What is pre delay?

Hi guys,

You’re friendly newb here. So what exactly is pre-delay. I mean, give me some examples of how it can better a composition. Should every instrument get a predelay timed differently? I want to hear some before and after or something if possible.

Let me know.


Pre-delay is quite simply the delay between when a track sends a signal to the reverb plugin, and when the reverb plugin starts processing that signal.
You use it to simulate distance in space. Instruments that are physically further away have a longer reaction time, so you use a higher pre-delay for them.
This is how it’s done with orchestrations anyway, where you try to simulate the entire orchestra on stage, so they sound exactly like you would hear them if you were in the audience. For other genres this isn’t usually so strict in the sense that you try to emulate the physical positions of the instruments, but you can still use it to define the spot of a certain track, up front or more in the back.
it’s easiest to just fiddle around with it. Very high pre-delays will sound unnatural, more like an echo which can also be interesting, but not really realistic :slight_smile:

Nice explanation and examples S,



For all practical purposes, pre-delay allows the direct signal to be heard before the reverberant signal, so that the reverberant signal doesn’t mask or obscure the clarity of the direct signal. So when it’s used for example on a vocal, the vocal obtains a bit more clarity and the delayed reverb makes the over-all effect seem larger

Also keep in mind some pre-delays will do this function with fairly
high/long delays.

Once the delay gets up around approx 80ms it stops being a pre delay
and starts to sound more like a ‘doubling’ effect.
At this point you will start to hear a distinct ‘slap-back’.

So be delicate.

For snares and voxes I use about 20—>40ms.


It’s a shame you can’t have a built in delay in the send of a track, instead of on the reverb plugin. If I need different pre-delays on different tracks, I need to have as much reverb plugin instances which is a hit on performance. The other settings will be identical anyway.