Ah Grain Delay, how many times will I return to you this year? A lot, I’m guessing.

One of the tricks to making a compelling mix is to fully utilize the stereo field. Sometimes you want to impart width to a sound – simply make it sound as if it’s coming from the sides of a mix rather than left, right or center.

Often this effect is produced with very short delay times. A fun variation on this trick is produced by the Grain Delay set up like this:

Picture 4

To get familiar with this effect, try it out on a simple percussive sound like a rim shot. The key parts of this setup are:

  • Time is set to 1ms (just like when we used the Grain Delay as a pitch shifter) for the absolute minimum amount of delay.
  • Spray is turned up somewhere in the 10ms vicinity. This control randomizes the delay time of the grains, giving each hit a slightly different delay time in the left and right channels. If you want to really hear this at work, crank it up to a higher value and listen carefully.
  • Dry/Wet is set to 100%. By eliminating the dry signal you get the effect of the center dropping out of the sound, leaving only the sides. Turn the effect on and off and you should be able to hear this clearly.

This effect is fun because it both creates stereo width and creates a consistent subtle shifting. To increase the modulation, try turning up Rand Pitch to a fairly high value. Now you’ll hear some pitch variation on every hit as well.