Review: Initial Audio Dynamic Delay

Capable of resuscitating even the most flatlining compositions with sonic character and nuance, as well as sparkling effects, Dynamic Delay might be just what the doctor ordered.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Awesome
8

MT VERDICT

+ Intuitive controls, easy to use
+ Fantastic-sounding left and right channel delay
+ Sparkling built-in effects

- Lack of millisecond delay times
- Limited presets

A delay like no other, enhanced by built-in dynamic sidechain control and high-end effects

Price £20
Contact Initial Audio

Based in Wülfrath, Germany, Initial Audio is known for producing expansion packs, VST/AU instruments and insert-effects plug-ins for both Windows and macOS systems. Its latest release is a high-quality dynamic delay that enables the construction of complex effects quickly and concisely.

Dynamic Delay is a stereo unit that allows users to independently control both the left and right channels, including their individual timing and feedback amounts. We’ve been looking forward to checking it out for a while now, so we’re delighted to discover that the download and install time is mercifully short. At only 40MB in size, this plug-in was ready to go within minutes.

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Once it’s open in our DAW, we’re presented with a clean-cut and resizeable GUI. Having heard that Dynamic Delay can work miracles on vocals, we promptly open a composition containing a lead vocal, drums, and bass and synth melodies. Inserting the D-Delay default onto the vocal applies a 1/4 note delay action on both left and right linked channels, with feedback set to 62.5 per cent.

Each channel features 19 note rates, which can be changed independently. But be careful if you alter the rate control, located centrally under the L/R menus, as it automatically stereo-links to one of the 19 positions and remains so. After working this out, we begin to look for another delay feature that’s sadly not present here: a millisecond option. This would’ve been welcome for each channel and stereo link. The feedback control operates in the same stereo or independent manner, with the main knob controlling stereo and the small knobs independent left and right. Exploring these options reveals some sumptuous-sounding panning and resonation of the delays, and manipulating the independent feedback levels can produce some bewitching shimmers.

Initial Audio Dynamic Delay

Chain gang

Sidechaining is a useful mixing technique practiced by many professional engineers, who generally employ it to punch some sounds through the mix, while ducking the levels of others. Dynamic Delay is particularly adept at this operation. Its built-in sidechaining function allows our vocals to really shine and ensures they’re not competing for space with other elements. Activating the threshold level achieves this dynamic sidechain function and, with a little exploration, we’re able to fill the silence between the vocal and our chosen delay settings, leaving the original vocal clean and unaffected by the delay itself.

The internal sidechain ducks the loudness of the generated delays when the input audio drops below the threshold, meaning the delays can be clearly heard. Regular delays tend to overlap the wet signal with the incoming dry signal, so this internal sidechain control is a revelation for mixing purposes, and will save users a lot of time. We’re able to saturate our vocal with both the delay and reverb controls, and bringing that all-important level down activates the compression, which means the delay volume is reduced in tandem. It’s terrifically satisfying stuff.

Using the release function alongside the threshold, you can control the short or long envelope cutoff. The embedded results within the mix are fantastic – it’s doubly exciting that we don’t need to apply further EQ, gates or compression too.

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Initial Audio Dynamic Delay

Delayed gratification

It’s not all about the delays on this dynamic tool though. Dynamic Delay does more than its name suggests, enhanced as it is by high-quality built-in effects – low-cut, high-cut, reverb, detune and distortion – that apply only to the overall delayed sound. The low-pass and high-pass options are 36dB analogue-modelled filters and can be used to cut unwanted low and high frequencies out of the delayed signal. The low function ranges from 20Hz to 20kHz, while the high runs from 1kHz to 21kHz.

The built-in one-knob reverb effect is based on a simplified version of Initial Audios’s AR1 Reverb plug-in, which uses a choice ambient setting that the company swears “sits well on a majority of sounds”. To us, however, it sounds more mechanical than acoustic. The detune effect uses a unique algorithm to apply pitch variation to each delay, adding a more organic and pleasing sound to the delay outputs. The distortion effect is again based on another of Initial Audio’s flagship plug-ins, the Boost-X Saturation module. The effect adds pleasing dynamic saturation that, used sparingly, can help make your delays stand out thanks to additional harmonics.

One of our favourite features of the Dynamic Delay plug-in, however, is the Wet Solo button. Activating this control when manipulating the effects will isolate the wet delay from the incoming dry signal, allowing users to fine-tune how those delays perform. All in all, Dynamic Delay serves as a compendium of vibrant, effective delays that can be further treated with scintillating effects.

Do I really need this?

Initial Audio Dynamic Delay

There are only a handful of dynamic delay plug-ins on the market, all of which command about the same price. Initial Audio’s contribution, Dynamic Delay, is currently available at 70 per cent off the usual asking price, which brings it in line with many of the others. For us, this plug-in’s additional reverb gives it an edge over those other examples, and we admire the easy-to-use and expandable GUI. If you’re looking for a time- and money-saving option that can replace your tiresome sidechain setups, we’d strongly recommend giving this a go. Dynamic Delay has a pleasing sound and certainly put a sustained smile on our faces.

Key features

  • Dynamic threshold and release controls
  • High-quality built-in effects
  • Stereo delay for left and right channel control
  • Comprehensive delay time lists
  • Low-pass and high-pass filters
  • High-definition resizeable GUI

Alternatives

iZotope
DDLY £40

Thanks to its dual engines, this plug-in lets you choose how responsive the delay is to your audio signal and, with its additional trash, granular, filter and signal-splitter options, you can achieve unique results, from subtle sparkling repetitions to crushing tonal collages.

Baby Audio
Comeback Kid £40

Another delay effect with an analogue flavour, the Kid includes everything you’d expect from a go-to delay but with added extras that include tape saturation and lo-fi fuzz. There are stereo and mono output sections, with controls over wet and dry signal volumes, plus a ducker dial for dynamic control.

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