In this week’s episode of The Logic Pros, we are continuing our tour of some of Logic’s most powerful in-house effects and tools. Delay FX are one of the most commonly used and versatile options in any producer/programmers arsenal, and Logic Pro X’s built-in Delay Designer happens to be one of our favorite options out there:
While there are many fantastic and comparable Delay FX plug-ins available for LPX, like the Waves Super-Tap plugs, we still find ourselves going back to Delay Designer time-and-time again because of its easy-to-use UI and highly-customizable possibilities.
Delay plug-ins come in many shapes and sizes, but you might consider Delay Designer a hybrid feedback/mutli-tap delay. It uses feedback emulation to offer everything from warm/ambient echoes, to harsh swells and over-the-top rings. But it also offers multi-tap echoes, which are essentially repeats or Taps of the dry signal you are applying the delay effect to. With Delay Designer, these Taps provide a much more precise and deliberate control over the echo pattern, allowing for very particular/custom-made rhythms. Things get even more interesting because the dual-mode filter, transposition, panning options and more, can all be applied on a per-Tap basis. This essentially means we can set the low and high pass filters (both with resonance control), tuning and panning, separately for each Tap or echo in our delay pattern, not to mention the additional feedback controls.
In order to build our own custom delay patterns, all we need is a basic understanding the UI and how to manipulate and edit our own patterns:
On the top left we have the Sync section. From here we can choose to sync the timeline on Delay Designer to the BPM of our Logic session. For our case today, let’s activate the sync button (highlights in red when activated) so our custom pattern locks to the tempo of our song. Below that button we have the grid and swing sections, feel free to set these to taste, but we will be able to change these at anytime while making our delay pattern.
Over on the top right we have the Master section and along the bottom is the Tap parameter bar, but first let’s dive into the Main display section in the middle:
From here we get a graphical representation of the Taps that make up our delay pattern, along with the various values for each of the built-in parameters mentioned above. Along the bottom of the LCD like display is the timeline where we can simply click to create Taps. You’ll notice this timeline like strip is set to the same grid value you chose in the Sync section. We can experiment with various rhythms placing as many taps as we wish until something is working.
Note: the Autozoom button on the top right of the Main display, will quickly snap the view of the timeline and Taps in to focus. You can also click and drag on the slightly brighter bar below the Autozoom button to navigate through your Taps manually (dragging up and down will zoom you in and out).
Along the top of the Main display there are 5 color-coated parameter View buttons. These allow us to choose which of the parameters to edit on the Main display. When Level is selected, our Taps effectively turn into blue faders and we can click and drag each of them to the desired volume. Just below the View buttons along the top of each Tap are the Toggle buttons that do something different for each of the 5 options. In the case of Level tab, they are basic mute switches. The same editing features apply to the Cutoff, Reso(nance), Transp(ose) and Pan tabs:
With the Cutoff parameter, dragging up from the bottom on each Tap alters the High Pass filter’s cutoff frequency and dragging from the top does the Low Pass cutoff frequency. In the Cutoff tab, the Toggle buttons allow you to bypass the filter completely or not for each tap. The Reso(nance), is very much like the Level option, except we are choosing the percentage of filter resonance for each Tap. The Reso Toggle buttons offer up some tonal options with a choice between a 6 or 12db slope for the resonance peak.
The Transp(ose) section allows us to tune each tap up or down an octave by semi-tones (hold shift while dragging for micro-tuning) and its Toggle buttons are simple bypass switches. The Pan section is also much like you would think allowing for stereo panning on each Tap, and the ability to flip the left and right channels with the Toggle buttons.
As if, after all that, the plug-in wasn’t living up to its name, there is still one more very important module on the Delay Designer UI to cover: Feedback. Even with nothing more than a simple activation switch, a pull down menu, and a level control, Delay Designer’s feedback can offer up some very warm ambience, lush harmonic smudges and more. Now one thing to keep in mind here is that after turning the Feedback module on (it will be highlighted red above the “Feedback” label) we don’t have a separate feedback level for each tap, but rather in succession. For example, if you had 4 taps total (A, B, C, D) setting the pull down menu to Tap A will apply feedback to just Tap A. Setting it to Tap B will apply the effect to A and B. And Setting it to Tap C will effect Taps A, B and C etc.
And that is the bulk of it. With a basic understanding of the Main display, Sync and Feedback sections we are able to able easily create custom-made echoes and delay patterns. But we’ve also put together a few suggestions on how to make your Delay Designing a little faster, along with some alternate methods for creating patterns:
The Tap parameter bar along the bottom of the UI is basically another way to do everything above. We can select which tap to edit in the middle with each of the available parameters on either side. For some this may be a more organized way to edit pattern FX, but for me personally I prefer the graphical representation of the pattern in the Main display. But even if you don’t use it, it can be a handy way to quickly take a glance at a particular Tap’s filter and pan settings, for example.
Copy and Paste Taps. Simply highlight a Tap on the Main display by clicking it, then hold Option while dragging it to a new position to double it. In fact, we can Shift click, or click and drag the background of the main display, in order to select and copy multiple Taps or even entire motifs.
Sweeping parameter changes. Hold Command and then click and drag across the Taps in the Main display to create flourishes of parameter value changes across a series of Taps.
WARNING: the following step will likely erase the current pattern you have up.
Perform your own Tap pattern by hand. Using those Start and Last Tap buttons below the Sync section we can click or perform our own patterns in with a mouse or hardware control. Simply click the Start button to begin recording your pattern, and then click the Last Tap button on the last hit of your pattern to stop the recording process.
In fact, we can easily map both of these buttons to our hardware controllers if performing them with a MIDI controller interests you. You can learn all about mapping your MIDI controller to functions in Logic right here.
Copying and Pasting sound parameters from Tap-to-Tap and more. Right-clicking (or Control clicking) any Tap in the Main display will bring up some secondary functions, including the ability to copy the entire set of parameters from one Tap to another. We also have the ability to delete Taps or even speed their particular delay times up by a factor of two or slow them down in half. All of these options offer some particularly interesting experimentation possibilities, along with a host of convenient features for quickly altering a pattern.
If you have any interesting tips or pointers for using Delay Designer be sure to drop them in the comments below. And as usual, we will try to answer all the questions sent our way.
The Logic Pros is a regular series exploring all of the most interesting gadgets and software for making music on your Mac/iOS devices. If there is any gear you would like us to take a closer hands-on look at, let us know in the comments section below or shoot us an email.
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