Wrecked Drum Effects

07 Dec 2016

Mangle your beats with iZotope’s DDLY.

Although the dynamic modulation capabilities of Izotope's DDLY are arguably its headline feature, the two delay algorithms already offer a load of sound-mangling power on their own. To illustrate what I mean, let me share a couple of my favourite creative drum-processing effects: both based around short, high-feedback delay patches.

At the outset, let's isolate the bottom delay slot so that we hear only its effected signal: first, switch on the lower delay and make sure its Solo button is lit; secondly, do the opposite to the upper delay, in other words switch it off and make sure its Solo button is unlit; and, finally, set the Intensity control to minimum and its adjacent threshold slider to maximum.

Now to the first effect. Start off with the controls as follows: Sync off, Time 5ms, Feedback 40%, Trash 100%, Dry 0%, Wet 0%, and Wide off. Now feed some drums into DDLY and carefully raise the Wet control until you hear this effect's whining 'G' pitched overtone. You'll soon notice that this doesn't actually stop when the audio feed does; it's self-sustaining. (If you want to mute it while you make tea, then hit the helpfully provided Panic button.) While this effect's metallic timbre in itself can be quite ear-catching in its own right, and can be tuned to different pitches using small Time-parameter variations, the fun really begins once you start swivelling that control in real time, as it causes the processing engine to elicit a range of weird thrums, chugs, and squeals.

This is the sound of a live drums buss going through my first creative drums effect. It starts off with the initial setting shown in the screengrab, but then uses real-time tweaks of DDLY's Time setting to generate a load of much wilder sounds.

For my second wacky effect, choose the bottom delay's Grain mode instead, starting it off as follows: Sync off, Time 1ms, Feedback 40%, Pitch 12.0st, Size 1ms, Mix 100%, and Wide off. This'll give you something akin to a static flange effect, but once again the way to hit the real paydirt is by tweaking in real time -- in this case the Size control. At low values, this modulates the phasing character, but as you stray above 20ms you get all sorts of steel-drum-style overtones appearing, and by the time you get up to 150ms or so you'll be creating a bunch of arcade-game blips and blurps. For even more fun, try twiddling the Pitch control at the same time -- here your DAW's built-in mix automation can lend a hand, as well as creating extreme parameter adjustments you'd never be able to do by hand.

My second creative drums effect uses the Grain mode with its shortest Time setting, as you can see here.

This is the sound of a live drums buss going through my second creative drums effect. Again, I start with the initial setting shown in the screengrab, but then adjust DDLY's Size setting in real time to generate a whole range of clangorous effects. Towards the end of the timeline I also modulate the Pitch setting too, for even more variety.

One word of caution, though: in both these setup, be careful adjusting the Feedback control. On the one hand it has the power to make both effects more extreme, but it may also ramp up the plug-in's output level enormously without warning. If in doubt, try putting a limiter after the DDLY plug-in to prevent any unexpected peaks causing problems down the line.

Words: Mike Senior