Ping Pong Delays in the real world

The last two files in the HEAVY METAL IMPACTS library are some sounds I stumbled across while recording this truck deck


As soon as I saw it I knew there would be some interesting sounds within, but it was only when I moved around to the side that I noticed the two brackets, which were hanging off the side of it


At first I thought I should remove them, as they ‘clanked’ when hit & did I want everything to have that ‘clank’ in it? But then I tried lifting them up & dropping them… ahar! Instant ‘bouncing ball’ patch!! Dropping them in unison led to nice complex decay sounds, but after playing with it for a while I tried to perform a ping pong delay and was having so much fun that I zoned out for half an hour, clank-clanking away to my hearts content!

I would presume most people know what I am talking about but two quick explanations:

the ‘bouncing ball’ patch is modular synth nerd speak for a patch that emulates the sound of a bouncing ball. The effect was used to the point of oblivion in this fantastic Aphex Twin track – Bucephalus Bouncing Ball, even if you know the song, have a listen again – his relentless manipulation of sound is so great, but if you require instant gratification skip to @3.02 in the track… (love all the little samples from the old school Defenderâ„¢ video game scattered through the track too)

Obviously the bouncing ball patch is emulating the effects of gravity on this planet of ours – if we lived on the moon the effect would seem totally unreal… This effect can be achieved a few different ways digitally, there is a thread on GS HERE with suggestions eg in Ableton sampler via automating loop length

Or if you use Reaktor there is the Newtonian Bouncer or the Bouncer Pack

For modular synth users the MakeNoise Maths module can generate the required rhythms, see HERE and this thread on MW forum

And explanation #2: a ping pong delay is when you use two delays, one hard left & the other hard right, and the delays alternate. So if you used a ping pong delay on a snare drum it would echo left, then right then left then right etc etc as it decays… Back in the day, using analogue outboard gear it was a clever patch to make it happen. Then outboard went digital & it became a single button press to recall a ping pong delay preset. Then things like ableton LIVE came along and it became even easier, as their ping pong delay plugin auto matched the tempo of the music you were working on and if that was what you wanted it was instant… and bland. There is nothing more boring than a delay that is perfectly in time with tempo imho – the joy of using outboard such as a space echo is that you have to use your brain, your taste & your sensibilities to ‘dial in’ the delay that feels right in the moment. While no one is forcing you to use tempo matched delays, I think it is the worse starting point possible…

Anyway back to the real world, here are my totally flawed, human & gravity powered bouncing ball & ping pong delays version – first unison & then alternating ping pong…

I had another idea about this & asked on twitter: are there any delay plugins which let you script delay times?

What I thought would be interesting was to set the ProTools timeline to samples and accurately measure the placement of each of the hits in one of those gravity powered ping pong sounds, and then convert that back to a delay setting for each decaying hit and enter it into a delay plugin, and thereby be able to apply that effect to anything… The suggestions tended to be using MaxforLIVE or multiple instances of a multi-tap delay plugin, but I wondered if I could achieve it by manually creating an impulse response – not using the sound itself, as I don’t want the tonality of the sound applied – only the rhythm. So this is what I tried…

First I normalized the left channel to 0dB and then same for the right. Then I placed a marker on each sound and measured its level using the AudioSuite Gain plugins analyse button.
I then hunted through the impulse response folder for TL Space until I found an IR for a delay and I imported a copy into my session and borrowed the first impulse or spike, and manually placed it on two new tracks in the same positions as those in the original recording, and then went through using the Normalize AS plugin and changed the level of each spike to match that of the original at that position…


Then I exported a stereo .WAV file to the IR folder, booted up TL Space and using my new Bracket Bounce impulse response applied it to a few different source sounds:

So it kind of worked – nothing too startling, but worth experimenting further eg applying a filter sweep to the spikes, so the high frequencies roll off as it decays… But also it is a potential method to apply a real world delay AND to create unreal delays, eg imagine rhythmically sequencing spikes & processing them through something like Sugar Bytes Effectrix with sequenced/modulated processing… hmmmmm….

If you really have free time on your hands you could also try this:

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