Laser Disc Delay

Perhaps “delay” isn’t enough to describe a device that can shrink and stretch pitches, perform complex rhythms, and grind at the wheels of time like this does. Inspired by a near-lost prototype and a practically unbuildable design that was nearly lost with the 90’s, the Laser Disc Delay models a modified form of the digital device, where recording lasers occupy concentric positions with movable read lasers reflecting downstream bits at a variable delay with adjustable volume. It’s the esoteric digital approach to tape delay that produces its own set of quirks, anomalies, and behaviors.

This device also takes a unique approach, opening its architecture up to tinkering and offering diverse signal flow options. Each output transmits a delayed version of the input signal of the same row, so multiple repeats are achieved by wiring a source to multiple inputs set to various delays (and volumes) and combining the outputs to the same destination. Freely create interesting rhythms with unevenly spaced delay times and dynamic amplitudes. Or, connect an output back to an input to create a feedback loop of even taps, and maybe throw an effect such as a filter into that loop. The “all” input at the top left can be used as a convenient way to feed all inputs with a single wire, and the “input sum” output jack at the top right might sound useless but offers some possibilities that you’ll grow into as you makes sense of it all. A CV modulateable BPM dial motorizes all delay times according to their individual subdivision switches, to match increments of a chosen tempo. All delay times and return volumes can also be individually CV controlled.

Modulate the the delay times with a ramp or saw so that the read laser is moving away or toward the write laser, creating a controlled doppler effect for pitch shifting that sounds like adjusting speeds on a turntable. At a set LFO rate, the pitch is shifted but constant, and if the LFO rate is modulated, it sounds like record scratching. Spin the BPM knob to wind all delay times in concert with each other for a sort of vortex of remembered sound. Cross wires amongst the channels, loop outputs back to inputs, split signals to multiple destinations, and create a network of delay lines that flutter, blossom, diffuse, and become chaos.