Plug-ins and outboard hardware are of course awesome. We like them but in the same way as anyone who has ever made their own bread (or made their own 1176 clone from a kit) will know, if we have made it ourselves we engage with it in a different way. In this article I’m sharing a couple of inspiring takes on creating your own time based effects. What both of these examples from Creative Sound Lab lack in fidelity they make up for in character and uniqueness.
Using A Garden Hose To Make A Reverb
In this video we see an adaptation of the garden hose technique as found in the Cooper Time Cube, a device brought back to popular attention by UAD with their plug-in version, which uses a long coiled hose with a speaker at one end and a mic at the other to introduce an acoustic delay due to the length of the hose. The Time Cube relies on putting sound into one end of a pipe and using the length of the pipe to introduce the delay. This reverb technique is slightly different in that it embraces sounds entering the system by sealing the end of the pipe and encouraging sound to enter the system through the walls of the pipe and through the back of the mic.
How To Tweak This Effect To Encourage More Of A Delay Sound
This is a great demonstration and we really like the spirit of experimentation, all the “what if’s” which are being explored. We think there are a couple of things which could have been tried to refine this technique. To make this into more of a Cooper Time Cube style delay effect I would consider two tweaks.
Firstly I would unseal the ends of the pipes, The Cooper Time Cube used transducers to speak directly into the end of the tube. This is similar to the arrangement of a tube on a compression driver as found in the talkbox type effects made famous by Bon Jovi or Peter Frampton (a very dribbly effect and I’m sure harmful to your ears - don’t go there!). As this is a purely acoustically driven effect I’d consider taping kitchen funnels on to the end of the hosepies to horn load the system and make the echoes louder.
Secondly I’d try to isolate the hosepipe from the sound in the room. the cooper Time Cube was in a box for isolation as much as practicality. An unloaded guitar cabinet might be good in this role.
Using Mid/Side to fix the Stereo Issues
The imbalance in the stereo image could have been alleviated by, instead of using the two hoses as left and right channels and hard panning them. treating them as the M and S components in a stereo treatment. Using the shorter of the two as the mid, panned centrally and the longer of the two as the side component, either run through a suitable stereo to MS matrix or by duplicating the channel, panning then and inverting the right hand channel would create stereo width with a solid, symmetrical stereo image. The potential downside of this is that the longer of the delays would disappear when played back in mono.
Ultimate Pipe Delay
In a fun case of “go big or go home”, here we see the ultimate in pipe delays for a very convincing surf guitar slap delay. Well done guys!
I’m still trying to decide whether the ridges in this pipe and the scattering they would introduce are significant in the sound of this outsize arrangement. In spite of my approval of getting hands on and trying things out, I’m going to leave these guys to it on this one. I really don’t have the space!