to 1.00. If it is set on the eighth note, the time X will be set to 0.50; for half notes, it would be set at 2.00; and so on. This way, the synchronization and syncopation can be precisely fit into the music in real time.

Variable Feedback – Variable feedback is also known as regeneration, and it produces multiple decaying repeats. It also increases the value of the feedback and the number of echoes generated with each disappearing echo. Feedback controls how long you hear the echo.

Frequency (F) – The center frequency is usually set in Hz for the Filter Delay.

F-Gain – This is used to set the boost level of the center frequency for the Filter Delay.

F-Q – The F-Q parameter sets the Q (the ratio of the center frequency to the bandwidth) for the Filter Delay. When the center frequency is constant, the bandwidth is usually inversely proportional to the Q value, such that the Q becomes raised and the bandwidth becomes narrowed.

Delay and Tempo (Understanding Tempo-Relative Timing)

       Delay is linked to tempo following a distinct arrangement that is usually specified with tempo-relative timing values (note values). When the audio engineer sets the delay time after a rhythmic value, they wouldn’t have to expend efforts in calculating the number of delay samples required, but they are still required to create a sizable buffer to accommodate the delay. If we have an eight dotted note, an 88200 samples worth of memory space will suffice for any possible tempo at which it is set.

        The audio engineer also needs to use the available sub patch to modify the balance between the input from the direct sound and the delayed sound generated. On the right, the input of the sub patch is expected to be set between 0 and 1. 0. This  is used for direct sound inputs and 1 is used for delayed sounds. When there is a mix of both direct and delayed sounds, the value will be set at 0.5. This value is often regarded as the wetness or wet/dry mix values and they are used to manage and create cushions for original sounds and sounds generated as an effect of delay. ‘Wet/Dry Mix” basically controls how much of the original (dry) signal is used or not used.


       Modulation allows for the modification of the constituents of sound over time in audio production. Modulation employs a signal received from the sound source. This signal is known as the modulator and it also controls another signal known as a carrier. Modulation adds energy, depth, dimension, and motion to audio production. Modulators don’t produce sound, but can only manipulate the settings of the carrier signal by modifying some of its parameters on the plugin effects and instrumentals.

     Modulation is a great way to make your music sound better and more interesting, but when the audio signal is heavily manipulated, it will muddle up the mix and the entire sound.

Introducing Harmonics

      In sound mastering, harmonics add saturation to the frequencies in the higher range i.e., frequencies from 3K and above in a bid to produce more overtones and add colors to the mix. This is achieved by bringing more frequencies that would not be normally heard. Harmonics also help to enhance the production sound where the Eq is not sufficient. It is also used to enhance recordings that have lost their spark due to overdubbing.

I hope you enjoyed another reading brought to you by rebelears.com 

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