T-RackS Space Delay plugin Review & Music Production Tips
IK Multimedia releases Space Delay, an emulation of the iconic Roland RE-201
What is Space Delay?
The T-Racks Space Delay is IK Multimedia’s emulation of Roland’s RE-201 Space Echo. It was a combination of two time-based fx, reverb and echo. Anyone who’s ever sung or recorded at home or in small acoustic spaces knows how uninspiring a bad environment can be. Good reverb and good acoustics can really change a performance as well as the sound palette.
Back in the day, sometime after World War II, ‘Audio Engineers’ noticed they were able to use ‘tape’ to create a unique sounding space using ‘echo.’ When combined with reverb, this echo became very pleasing to the ears and became a signature sound for Rock and still is today for many genres. I believe the cool people these days call it ‘secret sauce’?
Now, Roland wasn’t the first company to release such a unit, but they stood out because their unit was feature-rich, affordable, and it had a good sound. The rest is history.
Most of the time, when the RE-201 is mentioned, people think of Dub and Reggae. It’s almost as if those genres are synonymous with Space Echo, and for good reason. For others, it’s the warmth and unique characteristics the device offered and how they could be applied to other genres of music and creative mediums.
The Space Delay Emulation
Similar to how they’ve (IK Multimedia) approached their Tape Machines and Amplitube 5, they’re using convolution and physical modeling. This is important when searching for a good emulation. I say this because there are many companies that simply recreate the visual and EQ curves. So what you end up with is the basic effect (Delay, reverb, etc.) filtered and wrapped up in a pretty container. Yes, still an emulation, but the technology is available (and has been) for developers to deliver more accurate and better sound results.
Some companies don’t even bother with convolution, which is absurd, but it is what it is.
Some Additional Features (Not present in the RE-201)
- Stereo Panning: On the Reverb section
- High & Low Pass Filtering: Allows filtering before hitting the delay process
- Tape Head Panning: Yes, each head can be panned
- Daw Sync: As it sounds, locking the plugin to the DAW’s Bpm
- Noise: You can keep it or totally eliminate it
What I Love About Space Delay
The sound! It just sounds right, most importantly. It’s easy to dial in good settings, it’s flexible, and comes equipped with nice presets. I’m also in love with the color scheme. The green is good, but I like the ‘red and black’ a lot better.
The ducking feature! I can’t speak enough about this feature. A common problem you run into when using time-based plugins is crowding the mix. You don’t have that problem with the ducking feature, and I don’t know what I’d do without it.
How I use T-Racks Space Delay (Gems Right Here) <–
A lot of people recommend that you use time-based effects as sends. I agree it’s a great way to parallel process and save some CPU, but I will say that it gives a different sound than using it as an insert.
With that said, I do both depending on what I’m trying to achieve and what the track calls for.
If I’m looking to control the softness and the placement of sound, I add Space Delay as an insert. By doing this, I am affecting the sound immediately. If I want to keep the dry signal intact, I’ll put Space Delay as a send and dial in the dry/wet.
Some of my favorite settings for Brass, Snares & Synths
Brass & Synths
I like for my brass and synths to sit in the stereo field and often times certain frequencies to ping pong bouncing back and forth.
Note the settings, copy them use them in your own productions. Keep in mind that the ‘Input’ and ‘Dry/Wet’ settings never stay stagnant and are dialed in based on what the music calls for.
Low Brass/Synths: I’ll turn the reverb and feedback down significantly.
Hi Brass (Synths)/Brass Hit: I push the settings a bit more because higher frequencies are more forgiving in the stereo field.
Snares & Hi-Hats
Main Snare: I know a lot of people like to keep the snares right in the center. I like to break that rule. I add Space Delay directly on the snare channel. Turn the treble down when the reverb is engaged (modes 5 and up) and feedback down and dial in the rest to taste. What this does is stop the snare from sounding dry and, in some cases, make the snare fuller sounding.
Secondary Snare: You can get a little more experimental with the secondary snare and really build some width and depth.
I like my hi-hats to aid the rhythmic aspect of tracks; it helps make the track sound a bit fuller. When using the Space Delay’s delay on the hat, make sure to pull the ‘treble’ down a bit. Depending on the hat, you may need to set your mode to 5 (introducing reverb and delay) and increase the bass (add a touch of warmth).
Don’t forget to play around with the pan settings as well. This is a small tweak but makes a huge difference.
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Pros & Cons
- Reasonable on CPU, a lot lighter than the tape machines
- Great creamy sound
- Easy and fun to use
- Extremely flexible (love the ducking feature)
- Spacey Delay is not offered in MixBox. That’s the only complaint I have.
See T-Racks Space Delay in action >> www.ikmultimedia.com/trspacedelay/video