3.3 Tape Delay

Tape Delay


  • The peak level will illuminate if the signal clips or distorts and the VU meter shows the input level in volume units.
  • The mic/instrument volume is the gain. This can be decreased to avoid clipping. It can be turned up to obtain a better signal to noise ratio.
  • The instrument volume is for a low impedance instrument such as guitar.
  • The mode selector is used to select different taps / patterns / rhythms / types of delay / number or volume of repeats / combinations of playback heads.
  • The bass and treble controls are used to modify the tone of the delay (not the dry signal). It is a shelving filter that adjusts the levels of low and high frequencies.
  • The reverb/echo volume is the wet/dry effect mix. “Straight” gives no echo at all. This is the gain, and has a spring reverb unit.
  • Repeat rate is the delay time / the amount of time between each repeat.
  • Intensity is the feedback amount/number of repeats. This is the gain.
  • The power switch should be used so that the unit should be switched off when not in use to preserve the life of the tape.
  • Echo normal or footswitch works as a bypass (to switch off the machine).
  • HML gives different output levels/volumes so that the unit can match the different signal levels required by different studio equipment.

1.12 Creative Effects

Vocal Effects

talkbox creates a vocal effect which is often applied to a guitar. The musician uses the mouth to change / shape the frequency content of sound. They use a tube to do this whilst changing the shape of their mouth; this is mirrored in the frequency change in the original audio.


A vocoder analyses the vocal signal and applies it to a synth timbre. It sounds ‘robotic’ and the voice follows the pitch from the synth.

Other Creative FX

A ring modulator creates a dissonant effect that creates metallic and ringing sounds. It creates frequency products by adding and subtracting the input frequencies.


Overuse of pitch correction or autotune (a quick response time) forces the note to the nearest pitch set by the user / scale. It is often over-used in R&B music to create a slightly robotic effect, or subtly to keep vocalists in tune.


The term pan comes from ‘panorama’ in cinema. Auto-pan controls the place in the stereo field and is used to introduce creative panning throughout the stereo field. In tracks from the 60s and 70s, tracks were often extreme panned due to the limitations of technology.

A pitch shift alters frequencies and changes the musical note that is played. Harmonisers are intelligent pitch shifters that can add a musical interval to a part (e.g. a 3rd above).     These effects would have been created historically by slowing down or speeding up a tape.