What is Delay?

Learn in plain english what delay is

Have you ever wondered what the word “Delay” actually is? 

Well, you’ve reached the right place to learn more about what Delay is, what does it do and how you can use it.

BUT first…  let’s just explain that this isn’t the scientific definition of what Delay is.  It’s the down to earth, plain speaking, real world explanation for any beginner looking for the answer to this commonly asked question.

The Definition

In a nutshell, Delay is timed echos of a specific audio clip.

Those timed echos can be altered to achieve different styles of delay.

Whether that be short, sharp delays or long and never ending.

Do not confuse delay with reverb, it is different and creates a different effect

There are many different types of delay, here are a few common uses.

Common Uses of Delay


Slapback are very short delays, usually with just a single echo.  These are often used in blues guitar tones and can also be applied too vocals.  John Lennon is a great example.


Vocal doubling are useful delay effects that isn’t really perceived as a delay.  It uses a single echo that is incredibly subtle to create a chorus type effect.  You can compare vocal doubling to a double-track vocal recording – very useful.

Long Delays

Typically longer delays are synchronised to the overall BPM of your project.  These longer delays can have multiple echos that repeat to create interesting rhythmical patterns.  Great for adding depth and atmosphere to an audio track.

Ping-pong Delays

Ping-pong delays are basically 2 synchronised delays in a single delay unit.  The first delay is panned to the left and the second delay to the right channel of a stereo track.  You can set different delay times for each of the 2 delays which can create some interesting rhythms that are only linked by the projects tempo.

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