How To Make a Dub Style Delay in Ableton

Roland Space Echo RE-201 produced between 1974 and 1990.  They are widely used and are preferred to digital delay effects by many musicians and producer. 

Roland Space Echo RE-201 produced between 1974 and 1990.  They are widely used and are preferred to digital delay effects by many musicians and producer. 

Every wonder how the likes of Portishead, Fatboy Slim, Jean Michel-Jarre, Bob Marley, Sublime and Lee Scratch Perry obtained their echo and delay effects?  The warm, gritty and warbly sound was the result of Tape Echo.  Tape Echos first came into use in the late 1940s and early 1950s with the advent of Ray Butts' EchoSonic.  The EchoSonic was a portable guitar amp that was contained a built in tape echo that allowed the guitar player to create a slapback echo effect that was a staple of Rockabilly music at the time.  The tape echo effect came of age in 1973 with Roland Space Echo.

The Roland Space Echo worked by recording the incoming signal onto a loop of magnetic tape.  The playback speed of the freshly recorded signal can be controlled to vary the rhythm of the delayed signal thereby altering the pitch.  Changing the rate of the delay would produce strange pitch drop or rise effects on the delayed signal that are the hallmarks of dub and reggae music.   

As you've probably noticed Simple Delay and Ping Pong Delay do not behave in the same way as analog tape echo effects.  When the rate on the Ableton Delays are changed you don't get a pitch shift.  Luckily this can be changed by using a back page function in Simple Delay and Ping Pong Delay.  The video below shows how you can achieve a dub style tape echo effect.

For more authentic tape echo sounds try further processing the delayed output signal.  Use an analog saturation curve in Saturator and use EQ Eight to roll off the highs to emulate that space echo sound.  We made a Space Echo style Effect Rack to get you guys started with your delay experiments.  Enter your e-mail below to download the Beat Drop Space Echo Effect Rack.