Analog Delay

An analog delay is an electronic device that temporarily stores an audio signal in order to create a time delay. This device transforms each sample to an average voltage value. 

An analog delay typically relays on a bucket-brigade device (BBD) chip that sends the analog signal through a series of capacitors. Because of this, they can sound extremely pleasant to the human ear. Analog delay and digital delay operate in a similar way. Both devices sample the input signal by cutting the waveform into thousands of equally timed segments per second.

Analog Delay: How It Works

The analog delay uses a sample and holds a circuit to transform the continuous input signal into a string of voltage values and into a large number of storage devices (BBDs). The voltage stored in one bucket pours into the next bucket in the sequence. Eventually, the sampled voltage reaches the output and the strobe signal transforms the voltage from one registry to another.

You can produce special effects by a typical analog delay line. It tends to produce a uniquely warm, smooth, and organic sound. This sound is possible because a narrower bandwidth limits the device.

Some History on This Delay

Before audio technology developed to what we know, musicians recorded their music in a very precarious way. Since they didn’t know delayed echoes, they had to record music in a naturally reverberant space. This process was quite inconvenient.

Around 1970, when easy to implement real-time echo effects became popular and affordable delay chips were available, many manufacturers developed systems that offered all-in-one effect devices. You could adjust these devices to produce echoes is several amplitudes or intervals. When playback heads appeared, delays at varying rhythmic intervals grew into an option. Therefore, musicians could add expression to natural intermittent echoes.

In the beginning, analog delay devices came to be popular because they were less expensive to produce than digital delays. Nowadays, digital devices have gained popularity because the cost of digital components has dropped considerably. Despite that, producers still prefer analog ones, as musical special effects, because they create warmer and smoother sounds than digital delays.