DesiHipHop’s Music 101 – Origin And Significance Of Delay

, , aims to push forward the Hip-Hop culture in South Asia. For this, it is very crucial to make the artists aware of the general things every musician who aspires to sell his or her music should be aware of. DesiHipHop’s Music 101 aims at doing just that! This series will give our readers information about how the music industry works, and what are it’s most common factors. Without further ado, let’s begin!

DesiHipHop's Music 101 - MPCs And The History Behind It

What Is Delay?

Every now and then, a new type of artist comes in and introduces a new sound. However, what remains constant is the importance of the delay effect in their sound. But, what exactly is delay? Let’s find out.

Delay is an audio effect or effects unit which plays one of the most unique & dimensional roles in a mix. Basically, it selects and memorises a signal to play it repeatedly over a span of time. It creates an echo-like effect on a particular sound and adds a lot more smooth tail to it. In fact, delay can be used while recording or after the recording to add this beautiful effect which fades away smoothly. The world has witnessed several types of techniques to grab their hands on this sound. Lets find out what they were and how they shaped modern day techniques.

History of Delay Techniques

1. Line Or Wire Delay

It is often debated if this was an actual technique which existed or not. Records suggest that this was actually the initial stage of using/creating a delay signal. Telephone lines were used as a storage medium by the radio stations to create this effect. Basically, radio stations used to send these artificial signals through telephone lines to a far away place in the country side. These signals used to travel from point A to B and then bounce back from B to A. The time taken by these signals was the delay time.

CQ1O2g7WoAEKFxf (1)(Telephone wires was the primary device for this technique of bouncing back signals)

The main issue with this technique was the transfer speed of the signal. It was as fast the speed of light and used to travel at 295 million meters per second. To control this speed, wire had to be very long to get a delay of a few milliseconds. This was then mixed with the original signal to enhance the broadcast. A single fault in the network was expensive enough to stop the use line delay technique. However, the next technique eased up the stress.

2. Magnetic Tape Delay

Magnetic recording tapes brought a revolution to the music industry. As a matter of fact, when it was first introduced in the 1920s, the technique had to struggle a lot. Basically, the biggest advantage that magnetic tapes had was the consistency of speed. Magnetisation used to induce signals throughout the length of the tape which can be later played back to generate the original signal. Furthermore, magnetic tapes designed by Fritz Pfleumer shifted the attention to it from the most used storage device (Telephone Cables) of that era.

audio tape Studer(Magnetic Tapes were used to increase the control on the stored data of audio recordings)

These tape units were difficult yet transferable. As an advantage, magnetic recording units were equipped with a recording head and a playback head. If a guitar player is playing the original signal through recording head, it was later passed through the playback head to create a delay effect. This same technique was modified by a lot of inventors to create portable delay pedals. However, The Echorec was produced and utilised by several artists. As a result, it played a crucial part in the ambient sound of Pink Floyd during the 1970s.

3. Solid-State Delay

A lot of other delay techniques came in before this was introduced. Famous models such as Fender’s Echo-Reverb I, II & III used Oil-Can Delay technique. Likewise, Gibson’s GA-4RE used the approach. But when Solid-State Delay was introduced, it changed the use of delay effect forever. BBD (Bucket-Brigade-Device) was invented by F. Sangster and K. Teer of the Philips Research Labs in 1969.


This uses the same send-receive concept but this time there were no wires. This was being done by the use of capacitors which used to pass half of the signal directly and other half through BBD. The delayed signal was further mixed with the original signal to sync the signal that was slowed down. With a little use of low-pass filters, the clock noise was removed to generate a crisp signal.

The future of delay effect is promising just because this is one of the key elements of music industry. How did you like this piece? Let us know in the comments down below.

Also Read – DesiHipHop’s Music 101 – MPCs And The History Behind It