An Audio Delay, The Garden Hose Way

Creating music in 2024 is made easier by ready access to a host of effects in software that were once the preserve only of professional studios. One such is the delay; digital delays are now a staple of any production software where once they required infrastructure. [Look Mum No Computer] is no stranger to the world of Lo-Fi analogue music making, and along with his musical collaborator [Hainback], he’s created an analogue delay from an unexpected material: garden hose pipe.

The unit takes inspiration from some commercial 1970s effects, and lends a fixed short delay intended to give a double-tracking effect to vocals or similar. It involves putting a speaker at one end of a reel of hose and a microphone at the other, while the original unexpectedly used Shure SM57 capsules as both speaker and microphone they use a very small loudspeaker and a cheap microphone capsule.

The sound is not what you’d call high quality. Indeed, it’s about what one might expect when listening down a long pipe. But when mixed in behind the vocals, it gives a very pleasing effect. The duo use it on their new EP which, as you might expect, is released on vinyl.

If such effects interest you, also take a look at a 1950s reverb room at the famous Abbey Road Studios in London.

22 thoughts on “An Audio Delay, The Garden Hose Way

  1. I seem to remember this from Elementary Electronics late 60’s at the height of cheap reverb in cars and electronic ways of doing this. The hose was coiled up in a cheap PA speaker box with the amp for rear fake quad or maybe just stereo.

    Today on Fresh Air they looked back on Duane Eddy who just died. His first hit put the guitar with the twang/reverb on the low end as the definitive rock-n-roll sound. In an ’88 interview he said they couldn’t afford a reverb chamber so they used a several thousand gallon water tank with mic at one end and the speaker at the other end.

    Either way effects can do so much for instruments especially solo. Now what happens when you introduce feedback into the hose loop with a limiter? Weird sounds!
    Air has mass so can the hose feedback tone act like a ring gyro?

    1. The air molecules don’t actually move very far with sound, the oscillation (compression, rarefaction) is what’s being transmitted, so thats probably not going to give the effect you want in a gyroscope.

      1. True, but I remember the early days of RC solid state gyroscopes, before MEMS were a thing. They used three piezo capsules affixed to a solid prism, and measured the rate of turn by detecting the phase difference between the two listening capsules. I figure replacing the solid prism with two lengths of coiled tube would work too, and might well be a way to measure low turn rates.

  2. Sam is looking more like IRL Doofenshmirtz every time I see him. The only thing he needs is to start including a self destruct button on his “inator” builds.

  3. Built a hose delay (along with a few different kinds of spring delays) for a friend who was a DJ on a 50 kW rock station over 60 (yikes!!) years ago.

  4. Try a corrugated hose, like a from central vac or the ones from pool cleaning kit.
    Ads a nifty multiple to it.
    When we were bored kids in the 70’s, we draped the 30-odd ft long central vac hose around our shoulders and dropped pebbles in, while the vac was on.
    More funny noises going round & round your head.
    Cheap thrills are where ya find ’em!

    1. Sam wanted to. You can see in the video he pulls out a length and listens, likes it, but Heinbach tells him the cost per meter and they go for the cheaper option.

    1. An ad? Sam shows you how to build a reverb out of a garden hose, a microphone, a funnel, and a speaker. He’s literally not selling anything unless you want to go see his museum or maybe catch a live show.

  5. That Sam bloke is one of the nicest, quirkiest and most talented people I’ve seen on YT. I’m not really a fan of electronic music but it was really interesting to see his videos explaining modular synths. His enthusiasm around the museum is inspiring.

  6. They could add T connections along the pipe with a mic capsule at each one to obtain more delays so that it becomes a reverb, then pan each one differently to either obtain a stereo reverb or a delay that gives the impression of sound direction even from a mono sound. That speaker however is rubbish; they used the cheapest crap they could salvage from a 70s pocket radio or a 90s XT computer case. A wide band speaker would sound much much better, although of course the pipe wouldn’t make it hi-fi anyway.
    Wider band speakers can be easily found in each satellite of those small 5+1 or 7+1 speaker systems that people literally throw away or sell for peanuts at flea markets.

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