Review: Dynamic Delay By Initial Audio

Review: Dynamic Delay By Initial Audio | integraudio.com

Let’s take a look at Initial Audio’s iteration of this nifty delay effect with several idiosyncrasies.

A dynamic delay uses the input signal, whether the current signal or a side-chained signal, to determine the loudness of the delay feedback. They are helpful to avoid muddying your recordings with constant echoing. So, before such delay plugins were a thing, mixing engineers would create a delay send to achieve the same effect.

The most common way was to place a compressor on the delay send-track and assign the main signal as the compressor’s side-chain signal. Hence, the compressor would reduce the level of the delay effect whenever the main signal is playing. However, with better technology and automation, many engineers started using manual automation to time the delay even more flexibly. I still use this technique often, but it gets tedious to apply on every track.

Enter Initial Audio Dynamic Delay. On top of providing the time-consuming setup to achieve dynamics-controlled delay effect in one simple plugin, Dynamic Delay features several other features that help speed up your workflow even more. Furthermore, its user interface offers an easy way to analyze the signal to set the dynamics control appropriately. Let’s get into the UI a little more.

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Category
Rating
Summary
GUI
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Dynamic Delay features a straightforward but effective user interface. It has no hidden menus, and the input meter shows the threshold level, which is handy to set up the dynamics.
Features
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The plugin provides a complete dynamic control section, delay detuning, distortion, reverb, and filters. You can disable the dry signal by clicking on the Wet Solo button.
Sound
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The delay is transparent and doesn’t add any coloration like a tape delay or analog-modeling plugin. However, you can add vintage-style saturation using a separate control if needed. This feature makes Dynamic Delay appropriate for most types of music production.
Value For Money
⭐⭐⭐⭐
Thanks to the many features built into this delay plugin, its price feels fairly reasonable. However, I’d have loved to see a couple of more parameters for the reverb, distortion, and detuning.

User Interface

The first thing you’ll notice is how the GUI design of this plugin portrays elegant minimalism. It’s easy on the eyes, and you can resize the user interface to fit your screen. So, you could use it on a small laptop screen just as well as you could on a large high-resolution desktop monitor. Further, the parameter labels are straightforward and should let you get started without checking out the manual or tutorials.

The plugin features a section called Dynamic Control at the very left. This section is where you control the threshold of the compression/gain reduction. Moving to the right, you’ll find various standard delays parameters like rate, feedback, filters, damping. Furthermore, it features extra parameters like detuning, distortion, and reverb. These allow you to add twists to your delay effect that would otherwise require at least one send track.

Key Features

Dynamic Delay packs quite a lot of power for a mere delay plugin. However, it doesn’t provide many parameters for you to tweak. So, you’ll find crucial controls that let you add various types of beloved effects to your delay signals without messing around with multiple plugins or parameters. That said, let’s check out what Dynamic Delay does have to offer.

Dynamics

It’s no surprise that the most significant feature of Dynamic Delay is the dynamics control. The section at the very left features two faders: threshold and release. As you might expect, the threshold parameter sets the minimum signal level required to begin reducing the delay volume. However, note that it doesn’t instantly silence the delay. So, you will have to set the threshold much lower than the input signal to silence the delay completely.
Instead of using your ears, you could also use the input meter on the left of the threshold fader to help set the parameter. The meter shows an indicator showing the threshold level, which is helpful to check against the input signal level. Furthermore, the release fader changes how quickly the gain reduction lets the delay volume back up once the input audio falls below the threshold.

Delay Controls

Dynamic Delay is a stereo delay plugin. So, you will find an individual rate and feedback control for each channel of the stereo output. However, the delay rate is fixed as a synced rate, meaning you cannot set it to milliseconds. Yet, I consider it a smart move as that’s what most people use in a modern music production session anyway. Likewise, the plugin provides a larger knob below the individual channel controls so that you can adjust both simultaneously. They are also handy for resetting the individual controls once you’ve moved them separately.
Furthermore, the plugin features a low-cut and a high-cut filter. The low-cut filter’s frequency cutoff ranges between 20 Hz to 2 kHz, whereas the high-cut ranges from 1 kHz to 21 kHz. Similarly, the Damping knob controls a soft high-shelf filter from 18 kHz to 1,500 Hz.

Detuning

The Detune knob adds random variation in pitch on each channel of the delay effect. So, if you input a mono signal into the delay, detuning can add some variations between the left and right channels to widen the delay sound mildly. Furthermore, if you use it on pad sounds, the result is very rich and lush.

Distortion

As you might expect, the Distortion parameter distorts the delay signal. This effect is quite famous among rock artists, especially for vocals and guitars. Hence, Dynamic Delay features a saturation module based on Initial Audio’s Boost X saturation plugin. It adds dynamic harmonic distortion to the delay signal, making it stand out in your mix.

Reverb

Similar to the distortion stage, the reverb parameter is also based on a proprietary plugin. Dynamic Delay features a simplified version of Initial Audio AR1 algorithmic digital reverb. And the Reverb knob controls the reverb amount and length. You can use this reverb to soften the delay sound and add richness. Furthermore, it’s handy to have it built into the plugin because you’d have to use another track to recreate this effect. So, it saves time, effort, and computer resources.

Sound

The delay itself is fairly transparent, with the subtlest change coming from the damping parameter, which only goes as high as 18 kHz instead of 20 kHz. Furthermore, you can only use synced rates, which may be a small disappointment for analog gear lovers. However, you can add plenty of extra onboard effect processors to change the delay sound completely.

The distortion sounds like second-order (even) saturation, similar to what you find on most tube hardware gear. So, the result is a vintage-style warmth that helps thicken up vocal echoes. Similarly, while the reverb isn’t the most sophisticated, it provides an excellent way to add space to your delays. Furthermore, since the delay is dynamic, the reverb never overwhelms your instrument or vocals.

Overall, Dynamic Delay provides a versatile way to add synced delay to your mixes. It serves as a stock delay replacement when you turn the threshold all the way up. And its dynamic mode, alongside the other built-in effects, provides a variety of sounds you can create. Unfortunately, its presets don’t quite reflect its abilities.

Value For Money

Dynamic Delay is a delay plugin that features an internal side-chain to duck the effect loudness. It helps you avoid muddiness or an overwhelming amount of processing while the instrument or vocal is playing. Furthermore, it provides effects like detuning, distortion, and reverb on the generated delays. And each of its effects sounds high quality and usable.

There aren’t many plugins providing everything Dynamic Delay features. I’ve found delay plugins with multiple effects but no dynamic control, with dynamic control but no additional features, and with both but far too complex. So, Initial Audio has undoubtedly hit the sweet spot in keeping Dynamic Delay feature-rich yet straightforward. And while the selling price may feel somewhat steep for a delay plugin, you’ll find an ongoing sale on their site right now, bringing the price down to a steal.

You can try or buy Dynamic Delay here.

Verdict

Dynamic Delay is a straightforward delay plugin with dynamic control. The best thing about this plugin is its simple but super effective user interface, which helps you dial in the correct values quickly. Furthermore, it features the most common effects we use on a delay send. So, we really lose the argument that a dynamic delay plugin is useless because you’d need to create a send for delay distortion or reverb anyway! Overall, if you often use a lot of delays on your tracks, Dynamic Delay could save you a lot of time.

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