If you want to add some space to a vocal—lead vocal in particular—you might apply your favorite reverb. You can adjust the tail, the size of the room, and so on, and maybe get things where you want them.
However, especially on up-tempo tracks, reverb can get lost—so then you turn it up… and turn it up… and turn it up… and then it’s suddenly too much. You can’t find a happy medium, which is particularly a problem when it’s the lead vocal. An alternative is to apply a slap-back delay, which as the name denotes simply means a single “slap” back from the delay.
In this video, Joe Gilder talks about how to use the technique, offering a step-by-step process of setting it up, as well as some options and things to avoid along the way. It’s a great way to attain a “room sound,” particularly when reverb just won’t do the trick.
Joe Gilder is a Nashville-based engineer, musician, and producer who also provides training and advice at the Home Studio Corner. Note that Joe also offers highly effective training courses, including Understanding Compression and Understanding EQ.